rents, in teaching their children, should suit their exhortations to their condition and occasions.
We must have an eye to God,
I. In all the affairs and business of the family, even of the royal family, for king's houses are no longer safe than while God protects them. We must depend upon God's blessing, and not our own contrivance,
1. For the raising of a family; Except the Lord build the house, by his providence and blessing, they labour in vain, though ever so ingenious, that build it. We may understand it of the material house, except the Lord bless the building; it is to no purpose for men to build, any more than for the builders of Babel, who attempted it in defiance of heaven, or Hiel, who built Jericho footnote? under a curse. If the model and design be laid in pride and vanity, or if the foundations be laid in oppression and injustice, (Hab. ii. 11, 12.) God certainly does not build there; nay, if God be not acknowledged, we have no reason to expect his blessing, and withcut his blessing all is nothing. Or rather, it is to be understood of the making of a family considerable, that was mean; men labour to do this by advantageous matches, offices, employments, purchases; but all in vain, unless God build up the family, and raise the poor out of the dust. The best laid project fails, unless God crown it with success: see Mal. i. 4.
2. For the security of a family or a city; for these are specified; if the guards of the city cannot secure it without God, much less can the good man of the house save his house from being broken up. Except the Lord keep the city from fire, from enemies, the watchmen, who go about the city, or patrol upon the walls of it, though they neither slumber nor sleep, wake but in vain, for a raging fire may break out, the mischief of which the timeliest discoveries may not be able to prevent. The guard may be slain, or tht city betrayed and lost by a thousand accidents, which the most watchful sentinel, or most cautious governor, could not obviate.
3. For the enriching of a family; that is a work of time and thought, but cannot be effected without the favour of Providence, any more than that which is the product of one happy turn; "It is in vain for you to rise up early and sit up late, and so to deny yourselves your bodily refreshments, in the eager pursuit of the wealth of the world." Usually, those that rise early do not care for sitting up late, nor can those that sit up late easily persuade themselves to rise early; but there are some so hot upon the world, that they will do both, will rob their sleep to pay their cares; and they have as little comfort in their meals as in their rest, they eat the bread of sorrows. It is part of our sentence, that we eat our bread in the sweat of our face; but those go further, all their days they eat in darkness, Eccl. v. 17. They are continually full of care, which imbitters their comforts, and makes their lives a burden to them. All this is to get money, and all in vain, except God prosper them, for riches are not always to men of understanding, Eccl. ix. 11. They that love God, and are beloved of him, have their minds easy, and live very comfortably, without this ado. Solomon was called Jedidiah, Beloved of the Lord; (2 Sam. xii. 25.) to him the kingdom was promised, and then it was in vain for Absalom to rise up early, to wheedle the people, and for Adonijah to make such a stir, and to say, I will be king; Solomon sits still, and, being beloved of the Lord, to him he gives sleep and the kingdom too. Note, (1.) Inordinate excessive care about the things of this world, is a vain and fruitless thing; we weary ourselves for vanity, if we have it, and often weary ourselves in vain for it, Hag. i. 6, 9. (2.) Bodily sleep is God's gift to his beloved. We owe it to his goodness that our sleep is safe, (Ps. iv. 8.) that it is sweet, Jer. xxxi. 25, 26. Then God gives us sleep, as he gives it to his beloved, when with it he gives us grace to lie down in his fear, (our souls returning to him, and reposing in him as our Rest,) and when we awake, to be still with him, and to use the refreshment we have by sleep in his service. He gives his beloved sleep, quietness, and contentment of mind, a com fortable enjoyment of what is present, and a com fortable expectation of what is to come. Our care must be to keep ourselves in the love of God, and then we may be easy, whether we have little or much of this world.
II. In the increase of the family; he shows,
1. That children are God's gift, v. 3. If children are withheld, it is God that withholds them (Gen. xxx. 2.) if they are given, it is God that gives them; (Gen. xxxiii. 5.) and they are to us what he makes them, comforts or crosses. Solomon multiplied wives, contrary to the law, but we never read of more than one son that he had; for those that desire children, as an heritage from the Lord, must receive them in the way that he is pleased to give them, by lawful marriage to one wife; (Mal. ii. 15.) therefore one, that he might seek a seed of God. But they shall commit whoredom, and shall not increase. Children are a heritage, and a reward; and are so to be accounted blessings, and not burthens; for he that sends mouths will send meat, if we trust in him. Obed-edom had eight sons, for the Lord blessed him because he had entertained the ark, 1 Chron. xxvi. 5. Children are a heritage for the Lord, as well as from him; they are my children, (says God,) which thou hast borne unto me; (Ezek. xvi. 20.) and then they are most our honour and comfort, when they are accounted to him for a generation.
2. That they are a good gift, and a great support and defence to a family; As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man, who knows how to use them for his own safety and advantage, so are children of the youth, children born to their parents when they are young, which are the strongest and most healthful children, and are grown up to serve them by the time they need their service. Or rather, children who are themselves young; they are instruments of much good to their parents and families, which may fortify themselves with them against their enemies. The family that has a large stock of children, is like a quiver full of arrows, of different sizes we may suppose, but all of use one time or other; children of different capacities and inclinations may be several ways serviceable to the family. He that has a numerous issue may boldly speak with his enemy in the gate in judgment; in battle he needs not fear, having so many good seconds, so zealous, so faithful, and in the vigour of youth, 1 Sam. ii. 4, 5. Observe here. Children of the youth are arrows in the hand, which, with prudence, may be directed aright to the mark, God's glory, and the service of their generation; but afterward, when they are gone abroad into the world, they are arrows out of the hand, it is too late to bend them then. But these arrows in the hand too often prove arrows in the heart, a constant grief to their godly parents, whose gray hairs they bring with sorrow to the grave.
This, as the former, is a psalm for families. In that, we were taught that the prosperity of our families depends upon the blessing of God; in this, we are taught that the only way to obtain that blessing which will make our families comfortable, is, to live in the fear of God, and in obedience to him. They that do so, in general, shall be blessed, v. 1, 2, 4. In particular, I. They shall be prosperous and successful in their employments. v. 2. II. Their relations shall be agreeable, v. 3. III. They shall live to see their families brought up, v. 6. IV. They shall have the satisfaction of seeing the church of God in a flourishing condition, v. 5, 6. We must sing this psalm in the firm belief of this truth. That religion and