IF GOD’S PEOPLE ARE GODLY PEOPLE, why are there so many stories about rotten families in the Bible and almost nothing about wonderful families like many of us experience?
I’m not saying we have perfect families.
But my family and the families of people I know feel like we’ve got a massive spiritual upgrade compared to families of Bible headliners.
- Abraham ran off his first son, Ishmael, who was born to a slave woman.
- Abraham’s second son, Isaac, fathered two boys: Esau and Jacob. Jacob exploited his brother Esau by overcharging him for food when Esau was famished. Later, Jacob stole his father’s last wish by taking his father’s deathbed blessing that was intended for the oldest son, Esau. Jacob sounded like the kind of little brother you’d want to take into the woods and accidentally lose.
- David’s son, Absalom, led a coup against his elderly father. Absalom died trying to steal the nation.
- Jewish law said that “The king must not take many wives for himself, because they would turn his heart away from the LORD” (Deuteronomy 17:7 NLT). Solomon married 1,000 women.
For a wise guy, how smart was that? Solomon’s story ends the way the Jewish law predicted it would.
I don’t know why there are so many Bible stories about families gone wrong and so few stories about families that got it right. Off the top of my head, I’m having trouble coming up with any model families.
Maybe the bad news stories survived for much the same reason bad news stories get the headlines today. We simply find it more interesting to talk about the bad stuff going on in someone else’s life than about the good stuff.
Bible writers want us to talk about the good stuff when it comes to our families. And they want us to experience the good stuff. They wrote about it a lot, especially in Psalms, the ancient Jewish songbook.
Back in Bible times when big families were considered a big blessing, Jews were singing songs like this:
“Your wife gives you children like a grapevine gives grapes.
You’ve got a vineyard in your house.
Your children are like sprouts of olive trees.
You’ve got an olive orchard sitting around your table.
Look at what you’ve got. God gave it to you as a blessing.
That’s what you get for respecting the LORD” (Psalm 128:3-4 Casual English Bible).
I became a grandfather for the third time last Friday. I now have two grandsons, one granddaughter, and another granddaughter due in a few weeks, if not sooner.
I don’t know that I would describe our family as a vineyard, my wife as a grapevine, or my kids as grapes. And it’s hard to see my family in the metaphor of an olive orchard.
But I do know that vineyards and olive orchards were treasured, coveted, and treated as blessings from God.
I get that connection.
I see my family as the greatest blessing God has given me in this lifetime. I know I should say the greatest blessing is a religious experience of some sort. But I’m talking about blessings we can kiss and hug and tickle.
I’m talking about the blessing of watching a wide-eyed, wide-smiling two-year-old boy climb up into his mother’s hospital bed, gently wrap his arms around his newborn baby brother, and lay cheek upon cheek before softly kissing the baby.
And I’m talking about the blessing of watching the glow on the face of a daughter after she has given birth to her second son. She looks at me and says, “It’s amazing how the extra love comes.” She had wondered how she could love the newborn as much as she loves the firstborn.
I had worried about the same thing when her little brother was about to be born.
Not to worry. When we’ve got someone to love, we’re not going to find ourselves standing there with an empty love bucket. It might be empty to start. But a moment later we realize we’re going to need a bigger bucket.
Stories about families of people who love each other and who show it in the way they treat each other might not be written all over the pages of the Bible.
But they are being written into the pages of our life. Aren’t they?
Who doesn’t need a bigger bucket?
Thanks be to God for little blessings who grow up.
May they help make our world a better place, with more kindness, more compassion, and where appropriate, more hugs.