Wednesday of Pentecost 19 – Psalm 128

Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord,
    who walks in his ways!
You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;
    you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
    within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
    around your table.
Behold, thus shall the man be blessed
    who fears the Lord.

The Lord bless you from Zion!
    May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
    all the days of your life!
May you see your children’s children!
    Peace be upon Israel!

My old Greek professor at Washington University in St. Louis led the ideal Greek life. A decorated WWII bomber pilot, he had studied deep philosophical thoughts at Harvard, married, had children, and held his grandchildren on his knee. He instructed me shortly before his retirement. He was a devout Christian man who had advocated that the Lutheran seminary students at Concordia, St. Louis be allowed to further their Greek studies at Wash. U. It was good for the classics department, but it was also good for the preaching of the Word if men could develop a better facility in the language of the New Testament. He called it a win-win. I continue to think it was wise of him.

When I read this psalm, I think of him. He told the story of getting engaged while he was in graduate school at Harvard after the war. The faculty all solemnly shook his hand and wished him well, but he could tell that they thought he was making a terrible mistake and his studies would surely suffer for this decision. He felt like they were all saying, “Too bad, you had potential.”

He was now the head of a department at a well-respected university. He had done quite well despite “diluting” his scholarship with his marriage. In fact, he had nothing but contempt for their condescension, even these many years later. I think his many lonely hours, interspersed with terror, spent flying a plane in war had given him a wisdom which Harvard could not. The wise person, the whole man or woman, is grounded in these relationships of family. Praise God for your family today. Sometimes they are hard to love, it is undoubtedly true for all of us, but they are a gift from God.

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