Rid me, and deliver me from the hand of strange children,
whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood:
that our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth;
that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace:
that our garners may be full, affording all manner of store:
that our sheep may bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our streets:
that our oxen may be strong to labour;
that there be no breaking in, nor going out;
that there be no complaining in our streets.
Happy is that people, that is in such a case:
yea, happy is that people,
whose God is the LORD. (Psa 144:11-15)
This passage is a portion of Psalm 144 wherein King David requests of God a national blessing on the kingdom of Israel. Would anyone disagree that our United States is in dire need of a blessing from God Almighty?
Let’s look at this passage one phrase at a time to see what constitutes the blessings of God on a nation:
Rid me, and deliver me from the hand of strange children, whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood:
The very first blessing mentioned is deliverance from heathen leaders who speak nothing but lies and empty promises. Strange children refers to the heathen of other nations or God’s people who act like heathens. These people are in places of leadership as indicated by the words “right hand,” referring to the place of authority, judgment, and honor. As they raise their right hand to swear, they are lying through their teeth. Yet, if we are to enjoy the other blessings of God fully, we must be free from the oppression of ungodly men (and now women, also) who would make it illegal for us to rear our children according to our consciences before God. Only then may we enjoy the next blessings King David mentions.
. . . that our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace:
These next two phrases are in regard to our children. Notice he doesn’t pray for this blessing exclusively upon his own children, but also on all the children of his dominion, seeing that they are the seed of the next generation among whom his own children will have to live.
The blessing concerning sons is in boys who are mature even while they are still young and in girls having the rough edges of unfeminine behavior removed. It is indeed a blessing to see young men who conduct themselves in a mature and manly manner and for young ladies to be genteel and feminine with nothing rough nor masculine about them.
Matthew Henry has this to say regarding this particular portion:
First, It is pleasant to see our sons as plants grown up in their youth,What a blessing this is indeed! Young people who are thus prepared for life will be the most successful at home and work, the men to provide for their families and the women to fulfill their role as keepers of the home.
- to see them as plants, not as weeds, not as thorns,
- to see them as plants growing great, not withered and blasted,
- to see them of a healthful constitution, a quick capacity, a towardly [friendly] disposition, and especially of a pious inclination, likely to bring forth fruit unto God in their day,
Secondly, It is no less desirable to see our daughters as corner-stones, or corner-pillars, polished after the similitude of a palace, or temple. By daughters families are united and connected, to their mutual strength, as the parts of a building are by the corner-stones; and
- to see them in their youth, their growing time, increasing in every thing that is good, growing wiser and better, till they grow strong in spirit.
- when they are graceful and beautiful both in body and mind they are then polished after the similitude of a nice [delicate] and curious [elegant] structures,
- when we see our daughters well-established and stayed with wisdom and discretion, as corner-stones are fastened in the building,
- when we see them by faith united to Christ, as the chief corner-stone, adorned with the graces of God’s Spirit, which are the polishing of that which is naturally rough, and become women professing godliness,
- when we see them purified and consecrated to God as living temples, we think ourselves happy in them.
. . . that our garners may be full, affording all manner of store: that our sheep may bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our streets:
Not many people store their food in garners (grain storage), nor do they raise sheep for their clothing and other needs. However, these phrases refer in a universal sense to the provisions of God for our food and clothing. Notice there is not only food enough and to spare, but there is also a variety from which to choose. This he refers to as “all manner” of store. We can be thankful if only our needs are met, but what a blessing it is not to worry about where the next meal will come from or how our husband’s paycheck will cover all the bills for any given month. That is truly a blessing of God.
. . . that our oxen may be strong to labour;
In the days when David was king, oxen were the main source of hard labor. Since the Industrial Revolution, men operating machinery has taken the place of most animal power. Yet, it is no blessing, regardless of how well equipped and technologically advanced a nation may be, if its man power is unemployed or deficient in other ways. Unemployment occurs for many reasons, including a poor economy and strife between labor and management. It is a blessing indeed when businesses are flourishing, when all who need to be employed are working, and when everyone is content with his wages. Regardless of who may be at fault, few would disagree that strikes, lockouts, and layoffs are a curse to any people.
Yet, the next curse on the horizon for the American workforce may be one no one is expecting. Business may be booming with wages fit for a king, but, if there aren’t enough people to fill the positions, the economy begins to slow to a crawl. Because of birth control, abortion, and other deterrents to childbearing, many European countries are already facing national crises because they do not have enough natural-born citizens to fill their employment needs. If Americans do not repent of viewing children as a curse instead of a blessing, we may follow in the footsteps of our neighbors across the pond.
. . . that there be no breaking in, nor going out;
My Matthew Henry commentary was a great help in discerning the meaning of this phrase. He explains it this way...
...that there be no war, no breaking in of invaders, no going out of deserters. . .
Regardless of who starts a war, it is inevitably a curse to both sides. Unless one of our own family or close acquaintances is killed in combat, we Americans tend to go on about our business while wars rage on our behalf on foreign soil. Even after 9/11, we quickly recovered, and most went about our normal, daily lives within a week of that attack without blinking an eye. It was a blessing on the heals of a curse for us to be able to do that. Yet, few have returned to give God thanks for it. In fact, some have become deserters, so to speak, by opposing our government’s involvement in keeping the invaders at bay. May the Lord give the American people wisdom to discern which government officials will guard against invaders and which will desert the cause of our freedom.
. . . that there be no complaining in our streets.
There are four definitions of the word complain in Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary of the English Language:
- To utter expressions of grief; to lament. I will complain in the bitterness of my spirit. Job 7. I complained and my spirit was overwhelmed. Psa. 77.
- To utter expressions of censure or resentment; to murmur; to find fault. And when the people complained, it displeased the Lord. Num. 11.
- To utter expressions of uneasiness, or pain. He complains of thirst. He complains of a head-ache.
- To charge; to accuse of an offense; to present an accusation against a person to a proper officer.
I used to say, “We never seem to have enough.” Then, one day, the Lord reminded me that He had always been a good provider for our family and that my complaint was actually against Him. The truth was we not only always had enough, but also enough and to spare. I just didn’t have everything to suit my fancy. We must be very careful not to reply against God in this manner and in so doing possibly forfeit the blessings of God upon us.
The last part of this passage gives the key to all happiness and blessing:
Happy is that people that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people whose God is the LORD.
Is the LORD Jehovah your God? If so, then you, of all people in the world, should be the most happy and content. Yet, perhaps the present national distresses which are magnified by the media and Internet have you anxious concerning the future. Politicians are good at promising hope and change. However, let us rather put all our hope in God and in all the necessary changes He alone can make in the hearts and lives of ourselves, our families, our churches, and our nation.
In fact, it may be wise for us to commit this portion of Scripture to memory and to meditate and pray over it when we begin to doubt God’s provision and mercy.
 Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Vol. III – Job to Song of Solomon; Mac Donald Publishing Company, McLean, Virginia, pp. 771, 772.
 See the following sources: Michael Meyers, “Birth Dearth: Remember the Population Bomb?” Newsweek International, 27 September 2004 <http://www.newsweek.com/id/150160> (09 October 2008).
Joel Belz, “The New Baby Boom: Remember all the jokes about big families?” World Magazine, 06 May 2006 <http://www.worldmag.com/articles/11810> (09 October 2008). Philip Longman, The Empty Cradle: Freedom and Fertility in an Aging World (New York: Basic Books, 2004).