May our sons in their youth be like plants full grown, our daughters like corner pillars cut for the structure of a palace; (Psalm 144:12 ESV)
In my recent study of the word "youth" in the Bible, I came across this verse, and haven't been able to get it out of my mind since. At first, I thought the author, David, didn't get it quite right. (That thought lasted 0.000007 seconds in light of God's sovereignty). I knew immediately I was not understanding it right. Let me explain.
In my mind, I wanted my daughter to "be like plants full grown" and my son to be "like corner pillars." In my mind, in my culture, plants (flowers is what came to my mind) are ... less than masculine and I didn't understand how that could relate to sons. By contrast corner pillars are strong and much more masculine. As I studied the verse more in-depth here is what I learned.
"Sons like plants full grown" = deep roots
I don't know much about plants. Most times I have a hard time telling the difference between a plant and a weed. My yard at home is evidence enough of my lack of knowledge about plants. As I wrestled with what plants full grown had to do with sons, it dawned on me, in order for a plant to be full grown it needs deep roots. Roots that go downward in order to bear fruit upward (2 Kings 19:30). Roots planted where God put them and then their plants filled the land (Psalm 80:9). Roots that are grounded and established in the love of Christ (Ephesians 3:17). Roots that are deep and built up in faith (Colossians 2:7). In other words plants that are full grown have deep roots in the Gospel.
This is what we as Christians should want for our young men. Hearts that are deeply rooted in the Gospel. Roots of faith and love, both in and for Christ. These roots will help them weather the storms of life. These roots will help them bear the kind of fruit that is valuable, eternal fruit.
"Daughters like corner pillars" = mixture of strength and beauty
Again my thoughts were confused with pictures of female body builders who have traded feminine beauty for strength. As I studied this passage, commentaries pointed in the direction of the pillars of God's temple. 1 Kings 7:15-22 describes the making of these pillars. As I read it I realized that what was being described was extremely beautiful. But it also had a purpose. A purpose that required strength.
This is what Christians should want for young women. A corner pillar needs to be strong enough to support the roof above. If this pillar is going to be in the palace of the King, it should also be beautiful. This mixture of strength and beauty is found only in the Gospel. When young women find their strength in the Gospel, they are strong enough to support those around them and to do so with the beauty of both grace and mercy.
Put in the proper perspective, this verse should be the dream that every parent has for their children, every church has for its young people. Let's do what is necessary to encourage young people towards the Gospel.