I love gardens. Beautiful flowers of varying colours delight my senses. I see many parallels between gardens and families…gardening and training a family. Sometimes the word, ‘training’ (in regard to children) holds negative thoughts for some people but I see it rather differently. To achieve the most beautiful display that a wisteria can create, it needs to be trained…to be pruned, to be fed and watered, etc. I was recently reading Psalm 144. It is written by David and in it, he thanks God for His mercy and he prays that God will protect him. He makes a promise to praise God and then he prays for his kingdom. Listen to verse 12:

Our sons in their youth will be like full-grown saplings, our daughters will be like sculptured pillars fit for the corner of a palace. Wow! We all want to see our children do well, don’t we? I want to see my sons as plants grown up! Not weeds or thorns but I want to see healthy, mature and fruitful plants! Nothing could make me happier and joyful. Sometimes our plants need to be strong in order to brave the elements…to weather the storms, the rain, hail and burning winds and sun. God often likens children, especially sons, to an olive tree. Olive trees were pretty important to the Israelites as they were a symbol of God’s blessing. They needed to be ‘trained’ else they become wild and unfruitful. They [the trees] had a purpose! They need to be strong in order to face the weathers.

Your children around the table will be like shoots from an olive tree.~Psalm 128:3

I see that word picture quite clearly but what exactly does it mean to be ‘sculptured pillars fit for the corner of a palace’? Palaces were indeed ornate and beautiful buildings and great care was taken in building of palaces even the angles or cornerstones of the building. Sometimes, the ancient Greeks used to make corner pillar type statues carved in the form of a woman, elegantly dressed in long robes. These even provided strength to the building . They would have been graceful, strong and polished, although the material would not originally have been smooth and polished. It took some polishing to get it that way. Even today, any good builder will tell you that the foundation is extremely important and then the cornerstone is vital to the longevity and strength of a building. The cornerstone is where all the other measurements are taken from.

What I found strange was that I thought this was back to front. What??? The word of God is back to front? See I imagined that the women would have been portrayed as beautiful ornaments in the garden whereas the men would have been the strong cornerstone of a palace…carrying the weight of the building. I would have to look into this one further. Why did God deliberately use these word pictures? What is He trying to convey to us? I’ll leave you to figure that one out for yourselves, if you want to. So, as a mother what does this mean for me? I start with the end in mind: I want my sons to be plants grown up…to be mature, fully developed…to be stable, healthy, fruitful, and able to withstand the storms of life. I want them to be rooted in good soil (rooted in The Spirit of God) so that they will not be blown about by every wind. What more could a mother of sons desire?

In training my daughters to be ‘cornerstones’ I need to train them in virtue of character…to train them into strong, polished pillars who have a pure heart…a modest demeanor filled with gentleness and graciousness…to see my daughters as polished cornerstones, fit for the service of the King.