The Father and Fathers
Wednesday of Pentecost 19
3 October 2018
"Paternalism" is a bad word in the lexicon of political correctness. In the politically correct lexicon, paternalism smacks of male domination, unwanted authority, the oppression of persons, and the suppression of human rights.
In the Bible's lexicon the word means something entirely different. The word comes from the Latin, meaning "fatherly." To be paternal is to be like God our heavenly Father, who as a true Father cares for and shows compassion to his children. So the Psalmist says, "As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him" (Ps 103:13). God gives Himself for His children in the person of His Son. His first priority is to take care of their needs. Being paternal must be a good thing if it implies being like the gracious God who has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ.
When I was a child, I experienced God-like paternalism in my own dear father. I know there were many times in his life when he sacrificed his own comfort and leisure for my sake to make sure that I had what he considered best for me. This was a sign of my heavenly Father's compassion for me, that my father placed his needs and wants last that I might be placed first. It is no wonder the Bible so honors fatherhood because it is such an enormous blessing from God. God expects fathers to be like him in their fatherhood; not full of their own authority or power, but powerful in their sacrifices for their families, and especially their children. Thank God our Father for our godly fathers.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Martin Luther
"In the fourth commandment belongs a further statement about all kinds of obedience to persons in authority who have to command and govern. For all authority flows and is born from the authority of parents. Where a father is unable alone to educate his rebellious and irritable child, he uses a schoolmaster to teach the child. If he is too weak, he gets the help of his friends and neighbors. If he departs this life, he delegates and confers his authority and governance upon others who are appointed for the purpose. Likewise, a father must have domestic manservants and maidservants under himself for the management of the household. So all whom we call 'masters' are in the place of parents and must get their power and authority to govern from them.
So also men are all called fathers in the Scriptures, who in their government perform the functions of a father, and have a paternal heart toward their subordinates. From antiquity the Romans and other nations called the masters and mistresses of the household "housefathers" and "housemothers." They called their national rulers and overlords "fathers of the entire country." This is a great shame to us who would be Christians because we do not give them the same title or, at least, do not value and honor them as fathers."

Martin Luther, Large Catechism,
2 Samuel 5:1-10

Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, "Behold, we are your bone and flesh.  In times past, when Saul was king over us, it was you who led out and brought in Israel. And the LORD said to you, 'You shall be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince over Israel.' "  So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the LORD, and they anointed David king over Israel.  David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years.  At Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and at Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years.
And the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who said to David, "You will not come in here, but the blind and the lame will ward you off"-thinking, "David cannot come in here."  Nevertheless, David took the stronghold of Zion, that is, the city of David.  And David said on that day, "Whoever would strike the Jebusites, let him get up the water shaft to attack 'the lame and the blind,' who are hated by David's soul." Therefore it is said, "The blind and the lame shall not come into the house."  And David lived in the stronghold and called it the city of David. And David built the city all around from the Millo inward.  And David became greater and greater, for the LORD, the God of hosts, was with him. (ESV)
O Lord, you have revealed Yourself as a compassionate father who has pity on His children, grant that all who serve as fathers and authorities would likewise show compassion to those over whom You have placed them. Amen.
For John Wagner, in thanksgiving to God for successful surgery, calling on God to provide his paternal care to his own child
For President Trump and all the fathers of our nation, that they would not become weary in well doing
For Elizabeth Baker, that the holy angels would watch over her, guarding her soul as she commends herself to God
Art: Albrecht DURER, The Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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