“Like as a father pitieth his children,
so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.” – Psalm 103:13
The Hebrew word for pity is racham and it means to fondle. By implication the word means to love, especially to be compassionate. This passage conveys the idea of what a good and godly father will do in order to teach what God will do as our Father who is in heaven. So consider the following.
First, a father will take pity upon his children, and be a comfort to them. British author Lewis Hind in one of his essays tells the story of the day that he discovered the comfort of his father. He had always respected and admired his father; but he had always been more than a little afraid of him. He was in church with his father one Sunday. It was a hot drowsy day. He grew sleepier and sleepier. He could not keep his eyes open as the waves of sleep engulfed him. His head nodded. He saw his father’s arm go up, and he was sure that his father was going to shake or strike him. Then he saw his father smile gently and put his arm around his shoulder. He cuddled the boy so that he might rest more comfortably and held him close with the clasp of love.
In like manner, that is what God does with us. God the Father has taken pity upon the fallen sons of Adam, and He has moved to love, to comfort, and to cuddle us to His heart in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus reveals the pity of God and the comfort He offers to hurting hearts. Hear the voice of the LORD saying, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”
Sin produces a heavy burden. Anyone who has been caught up in drugs, alcohol, lust, or an improper relationship knows the heavy burden of sin. That burden can be lifted at Calvary because God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him will never perish but have everlasting life. A father should be, and will be a comfort to his children.
Second, a father will be a powerful and positive presence to his children. The late humorist and columnist, Erma Bombeck, explains this concept. In one of her articles, Erma tells of receiving a letter from a single mother who had raised a son who was about to become a dad. Since her son had no recollection of his own father, the mother’s question was, “What do I tell him a father does?” This is what Erma Bombeck wrote in response.
“When my own dad died in my ninth year, I, too, was raised by my mother, giving rise to the same question, ‘What do fathers do?’ As far as I could observe, they brought around the car when it rained so everyone else could stay dry. They always took the family pictures, which is why they were never in them. They carved turkeys on Thanksgiving, kept the car gassed up, weren’t afraid to go into the basement, mowed the lawn, and tightened the clothesline to keep it from sagging.
It wasn’t until my husband and I had children that I was able to observe firsthand what a father contributed to a child’s life. What did he do to deserve his children’s respect? He rarely fed them, did anything about their sagging diapers, wiped their noses or fannies, played ball, or bonded with them under the hoods of their cars. What did he do?
He threw them higher than his head until they were weak from laughter.
He cast the deciding vote on the puppy debate.
He listened more than he talked.
He let them make mistakes.
He allowed them to fall from their first two-wheeler without having a heart attack.
He read a newspaper while they were trying to parallel park a car for the first time in preparation for their driving test.
If I had to tell someone’s son what a father really does that is important, it would be that he shows up for the job in good times and bad times.
He’s a man who is constantly being observed by his children. They learn from him how to handle adversity, anger, disappointment, and success.
He won’t laugh at their dreams no matter how impossible they might seem.
He will dig out at 1 AM when one of his children runs out of gas.
He will make unpopular decisions and stand by them. When he is wrong and makes a mistake, he will admit it.
He sets the tone for how family members treat one another, members of the opposite sex, and people who are different than they are. By example, he can instill a desire to give something back to the community when its needs are greater than theirs. But mostly, a good father involves himself in his kids’ lives. The more responsibility he has for a child, the harder it is to walk out of his life. A father has the potential to be a powerful force in the life of a child. Grab it! Maybe you’ll get a greeting card for your efforts. Maybe not. But, it’s steady work.”
In like manner, our Heavenly Father will lift us higher than we have ever been lifted before. “They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
Our Heavenly Father does not, and will not laugh at our dreams. Indeed He promises to give us greater dreams than ever before, and visions too for, “this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 17And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.” (Acts 2:17) God our Father is an awesome God. He is a Wonderful Father. He will not walk out on our lives. He will never leave us or forsake us.
Third, a father will try and build character into the lives of his children. General Douglas MacArthur wanted to do this. One night he knelt and prayed this prayer for his only son.
“Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid; one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.
Build me a son whose wishbone will not be where his backbone should be; a son who will know Thee….Lead him, I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge. Here let him learn to stand up in the storm; here let him learn compassion for those who fail.
Build me a son whose heart will be clean, whose goal will be high; a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men; one who will learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep; one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past.
And after all these things are his, add, I pray, enough of a sense of humor, so that he may always be serious, yet never take himself too seriously. Give him humility, so that he may always remember the simplicity of greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength. Then I, his father, will dare to whisper, ‘I have not lived in vain.’”
Our Heavenly Father is building character in His children which is why there are so many trials and tribulations in life. Our Father knoweth the way that we take, and when He has tried us, we shall come forth as gold. (Job 23:10) Our lives are according to Divine Design. God is building character in His children.
Fourth, a good father will always move to protect his children, especially in their time of greatest need. The weaker the child, the greater will be the protection of that child. Dr. T. T. Shields was the pastor of Jarvis Street Baptist Church in Toronto, Canada from 1910 to 1955. Dr. Shields grew up in Northern Ontario where they had stone fences around the farms. An incident took place during his own childhood he never forgot.
One afternoon a group of children were returning from school and among them was a boy who was severely handicapped. The young people were walking down the street, and the boy was dragging himself along with his crutches trying to keep up with his classmates. “As they came near our farm,” Mr. Shields remembered, “the boys began to heckle the young boy who was a cripple. When they reached the stone fence of his yard, they went over and took away his crutches from him and stood him up against the fence. And then they stood off and began to pepper him with stones.
Across the field, in another nearby farm was a fellow who was hoeing out in his farm. As this was going on, the little boy, hurt and weeping, looked off and saw the man and recognized him and shouted, one agonizing word. “FATHER!”
The man in the field dropped his hoe, rushed to the wall, bounded over it, and the boys scattered right and left. He picked up the boy in his arms. He went out, picked up the crutches, gave them to him, kissed him.” Dr. Shields never forgot that moment and confessed,
“I’ve so often been like that little boy, pestered and troubled by various trials of life. My solution has been to lift my voice to God in heaven and cry, ‘FATHER!’ And our heavenly Father, will have pity and He will move to help.”
Perhaps there is someone here today who needs to be a better father, according to Biblical standards. You have not been as compassionate as you should be. Perhaps you have laughed at your children more than is proper. They will never forget your mockery, and one day they might never forgive you either.
A person’s view of their earthly father may very well affect their view of their Heavenly Father. It is important for Christian men to represent God the Father adequately. Perhaps there is someone here who needs God to pity them. You are caught up in sin. The problems of life are overwhelming. You need Divine pity. Our text says that the LORD will pity those who fear Him.
Call upon the LORD and see that He is good. He is full of pity and compassion. He will have mercy upon you, whatever your need might be.