Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table.” Psalm 128:3

Both Psalms 127 and 128 extol the blessings of family. In the verse above, not only is the wife described as a fruitful vine, but the children are described as olive shoots around your table. The first thing that comes to your mind when children around your table is mentioned, might not be olive shoots. To make matters worse, in the Dutch language, the word for olive shoots is very, very similar to the word for elephants. Consider that word picture for a moment!

The thing that strikes me about this verse is that the children are said to be “around the table”. In our fast-paced world, many families don’t take the time to sit down around a table, and have a meal together. But the question needs to be asked, “What are we living for?” A study at Harvard University revealed that most American families no longer eat dinner together. It concluded that dinner ought to be a time to relax, recharge, laugh, tell stories and catch up on the day’s ups and downs, while developing a sense of who we are as a family. Over the past 15 years researchers have confirmed what parents have known for a long time: sharing a family meal is good for the spirit, the brain and the health of all family members. Recent studies link regular family dinners with many behaviours that parents pray for: lower rates of substance abuse, eating disorders, obesity, teen pregnancy and depression, as well as higher grade-point averages and self-esteem.

What do we want for our children? A pace of life that is even more hectic than ours? A level of stress that requires constant counselling? Or do we want our children to grow up with the security of a family’s love, living as a fragrance of life in this decaying world? The dinner table is certainly one place where children can be nurtured in that direction. May God enable all of us to have homes and dinner tables that are places of love for Him, and for one another. May harmony, peace, love and laughter fill the hearts of the olive shoots at all of our tables, to His eternal praise!