“Papaw/Memaw”, “Grandpa/Grandma”, “Nana/Papa”, “Earl/Ethel”…by whatever name you called them, many have memories of going to Grandma’s house or fishing with Grandpa. They were there for wisdom and guidance, to spoil their grandkids, and provide a stable market for overalls and aprons. One thing to be said for Grandparents though, they are timeless. They will always do a few things.
They always protect and admonish. There is a chapter in David’s life that is particularly troubling. His family is in shambles. His eldest son Amnon (his mother was Ahinoam [2 Sam. 3.2]) raped his half-sister Tamar [2 Sam. 13]. It is not a high point in Scripture. Absolam (his mother was Maakah [2 Sam. 3.3]) hears of this act by his half-brother upon his sister and is outraged. He conspires a plan and waits. Two years later (2 Sam. 13.23), Absalom killed Amnon in retribution. David was furious over Amnon’s sin (2 Sam. 13.21) but he wept bitterly at the news that Amnon was dead and mourned for many days (13.36-37). Absalom unsure of how his father, the King, would react, fled. Who did he run too? Talmai, son of Ammihud, the king of Geshur. For three years, stayed in Geshur. This is relevant to the conversation because of his mother’s heritage. She had been the princess of Geshur, the daughter of Talmai. He fled to his Grandpa. Parents are the enforcers and discipliners; Grandparents keep Suzy-Q’s and Pepsi’s in the fridge. Parent’s send you to your room and tell you to close your door; Grandparent’s keep the door open just to welcome you in. Absolam proves one timeless fact about Grandparent’s: an unwavering belief that their grand-child is truly the best (as pointed out by their monogramed sweatshirts).
They have no expiration date. Proverbs 17.6 reads: “Children’s children are a crown to the aged” Crown [hb. ‘ataret] is actually the first word of the Hebrew sentence. Hebrew isn’t as locked into sentence structure, especially in the Wisdom Books, as the English language is. There is much more fluidity to be had in where words are placed in a sentence. To emphasize the importance of a word, “crown” in this case, the writer will place it first in the thought. Crowns are important. The crown of the book of Proverbs displays its significance. It is wisdom. Proverbs 4.7-9:
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
Cherish her, and she will exalt you;
embrace her, and she will honor you.
She will give you a garland to grace your head
and present you with a glorious crown.”
Since the purpose of the entire book is to “gain wisdom and understanding” (Proverbs 1.2), the importance of the crown is easily understood. There is the “woman of noble character” in Proverbs. She is a “crown”. Proverbs 12.4:
“A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown,
but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.”
Her worth is beyond compare in Proverbs. There is wealth. Again Solomon uses “crown” to start off this wisdom. Crown begins the sentence that reads:
“The wealth of the wise is their crown,
but the folly of fools yields folly.” (Proverbs 14.24)
Wealth is the display of those who possess wisdom. Crowns are gold. They’re precious. They’re valuable. Literally, wealth. Finally, that grey hair that adorns the elderly; it’s a crown. Again Solomon starts the Proverb with the word “crown” as he writes:
“Gray hair is a crown of splendor;
it is attained in the way of righteousness.” (Proverbs 16.31)
Gray hair is a sign of wisdom. A crown of survival. Living long enough to attain a full head of gray hair, should be celebrated.
The importance of the crown motif in Proverbs can’t be undersold. It’s a display of life well lived. Which is why they put their Grandkids on display. Before some guy in Japan decided to put a camera in his phone in 2000, every person born before then was subjected to a Grandmother who took way-to-many-pictures, with way-to-big-of-flash, with a zoom lens that may or may not be in focus. But she was Grandma. She was going to show off her grandkids. My mother cherished pictures of her grandkids and would show them to any and everyone. They were Her and Dad’s good life on display. One of my greatest regrets and disappointments in life is that I couldn’t give them any. I am the 4th generation “Gail” in the Long family and it will end with me. They are crowned “grandparents” forever with Micaiah, Mia, Macy Jo, and Matthew because crowns don’t have expiration dates.
The last timeless aspect of grandparents is their spiritual leadership. It was my Grandmothers who took me to Church when I was younger: East Borough Presbyterian Church and Assumption Catholic Church. Before my family began attending a Church regularly in 6th grade, it was my Great-Grandfather who diligently prayed for our family for many years. Who would have thought that Dad is serving in leadership of a Church, Mom knew Jesus intimately before her passing, Steph is a Church planter in Japan, and I write these words with a placard on my door that reads: “Pastor”. All thanks to a praying Grandpa Gail. Psalm 128 is a song that is meant to be sung on the way to worship. Jerusalem sat on the top of a hill. Everyone was continually “going up” to Jerusalem to go to the Temple. As they walked, they sang.
Blessed are all who fear the Lord,
who walk in obedience to him.
You will eat the fruit of your labor;
blessings and prosperity will be yours.
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots around your table.
Yes, this will be the blessing for the man who fears the Lord.
May the Lord bless you from Zion;
may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life.
May you live to see your children’s children—peace be on Israel.
When leadership, especially spiritual leadership, was needed, it was the Grandparents who led the way. During celebrations, like Passover, it was the Oldest male in the household that led the worship. Psalm 128 shows that worship starts on the way to the Temple. It depicts 3 generations: Mom and Pop (1-3); children (3); children’s children (8). Whether the grandkids are on the scene or not is not clear, but they are definitely in the picture. The moment my sister said “yes” to her husband, my mother and father began preparing for grandkids.
By whatever name they go by they are certainly vital to the lives of our families.