October 24, 2017

God Setteth the Solitary in Families

John Vaughn

FrontLine • May/June 2003

God’s people have taken refuge in the Psalms for centuries, and well they should. Psalm 68 is rich with promises and words of comfort. It has been used throughout history as a marching song by those who looked to God for victory. It has been pointed out that the Crusaders sang it on their way to the Holy Land; Savonarola and the monks sang it as they marched to their fiery trial; the Huguenots called it “the song of battles”; Cromwell’s army sang it as they charged Leslie’s army. During WWI it was sung more frequently than any other.

There is a phrase in the beginning of verse six of this wonderful Psalm. Near the end of the first stanza that honors God for His might, His majesty, and His mercy, we read the words, “God setteth the solitary in families.” What a wonderful truth! No one needs to be alone. Whether orphan or widow, the single person or the lonely pastor or missionary laboring for the Lord in an isolated place, God has a family for those who need a family.

Pastors know that messages on the family can often bring sadness to those who are lonely. It may be that some single person has been reading this issue and felt that sadness again. But remember, “God setteth the solitary in families.” God has a place where you can love and be loved. For some it is with friends and neighbors, or by helping another family with its needs. For all it should be a Fundamental, Bible believing local church. But even those in prison or the nursing home or otherwise unable to get to church are part of a great spiritual family if they truly know the Lord.

The sad reality is not just that there are so many who have never come into the spiritual family through the new birth, but that so many who have a place set at the table never come to eat. Sad indeed that there are some who must have their spiritual meals taken to their bedside or to the humiliation of a jail cell or the danger of a foxhole on the battlefield; tragic indeed that a place at the table set with love should go empty for lack of interest or loyalty. Who can’t understand the disappointment of a faithful mother who has prepared a nourishing meal for her family only to have them rush through the house announcing that they don’t have time to eat.

Or, consider the frustration of a lady who would arrange a lovely meal for the pastor only to have to call him after he failed to show up to see if there has been an emergency. Imagine that she should find him at home with the explanation, “Oh, I just wasn’t able to make it today, but I’ll come next time.” And yet, that happens to pastors nearly every week. They have prayed for their “family” members and prepared a nourishing sermon, often with a particularly hungry member in mind; then they stand to preach while looking out to see that many of the family just “weren’t able to make it” that day.

Sure, there are legitimate reasons much of the time, but you have to wonder how many people really understand that their church is family. Not only do they need the preaching, the singing, the praying, and the fellowship, but others need the absent one as well. A helpful illustration is given by Paul in 1 Corinthians 12, where he compares believers to a body. When a member of your body is hurting, you are not likely to rejoice at how much the other members don’t hurt. I’ve often taught my church, “It hurts worse to have a toothache, than it feels good not to.” It is doubtful that any one reading this has thought today, “My teeth really feel good!”

Just as many people put off going to the dentist because they will immediately experience sudden and perhaps severe pain to get their longstanding pain relieved, so do people live with the loneliness and stagnation of avoiding church because they don’t want the embarrassment of explaining their absence or the pain of conviction involved. You need the fellowship of God’s people, and they need you. You are not just hurting yourself; you are hurting your family. No one needs to be alone that knows the Lord. If you are not a member or not attending a local church, you are missing more than you realize. You are missing the joy of belonging—the blessing of being in a “family.”


John Vaughn is the Past-President of the Foundations Baptist Fellowship International.

(Originally published in FrontLine • May/June 2003. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.)

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