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TRULY GRAND PARENTS
Based on Ruth 4:13-17
Among the many things that makes man unique in creation is the presence of, and
the influence of, grandparents. In the vegetable world, "The bursting buds of
spring push off the last lingering leaves of the previous season, and thus
decline to have anything to do with the generation that preceded them, to say
nothing of the generation before that. Among animals and birds a certain
affection is sometimes found for fathers and mothers, but of the grandfather
and grandmother never a trace. But a man is so much greater.
The impact of grandpas and grandmas in history is beyond calculation. Most of
the famous people of the Bible from Adam and Eve on were grandparents. Often
the grandparents played a key role, if not the major role, in the way history
In Genesis 5 , we get an account of a man named Enoch, the son of Jared and the
Father of Methuselah. Methuselah the father of Lamech and Lamech the father of
Noah. You better believe that Enoch walked close to God and because he did
Noah’s father Lamech expressed that faith by the name he gave his son. Noah
means rest and it was from this seed, the seed of Seth, that Noah came.
Hezekiah was one of the best kings God's people ever had, his father was Ahaz,
who was one of the worst they ever had. But his grandfather was Jotham, and he
did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord. Hezekiah took after his
grandfather rather than his father, and the result was victory for the kingdom
Because of the powerful influence of grandparents there is always hope even if
one generation goes astray, because the next generation can be brought back,
and in that lies the glory of grandparents. They often bridge the gap between
parents and children, and they make major differences in the course of history.
The relationship of grandparents and grandchildren is so unique because it is
so full of hope and expectation. This explains the mystery of how a boy who is
not good enough for your daughter can father such marvelous children. And it
explains why the girl unworthy of your son can bear such brilliant beings as
It is a strange question to ask, but the book of Ruth makes us ask it: Is a
baby that is born more a child or a grandchild? In other words, who is to be
more congratulated, the parents or the grandparents? For some reason the book
of Ruth votes for the grandparents, and it makes this passage one of the most
powerful exaltations of a grandparent you will find anywhere in human
literature. It is almost as if the goal of this book was to come to a happy
ending with grandma Naomi holding grandson Obed in her lap, and everybody
singing her praises.
Note how suddenly the story of Ruth and Boaz comes to an end. Their romance has
dominated the stage for most of the book, but their wedding and 9 months of
pregnancy, and their whole life together is wrapped up rapidly in verse 13.
When Ruth gave birth to that baby boy, she and Boaz left the stage, and the
spotlight focuses on grandma Naomi for the closing scenes of the story. There
is not one more scene about the parents, for the star now is grandma. All of
the praise and rejoicing now revolve around her. Naomi has a kinsman-redeemer.
Naomi has a comfort for her old age. Naomi has a grandson, and they say she has
a son as well!
This radical removal of the parents, and this thrusting of grandma and
grandchild front and center is a powerful revelation of just how important a
role grandparents can play in the life of a grandchild. Every person in the
blood line from Adam to Christ was a grandparent. The genealogy that ends this
book is a list of people all of whom became grandparents. Obed, the baby of
Ruth [not Babe Ruth!], was the grandfather of King David. The book ends with a
special emphasis on grandparents, and with such a deliberate focus on Naomi
that I do not know of anywhere in the Bible where you can find a better text
for Grandparent’s Day.
The book of Ruth only exists because all of these people were grandparents and
great grandparents of David, the great king of God's people. God is into
genealogies and roots. And so God is into grandparents.
How awesome is this: that even parents who fail their children can become such
successful grandparents that the family tree is healed, and restored as one
that bears fruit for the kingdom of God. There are many ways in which the role
of grandparents is superior to the role of parents. We can't cover all that is
precious about the grandparent-grandchild relationship, but we can look at the
two R's of this relationship suggested by our text. Let’s dig deeper now into
this great blessing God has given…not to animals, not to angels, but to man.
The first R is…
The book of Ruth exists to trace the roots of David the king of Israel, and
there is no way to do this apart from getting into the lives of grandparents.
This is true for all of us. It was true for the only man in all of history who
had two letters written to him which became a part of God's Word to the world.
Those two letters are I and II Timothy. One of the things we know about
Timothy: is that his Christian faith had its roots in his grandmother. Paul
tells it clearly in II Tim. 1:5-
When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt
first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that
in thee also.
Paul made a major point of the roots of Timothy’s faith, for the fact is, what
the grandparents were makes a big difference in the majority of lives. There
are millions of ungodly grandparents who make their grandchildren like them,
but Christian grandparents do the same, and give the faith of their
grandchildren deep roots.
It is hard for me to imagine that I would be the person I am without the
influence of my grandparents. The older I get the more I realize how important
roots are, for had I not had the roots I had, I do not know where I might be in
my relationship to Christ. I belonged to a greater family of people than just
mom and dad, and that is important for establishing identity.
Margaret Mead, a noted anthropologist, has said in her article Grandparents and
Educators: "Somehow we have to get the older people, grandparents, widows and
widowers, spinsters and bachelors, back close to children if we are to restore
a sense of community, a knowledge of the past, and a sense of future to today's
Grandparents can be just that: parents who are grand. They do not have to be
the disciplinarians of life, and so they are more free to be the teachers of
values. They have opportunities to talk and share in ways that parents often do
not have, or do not take advantage of, because they do not see from the same
perspective as do grandparents.
Grandparents are often the key to a child's self-esteem. Children are difficult
and life is complex, and often parents give most of their energy to discipline,
and only a fraction to love. This is where the grandparents can add the
ingredient that makes the family balanced. In troubled families they are even
Dr. R. Loften Hudson of the American Association For Marriage And Family
Therapy tells of one of his clients who was working through her emotional
problems. He asked, "Who was the biggest influence in your growing up? I don't
know who the significant others were in your life with your father gone most of
the time, and your mother running around and getting drunk. Who did you look up
"That's easy," she replied. "It was my grandfather and grandmother. I didn't
spend much time with them because my mother hated them. They were daddies
parents. But they loved me and told me so." Dr. Hudson said, "How could they
have influenced you much when you seldom saw them?" She responded, "Oh, they
believed in me. They made me believe in myself. I remember once my grandfather
talked to me and said 'Ellie, I want to tell you something. You don't have to
let your parent’s problems ruin you. There is something great in you. There is
no telling what you can become. The world out there needs you.' I shall never
forget that speech. He made me believe in myself."
Ill.—G’pa a very successful salesman [wishe they could be here…he could sell an
ice maker to Eskimos!]/told me he envied me because I had a better product…I am
There is a powerful influence of even a rare opportunity to build up your
grandchildren's self-esteem. Grandparents provide the opportunity for
grandchildren to develop roots, and establish an identity that is not limited
to the present, which may be far from ideal.
The next R we want to look at is…
The grandchild-grandparent relationship is a two way street. The child has just
as great an impact on the adult as the adult on the child. In verse 15 the
women say of baby Obed, "He will renew your life and sustain you in your old
age." This little guy was to be to Naomi all that Geritol is today, and more.
There is something about a grandchild that can change the whole psychology of
life, and bring hope and joy to the forefront.
Pro. 17:6 records this universal reality: "Children's children are a crown to
the aged." Your children may have kept you poor, but their children will make
Until this scene where Naomi becomes a grandmother her life has been one trial
after another. Life has been a burden, and she has suffered sorrow and grief
beyond the average. She has suffered the loss of her husband and two sons. She
has had to endure the life of poverty and despair. She has had to bear the
responsibility of caring for Ruth, and trying to get her established in a home
of her own. Naomi has had little joy in this story until this closing scene
where she is grandmother. Now it is almost a heavenly scene! All tears are
wiped away, and there is a spirit of praise and joy, for now her whole future
looks bright, for she has a grandson!
Dr. Lewis A. Coffin in his book The Grandmother Conspiracy wrote, "As soon as a
person becomes a grandparent he or she undergoes a radical personality change:
stern fathers become cooing grandfathers: harping mothers melt and crawl on the
floor, sing lullabies, and cram cookies and cookies and more cookies down their
sweet little grandchildren's throats, take them to the ice-cream store, bake
cakes and pies for them, and stand back admiringly as their little ones
swell…pinch their obese little checks approvingly, and raise cain if anyone
tries to interfere!"
They sometimes become a problem to their children because they allow the
grandchildren to do what the parents have forbidden.
The point is, there is a different psychology between grandparents and
grandchildren than between parents and children.
The reason grandparents tend to spoil grandchildren is because of this renewal
in the minds of the grandparents. They are so grateful for the new joy and
pleasure of life that they say thanks by being over indulgent. This makes the
grandparent-grandchild relationship one which is dominated by the positive, and
it is one of fun. The fun is mutual, for most grandparents get more laughs from
their grandchildren than they do from comedians.
It is not all fun, of course. G’parents have to watch grandkids ALMOST fall out
of the swing, and almost fall from the monkey bars…ALMOST stumble and almost
bash their heads into the concrete or coffee table!
One of the reasons grandparents are often more fun than parents is because they
have more time. Parents are so loaded down with responsibility that they do not
have the time for fun with their children.
A 9 year old girl has written this description of a grandmother, and it has
become a classic.
"A grandmother is a lady who has no children of her own…So she likes other
people's little girls. A grandfather is a man grandmother. He goes for walks
with the boys and they talk about fishing and tractors and stuff like that.
Grandmas don't have to do anything except be there.
They're old, so they shouldn't play hard or run. It is
enough if they drive us to the market where the pretend horse is and have lots
of quarters ready. Or if they take us for walks, they should slow down past
things like pretty leaves or caterpillars. They never ever say 'hurry up.'
Usually they are fat, but not too fat to tie kid’s shoes.
They wear glasses and funny underwear. They can take their teeth out. They
don't have to be smart, only answer questions like why dogs hate cats and how
come God isn't married. They don't talk baby talk like some people do, because
it is hard to understand. When they read to us they don't skip pages. Everybody
should try to have one, especially if you don't have television, because
grandmas are the only grown ups who have got time.”
Time is one of the treasures of life that grandparents have learned to use more
wisely. Dale Evans-Rogers wrote a lot about her 16 grandchildren, and her
advise is, if you want to establish a warm bond with your grandchildren, get
rid of the parents. That is, be alone with your grandchildren.
The relationship of grandparents and grandchildren is like the period of
courtship, whereas that of parents and children is more like that of marriage.
The first is more dominated by fun, and the second by responsibility, and that
is a major reason why there is a different psychology at work.
The evidence is enormous that grandparents are key people in the lives of most
children. Grandparents are one of God's major weapons to keep His plan
unfolding and progressing. We see it in David's heritage in Ruth, but the
stories are endless, and they are going on today in the lives of millions.
Eight year old Ann Johnson wrote this poem which expresses the influence of
millions of grandparents on their grandchildren:
My grandma likes to play with God, They have a kind of game. She plants the
garden full of seeds,
He sends the sun and rain.
She likes to sit and talk with God, And knows He is right there. She prays
about the whole wide world,
Then leaves us in His care.