"Do not move an ancient boundary stone set up by your fathers." Proverbs 22:28
I have a vague memory of boundary stones on our farm in Vermont and my two acres in Wyoming. Those markers set the limits of my property. They also set the limits of the property bordering mine. We knew where Our property and rights extended and ended. No questions. Like fences, boundary markers make good friends. They establish borders, determine rights and provide order. If both sides of the boundary stones respect the markers, there is peace and order.
So, Solomon says, respect those markers! Don’t move them. You threaten a person’s livelihood if you move a marker and deprive a landowner of his property! In ancient Israel, and even for some in modern America, the land provides the food and the income for a family to survive. Deprive that family of income potential from the land and you may bankrupt that family.
Those ancient boundary markers did more than guarantee property lines and rights; they provided a sense of continuity. In ancient Israel the property that God blessed each household with was passed on to succeeding generations. Fathers passed the land on to sons who then passed it on to their sons. Generations of a family would be raised on the same property, harvesting the same fields, wading the same creeks, and plucking fruit from the same trees. Those boundary markers provided a very important sense of stability for families, and that stability became an important element of the family’s, and society’s, heritage.
So, if you moved an ancient boundary stone, you actually did more than disrupt the livelihood of that family, as important as that was. If you moved that stone you "destroyed the social order and well being of individuals in the community." (Bland, p.206-07). You upset the order and tore at the heritage.
There is great importance to this verse. Is there anything in our lives that provides a sense of heritage for us, a sense of continuity with our ancestors, a connection with our past? Is there something we can hold on to as a connection to grandma and grandpa, even great grandma and grandpa? Fortunate are those who grow up on a farm and can say, "My dad and his mom were both born and raised on this farm. I’m the fourth generation in my family to farm this land." That is happening less and less.
In my own family it was the construction business that helped provide some of that heritage for me. I remember seeing tools of my dad’s marked, "Baldwin and Baldwin." "Are these tools from the business you owned with grandpa," I asked dad. "No," he said. "These are tools from the business your grandpa owned with your great grandpa." At age 13 I was assembling some of the equipment my great grandfather used back in 1930. That is heritage, a connection with my past, a boundary marker that establishes order, permanence and stability.
My own children did not have the benefit of being raised on a farm or in a business that had been worked by four generations of my family. But I have found something that does serve as such a boundary marker for them, something that promotes heritage and stability. It is worship. My kids worship with their mother and me. At the same time and in other places, both sets of grandparents are worshiping. When a certain song is sung, I can lean over and whisper to one of my kids, "That was one of great grandpa’s favorite songs. When I was your age, I remember him leading this song all the time. He would sing it with his eyes closed he knew it so well." And with that I plant a boundary marker that will remain in place throughout the lifetime of my kids. It is a marker that connects them with grandparents, great grandparents, and even great, great grandparents, a marker that will weekly remind them of who they are, who they belong to, and how they are to live. Worship is an "ancient boundary stone set up by our fathers," so let’s plant those markers deep into the hearts of our children and grandchildren.
From: Roaring Lions, Cracking Rocks and Other Gems From Proverbs