Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court. (Psalm 127:3-5)
What a strange statement about children. What on earth did Solomon mean when he composed this psalm? Well, let’s first consider what Solomon did NOT say. He did not say that children are a nuisance, a financial burden, an accident, punishment, or a curse. He did not say that they are a bunch of random sticks and twigs in a warrior’s quiver. He also did not say “cursed or unhappy is the man…”.
And yet I would like to propose to you that this is exactly the lie that Satan whispers to mankind, and that we have swallowed for millennia. Among all the people in the world, children are the most mistreated, neglected, abused, and unwanted. In many societies, including our own, they are considered “disposable” if we don’t feel ready to take on the responsibility of raising them. Anyone with more than one or two children is viewed as crazy. Our desire for a better lifestyle and good career rank higher than having a family, and God forbid that we should ever consider taking in someone else’s child, too! What a sad world we live in!
So what DID Solomon say here? First, he reminds us that it is God who gives us children. And since God can only give us good things, children are a good gift from our Father, no matter what the circumstance, or how many children we already have. Just like God loves us as His own children, we have the special privilege of passing on this love to children, whether our own or someone else’s. Secondly, Solomon, suggests that children are our heritage/legacy, and instruments of war. What do those two statements have in common?
A person’s legacy can be either good or bad, depending on the person’s life and conduct while on this earth. If we want our children to be a good legacy, we must put in much work, training, guiding, and character-building. In the same way, a warrior who wants to be successful in battle must craft his weapons very carefully. The sticks he collects must be carved and honed just right, to the perfect thickness and length, with all bumps and dents removed, the tip perfectly sharp, the shaft smooth, and the weight just right. A warrior would never think to enter a fight without proper preparation! In the same way, we have been given the task of carefully, patiently, and consistently shaping our children’s faith, character, skills, and work ethic. Proverbs 22:15 tells us that “folly is bound up in the heart of a child”, so God has put us in charge of helping them learn wisdom. We are to raise them into adults who can stand strong in their faith, ready to be launched wherever God would want them to make an impact in the war against Satan and his minions.
Additionally, a warrior would be extremely foolish to only take one or two arrows with him into battle. He would make absolutely sure that his quiver is well stocked. In the same way, if we had to choose between a meager heritage and a rich one, we would be foolish to choose the meager heritage. Now, I am not necessarily suggesting that we all start having oodles of children and put more on our plates than we can handle. But I am suggesting that we change our mindset about children. We are to view them as blessings, as opportunities God gives us to influence the future generation by “bringing them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Eph. 6:4). So if God gives us children, whether by birth, or adoption, or whichever way He chooses, let’s remember these verses in Psalms and intentionally, carefully, and patiently prepare a rich heritage and useful arrows in God’s kingdom.