Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. (Psalm 127:3–5).
Rebekah and I continue to give thanks for our new son. We are very grateful for the flood of cards and small gifts we’ve received from family, friends, Chapel and community (in fact we have never received so many cards!). We also gave thanks for him in the presence of the Lord recently with a special service of dedication on the Lord’s Day (NB-not infant baptism).
The most basic view of children in the Bible is that they are a gift, a blessing and a delight. Indeed, having children is one of the great callings of a husband and wife in the creation mandate (Gen 1:28, “be fruitful and multiply” [sexuality is not only about pleasure but procreation and the calling and joy God intends in this]). If someone jadedly or sarcastically thinks contrary they have a wrong way of thinking and need to renew their mind to conform with God’s will on the subject (Ro 12:1). Many people today think children a drudge, something that is the unwanted fruit of lust, something that gets in the way of having the newest car or biggest house (itself an indicator that marketers have done a fabulous job duping many parents so that they think they have to have everything for their children and so they become expensive and so is generated the myth that children need to be costly). Many people have children as the last item in their checklist because it is the done thing (and their life checklist is also often out of whack in terms of order and priorities). Ironically, there would be no immigration crisis in most Western nations today if people had retained a biblical view of children because the birth-death ration would be stable and allow the welfare states that have been created to sustain themselves, and thus we’d have no need of mass immigration. I digress. Now, getting back on track, to be sure there are many parents who do have children because of that innate desire to fulfil Gen 1:28, but I am especially drawing attention to extremes. For some parents children are a burden, and yet for others they become a burden because they pander to them excessively—creating little devils—all under the false cultural teaching that a parents job is to ‘make them happy’ (which is foolish because we all know that is a mirage we can never arrive at).
The Bible balances these two extremes. It counters the first example by teaching children are a blessing from the Lord, and the second by stipulating that parents spiritual commission is to raise their child to love and fear the Lord and walk in His ways (Deut 6:1–10).
Further reflection on text: Behold, listen, says the Bible. Children are a heritage, a gift, from God. It commends having 7 of them (the traditional number of arrows in a quiver and the number of perfection, but which ultimately means many, i.e. more than one or two [if possible]!). And here also is parental responsibility and investment (any fool can make a baby, it takes a man to raise a child), for these are needed to turn children into mature and useful godly adults (children of one’s youth). When you stand with your grown children at the gate, the place of justice and community decision making in the ancient world, you will have no shame in your children. You will love and respect them and they you, and as their father (or mother), you’ll stand at the front of a unified and respectful family, united against any enemies and held in honour and respect.
This is the Biblical vision for parenting and may it be wonderful in our eyes!
The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,