Prayers for Today from Psalms
2. Praying for Our Children
Psalm 127 - 128
1980 - Moody Monthly - cover story on abortion - famed surgeon C. Everett Koop (later to become Surgeon General of the United States) holding a baby in his arms. That picture and the article made me think deeply about abortion for the first time. Looking back, I am sure the issue gripped my heart because at the time our first child was 9 months old. Issues like abortion are political on one level, moral on another and ultimately deeply personal. We all have our ways of finding the truth of the matter.
Here is one thing we know for certain: God has a heart for children, and his heart grieves for the children killed by abortion. This message is not primarily about abortion. I know with moral certainty that abortion is wrong and evil. I think I would know that even if I were not a Christian, but because I am a Christian, I cannot separate my convictions about life from my deepest beliefs about the God who creates life.
In this message I want to ask and answer one question that underlies the abortion debate. How does God view children? If we know the answer to that question, we know how we should view children. Are they are a blessing or a burden?
You can tell a lot about a society by the way it treats children. OT - pagans sacrificed their children to pagan gods - Jews taught their children these words: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6: 4, 5). They took God seriously - impress these truths upon your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
God blesses those who show Jesus’ love of to the world’s children. We should treasure them and not take them for granted. Jesus declared - “whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.” Then this solemn warning, “But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea“ (Matthew 18: 5, 6). Because Jesus loves children, those who harm children will answer to him. Psalm 127-128 - placed together for a reason. They teach us how God feels about children and how they can be a blessing and not a burden.
1. Children are a Gift from God Psalm 127: 3
We learn that children come directly from the hand of God. They are gifts of grace sent from heaven to earth. God takes personal responsibility for the creation of life in the womb. Genesis 30: 17 “God listened to Leah, and she became pregnant.” Genesis 33: 5 "The children God has graciously given your servant.” Genesis 48: 9 “The sons God has given me.” Deuteronomy 7: 13 “He will bless the fruit of your womb.”
No pleasure in life that can equal the pleasure of seeing your children grow up. Instead of building empires, parents must first build a family. Children are a “heritage” from God - preserve the family into the next generation. All of us want to be remembered after we are gone. If you are a parent, you will be remembered by the children you leave behind. That legacy will remain long after your personal achievements have been forgotten.
Sometimes a couple can’t have children for various reasons. This does not say that not having children is a sign of God’s judgment -simply declares that children are a blessing from the Lord. It’s important that we say what the Bible says and not go beyond that.
What about those couples that desperately want children but cannot have them? Those couples often become parents to the children of the world. They minister to the fatherless and the motherless. Often they adopt children, become foster parents, work in a crisis pregnancy centre, tutor children, teach Sunday School and reach out to at-risk children. So many children have no one who cares for them. God bless those adults who show the love of Jesus to the children of the world.
When you look into the face of your child, you will know that only God could have done this. So much like you, made in your image, a miniature of you, yet so very different. They walk like you, they talk like you, they laugh like you, and yet they definitely have a mind of their own. No one can have lived in vain who leaves behind children who love the Lord and follow in his steps. 3 John 4 “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth."
Children bring God’s love to us. Time and eternity meet in the heart of a child. Each one comes bearing the fingerprint of God. The Lord Jesus loved little children ... and so should we!
2. Children are like Arrows that need to be Sharpened and Aimed Psalm 127: 4
An arrow is small but powerful. Think what our children can do. An arrow must be sharpened well. So must we shape our children. An arrow can travel far. Who knows how far our children will go? An arrow must be aimed in order to hit the target. Archers spend hours preparing their arrows. They choose the right wood, cut it to size, spend hours polishing, shaping and fitting the feathers and the arrowhead. They carefully aim their arrows because a wayward arrow can do great harm. This statement -written over 100 years ago - “Parents must not trifle with their children, like idiots playing with sharp tools.” Too many parents trifle with their children and then wonder why they don’t turn out well.
Most Christian parents are hoping their children won’t smoke, won’t drink, won’t do drugs, won’t sleep around and won’t get into trouble. As good as that is, that’s too low a goal for Christian parents. We ought to raise our children to learn how to change the world for Jesus Christ. We ought to pray that God would make our children “impact players” for Jesus Christ.
Sometimes our dreams for our children are too small. We want them to get an education, find a career, settle down, marry a good person and move out of the house. That’s not enough. Do you want your children to serve the Lord? It won’t happen by accident. You must sharpen them like arrows and aim them in the right direction.
3. Children are the Strength of the Home Psalm 127: 5
Seems to teach that large families are a special sign of God’s blessing. How full is “full?” The Bible doesn’t specify how many children you should have, but children are always a blessing. Not all Bible families were large, of course, but many were.
God doesn’t mandate how many children a couple should have. Quivers are like shoes, they come in many sizes. You must work out what size quiver you have and then ask God to help you fill it up. Age and health considerations play into the decision, but motive is also important. Having fewer children may be convenient, but it may not always be the best decision.
Children were the Biblical version of Pension Funds. They provided for their parents in their old age. If parents have loving children, their future is more secure than if they had R5 million in the bank. The city gate was the place where men conducted their business. Place where wise men ruled and made judgments. Men would meet their enemies “in the gate.” A father with many children has many defenders when he is falsely accused. They stand and testify to his good name. “Your enemies don’t stand a chance against you; you’ll sweep them right off the doorstep.”
Here is a family united to defend itself against all attacks. Nothing is said about money, power or position. God’s blessing is not seen in worldly wealth or the accumulation of “things” but in a happy family that rallies to the call whenever trouble comes.
This is a word to workaholic husbands (and wives): What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and yet loses his own family? Men on death-bed don’t say, “I wish I had spent more time in the office.” Many men say, “I wish I had spent more time with my family.” Be wise enough to learn this while there is still time to make a difference. None of this argues against having a career or working hard. But it is a plea for balanced priorities and for recapturing the highest value – the value of home and family.
Raising children can be tiresome and difficult. Children are both a burden and a blessing. It is not untypical of God’s gifts that first they are liabilities before they become assets. The greater their promise, the more challenging will be the task of raising God’s children. It is likely that our children will be a handful before they become a quiverful.
4. Children are the Hope of the Home Psalm 128: 3, 4
The vine is a symbol of charm, beauty and sexual attraction. The woman in this verse offers a marked contrast to the faithless woman of Proverbs 7: 11 “She is loud and defiant, her feet never stay at home.” In this Psalm the wife is attractive, alluring, charming and faithful. God’s ideal is not for a marriage to endure, but to grow happier, and better, and more enjoyable.
The vine makes the house beautiful. It shades the verandah, cools the house and enriches the table with ripe, succulent grapes. Thus is a godly wife to her husband. She is the crown of her husband who is her support and strength. He is happy everywhere because he is happiest at home. Happy families are still possible where God’s Word is taken seriously.
Olive shoots speak of great potential for the future. Mature olive trees produce fruit, wood and valuable oil. In the same way the children given by God have vast potential for good in this world. What a privilege God gives us to be caretakers of his vessels of blessing for the world. No one can tell what a child may become.
Six Important Conclusions
A. Children are a gift from God, and happy families are a gift from God. They do not come by human effort or from government policy but only from the hand of God above.
B. God’s blessings are available to anyone who seeks them. The only thing God asks is that his people fear him and obey his commandments. Money and worldly success are nothing measured against the joy of a happy family where mom and dad love each other, the children respect their parents and together they meet around the table to share their joys and sorrows.
C. We must recapture the high value of the family, of monogamous marriage, of abstinence before marriage, and a happy life together after marriage. We must teach our children that true love waits, that marriage is desirable, that motherhood is a noble calling, that being a godly father is more important than being a CEO and driving a BMW, that a loving family is worth more than all the gold under our feet, that sexual promiscuity leads only to sorrow and heartache - that our children are worth all the love, the effort, the investment of our time and resources.
D. We need to honour our fathers and mothers, and our grandparents and great-grandparents.Happy is the family where there is a godly heritage passed down across the generations. God bless those grandparents and great-grandparents who invest time and energy and tears and prayers into the lives of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
E. We ought to emphasise the role that godly fathers play and the high calling of motherhood and homemaking. We spend money and time on our ministries to children and youth because our children represent the hope of the future.
F. We must continue to support our single parents, step-parents, foster parents, adopted children, and those in blended families. Many times their burden is great because the happy family portrait of Psalm 128 is not fully achievable. Those individuals need our support, not our condemnation.
We live in a world that downplays the value of childhood and causes our kids to grow up too fast. It’s never been easy to be a child, but today the pressures are greater than ever. I believe happy families are still possible where God’s Word is taken seriously.
We can partner with the Lord Jesus Christ in the building of our homes. When we do, our families will be blessed, our children will prosper, our marriages will flourish and Jesus Christ will be praised. When our work on earth is done, we may look back with joy and say, “God blessed us with a happy Christian family.” There is no greater reward, no better testimony, no higher goal for Christian parents. If we can say that when the day is done, we may go out of this world singing, knowing that we prevailed in the one area of life that matters most.
“God bless those who love the children you love. Lord Jesus, you said, “Let the little children come to me.” You have shown us how much children matter to you. Give us your heart for all children everywhere, born and unborn. Amen.”