It is difficult to raise G-rated kids in an R-rated world. That’s not new news to any of you parents. But the Bible does give us help. In Psalm 127-128 we see four foundational principles of parenting. I wrote about the first principle yesterday which was to READ the instruction manual (127:1-2). If you didn’t read yesterday’s posting, you may want to pause right now and go back and read it before continuing.
The second principle is that we must REALIZE the value of our children (127:3-5). Our children are a “gift” from the Lord. This is a Hebrew word meaning “property” or “possession.” It is the idea of something that is shared or assigned. Children are the Lord’s property and possession which He graciously assigns and shares with us as parents and as stewards of this precious gift. Children are a reward or a pleasure and are proof of God’s love for us and His reward to us. Comedian and television star Bill Cosby has rightfully said, “Nothing I’ve ever done has given me more joys and rewards than being a father to my children.”
Psalm 127:4 describes children as “arrows” meaning that they are meant to fly and need to be directed. Proverbs 22:6 tells us to “train up” our children. This is a word that literally means “palate” or “gums.” Midwives would put juice on the palate or gums of a newborn to cause the baby to suck. The idea is that training involves creating a thirst in our children for the Lord. This word was also used to describe placing a rope in the mouth of a wild horse until it became broken. Training also involves breaking the stubborn self-will of a child into a gentle, submissive spirit. No wonder the Psalmist would say that a blessed man sees the value of all the “arrows” that God designed for his quiver.
A third principle is to RESOLVE to strengthen your family unit (128:1-3). This involves a commitment to God (v1-2). Families are strengthened by fearing the Lord and walking in His ways. It also involves a consideration of each other (v3). A wife is spoken of as a fruitful vine (notice ladies, no mention of thorns) which produces pleasure in life. Kids are referred to as olive plants (not branches because they are each unique).
The final foundational principle is to REFUSE to ever give up (128:4-6). Why? First, because there is a pleasure that is involved (v4). A family should produce personal satisfaction. John writes that he had no greater joy than to see his children walk in truth (Third John 4). Second, there is the issue of prosperity (v5). A nation remains only as strong as her families. Finally, there is a need for perseverance (v6). As parents and even grandparents we must determine to never give up.
After all, you can’t do much about your ancestors but you can influence your descendants enormously.