127:3-5, "Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is
his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are the children of
the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be
ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate."
This morning, my mind has been stirred due to a conversation with a vendor here at work. As we chatted about different things, the conversation turned towards the present crisis in this country in many different areas. He mentioned that with the downturn on everything it was getting harder and harder to cement any type of "legacy" to our labour here in the earth. When I pressed the matter a little, he basically said that the ever-changing world and forgetfulness of yesterday to chase after the fleeting dreams of tomorrow were making it difficult to do anything of lasting value that anyone will ever remember. Of course, I did not travel down the path of pride, self-indulgence, and conceited notions with him (bad for business relations), but the statement was full of man's natural self-glory about self-worth. Our thoughts of legacy are, at least by implication, steeped in our own quest of self rather than others. It is interesting that the Bible never uses the term "legacy" once, but the subject of a heritage comes up over and over again. One of the things that stirred my mind was his statement, "About the only way to have a legacy anymore is to have children." My mind immediately went to this passage, for our children should not be viewed as a legacy to us, but rather as a heritage from the LORD.
The word heritage has implications of an inheritance, a portion, a lot, or parcel. Basically, the heritage is not the whole of the source, but it is the part of the whole under consideration. When the children of Israel were given Canaan's Land as a heritage, that was their portion in the natural world. (Exodus 6:8) When ministers of the gospel tend to the Lord's heritage in His church, we are focusing on the portion of the human race that seeks after God according to His precepts and dictates. (I Peter 5:3) Therefore, our children should not be viewed as some legacy to our memory or a way of cementing our mark on the world, but rather, they should be viewed as our portion from the Lord as a part of our reward here. Children are a great blessing from God that our family has been increased, our joys doubled, and our burdens shared. The Biblical model of a family unit is the most simple yet most solid unit known to man. Due to the autonomous nature of the Biblical family unit there are figures of authority (father and mother) with clear household guidelines for the well-being of all the family.
This heritage that we have, I believe, mirrors the heritage that God has. When we look at all the natural creation around us, we understand that the day is coming when the Lord will burn it all up. (II Peter 3) When He comes again the second time without sin unto salvation, the elements will all melt with a fervent heat and be dissolved in a moment in the twinkling of an eye. So, what is the Lord's portion in all of this? The Lord's portion is His people, and Jacob is a representative (or figure) of the lot of God's inheritance. (Deuteronomy 32:7-10) As all that we see is fleeting and quickly passing away, there is something in this old world that will live on forever with the Lord; His people, without the loss of one, will inhabit the glory world with Him.
The Psalmist compares children to arrows in the hand of a mighty man, with his quiver full of them. Now, I realize that some have taken this text and twisted it to regulate families to some non-Biblical code of family reproduction. Some groups are actually in the "more children more spiritual" business, in that the number of children one has is an indicator of spirituality. Such notions make me wonder if they have ever read of Abraham, who God blessed above measure with only one child of his old age with Sarah his wife. Truly, the lone representative Isaac did not damper the spiritual fellowship Abraham had with God, but rather, Isaac's single presence cemented God's promise to him. When it speaks of a "full quiver" in regards to children, it should be a simple inference to understand that some quivers are larger than others. I would much rather see a family that had a few children and were able to care for them than to see a large family that had more children than they could care for. One is a small unit of reasonableness, while the other is a large unit of foolishness. However, if families can afford to have large numbers and desire to, that is fine as well. It should not be the preacher or church's job to tell families when and how many to have. As everyone in my family and my wife's family can attest, one of my favourite expressions for these topics is, "That is nobody's business but my wife's and mine."
But let us press the matter a little further with God and His heritage. We understand that a happy man has a full quiver. I have seen those that were physically unable to have more children (or any children) and truly desired to. They were truly saddened at the condition of desiring children but no ability. I have seen others that decided not to have any, and when it was too late wished they had. In both cases, sorrow is the result, but I have met countless multitudes that have "filled their quiver" so to speak and were truly happy with their heritage from God. Just give them a crack of an opportunity and they will tell you all about their children and how thankful they are for them. This is the thought that the Psalmist is driving at. He is not seeking to speak of a particular number, but rather he is speaking about a full state of happiness.
Since a happy man has a full quiver, consider our Lord and His children. Should we believe that God desires all of mankind to be His children and live with Him in glory, there is only one way that He will be happy. If His quiver cannot be full without all of Adam's race, then it will take all of Adam's race to make Him happy. Yet, we find that God is not sorrowful about the eventual inhabitants of heaven. He will not have a less than full quiver when it is all said and done. For years I had never seen eternal security in this text, but for God to be happy with His portion of people, that quiver must be full of His children. There will not end up being one too many to fit, nor will there be room for another one that "did not quite make it." The Scriptures that speak of heaven never speak of discordant themes in God's throne room. In that great and blissful scene, there will be nothing to offend nor tears to be shed. There will be no need of crying, for all the causes of tears will be gone forever.
Consider a family that has lost a child whether in an untimely death or complications of pregnancy. The family mourns over the loss of the child and wonders at all the "potentials" that could have been for their family and that child's life. I have seen some families mourn over the "what ifs" for years. Some never did get over the loss. Some sought other means (such as substances) rather than the Lord to dull the pain and despondency. Such a scene of loss and mourning will be completely absent from the "reunion" of God's family on the morning of the resurrection. As we will be completely overwhelmed and partakers of complete joy, happiness, charity, and peace, we will then know Him as He knows us. (I Corinthians 13:12) As He knows us (His family) so will we know Him, and by implication, each other. Since we will not have the pain of loss or sorrow, we understand that neither does God have the pain of loss or sorrow. Rather, all are united together in complete peace and happiness.
Therefore, God will not have 99% of His quiver filled with His children, but all those for which He loves, foreknew, predestinated, called, justified, and will one day glorify will be there with a 800 full quiver. Contrasting again with our families, our children are our portion here. As we are His portion, so are our children our portion. God has no need to concern Himself with making a legacy unto His memory, but He has great care and concern over the His portion of people that He watches over like that mother eagle to her nest. His eye is upon us, and His wings overshadow us. At times, His wings bear us up above the trials and tribulations to feast and soar with Him for a while. May our thoughts to our little ones be the same. May we watch over them, overshadow them, and bear them up when necessary. May we thank Him for our heritage of children, thank Him even more for feeling to be a part of His heritage of people, and not seek our own self-worth in striving for our legacy here.