3Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward. 4Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. 5Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; They shall not be ashamed, But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.
Christmastide reminds us of the blessing of children. And it is of this blessing that Psalm 127 teaches us to sing. “Behold children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is his reward.” Children are a heritage from the Lord – God’s reminder that he intends to bless us and to cause His people to inherit the earth. The fruit of the womb is his reward – a treasure far greater than second homes, new cars, expensive toys, or undistracted minds. Does it cost to have children? Absolutely. Is it at times a struggle to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord? Absolutely. But Psalm 127 reminds us that even so children are a blessing and reward from God.
Hence, our fathers and mothers joyfully received children from God. Zacharias and Elizabeth rejoice that now, in Elizabeth’s old age, God has seen fit to give her a son. Mary welcomes the news of the angel Gabriel that she will bear a child and embraces the social scandal that accompanies her pregnancy. Joseph obeys the command of the Lord and raises the Christ-child as his own, despising any shame that others would put upon him. They received these children with joy and praise.
Increasingly, however, our broader society tempts us to view children as a burden rather than a blessing. Our culture of death has not only aborted over 60 million children, but is now making the morning after pill increasingly available to stave off the supposed curse of fertility. Rather than extolling the glory of sexual chastity and celebrating the wonder of children conceived in wedlock, the culture of death has endeavored to divorce the sexual act from fertility. Tired of confining the fire of sexual passion to the fireplace, we have lighted it in the middle of the house – and now the house is burning down around us. Rampant divorce, skyrocketing rates of mental illness, the #MeToo movement, homosexuality, transgenderism – all are the fruit of our hatred of God and our hatred of the fruit of the womb. According to numbers released this past week by the CDC, the birth rate in the United States has continued to drop, reaching its lowest level in over a century, far below replacement rate.
But Scripture teaches us to welcome children as a gift from God. Psalm 127 reminds us that one of the reasons that children are a blessing is that they can join us in fighting against the enemies of God. “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them.” The psalm reminds us to welcome children and to train them so that they are like polished shafts in the hands of a warrior and can go deep into the heart of the enemy. So praise God for you children – and praise God for parents committed to raising these children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. May God uses us all to advance the cause of light, truth, and justice in the world.
So what of you? Have you given thanks for the blessing of children? Parents, are you giving thanks for your children, for the opportunity to teach and train them, to disciple them daily, to show them the paths of the Lord, and to invest in them? Grandparents, are you giving thanks for the opportunity to invest in the lives of your grandchildren and point them to the greatness of the Lord? Congregation, when the cries of children are reverberating in our sanctuary and you’re having a hard time following the sermon, are you grateful for the blessing of children?
Brothers and sisters, let us remember on this First Sunday of Christmas that Mary responded in faith to the news that she would bear a child. So let us imitate her by giving thanks for the children that God has given us and anticipating with joy the arrival of others. And let us confess that as a society we have despised the little ones – and, as you are able, let us kneel as we do so. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.