via Bulletin Briefs, Vol. 12, No. 4, April, 2009.
In Psalms 127:4, the inspired text has a fascinating comparison. Here it is written, "Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are children of one's youth." From this simple simile, several significant and sobering truths shine forth.
Like arrows, children need external direction and guidance to be successful. The nature of fallen humanity is such that, "it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps" (Jeremiah 10:23), "he that trusts in his own heart is a fool" (Proverbs 28:26), and "there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death" (Proverbs 14:12); therefore, the timeless truth is that "foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction will drive it far from him" (Proverbs 22:15). Given adequate and timely portions of life's physical necessities all children will grow up; however, to "bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4) necessitates abundant parenting, significant amounts of spiritual direction and guidance.
Like arrows, children need two distinct and different external aids -- an archer (father) and bow (mother). Without an archer an arrow never takes flight. Without a bow, an arrow can be nothing more than a puny spear. By divine design, every child has a father (its archer) and a mother (its bow). The accuracy and force that an arrow has is largely dependent upon the aim and strength of the archer and the integrity and caliber of the bow.
Every child needs a godly father like Abraham who commanded his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do justice (i.e. righteousness) and judgment (Genesis 18:19) and like Joshua who determined tht he and his house would serve the Lord, regardless of what others might choose to do (Joshua 24:15). Every child needs a virtuous bow like Lois and Eunice who taught their offspring from childhood the Holy Scriptures (II Timothy 3:15; 1:5) and like the woman described in Proverbs 31:10-31. How our world has been blessed with archers and bows like Zacharias and Elizabeth whose marksmanship with their son John was highly praised by Jesus Himself in Luke 7:28 and like Amram and Jochebed who instilled virtue and values found in Moses' life as described in Hebrews 11:24-27! How our world has been blighted by those demonic doctrines that deny every child's innate need of a father who is a strong spiritual archer and of a mother who is a virtuous bow!
Like arrows, children must be aimed and released. To talk about arrows without talking about targets is absurd. Arrows, especially in ancient days, were not recreational toys or childish playthings. They were weapons used for livelihood (i.e. hunting) and self-preservation (i.e. warfare). Because it was a life-or-death matter, great concern and effort were given to developing the skill of accurately aiming and rightly releasing an arrow. In far too many parents' minds today, conceiving and raising children are viewed, at best, as recreational matters, rather than solemn spiritual responsibilities. Therefore, as many children mature they have little, if any, sense of purpose; their lives are blighted by the slavery of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual hedonism. Instead, children should be aimed at godliness (Malachi 2:15) so that they will "fear God and keep His commandments" (Ecclesiastes 12:13) from the days of their youth (Ecclesiastes 12:1) "unto death" (Revelation 2:10). In the heat of an intense and dangerous battle no warrior would view the aiming and releasing of his arrows as a casual matter; the stakes are too high. How much more then the Christian parent/soldier in the ongoing war that rages between good and evil!! The stakes of eternal life in heaven and eternal death in hell are even higher.
Like arrows, children have great potential for good and evil. Few things in life are more devastating and depressing than the regrets of careless, foolish, shortsighted parents. Consider what heartache God says awaits them: "He who begets a scoffer does so to his sorrow, and the father of a fool has no joy" (Proverbs 17:21); "a foolish son is a grief to his father; and bitterness to her who bore him" (Proverbs 17:25); "a foolish son is the ruin of his father" (Proverbs 19:13); "the rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother" (Proverbs 29:15). Few biblical portraits of human anguish are more vivid than the one of David when he learned of the death of his foolish and rebellious son: "And the king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept. And as he went, he said thus: 'O my son Absalom -- my son, my son Absalom -- If only I had died in your place! O Absalom, my son, my son'!" (II Samuel 18:33). Tragically, human history contains an ever growing gallery filled with portraits containing the same theme of gruesome parental heartache and horrific regrets that splattered the canvas of David's life. The anguish he felt was self-inflicted for he had pierced his own heart by disregarding the fact that a child has great potential for good and evil; therefore, every wise father does not provoke his children to wrath but brings them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4) and "every wise woman builds her house and does not pull it down with her hands" (Proverbs 14:1).
Like arrows, children are a one shot deal. As David so poignantly proved, there are no Mulligans (do-overs) in parenting. What a sad epitath it is when it can honestly be said, "It would have been good for that man if he had not been born." Such a sad sentiment is true of every eternally cursed inhabitant of hell. The Scriptures clearly teach that "the soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself" (Ezekiel 18:20). Therefore, each person reaches an age in which he is accountable to God for the choices he makes. In the vast majority of cases, when that age arrives the child usually continues toward the target his parents have pointed him.
Archers and bows, at what bull's eye are you aiming your children? -- Each arrow in your quiver has only one shot at going to heaven. May God abundantly bless all parents as we proceed hrough the stages of "Ready. Aim. Fire."