Verse 3. Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD. This points to another mode of building up a house, namely, by leaving descendants to keep our name and family alive upon the earth. Without this what is a man's purpose in accumulating wealth! To what purpose does he build a house if he has none in his household to hold the house after him? What boots it that he is the possessor of broad acres if he has no heir? Yet in this matter a main is powerless without the Lord. The great Napoleon, with all his sinful care on this point, could not create a dynasty. Hundreds of wealthy persons would give half their estates if they could hear the cry of a babe born of their own bodies. Children are a heritage which Jehovah himself must give, or a man will die childless, and thus his house will be unbuilt.
And the fruit of the womb is his reward, or a reward from God. He gives children, not as a penalty nor as a burden, but as a favour. They are a token for good if men know how to receive them, and educate them. They are "doubtful blessings" only because we are doubtful persons. Where society is rightly ordered children are regarded, not as an incumbrance, but as an inheritance; and they are received, not with regret, but as a reward. If we are over crowded in England, and so seem to be embarrassed with too large an increase, we must remember that the Lord does not order us to remain in this narrow island, but would have us fill those boundless regions which wait for the axe and the plough. Yet even here, with all the straits of limited incomes, our best possessions are our own dear offspring, for whom we bless God every day.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 3. Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD. There is no reason, therefore, why you should be apprehensive for your families and country; there is no reason why you should weary yourselves with such great and such restless labour. God will be with you and your children, since they are his heritage. -Thomas Le Blanc.
Verse 3. Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD. That is, to many God gives children in place of temporal good. To many others he gives houses, lands, and thousands of gold and silver, and with them the womb that beareth not; and these are their inheritance. The poor man has from God a number of children, without lands or money; these are his inheritance; and God shows himself their father, feeding and supporting them by a chain of miraculous providences. Where is the poor man who would give up his six children with the prospect of having more, for the thousands or millions of him who is the centre of his own existence, and has neither root nor branch but his forlorn solitary self upon the face of the earth? Let the fruitful family, however poor, lay this to heart: Children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. And he who gave them will feed them; for it is a fact, and the maxim formed on it has never failed, "Wherever God sends mouths, he sends meat." "Murmur not", said an Arab to his friend, "because thy family is large; know that it is for their sakes that God feeds thee." --Adam Clarke.
Verse 3. Children are an heritage of the LORD. The Hebrew seems to imply that children are an heritage belonging to the Lord, and not an heritage given by the Lord, as most English readers appear to take it. The Targum likewise bears this out. --H. T. Armfield.
Verse 3. Children are an heritage of the LORD, etc. The Psalmist speaks of what children are unto godly and holy parents, for unto such only is any blessing given by God as a reward, and the Psalmist expressly speaks of blessings which God gives his beloved ones, and this blessing of children he makes to be the last and greatest. It is also as certain that he speaks of children as supposed to be holy and godly; for otherwise they are not a reward, but a curse, and a sorrow to him that begat them. The Psalm was made, as appears by the title of it, "of or for Solomon", and therefore, as it is more than probable, was penned, as that other Psalm, the 72nd, which bears the same title, by David the father, of and for Solomon his son, who was, for his father's sake, "the beloved of God." ( 2 Samuel 12:24-25 ), and upon whom the sure covenant and mercies of David were entailed, together with his kingdom. And what is said in this Psalm, in the verses before, fitly agrees to him, for he it was who was to build God's house, to keep and preserve Jerusalem the city, and the kingdom in peace, and to have rest, or as the Psalmist calls it ( Psalms 127:3 ), quiet sleep given him by God from all his enemies round about him. And for this, compare the prophecy of him ( 1 Chronicles 22:9-10 ) with the instructions here given him in the three first verses of this Psalm, and ye will see how fitly this Psalm concerns him. -- Thomas Goodwin.
Verse 3. Children are an heritage of the LORD. Hence note, 'tis one of the greatest outward blessings to have a family full of dutiful children. To have many children is the next blessing to much grace. To have many children about us is better than to have much wealth about us. To have store of these olive plants (as the Psalmist calls them) round about our table is better than to have store of oil and wine upon our table. We know the worth of dead, or rather lifeless treasures, but who knows the worth of living treasures? Every man who hath children hath not a blessing in them, yet children are a blessing, and some have many blessings in one child. Children are chiefly a blessing to the children of God. "Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward." But are not houses and lands, gold and silver, an heritage bestowed by the Lord upon his people? Doubtless they are, for the earth is his, and the fulness of it, and he gives it to the children of men. But though all things are of God, yet all things are not alike of him: children are more of God than houses and lands. -- Joseph Caryl.
Verse 3. Children! -- might one say as the word was uttered -- I left mine in my distant home, in poverty, their wants and numbers increasing, with the means of providing for their comfort daily narrowing. Even should my life be prolonged, they will be children of want, but with sickness and warnings of death upon me, they will soon be helpless and friendless orphans. Yes I but will God be neglectful of his own heritage? will he turn a gift into a sorrow? Poor as thou art, repine not at the number of thy children. Though lions lack thou shalt not, if thou seekest him; and know that it may be even for their sakes that he feedeth thee. If even thou wouldst not part with one of them for thousands of gold and silver, believe that he who is the fountain of all tenderness regards them with yet deeper love, and will make them now, in thy hour of trial, a means of increasing thy dependence on him, and soon thy support and pride.
Children! -- might another say, as the Psalm referred to them -- on their opening promise the breath of the destroyer has been poured. They are ripening visibly for the grave, and their very smile and caress cause my wounded heart to bleed anew. Yes, mourner; but God's heritage! may he not claim his own? They are in safe keeping when in his, and will soon be restored to thee in the better land, where death will make them ministering angels at his throne; nay, they will be the first to welcome thee to its glories, to love and worship with thee throughout eternity.
Children! this word to a third, of an even sadder and more anxious spirit, might seem like the planting of a dagger in his heart. His children have forsaken their father's God. Their associates were the vain and vicious; their pleasures were the pleasures of folly and shame; their lives barren of all promise, their souls destitute of all purpose, and steeled against all reproof. True, but the heritage of the Lord still. Hast thou, sorrowing parent, asked him for wisdom to keep it for him? Have due thought, prayer, watchful and holy living been expended on that heritage of God? No culture, no harvest in the soil; no prayer, no blessing from the soul. "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it", is a promise that though sometimes, yet but seldom has missed fulfilment. Bring them to Jesus, and, unchanged in his tenderness, he will still lay his hands upon them and bless them. --Robert Nisbet.
Verse 3. The fruit of the womb is his reward. John Howard Hinton's daughter said to him as she knelt by his death bed: -- "There is no greater blessing than for children to have godly parents." "And the next", said the dying father, with a beam of gratitude, "for parents to have godly children." --Memoir in Baptist Handbook, 1875.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 3. Sermon by Thomas Manton. Works: vol. 18. pp. 84-95. Nichol's Edition.
Verse 3-5. Children. Consider:
- The effects of receiving them as a heritage from the Lord.
- Parents will trust in the Lord for their provision and safety.
- Will regard them as a sacred trust from the Lord, of whose care they must render an account.
- Will train them up in the fear of the Lord.
- Will often consult God concerning them.
- Will render them up uncomplainingly when the Lord calls them to himself by death.
- The effects of their right training.
- They become the parents' joy.
- The permanent record of the parents' wisdom.
- The support and solace of the parents' old age.
- The transmitters of their parents' virtues to another generation; for well trained children become, in their turn, wise parents. --J. F.