Verse 4. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Children born to men in their early days, by God's blessing become the comfort of their riper years. A man of war is glad of weapons which may fly where he cannot: good sons are their father's arrows speeding to hit the mark which their sires aim at. What wonders a good man can accomplish if he has affectionate children to second his desires, and lend themselves to his designs! To this end we must have our children in hand while they are yet children, or they are never likely to be so when they are grown up; and we must try to point them and straighten them, so as to make arrows of them in their youth, lest they should prove crooked and unserviceable in after life. Let the Lord favour us with loyal, obedient, affectionate offspring, and we shall find in them our best helpers. We shall see them shot forth into life to our comfort and delight, if we take care from the very beginning that they are directed to the right point.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 4. As arrows. Well doth David call children "arrows"; for if they be well bred, they shoot at their parents' enemies; and if they be evil bred, they shoot at their parents. --Henry Smith. 1560-1591.
Verse 4. As arrows. Children are compared to "arrows". Now, we know that sticks are not by nature arrows; they do not grow so, but they are made so; by nature they are knotty and rugged, but by art they are made smooth and handsome. So children by nature are rugged and untoward, but by education are refined and reformed, made pliable to the divine will and pleasure. --George Swinnock, 1627-1673.
Verse 4. As arrows. "Our children are what we make them. They are represented As arrows in the hand of a mighty man, and arrows go the way we aim them."
Verse 4. As arrows. In a collection of Chinese Proverbs and Apophthegms, subjoined to Hau Kiou Choaan, or, The Pleasing History, I find a proverb cited from Du Halde, which seems full to our purpose. It is this: -- "When a son is born into a family, a bow and arrow are hung before the gate." To which the following note is added: "As no such custom appears to be literally observed, this should seem to be a metaphorical expression, signifying that a new protector is added to the family", equivalent to that of the Psalms, -- "as arrows", etc. --James Merrick (1720- 1769), in "Annotations on the Psalms."
Verse 4. Children of the youth are arrows in the hand, which, with prudence, may be directed aright to the mark, God's glory, and the service of their generation; but afterwards, when they are gone abroad in the world, they are arrows out of the hand; it is too late to bend them then. But these "arrows in the hand" too often prove arrows in the heart, a constant grief to their godly parents, whose grey hairs they bring with sorrow to the grave. --Matthew Henry.
Verse 4. Children of the youth. Sons of youth, i.e., born while their parents are still young. See Genesis 37:2 Isaiah 54:6 . The allusion is not only to their rigour Genesis 49:3 , but the value of their aid to the parent in declining age. --Joseph Addison Alexander.
Verse 4. Children of the youth. If the right interpretation is commonly given to this phrase, this Psalm greatly encourages early marriages. It is a growing evil of modern times that marriages are so often deferred till it is highly improbable that in the course of nature the father can live to mould his offspring to habits of honour and virtue. --William Swan Plumer (1802-1880), in "Studies in the Book of Psalms."
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 4. The spiritual uses of children.
- When they die in infancy, awakening parents.
- When they go home from Sunday school carrying holy influences.
- When they become converted.
- When they grow up and become useful men and women.
- The dependence of children upon parents.
- For safety. They are in their quiver.
- For direction. They are sent forth by them.
- For support. They are in the hands of the mighty.
- The dependence of children upon parents.
- The dependence of parents upon children.
- For defence. Who will hear a parent spoken against?
- For happiness. "A wise son maketh", etc. Children elicit some of the noblest and most tender emotions of human nature. Happy is the Christian minister who with a full quiver can say, "Here am I, and the children which thou hast given me." --G. R.
Verse 6. "The Reward of Well doing Sure." Sermon by Henry Melvill, in "The Pulpit", 1856,