Rev. Kuiper is pastor of Southeast Protestant Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The word arrow is not to be found in the New Testament. In the Old Testament it is used repeatedly, especially in the Psalms. It comes from the root Hebrew word which means to divide, to cut into two parts; then that which cuts in two, divides, wounds, destroys; and finally, an arrow with its cutting head. Arrows belonged to the offensive armament of the Israelites. Jehu drew a bow and smote Jehoram, “and the arrow went out at his heart” (II Kings 9:24). The followers of David were armed with bows, “and could use both the right hand and the left in hurling stones and shooting arrows” (I Chron. 12:12). King Uzziah prepared a vast array of weapons with which to defend Jerusalem, among them engines to shoot arrows and great stones (II Chron. 26:15). But for the most part, arrows are used in Scripture in the figurative sense.
God has His arrows which He shoots. The arrows of God are the lightnings which cleave the atmosphere (Hab. 3:11), the calamities which He sends upon the enemies of Israel (Deut. 32:42), the famine and pestilence that disobedient Israel must experience (Ezek. 5:16). Because God is angry with the wicked every day, “He ordaineth his arrows against the persecutors” (Ps. 7:13), and “shoots at them with an arrow; suddenly they shall be wounded” (Ps. 64:7). God also chastens His people with sharp arrows, as Job experienced, “For the arrows of the Almighty are within me” (Job 6:4), and as David complains, “For thine arrows stick fast in me, and thy hand presseth me sore” (Ps. 38:2). Yet, even though God sets His people as a mark for the arrow at times (Lam. 3:12), those that have Him for their refuge and fortress need “not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day” (Ps. 91:5).
Words are like arrows in that they divide brothers and sisters, cut to the quick, wound, and kill. The children of God live among them that are on fire, “whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword” (Ps. 57:4). They “whet their tongue like a sword, and bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even bitter words” (Ps. 64:3). In great distress David cries out, “What shall be done unto thee, thou false tongue? Sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of juniper” (Ps. 120:3, 4). What a fitting figure! Words, like arrows, cannot be recalled. They can both be used over again, but once in flight cannot be taken back. You can no more unspeak a word than you can unshoot an arrow! If anyone doubts the power of the tongue, and the difficulty of controlling the tongue, let him read the third chapter of the Epistle of James. Repentance can heal the wounds caused by evil words, and prayer is needed to prevent the shooting of these sharp arrows.
Children are called arrows in Psalm 127. After setting forth the preciousness of children, “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward,” David states, “As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are the children of the youth.” Arrows must be crafted very carefully. They must not be crooked or warped, but they must be straight and polished. They must have a sharp point, and then be aimed at a carefully selected target. So the child must be brought up straight, straight according to the Law of God. The child must be polished with instruction, correction, and discipline. And the child must be aimed: aimed at God and His glory, aimed at the kingdom of God and its welfare, aimed in the way of everlasting life! He must not fall short and miss that mark!
Psalm 127 goes on to speak of the “happiness of the man that hath his quiver full of them.” Clearly, the number of children that we have is in view here. We take the quiver to stand for the home, and the home is to be filled with children. Normally, when God chooses to bless a man, He does so by giving him children (Ps. 128:3, 4). Quivers are of different sizes, and God decided that size, and when the quiver is full. With some it is full with one child, with others not until five or six, ten or twelve, are born. The God who killeth and maketh alive decides this, not man. Abortion is ruled out here, of course. The pill and other contraceptive devices are ruled out here, of course. Family planning, the decision of husband and wife as to how many children they are going to have, and just when they are going to have them, is also ruled out by this Psalm. The world’s low view of children as a bother, as an unnecessary expense, as a hindrance to the good life; the world’s low view of child-bearing and the labors of the mother in the home; the world’s usurping of divine right in regard to the issues of life and death — all this may not influence or control believing parents in regard to their having children.
Children are the Lord’s reward, and that reward is of grace, covenant grace. God gives children, in numbers that please Him, in order that the church may come forth, and heaven may be populated as it ought to be populated. God takes His seed from our seed. He established His covenant in the line of continued generations. He uses believing parents in that great work. What a heritage! What a reward! What grace!