More about arrows

(Originally this was going to be a comment on this post. But then it got long and rambly, so I promoted it to full-blown blog post. Hooray!)

Hello, James!

I’m not a scholar in Hebrew, nor do I play one on television. But, after talking with my father and consulting Strong’s, I’m not seeing the evidence for your contention that the word for “children” (bane) must mean “champions”. After all, this is the same word used in 2 Samuel 5:13b: “…and more sons and daughters were born to David.” (Emphasis is obviously mine.) In this context, bane wouldn’t mean “mighty men” or “champions”; it would simply mean “sons”. Now, Strong’s mentions an idiom that includes bane that means “soldiers”, so maybe I’m missing something. However, the only “mighty man” that I currently see in the passage refers to the father, not to the children.

Be that as it may, I believe that my point generally stands. To quote David Bayly, “The one great danger we should seek to preserve our children from […] is sin. But even here, the solution to sin is not mere avoidance of temptation. The solution ultimately must be victory over temptation. Which of us would think we’ve successfully inoculated our children against the dangers of alcohol if we’ve only kept them from seeing wine or tasting beer?” Our children were baptized into this war with us. They join us in warrior-worship before the Throne. They sit at the Table as kings and priests. Therefore, they also share our sufferings and persecutions as warriors on the battlefield. “There be no shelter here/The front line is everywhere”. And trying to protect our children from the rigors of the battlefield is actually a disservice both to the cause of Christ and to them.

Now, does this mean that we abandon our children to the battlefield? By no means! Rather, we stand by them and instruct them as they wage their battles. But I would say the same about interacting with any new disciple…or any old disciple, either. We all need help and guidance from each other as we struggle against the flesh, the world, and the devil. And, in particular, I would be derelict in my duty as a father to teach and instruct my children in the way that they should go. But this instruction is not just for some unspecified point in the future, when they will begin serving God. It is for how they are serving God now, as well as for the future.

A couple of months ago, my daughter ended up in a counseling situation. Another girl opened her heart to Arianna, telling her about some serious things that she was struggling with. Arianna did well: she prayed with this girl and comforted her, and later, she talked to Crystal about her conversation, seeking further guidance on what to do in the future. This is exactly what I would want for my daughter to do. However, she was only equipped to address the issues at hand because (in a sense) Crystal and I have not sheltered her from the world. Instead, we have showed her the world, piece by piece, in all its horror, while showing her the beauty of what Jesus is doing to overcome this world. As such, she was not shocked at this other girl’s revelations and was able to minister the Gospel to her.

So this is not a theoretical concern of mine.

I should also say that I’m not raising this out of a perverse pleasure in what this means. Knowing that my children are already warriors means that I have to equip them. Part of what this means is that I have to disabuse them of their naive, innocent notions about how the world works. I have to explain to them how their family is special because of Jesus; how the love that we have for each other (flawed and sinful though it be) is not the norm for most people; how many families are broken; how people hurt those who want to help them; how costly it is to love the lost. I have to explain the damage that sin causes to us and those around us, how wicked the human race really is, how there are so many different ways to victimize and abuse another person. And each time I do, I see a little bit of that shining childish innocence die. I feel awful, like I’m desecrating a rainbow or tearing the wings off a butterfly.

But I feel the same way about myself. There are days I look in the mirror and I see my eyes. They seem so old now, aged because of what they have seen. It hurts me deeply to know what I know. Indeed, as I grow in my Christian walk, I find myself adding to the list of things that I long for in heaven. One of them is that I will not have to know that which I now know.

But the one thing that a soldier cannot afford to have is illusions. I do not have the luxury of being shocked by the spiritual wickedness that surrounds me, and neither do my children. Too much is at stake, both for their own souls and for the progress of the Kingdom. And so we continue to move forward, reaching out as a family to the hurting and the lost, to those who will use and abandon us, to those who will break our hearts. And they stand at my side, and we do it together, looking in hope to the coming of the Lord Jesus when we will lay this burden down.


6 responses to “More about arrows

  • Pastor JMCD

    Brother Seth,

    The word for children is Psalm 127 is also used to describe Goliath in 1 Samuel 17. The Brill Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon translates the word a champion not a child.

    I am not suggesting you do not have to train up your children for the battles you face in your neighborhood. My concern was that it seemed you were ready to send them with standard in hand to the front line. It seems I may have been incorrect with that assessment. As has already been shared, this is an argument many use to support public schools.

    I am glad to see you view your ministry to those near you as a family mission. We do as well. It has been our heart for years. But my goal is to teach them warfare at my side. It seems you share this goal.

    Welcome home and may the Lord bless your ministry.

  • James

    Elder McDonald:

    I looked at my Hebrew tools and the word listed for Goliath, translated “champion” is actually two Hebrew words, iysh (man) and benayim (space between two armies). The word in Psalm 127:4 translated “children” is be_n (from banah, means literally a son, in the widest sense).

    Is there a source I can check that will contradict my Hebrew tools or are you misremembering something possibly?


    I appreciate the clarification here (not that I didn’t know you thought this when I commented on the other post, mind you). Our children are in the war with us, and on their own as they battle sin in their own hearts and around them. It still is our task as fathers to shelter them from some things until they are ready for them.

    Corrie Ten Boom tells a story of when she was very small and on the way home from worship she asked her father a question about something she heard in the sermon, “Daddy, what’s a sex sin?”

    Her father, rather than answering the question asked her another, “Corrie, when we go on the train with our suitcases do I ask you to carry the heavy bag?”

    “No, papa, you always carry the heavy bag. I get the smaller bag.”

    Some bags are too heavy for our children. It may be in some circumstances (like those of your wife) that God in His ultimate wisdom thrusts situations on us that we may think are too heavy for us for His purposes. That, however, doesn’t mean that we thrust all things on our children without considering whether it is time for that. And in some of our families the “when” of revealing certain things will be different from others. Some of that will be dictated by individual circumstances (“daddy, what was that loud bang outside last night?) and some will be dicated by the decisions of the fathers based on things in which we differ. And while I may disagree with you or you with me or both of us with someeone else as to the “when” for children on a particular topic, that decision needs to remain, with our respect, to the individual father. Or to praphrase something you’ve said before elsewhere in other contexts, each father has his own ball to drop.

    On a completely different note if you’ll look below the “who’s your audience post” got mangled on input from blogger or by wordpress some other way.

  • James

    btw–that was really funny.

  • James

    Argh. Delete that comment–it didn’t work right.

    What I *meant* to say was:

    when you said, “But then it got long and rambly, so I promoted it to full-blown blog post. Hooray!)”

    THAT was funny.

  • Sistercrystal

    We are not opposed to telling our children that some things are too heavy for them. In fact, that is *exactly* the phrasing we use. We always answer all of our children’s questions. Though sometimes the answer is, “That is too heavy for you right now. But trust me, as you get older, we will teach you about this.”

    We do not expect our children to handle the same degree of responsibilities or burdens that Seth or I might handle. I would not expect my daughter to sit and counsel with some of the heavily broken women that I counsel with. She is not ready to hear their stories nor counsel with them. However, I do expect that she will do *something* for the Kingdom. And honestly, I don’t go searching for something for my children to do. I train them up, teaching them to do their studies, to read their Bible, love Jesus, and serve Him with all their hearts. As things come up in life, I teach them how to understand them in light of Scripture. Then God gives them jobs to do as He sees fit, simply living as a part of our family.

    While they are our children and in our care, and it is right to protect them, teach them and provide for them, they don’t really belong to us. They belong to God. We need to raise them up to be ready to do what God has in store for them. I do not want to so totally shelter and hide my children that in the end I say to God, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed.’

    Of course, I am not arguing sending my kids places they are not ready to go, like say the public schools. But of course, you know that is a ridiculous argument to make against us, being that we do not send them there.

  • Sistercrystal

    Someone said to me that they thought I was coming across as quite intense and like I was angry. So I would like to clarify here. I am not at all angry with anyone. I’m sorry if I came across this way. I am smiling…see me smile! 8-D

    See… Smiles.

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