Psalms 127:5 MEANING

Psalm 127:5
(5) They.--Not the sons. There is here one of the sudden changes of number in which Hebrew poetry abounds. (See especially Psalm 107:43.) Parents who have large families of sons are evidently intended. From the figure of the warrior and the arrows we should expect here, too, a martial image. They shall not be discomfited, but they shall challenge their enemies in the gates. In illustration may be quoted:

"Therefore men pray to have around their hearth,

Obedient offspring, to requite their foes

With harm, and honour whom their father loves;

But he whose issue is unprofitable,

Begets what else but sorrow to himself,

And store of laughter to his enemies?"

SOPH.: Antig., 641

On the other hand, it is the habit of Hebrew poetry to accumulate metaphors, and the gate is so commonly spoken of as the place of public resort, where legal cases were decided (Isaiah 29:21; Amos 5:12, &c), that it is quite as likely that the allusion here is to the support which a man's just cause would receive when evidently backed up by a long retinue of stalwart sons. This view certainly receives support from Job 5:4, where we have the very opposite picture of a tyrant's sons, not only unable to support their father, but themselves "crushed in the gate;" and the phrase "speak with their enemies" in this same verse may be illustrated from Joshua 20:4; Jeremiah 12:1.

Verse 5. - Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them. Happy the man whose quiver contains many such arrows, and who is thus sure of abundant protection. They shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate; rather, when they shall speak (Hengstenberg, Kay, Cheyne, Revised Version). "The gate" was the place where judgment was given, and where consequently adversaries were apt to meet, as they pushed their respective causes. There might be collisions on such occasions; and, in any case, a man with several lusty sons to take his part would have an advantage.

127:1-5 The value of the Divine blessing. - Let us always look to God's providence. In all the affairs and business of a family we must depend upon his blessing. 1. For raising a family. If God be not acknowledged, we have no reason to expect his blessing; and the best-laid plans fail, unless he crowns them with success. 2. For the safety of a family or a city. Except the Lord keep the city, the watchmen, though they neither slumber nor sleep, wake but in vain; mischief may break out, which even early discoveries may not be able to prevent. 3. For enriching a family. Some are so eager upon the world, that they are continually full of care, which makes their comforts bitter, and their lives a burden. All this is to get money; but all in vain, except God prosper them: while those who love the Lord, using due diligence in their lawful callings, and casting all their care upon him, have needful success, without uneasiness or vexation. Our care must be to keep ourselves in the love of God; then we may be easy, whether we have little or much of this world. But we must use the proper means very diligently. Children are God's gifts, a heritage, and a reward; and are to be accounted blessings, and not burdens: he who sends mouths, will send meat, if we trust in him. They are a great support and defence to a family. Children who are young, may be directed aright to the mark, God's glory, and the service of their generation; but when they are gone into the world, they are arrows out of the hand, it is too late to direct them then. But these arrows in the hand too often prove arrows in the heart, a grief to godly parents. Yet, if trained according to God's word, they generally prove the best defence in declining years, remembering their obligations to their parents, and taking care of them in old age. All earthly comforts are uncertain, but the Lord will assuredly comfort and bless those who serve him; and those who seek the conversion of sinners, will find that their spiritual children are their joy and crown in the day of Jesus Christ.Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them,.... That is, his house full of them; called a quiver, referring to arrows before mentioned, this being the case in which they are put up: to have many children was always reckoned a great temporal blessing and happiness; see Job 1:2. The Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Ethiopic, and Arabic versions, render it, "that fills his desire" has as many as he desires or wishes for: the Targum,

"who fills his school of them:''

so Jarchi interprets the children, of the disciples of the wise men. It may be applied to young converts, the children of Christ and of the church; which, when numerous, is a blessing to him and her; see Isaiah 49:20;

they shall not be ashamed; the father and his children, as Aben Ezra; parents rather are meant, who are not ashamed when they have many children: with the Romans (z), those that had wives and children were preferred in honour to senior persons that had none; and they that had most to those that had fewest; and so with the Persians; See Gill on Esther 5:11;

but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate: where courts of judicature were kept; and so the Targum,

"in the gate of the house of judgment.''

The sense is, that their children should stand and plead the cause of their parents against their adversaries in courts of judicature; or publicly before the eyes of all, as Aben Ezra: and spiritually may design such of Christ's seed who are set for the defence of the Gospel, are valiant for the truth on earth, and earnestly contend for it; meet the enemy in the gate, publicly oppose him, and behave themselves like men, and are strong.

(z) A. Gell. Noct. Attic. l. 2. c. 15.

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