by Matthew Doane, Esq.
Staff Attorney, Heartbeat International
One of my favorite bible verses on children and parenting comes from Psalm 127:3-5, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” While thoughts of quivers full of arrows and enemies at the gate pull at my J.R.R. Tolkien-reading heart, verse 3 begins with a declaration that children are a reward from God, a heritage from Him.
While the word heritage can have many meanings, in this context “heritage” can be translated to the Hebrew word of “nachala,” which can mean “assigned by God.” Thus, not only are children gifts from above, but God has specifically assigned us, of all the men in the world, to be our child’s father. What an awesome, yet humbling realization.
As the sole person in the entire world that God has ordained to father and raise our particular children, how do we fulfill this awesome and daunting responsibility? Who better to look to as an example than Joseph, the husband of Mary and the person God selected to serve as Jesus’ stepfather during His time on Earth? While Joseph is never quoted in the bible and appears only briefly in the Gospel narrative, there are lessons to be learned from this important person in Jesus’ life during His time on Earth:
Joseph is described as a “just” man in Matthew 1:19 who is unwilling to put Mary to shame when he learns that she is with child. We are told throughout scripture that justness, or righteousness, is one of the chief attributes of God. As men and fathers, we should imitate Joseph, who imitates God, and do our best to live a righteous life.
As Joseph is considering divorcing Mary quietly, an angel of the Lord appears to him in a dream and instructs him to not be afraid in taking Mary as his wife and that Jesus would “save his people from their sins.” When Joseph awoke, “he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.” Joseph followed the Lord’s instruction and was faithful to his God throughout the few instances he is mentioned in the bible. While we may not have an angel of the Lord appear to us, as fathers we too should follow the Lord’s instructions left in scripture on how to be Godly fathers to our children and “bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” Ephesians 6:4b.
One of our principal duties as fathers is to protect our children. After the wise men departed from their visit to the child Jesus, another angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and warned him that Herod was out to destroy Jesus. The angel instructed Joseph to flee with Jesus and Mary to Egypt for their safety. When he awoke, Joseph immediately took Jesus and Mary to Egypt under the cover of night. Since Jesus, the Son of God, was also truly human during His time on Earth, He needed the parental care and protection of His adopted earthly father. We too must provide for and protect our children.
The Gospels refer to Jesus as a carpenter, a trade he likely learned from Joseph. The King of all Kings, the Lord of Lords, was entrusted to a carpenter. We don’t have to be powerful, wealthy kings to be good, godly fathers to our children (which is good, right?). God has assigned them to us for His reasons, and our job is to be an earthly reflection of His fatherly love to them.
Fathers, we are blessed because our quivers are full! Let us celebrate this and God’s assignment of His children to us this Father’s Day.