We’ve all heard the saying, it takes a village to raise a child. I think if Solomon had written this proverb, he might’ve swapped out the word “village” for “army.” In the New Testament especially, we see the use of military metaphors and language to describe Christians. Paul refers to us as “fellow soldiers” (Philippians 2:25, Philemon 1:2), in 2 Timothy we are reminded to share in the sufferings of Christ as a good soldier (2:3-4), and the book of Ephesians tells us in metaphorical detail the armor we must wear to fight in the battle (6:13-17).
So, if we individually are soldiers, then collectively we are an army. And the purpose of an army? To fight, plain and simple. God has amassed us to identify the enemy, train for the fight, engage in the battle, and rescue the captives. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
Our army is diverse. It is made up of men and women from every tongue, tribe, and nation. But it is also made up of children. And children are unique in this motley crew of ours. While we are referred to as soldiers, they are described a bit differently. Psalm 127 says, “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!” (4-5a).
Our children are described as arrows in the hand of a warrior. And what are arrows? They are weapons. Weapons to be used in the mighty cosmic battle between good and evil that takes place in the spiritual realm and plays out in our very real material world every day. All over the globe, soldiers for Christ are raising millions of little weapons. Many of us ourselves have our own arsenals.
When I think about the image Psalm 127 paints, I picture grown warriors readying their arrows. He must whittle and sand them. She must sharpen their points and perfect their feathers for a direct flight. And then, when the time is right, they must take them from their quivers and individually shoot them forward with the precision and accuracy they have acquired over years of target practice. For these arrows of ours have been prepared for this ultimate charge and we want them to strike hard and fast against the enemy.
We don’t want to have spent our years of labor in vain so that, when we finally let the arrows fly from our bow, they sail far and wide off course, hitting the ground nowhere near the battle. Neither do we want to shoot our arrows with such weakness ourselves that, while they may hit a target, they don’t stick, let alone cause any real damage. No. We are warriors who live in the house that the Lord built within the city that the Lord watches over (Ps. 127:1). We know that the crafting and maintaining of our weapons is not in vain so that when we take them from our quiver, knowing that it was never the intention for the arrows to stay there, and pull them back on our bowstring, they will fly straight and true and strike hard against the enemy when we release them.
And we have this hope that our arrows, once released to strike against the enemy, will cause serious damage. “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). We have the hope that our little weapons will speak the truth in love, stand up for injustice, protect the weak, give aid to the poor, and ultimately follow our commander, Christ Himself, into whatever part of the battle He calls them.
This is our time. We are an army who have the opportunity to carefully craft each individual arrow, whether they’ve come from our quiver or not. As we daily put on our armor to prepare for what the day’s battle may bring, let us not neglect our own weaponry and the weaponry of our fellow soldiers, for as we are reminded, we are blessed to have a quiver full.