An Heritage of the Lord

In a psalm apparently written by David for his son Solomon, we read that we need God’s help to achieve meaningful goals:

Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.

Psalm 127:1

David goes on to say that this perspective can help us avoid burning ourselves out, becoming sleep-deprived and miserable:

It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.

Psalm 127:2

Then, he apparently changes the subject. The rest of the psalm is about the joy and blessings that come from raising children. Verse 3 begins with this affirmation: “Children are an heritage of the Lord.” (See also “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” paragraph 6.)

But maybe he hasn’t changed the subject at all. “An heritage” is something inherited. Surely when you inherit something, you feel some obligation toward the giver, and perhaps a recognition that the giver understands better than you how to care for the gift.

Gordon B. Hinckley gave the following counsel to parents:

Never forget that these little ones are the sons and daughters of God and that yours is a custodial relationship to them, that He was a parent before you were parents and that He has not relinquished His parental rights or interest in these His little ones. Now, love them, take care of them. Fathers, control your tempers, now and in all the years to come. Mothers, control your voices; keep them down. Rear your children in love, in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Take care of your little ones. Welcome them into your homes, and nurture and love them with all of your hearts.

Salt Lake University Third Stake conference, 3 Nov. 1996, quoted in “Excerpts from Recent Addresses of President Gordon B. Hinckley,” Ensign, July 1997

During the Savior’s ministry on the American continent, He illustrated this principle through His interactions with children:

  • On the first day, He invited parents to bring their children forward. He knelt and prayed, then blessed their children, one by one. Then, He said to the parents, “Behold your little ones.” As they looked, they saw their children interacting with angels. (See 3 Nephi 17:11-24.)
  • Over the course of the next couple of days, “he did teach and minister unto the children of the multitude of whom hath been spoken, and he did loose their tongues, and they did speak unto their fathers great and marvelous things, even greater than he had revealed unto the people; and he loosed their tongues that they could utter” (3 Nephi 26:14).
  • On the fourth day, they gathered again. The Savior was no longer there, but the children taught the parents: “They both saw and heard these children; yea, even babes did open their mouths and utter marvelous things; and the things which they did utter were forbidden that there should not any man write them (3 Nephi 26:16).

I have to think that the parents in that assembly were left with two strong impressions: (1) these children are amazing, and (2) the Savior understands how to unlock their potential far better than I; I need His help.

Today, as I interact with my children, I will remember that they are “an heritage of the Lord,” that they were His before they were mine, and that they are still His beloved children. I will seek for His guidance and assistance in my efforts to build a happy, safe, and nurturing home for them.

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