The enemies of Jesus don’t like it when children get involved, because God has designed them as a weapon and as a reminder of God’s strength. If children are increasing, and if they are present amongst the worshipers, then they spell the coming doom of God’s enemies. They display the faith of his people, both in being faithful hearts themselves, and in showing off the trust their parents have in God. They are a tangible threat to godlessness. This is attested in multiple instances in scripture.
Let’s look together at a short Psalm (Ps 8) that helps us to see down into the inner workings of the war to build God’s kingdom – we will find out that one of the largest gears in the mechanism, one of the most powerful and necessary components in the wheels of the church, is the presence of children in God’s service of worship.
I expect this Psalm to be a good tool for talking to your children about their special job in the church service – and that job is: “to silence the enemy and the avenger.”
Before we can get a hold of this Psalm, we need a moment’s look at how God instructed rulership and kingdom expansion to come about in the first place – so turn to page one of the Bible and look down at verse 28.
God’s first command for his King, Adam, on how to rule was through a process of childbearing, and working with your children to bring the world under God’s reign.
“Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth,” (Gen 1.28).
See this list of five:
- be fruitful
- fill the earth/land
PSALM 8 – The Weapons of Our Warfare
Psalm 8 is a worship song which is all about this very passage. Psalm 8 is about Genesis 1.27-28. Psalm 8 is about creation (“the work of your fingers,” v.3). It specifically mentions the principalities made on day 4, the moon and the stars, which Genesis 1 says are made over the earth to “rule over the day and night.” This is no coincidence: they are symbols of dominion, and the theme is all about dominion and ruling over the earth in this Psalm. Verse 6 says, “You have given [man] dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet…” And then it lists land, sky, and sea creatures. Just like Gen 1.28 does! This is a Psalm about taking God’s majesty and the glory of his name and his rule outward to the whole earth!
But remember, in Genesis 1.28, in order to rule, you have to be fruitful and multiply. In order to take dominion, the church has to have babies. And Psalm 8 dives right into baby-having as the first related action to the bringing of the kingdom of God’s majestic name:
“O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
2 Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.”
God gets the war for his glory underway this way – when the doctor spanks the newborn covenant member, that first gasp for air and the subsequent screaming – that is holy music. It shuts the devil up.
He can hear the majesty of God’s covenant name displayed over another life, and he is dumbfounded.
And we, like David, who sang to shut the mouth of the demons of the king of Israel, we sing. We sing David’s words to shut the mouths of the demons. We sing David’s words in Psalm 8 about the dominion of Genesis 1. And when we sing in church to make his name glorious with Psalm 8, then we confess in music that our babies are made as the work horses of the front line.
Tell your kids they have a job. That God has chosen them for glorious array in battle. That he has spectacles to make of enemies, and mouths of devouring adversaries that need to be shut. Tell them that they are needed in the Lord’s service of worship, and that no one else can take their place, and tell them that this we know for the Bible tells us so.
And if your toddlers are too young to follow the words of the Psalms in church, then have them make a joyful noise and hum. And if your babies are too young to hum along to the tune, just bring them to show them off. Show off your faith, and show off God’s promise. And don’t worry, they’ll make plenty of noise. You won’t have to manufacture that part.
Oh church! Oh holy dominion takers – open your ears for battle, listen as the kingdom comes at the noise of covenantal invaders, born to take up seating space in the sanctuary with car seats and diaper bags. Born to take up space in the worship of the King, edging out darkness with the chosen praise, ordained for your Sunday morning brush with the power of God saving the world.
And if you are unable to have children, or more children. If you are older, or widowed. If you are caught lonely and wondering what to do – then pray that the Lord would bring the kingdom, and that he would send a blessing of childbearing to your church. Help the parents of children to feel comfortable with the hard process of teaching babies to get a little more mature each Sunday. Help them not to fear the noise their children make.
Oh church, the noise of children in the sanctuary has at times been treated as a little lower than the angels. But let’s make it our job instead to crown it with glory and honor, as we hear the kingdom come.
Luke Welch has a master’s degree from Covenant Seminary and preaches regularly in a conservative Anglican church in Maryland. He blogs about Bible structure at SUBTEXT. Follow him on Twitter: @lukeawelch<>