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Psalm 127:4 (ESV) reads:

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth.

The part "the children of one's youth" is a bit ambiguous to me. Is it referring to children that are birthed when the parents are young. If so, does this differentiate the firstborn children from the children born later when the parents are older? Is this passage praising the practice of marrying and having kids at a young age?

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  • How much young? – Walter S Jul 24 '20 at 2:33
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    'Youth' is a comparative term. To me, in my late sixties, 'youth' means one's thirties ... when I had my children. – Nigel J Jul 24 '20 at 3:11
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    We have a whole site devoted to biblical understanding at Biblical Hermeneutics. – DJClayworth Jul 24 '20 at 3:20
  • No, it's simply saying that most people usually marry and have their children during their youth. – Lucian Jul 25 '20 at 18:17
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Psalm 127 likens children to arrows in the quiver of a warrior – in the hands of a mighty man, arrows are a powerful deterrent against enemies that come to attack a city. The New Living Translation puts it this way:

Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands. How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them! He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates” (Psalm 127:3-5).

The NLT Study Bible makes the following useful comments on these verses:

Children are one of God’s blessings. The words translated “children” (Hebrew ‘banim’) and “builders” (Hebrew ‘bonim’ in verse 1) forms a word-play. Having children builds a family. God uses children to protect the reputation of his people against the wicked.

Any parent will tell you that the older you get before you have children the more hard work it becomes. Young men and young women (who are old enough to marry and raise a family) are also more fertile and more likely to produce healthy offspring. The older you get, the more complications arise. Trust me, I know – been there and done that!

We should also take into consideration the realities of life thousands of years ago. Parents hoped that when they got old and became infirm their children would take care of them. Back then families formed strong bonds and parents expected that when their children grew up they would support them in old age.

The Teacher encourages a young man to enjoy his wife and to do all that he can while he has strength before old age overtakes him. He concludes:

Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).

Psalm 127 is not advocating that teenagers start to procreate as soon as they are physically able. Raising a family brings responsibilities and should never be undertaken likely. Psalm 127 merely observes that having children is a blessing from God and that raising a family should bring joy to their parents.

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    A prime example of responsible marriage is Abraham providing a wife for Isaac, when Isaac was forty years old. – Nigel J Jul 24 '20 at 20:40
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I think this is simply referring to the fact that, after a certain time women pass the age of childbearing:

Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. (Genesis 18:11)

So any children born to you, especially to women, will be born during your youth. That would have been doubly the case in those days where it was more common for people, women especially, to marry young and not have access to any kind of birth control medicine!

The Psalms often speak in general terms as poetry, I think to read too much into this (contrasting children born when you're young vs children born when you're old) would be pushing it too far!

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I think the next verse makes it pretty clear:

Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them.

That is, if you start procreating when you are young you have more chance of producing more offspring, and happy is the man that fills his quiver with them, thus having kids at a young age increases the likelihood of getting your quiver full. So yes, it seems like the psalmist is indeed encouraging having (more apt is starting to have) kids at a young age.

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