It is often said that it is natural for children to play. Did you know that there is something more to the playing of children? This article shows through Zechariah 8:5 that children's playing is a sign of the blessing of the Lord.

Source: The Banner of Sovereign Grace Truth, 2017. 2 pages.

Children Playing: A Sign of God’s Blessing

And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof.

Zechariah 8:5

Everyone agrees: playing is fun. However, not everyone thinks playing is a good thing. People sometimes think if you play, you must be lazy. Others think if you play, it must be because you are immature. However, the Bible speaks very highly of play. The Word of God associates joy, safety, salvation, and covenant with play. Playing is a great sign of God’s blessing.

Zechariah 8:1-8 is a prophecy about the Lord’s great deliverance and restoration of His people. The prophecy uses the imagery of children playing in the streets to express the great blessedness of His work. The first way this blessedness is seen is in joy. When children play, there are smiles, songs, games, and happiness.

The second way God’s blessing is seen in play is in safety. In Zechariah 8:5, the children are playing “in the streets.” Parents can allow their children to play without fear for their safety. No one will harm the children. No one will take the children. There is nothing to threaten them. The imagery of safety is further confirmed by the presence of the very elderly in large numbers, and without fear (Zechariah 8:4). However, most striking is the safety of being in the very presence of the Lord: “Thus saith the LORD; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain” (Zechariah 8:3).

Third, God’s blessing is seen in play in His salvation. In Zechariah’s prophecy, the children play in joy and safety because God is present in His saving grace. He has desired His people for Himself and He has returned to restore her to His presence. “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I was jealous for her with great fury. Thus saith the LORD; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain” (8:2-3).

Without God’s initiative, the children would be scattered with their families among the heathen. There the oppression and idolatry around them endangered them physically and spiritually. Because of God’s salvation, the children play with joy and safety.

Lastly, we see the blessing of the Lord in playing through His covenant. In Zechariah 8:8, the Lord says, “And they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness” (Zechariah 8:8). The phrases “be my people” and “be their God” found here in Zechariah 8:8 are used throughout Scripture to refer to God’s gracious covenantal relationship with His people. God saves and comforts His people by faithfully and tenderly fulfilling His covenant.

In summary, we can say that the imagery of play used in Zechariah 8:5 expresses the blessing of God through joy, safety, salvation, and His special saving relationship with His children: covenant. Seeing that play is a sign of God’s blessing in Scripture, we will consider three brief applications.

First, when you play, enjoy it. God gave us play for relaxation, strengthening, enjoyment, and celebration. Play is a sign of God’s blessing in His Word, and we should not despise it.

Second, as you enjoy times of play, do so remember­ing that play should direct us back to the Lord. We can play because of His sovereign salvation as a fruit of His gracious covenant. It would not be right if we rejoiced in times of play without being thankful for Him and what He has done. The joys of play should always, ultimately, be about Him and not us.

Third, there is a great danger in lack of play. Physi­cally, emotionally, and mentally, we need times of play for rejuvenation. If we do not play from time to time, we cannot continue serving the Lord at our very best and eventually we may even burn out from overwork and stress.

Our Lord Jesus uses the imagery of play in Matthew 11:16-19, to demonstrate the foolishness of the people refusing to believe His Word. The imagery of play denotes blessing from God manifested in joy, safety, salvation, and covenant. The imagery of refusing to play does not manifest diligence or maturity but rather a denial of bless­ing and a rejection of joy, safety, salvation, covenant, and ultimately, Christ Himself. So let us always play with joy, remembering we may do so because of the safety that comes through salvation because of Christ’s covenant faithfulness.

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