Monday, January 16, 2012

Nursing, As Seen in the Bible

I have never even heard a Ladies' Class where we discussed what the Bible says about nursing babies, which is why I appreciate this article so much. The Bible has many scriptures that can be so encouraging to mothers, so I hope this article will encourage you.

We see in Titus 2 that older women are to teach younger women how to love their children. One way to love our children is to nurse them as seen in 1 Thessalonians 2:7 - "But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her children." In Isaiah 28:9-10 we are to teach knowledge to "those who are just taken from the breast", "order on order", "line upon line", and "a little here, a little there" and are commanded in Proverbs 22:6 to "Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it." 

In addition to nourishing our children emotionally, and with God's word, we are to nourish them physically. God designed our bodies in an amazing way. Psalm 139:14 - "I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well." God gave women breasts. It is a part of his design. He gave them to us to entice and satisfy our husbands as we see in the Song of Solomon. He also gave them to us to nourish and comfort our babies. Isaiah 66:11-13, “that you may nurse and be satisfied from her consoling breast; that you may drink deeply with delight from her glorious abundance…” “and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip, and bounced upon her knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.” I find this verse incredibly beautiful. The warmth of a mother's arms and body, being cradled in her arms, her soothing smell and voice, and the warmth of milk all give the comfort that babies need. 

Nursing a baby is a beautiful thing, and we can thank God for the gift of the ability to do so. God causes infants to long for milk (1 Peter 2:2), but God has also designed a benefit for women. Nursing produces a cocktail of hormones that is released during breastfeeding that causes women to fall in love with their babies. This is not necessarily seen in the Bible, but has been studied scientifically in addition to the observation of women since creation and it is one of the "Blessings of the breast" (Genesis 49:25). One of the most compelling things that happens during breastfeeding is seen in Psalm 22:9 - "Yet You are He who brought me forth from the womb; You made me trust when upon my mother's breasts." The bond and the trust that results is so strong, that it is not easily broken. Isaiah 49:15 - "Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you." 

Some nursing mothers in the Bible - Sarah nursed in her old age (Genesis 21:7-8) , Hannah (1 Samuel 1:23-24), Moses' mother Jochebed (Exodus 2:9), Mary the mother of Jesus (Luke 11:27)

The last verse that I found was a rather sad and unpleasant one, but it is in the Bible nonetheless, so I will share it. Lamentations 4:3-4 - "Even jackels offer the breast, they nurse their young; But the daughter of my people has become cruel like ostriches in the wilderness. The tongue of the infant cleaves to the roof of its mouth because of its thirst; the little ones ask for bread, but no one breaks it for them..." From this verse we can learn that infants nurse not only for food, but also for thirst, and that it is "cruel" (this is God's term here) to deny a hungry/thirsty child.

Breast milk is a living substance that varies in composition at every feeding (another part of God's marvelous design), but is generally about 90% water. Infants need milk for more than just food. From these scriptures, we can see that breast milk provides for their comfort, their thirst, their emotional needs (trust), and that it is God's gift.

~ By Heather Bunting

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