Instead of referring to children as “children,” the Bible often refers to them as “sons and daughters.” In the Old Testament genealogies, daughters are mentioned infrequently compared to sons, because the family line, with its blessings and cursings, was carried on through the male. But in most other places, sons and daughters are mentioned together when children are referenced.
A common metaphorical phrase in the Old Testament is daughters of Zion or daughters of Jerusalem, which refers to Israel in general and the loving, patient relationship God has with His chosen people (e.g., 2 Kings 19:21; Isaiah 62:11). Jesus uses the same phrase in Luke 23:28. Daughter in the context of the metaphor daughter of Jerusalem implies that God is a loving Father to His people.
Women in many cultures (and certainly in ancient Jewish culture) were considered the guardians of family life and the home. Isaiah paints a poignant picture of how women and families are affected during a time of destruction or judgment: “Like fluttering birds pushed from the nest, so are the women of Moab at the fords of the Arnon” (Isaiah 16:2). Since women are the source of a people’s continuance and the key to fertility, a specific reference to the daughters of a society suffering judgment carries a connotation of loss of life and heightens the feeling of danger.
In the New Testament, the daughters of Philip had the gift of prophecy (Acts 21:9). On the Day of Pentecost, the Spirit was poured out on all believers, a fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel 2:28–32: “Your sons and daughters will prophesy. . . . Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy” (Acts 2:17–18). Both men and women are vessels for the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
The word daughters, like the word sons, is sometimes used figuratively in Scripture to refer to people with a spiritual attribute or character quality modeled after someone else. For example, wives who submit to their husbands are called Sarah’s “daughters” in 1 Peter 3:6, because they are following the godly example of Sarah, who obeyed her husband, Abraham.
The Lord wants us, both men and women, to approach Him as our Father. Just as loving daughters respect and honor their earthly fathers with pure conduct and joyful, thankful hearts, so God’s spiritual daughters honor Him. God’s daughters, along with their brothers, are God’s temple and His home (Matthew 23:8; Mark 3:32–33; John 14:23).