Give ear, O my people, to my law; incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength and His wonderful works that He has done. For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children; that the generation to come might know them, the children who would be born, that they may arise and declare them to their children, that they may set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments; and may not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that did not set its heart aright, and whose spirit was not faithful to God. (Psalm 78:1-8; A contemplation of Asaph)
Telling The Children
Every generation must know the word of God. The story of man’s creation and relationship with the Father has been a necessary part of every society. Noah was a righteous man, Abraham was a man of faith and Job reminds us of the hardships of life but all had a deep and abiding knowledge of the God that saved them. Throughout the history of the Jewish people, understanding the story of the mercy of the Lord either would save them or destroy them. The punishment afflicted upon the nation resulted in their rejection of the word of God. Generations arose that did not know the Lord and sought wisdom in their own pleasures. Calamity fell upon Israel for the lack of knowledge. The story of Jesus reminds us time and again the power of knowing the heavenly Father and listening to His words. Paul and the other New Testament writers emphasize that faith comes from hearing the word of God. Two thousand years removed does not change the emphasis of knowing the old, old story.
Asaph was a masterful poet. His contemplation was a reminder of the turbulent history of Israel as a nation. He begins with the deliverance of Israel from Egypt and marks well each stage of Israel’s struggle to obey the word of the Lord. They would listen to God and then rebel and God would punish them and then bless them. The story is not about Israel but the grace of God. Israel tested and provoked the Lord many times but in the end, God was faithful to the promise He made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The fulfillment of this story is found in Jesus Christ. Asaph did not live to see the coming of the Christ but he knew the faithfulness of the Lord would bring about all His promises. What is very important about this psalm is the need to teach these stories to children. Asaph reminds his readers that every generation needs to know the story of God.
We have lost a lot of opportunities in our modern world of technology. Families seldom gather around the hearth to listen to the reading of the word of God. We should never hide the stories of God from our children. Every generation should know the Bible front and back. The praises of the Lord, His strength and wonderful works He has done should be at the forefront of every child’s learning. God commanded the people to teach their children His law so their hope would be set on Him. The works of the Lord should be implanted on the minds of every generation learning to keep His commandments. A lack of knowledge will destroy any nation. Asaph warns against being like generations past that were stubborn, rebellious and refused to set their hearts on the Lord. It takes time and energy to teach children but the lack of knowledge will destroy them.
Life is filled with the hectic pursuits of school, recreation, sports, jobs and life in general. This generation is the most advanced time in the history of man with communication but the greatest generation of ignorant people of God than many generations before. Electronic devices have taken away the art of conversation. Families no longer dine together, talk together or acknowledge one another because the glow of computers and cell phones have tanned the lines of the face with mesmerizing power. Parents spend more time on their cell phones that with their children. Young people do not know where scriptures are in the Bible because they seldom (if ever) open the book. The church is being filled with those who are shallow in their understanding of the mercy and grace of God. Asaph reminds us of the downfall when we do not teach – impart knowledge – our children the word of God. Electronic games are played during worship instead of reverence. Bible class teachers struggle to tell the stories of the Bible to students who have little interest because their parents have no interest. A stubborn and rebellious generation comes from homes that do not teach the word of God.
Teaching children is not a Sunday morning, Wednesday night magical pill that will produce faithful children of God. Asaph declares that faithful people come from fathers who tell the story of Jesus to their children and mothers who instill in the hearts of their children the wonderful story of God’s love. Do not hide the truth from your children. Tell your family the praises of the Lord, the strength of His might and the wonderful works He has done. Make certain your generation and the next knows the story of God. Instill in them the hope that can only be found in God and to be diligent to keep the commandments of the Lord. If this is not done, a stubborn and rebellious generation will arise that will not set their hearts on the Lord and whose spirit will not be faithful to God.