(Today’s post by James Rooks)
Psalm 78 puts into a nutshell the spiritual tug of war for Old Testament Israel. It reads like a highlight reel of God’s mercy and faithfulness coupled with some people being faithful and others forgetting over and over again. The wording in verse two is interesting: “I will open my mouth in a parable.” It would appear that the reader is being prepared to see a parable after this, but there is none.
What we do have, however, is a parallel with a New Testament passage in Matthew 13. Jesus addresses the disciples’ question about why He spoke in parables. 13 “Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. – Mat 13:13 NASB
See how Jesus describes the Pharisees? Very similar to the pattern found in today’s text in Psalm 78:1-39. Look back a chapter in Matthew 12. Jesus had just cast a demon out of a man, and the Pharisees claim that Jesus is working for the dark side. While it was a clear display of His authority, they refused to see it. It was after this confrontation that Jesus began using more parables in His public ministry. In fact, Matthew 13 is almost exclusively written as parable.
There are key characteristics listed in the Psalm 78 passage of those who are following God versus those who don’t. This list looks a lot like Jesus’ true followers versus the religious Pharisees from Matthew.
Things that followers do:
- They will not hide God’s commands from their children.
- They have a desire for the next generation to trust God.
- They will not forget His miraculous deeds.
- They keep His commands.
Those that don’t:
- Not loyal
- Not faithful
- Turn back from battle
- Do not keep God’s covenant
- Forget what God had done
- Continue in sin despite seeing all that He had done
- Speak against God
One thing that I take from this, as a dad and as a husband, is that I play a huge role in how the next generation (my kids and their kids) sees and follows God. The common denominator in Psalm 78 is that God continually makes clear His faithfulness, His power, and His mercy for the people. The key to godly living is pretty simple and clear in verses three through seven. Remember all that God has done, and do not hide this from the next generation. Remember God’s word, and do not keep this from the next generation. This pattern of remembrance and passing along seems so simple, yet so effective and mission critical. Look at the following verses in today’s passage and see the destructive path laid out for those that don’t remember and won’t pass along these things to the next generation.
Sometimes I think we make the discipleship of our families way too complicated. I’m sure there are some great studies on raising godly kids, but why try to re-invent the wheel? If we could just nail down what is outlined in the early part of today’s passage, then the fruit will be evident.
What struggles do you face when passing down the Christian faith to your children?