Summary: Psalm 78 is a hymn for the home. It teaches that the responsibility of each parent or grandparent is that our kids & grandchildren know God’s Word, that they understand that the key to success is to know the Lord, to love Him, & to be obedient to Him.
PSALM 78: 1-8
PARENTING WITH A PURPOSE
Today is that wonderful Sunday we call Mother’s Day, a day when we celebrate our moms and the priceless role they play in family and society. Moms, it’s not my intention today to add to your struggles as a mom, because many of you already feel overwhelmed. It’s never been harder to be a godly parent.
Diana Allen nicely sums up the sentiment of many mothers in a poem called “I Quit.” After explaining the hardships of parenthood, she concludes, “There will be days when I’ll still hunt through the yellow pages for the number for the Mother’s Resignation Hotline … or my heart will feel as though it has been shattered into a thousand pieces. One thing is sure, however: I have to hang on, to stand firm, to fight the good fight. The souls of my children and the quality of the lives they live here on earth is at stake—and so is their eternity. My children are too precious for me to do anything but persevere.”
Because parenting is so crucial and because God has called us to do certain things as moms and dads, I do want to share some truth from Scripture about raising children. Though this is Mother’s Day, my message is specifically targeted to all parents. Additionally, I believe God has a word for all of us here this morning, whether we’re parents or not.
Psalm 78 is a Maschil, or a teaching psalm. What does it teach? It’s a hymn for the home. That is, this psalm reminds us to teach our children, to teach the next generation. The responsibility of each parent or grandparent is that our kids and grandchildren know God’s Word, that they understand that the key to success is to know the Lord, to love Him, and to be obedient to Him.
Let’s look at four principles in Psalm 78, which the Lord gives us to follow in order that we might “Parent with Purpose.” First, we are to....
I. Teach Our Children GOD’S GREATNESS (vv. 1–4).
The Psalm begins by encouraging us to continue the tradition of passing on the record of God’s marvelous works from one generation to another. In verse 1 the Psalmist asks for our attention. “Give ear, O my people, to my law; incline your ears to the words of my mouth.” In modern terminology, he is shouting, “Don’t touch that dial! Pay attention! This is important stuff!” These instruction are words of truth, words of wisdom, the words of God. Then he uses references to history to drive home his points.
[Verse 2 is quoted by Matthew to show that Jesus’ speaking in parables was a means of uncovering things long hidden and a substantiation of His messiahship (Mt. 13:35). “I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old,” It refers to proverbs (comparisons) and obscure riddles (as in the Samson story, Judg. 14:12) or to words spoken by God to prophets (Num. 12:8; Ezek. 17:2). [The word chidoth can also mean “riddle” or “difficult saying.”] Parables and sayings deliver much in a few well chosen words. Such sayings require contemplation and a heart willing to be challenged by God. Matthew 13:35 states that Jesus too spoke in parables, so that as people pondered the comparison, unanticipated insights into the mystery of God came to light.]
This then is the purpose of the psalm: to clarify the riddle of the past so that it becomes a lesson for the present and the future.
Verse 3 indicates these lessons are summing up the best learning that lives and history have to offer the future. “Which we have heard and known, And our fathers have told us.”
God’s people have always made a substantial commitment to bringing up the next generation in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). Throughout the Old Testament there is continual exhortation for parents to teach the faith to their children. Though Sunday school is an important teaching format, it is a relative new structure. The original institution for teaching children about God has been the home. As parents had received from their fathers, so now the present generation would pass the history of God’s working on to their children with greater understanding. Parents therefore are to learn from the God who reveals Himself and pass their knowledge on to their children. [Morgan, Robert J., Nelson's Annual Preacher's Sourcebook : 2005 Edition. Nashville, TN : Thomas Nelson Publishers, S. 132]
In verse 4 the first principle that we are to pass on to the next generation emphasizes God’s greatness. “We will not conceal them from their children, but tell to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, And His strength and His wondrous works that He has done.”