Psalm 78
Teaching Your Children About God

Psalm 78 is a psalm about how parents can have a positive influence in their children’s lives as it relates to their spiritual development.  

There are many influences that will have an impact on the kind of person your child becomes.  These influences range from the friends they choose to have and the friends parents allow them to have.  Influences include the kind of television they are allowed to watch, the kind of music they are allowed to listen to, and the kind of movies they are allowed to see.  The greatest influence in a child’s life is the influence of a mother and a father.

As we introduce Psalm 78, let’s give some thought to the first few verses.

Psalm 78.1-3:  "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."

Psalm 78 was written by God through Asaph.  Asaph was a chief musician in the days of David and was involved in the worship of God by song.  From inspiration, Asaph begins by saying “give ear” and “incline your ears to the words of my mouth.” In other words, he begins by telling us to listen carefully to what he is about to say.  

He then says in verse 2, “I will open my mouth in a parable” and “I will utter dark sayings of old.”  The idea is that he was about to tell them something that is hard to understand, but he will explain it in a way that is easy to grasp.  

He continues in verse three to explain that what he was about to say “our fathers have told us.”  He was taught something, and now he was going to pass what he learned on to his audience.  

In Psalm 78.4, we read about how we are to take what we are about to learn and pass it on to the generation to come.  In verse 6, we read again about the generation to come.  Right between these two statement are the things that Asaph is passing on to us and what we are to pass on to the next generation, our children.  

What we find in these verses is that parents need to teach their children about God.  It is not the responsibility of the church to teach your children.  It is not the responsibility of the Bible class teachers to educate your children.  It is not the deacons, the elders, or the preacher’s responsibility to teach your children about God.  Here is an inspired psalm that was sung by the children of Israel, and in it, we are told that it is the parents responsibility.  

Psalm 78:  Teaching Children about the Worship of God

Psalm 78.4:  “We will not hide them from their children, Telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord,”  

The word “praise” in its various forms appears 152 times in the book of Psalms.  That’s a lot of appearances considering there are only 150 psalms.  These psalms were sung in the worship to God.  On average, at least once in every psalm is this word that says that God is to be praised. 

In Psalm 78.4, we are to tell the generation to come, our children, the praises of the Lord.  They need to be taught about worship.  

If you take that thought over to Hebrews 10, you will find a point being made that could be very troubling to parents when we consider the way we prioritize our lives.  

How can we impress upon our children the importance of worshipping God when we do not attend worship services regularly.  How can we show teach our children about worshipping God if we allow other things to take precedent to the worship of the church?  How can we teach our children the importance of worshipping God when they see that we have a chance to worship God, but instead we find doing something else more important?

Hebrews 10.25:  "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some"

This passage was written because people were not going to church.  It was a problem back then.  It is not anything new.  This has been a problem in the Lord’s church for 2000 years.

We need to realize that attending the worship of the church is not done because we don’t want to go to Hell.  We should not come to worship because we are obligated.  Attending the worship of the church is to be done because we love others and we want to be loved by others. 

This passage says that we are not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together as is the manner of some.  The writer makes the observation that there are some who forsake the assembly.  It is placed right in the middle of two thoughts that describe how we are to love one another  (Heb. 10.24,25).

Christians are supposed to care about each other.  We are to encourage one another and stir up one another.  This is one of the reasons why we are told to go to church services.  We go in order to exhort, stir up, and encourage each other.  This makes church attendance extremely important.

We need to be an examples to our children.  They need to see in us that worshipping God is important.  Can your son or daughter, grandson or granddaughter say that worship is important to you?  You are teaching your children right now about worship to God by being there, and when they reflect on your attendance record.

Psalm 78:  Teaching Your Children about the Wonder of God

Psalm 78.5:  “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.” 

If we made a list of the wonders of God, what a list that would be?  Some of the wonders that you might put on your list might include how God parted the Red Sea.  You might think of how God spoke the creation into existence.  Perhaps you are thinking of the global flood in the days of Noah.  All of us can think of and reflect on some of the incredible things God has done.

Let's think about some of the wonders of God which are not miraculous.  They do not defy the laws of nature, but they are wondrous nonetheless because they are aspects of His character.

He is the God of Patience and Comfort

Romans 15.5:  "Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus"

The word "patience" in this verse is the Greek word "hupomone." 

  • Hupe – “under”  
  • mene – “to remain”.  

Literally, the word means "to remain under."  It carries the idea of remaining faithful even when you are under pressure even when times get tough.  Someone who is patient will stay with you even through the difficult time.  He will not be a fair weather friend, but is with you no matter what.

God is patient.  He is with you even when others have given up on you.  He is with you no matter what.

He is also the God of comfort.  He not only will stand by you and with you, but He will lift you up and encourage you when things get tough on you.

He is the God of Hope

Romans 15.13:  "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

The concept of hope is anticipating something positive in the future with the full expectation that it will become a reality. 

This is the God whom we serve.  He makes a promise and He will see it to the end.

He is the God of Peace

Romans 15.33: "Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen."

You are at peace with God because of the blood of Jesus.

You are at peace with fellow Christians because you share a commonality in Christ.  Does everybody get along with everybody else.  No.  Do we try?  We better.  We have the ability to be at peace because we all have been saved by the blood of Jesus, and we are all trying to live our lives by the doctrine of Christ.

We are at peace with ourselves, and this inner peace because of my hope in Christ.

He is the God of Love

2 Corinthians 13.11:  "Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you."

Everything that you read about God tells us that God is love.  He sent forth His Son because He loved the world.  He loves those who hate and despise Him and expects us to do the same, because He is a God of love.  All of His commandments and expectations of us are based on two commandments:  Love God, and love your neighbor  (Matt. 22.34-40). 

What do you want your children to know about God?  You want them to know that God is wonderful because God is a God of patience, hope, comfort, peace, love.  What your children know about God largely depends on what they see in you.

Psalm 78:  Teaching Your Children About the Will of God

Psalm 78:5-7:  "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"

  • In Psalm 78:5, reference is made to the "testimony," "law," and "commandments."  
  • In Psalm 78:5, reference is also made to the fact that we need to make the testimony, law, and commandments known to our children.  
  • In Psalm 78:6, reference is made to the idea of our children knowing them and declaring them.
  • In Psalm 78:7, we learn why.  "that they may set their hope in God, and not forget the works of GOd, but keep His commandments."

The New Testament is an entire different kind of system than the Old Testament.  In the Old Testament you had a series of do’s and don’ts that had to be kept perfectly without every making a mistake.  The curse of the law is that no one could do it, except Jesus Christ.

In contrast, the New Testament is a system not of a series of do’s and don’ts, but a system of grace, of faith, of love.  But that does not take away from the fact that there is still law.  There are still commands to be followed.  It is possible to be guilty of disobedience and rebellion.  Read Hebrews 3 and you will find like "rebel," "disobedience," and "sin" in reference to those in the Old Testament.  Then you turn to chapter 4 and read how we are to be careful not to let the sin of Israel be the sin of you and me today.

While the New Testament is a different kind of system, there are still laws to follow  (1 John 5.3).  His New Testament commandments are not grievous because we are not keeping them out of an Old Testament law concept, but because we love Him and we want to please Him.  But they are still commandments and they still must be obeyed.  

Your children will learn about the will of God when they see in you how well you keep the commandments of God in your life. 

Psalm 78 reminds us as parents that we need to be a positive influence to our children by showing them by our lives the worship of God, the wonder of God, and the will of God.

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