What do people want for the next generation? What do people want for their children? It depends who is answering the question?
- – A politician might say: “We want lower taxes and jobs growth for the next generation”
- – A middle class parent might say: “I want my children to get an excellent education and have opportunities”
- – A migrant parent seeking asylum in Australia might say: “I want my children to be safe – free from violence”.
- – UNICEF have been thinking about this question with a great deal of consideration for a long time. They adopted the “UN Convention on the Rights of a Child” in 1989, click here to read the summary
But in Psalm 78 we find that there has been another group of people thinking about this question with a great deal of consideration for a long time. The nation of Israel. Listen to what Asaph, one of David’s choir leaders had to say circa 1000BC.
1 My people, hear my teaching;
listen to the words of my mouth.
2 I will open my mouth with a parable;
I will utter hidden things, things from of old—
3 things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation
Whatever is about to be told is really important. This wisdom is from “of old”.
Asaph is saying, “Our ancestors told us … and since we are our ancestors’ descendants, it is incumbent upon us to pass this wisdom forward and “tell the next generation”.” But what is the content of this Biblical equivalent of “The Barefoot Investor for Families”? What does the writer of Psalm 78 want for the next generation, for his children?
4 We will not hide them from their descendants;
we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD,
his power, and the wonders he has done.
5 He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children,
6 so the next generation would know them,
even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children
What exactly did those “of old” pass on to Asaph, and to his parents, and to his great grandparents and to his ancestors before that?
It was knowledge, education and insights with regard the words and the deeds of God.
Words being, “His decreed statutes” (v5) and “the law in Israel” (v5) which includes, but is not limited to Genesis to Deuteronomy, the Pentateuch.
What does the Pentateuch tell us:
- – It details very, very clearly in concise detail the deeds of God, for example: –
- – Through a paragraph God produced the Pacific ocean – he creates with words;
- – God’s amazing military victories – where the Israelites under Moses defeat the Egyptian army as they exited Egypt (Ex 14:28), which is like the Tongan Navy defeating the Aircraft Carrier USS George H. W. Bush … news spread like wildfire in the middle east at the time … it was astonishing (Joshua 1:9);
- – What happened in Jericho, when the walls came down (Joshua 6:20)
So to summarise. In Psalm 78:1-8, Asaph says that everyone should want to pass onto the next generation (their children) knowledge of the words and the deeds of God; everyone should pass on the Scriptures, the Word of God.
But why does this matter so much? What is the goal of teaching our children “God’s words and deeds”? Well that question is answered as we continue to read Psalm 78:
7 Then they would put their trust in God
and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands
8 They would not be like their forefathers – a stubborn and rebellious generation,
whose hearts were not loyal to God,
whose spirits were not faithful to him
What is the result the writer is looking for?
It is children who:
- – “put their trust in God”
- – “have confidence in God”; or
- – As John Calvin translated the sentence, “that they might set their hope in God”
What does a child who “sets their hope in God” look like?
Well according to verse 8, they’ll be less “stubborn and rebellious”, they’ll be less “insubordinate” and “fractious”.
But why? Why does “setting your hope in God” make a difference?
Well, let me explain by bringing to your attention some of the alternate “hopes” out there. I recently came across a study commissioned by the “Financial Planning Association of Australia”, titled, “Live the Dream: Research into Australians living a Successful Life”.
2,635 Australians between the ages of 23-71 answered a survey. Those surveyed were asked the question, “What does ‘living the dream’ mean to you?”
The survey asked Australians, “What are people hoping for?”
Interestingly, Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y all had the same top three hopes:
- 1. Financial Freedom & independence
- 2. The lifestyle of your choice
- 3. Safety and security
If that is what you put your hope in, what happens when:
- – Your child is located way along the Autism spectrum
- – You are diagnosed with Chrones Disease, or
- – Your Mum has a stroke when she is 60 years old and you’ve got to care for her from the age of 25 onward?
If you set your hope in “living the dream” rather than “set your hope in God” you are going to be VERY disappointed.
And disappointment breeds resentment, and resentment breeds discord, and discord breeds loneliness and loneliness breeds depression.
But, on the other hand, if someone knows the deeds and words of the Lord and sets their hope in him then their life will look quite different.
People who “set their hope in God” seek:
- – God’s Kingdom and righteousness first (Matthew 6:33). They are not obsessed by what they will eat, or drink or wear.
- – The fruit of the spirit” (Gal 5:22-23) not “the lifestyle of their choice”
- – To live a godly life in Christ Jesus even if it results in persecution (2 Tim 3:12) because godliness is better than “safety and security”.
They really are different people to be around.
So what is it that we want for the next generation?
That they would drink deep into their hearts the words and deeds of the Lord so that they would set their hope in Him?