Okay so the picture is actually of my son leaving my house. What can I say, his audacity inspired me.
The title says it all. Your children are in your house. Perhaps you should double check? Okay. Check. Now why are they there? I know how they got there. If you don't know go ask your parents and I'm sure they'll be delighted to explain it to you. This isn't a question of "how?". This is a question of "why?". Perhaps you've never thought about this. Perhaps you just assumed that it was to raise a God-fearing member of society. I hope that at this point in American society, no one in the church wants their children to be an average member of society. So what does the Bible have to say about our children? It tells us our children are in our houses for a reason. In fact God gave these children specifically to us to be in our house to fulfill His purpose. So the "why?" of our children is substantially important to fulfilling the Scriptures. As with most things, God judges us upon our faithfulness to His word and I fear many of us don't even know the primary goal of raising Godly offspring.
This is a good Psalm. Of course after about verse eight things start to get dicey. It mostly contains a litany of failures privy to the people of Israel. Yes. The Bible does actually teach that it is important to remember the mistakes made through history. But it is actually the introduction to this neat history lesson that is most pertinent for today. Perhaps we can open our ears to hear these parables (remind anyone of Jesus?) that some of us have heard more faithfully from our fathers than others. Because this chapter is for us. And it is for us to memorize and master so that it would not be hidden from our children. For we're called to proclaim the deeds of God to the next generation and the wonders He has done. Put rather bluntly, and in anticipation of the end, that is why children are in our houses. Whether we are willing to accept it or not, that proclamation is the real reason these children are in our houses.
You see God could have put them in another house to learn math, languages and general social ethic. They could have learned Plato and Darwin at someone else's house and could have excelled at making difficult the easiest of moral dilemmas. But that isn't where God put them. He placed them in our home and we are different. Our calling is different and it is of profound impact on our children how we fulfill that calling.
8 He established a testimony in Jacob
and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers
to teach to their children,
6 that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
7 so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments;
8 and that they should not be like their fathers,
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
a generation whose heart was not steadfast,
whose spirit was not faithful to God. - Psalm 78:5-8
The Command & Purpose
The text is clear: father's have been commanded. Now some of us are becoming fathers and are inheriting the command to teach our children. If God desires for a child to be raised in His house, then they must first be born to our house. I am not neglecting the power of God to save out of sinful households nor the responsibility of the church in adoption. I'm instead focusing on the standard means God has decided to work among His people. And so, if our children are born into our house to be raised in God's house, it is for the one reason mentioned in this psalm: the next unborn generation.
Christian parent (or soon to be parent), your child is in your house and under your rule that grandchildren and child of grandchildren should know and worship the Lord. Forget math. Forget Plato. Your grandchildren and their children are what God desires. He Himself says He desires "Godly offspring" (Mal 2:15). And the result should be that they should hope in God, keep His commandments and not forget His works. As we look across the landscape of the American church what do we see? How many faithful families can be counted that transcend a generation? How many transcend two? How many transcend three? Compare that number with the data concerning young people leaving the church. A look at America and its churches points clearly to a loss of basic morality (even among "Protestant" denominations). But this is simply the aftershock of a generation that forgot the great deeds of God because their parents didn't faithfully teach them. Surely this isn't what God desires.
You see, this Psalm tells us why we must teach our children and them their children. If we do not they will be stubborn and rebellious. They will not be steadfast of heart and they will not be faithful to the Lord. And whether we are able to handle it or not, the Psalmist says that the source of this perversion, and the one we are seeing in America, is parents not reminding their children of God's work to the extent the Scriptures commands (Deut 6:4-9).
My son is crawling out of our house now. Soon he'll be walking. After a few years he'll come and go throughout the day. And someday he will leave for good. And the quality of my performance as a Biblical father will be based on one thing: does he desire to teach his children to teach their children to teach their children to remember the Lord's great deeds, remain steadfast in heart and keep His commandments. And if enough of us make the decision now to strive in faith toward this standard, then it just might be a different America for our grandchildren's children.