If Psalm 77 is about the importance of remembering, then Psalm 78 is about the danger of forgetting.
Remembering is active.
As we recall information or an event, we are actively reinforcing that memory in our brain and making it easier to retrieve in the future.
Forgetting is passive.
When information just sits in storage in our brains, unused, it gets more difficult to find and retrieve. If you don’t use it, you risk losing it.
Faith grows when we intentionally remember God’s words and His actions.
Psalm 78 opens with a declaration of intent to recount the history of God’s faithfulness that had been passed down from generation to generation. The psalmist reminds God’s people of the responsibility to intentionally teach their children God’s ways.
I will declare wise sayings;
I will speak mysteries from the past—
things we have heard and known
and that our fathers have passed down to us.
We will not hide them from their children,
but will tell a future generation
the praiseworthy acts of the LORD,
his might, and the wondrous works
he has performed.
He established a testimony in Jacob
and set up a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers
to teach to their children
so that a future generation—
children yet to be born—might know. (v. 2-6a CSB)
The responsibility of parents to pass down God’s instructions was first emphasized by Moses in his instructions to Israel before going into the Promised Land.
Listen, Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 6:4-7 CSB
Why is it so important for parents to teach their children God’s Word and tell them about the praiseworthy acts of the LORD?
Asaph gives several reasons:
* so that their children would put their confidence and hope in God
* so that their children would not forget God’s works
* so that their children would obey God’s commands
* so that their children would not rebel against God
They were to rise and tell their children
so that they might put their confidence in God
and not forget God’s works,
but keep his commands.
Then they would not be like their fathers,
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
a generation whose heart was not loyal
and whose spirit was not faithful to God. (v. 6b – 8 CSB)
The danger of forgetting God’s words and His ways?
Rebellion and an unfaithful heart.
The psalmist explains this danger by retelling the story of Israel’s rebellion in the desert after God rescued them from Egypt. Despite the miracles God performed as signs during the plagues, in parting the Red Sea, and in providing food and water in the desert, Israel forgot God’s power and responded to crisis after crisis with unbelief.
Despite all this, they kept sinning
and did not believe
his wondrous works. (v. 32 CSB)
How often they rebelled against him
in the wilderness
and grieved him in the desert.
They constantly tested God
and provoked the Holy One of Israel.
They did not remember his power shown
on the day he redeemed them from the foe,
when he performed his miraculous signs in Egypt
and his wonders in the territory of Zoan. (v. 40-43 CSB)
The consequences of rebellion and unbelief were severe. Many died in the desert without seeing the Promised Land. And yet, God showed compassion.
Yet he was compassionate;
he atoned for their iniquity
and did not destroy them.
He often turned his anger aside
and did not unleash all his wrath. (v. 38 CSB)
Later, when God’s people were living in the Promised Land, they continued to rebel, carving images of other gods and worshiping them at high places. Again, the consequences were severe.
He surrendered his people to the sword
because he was enraged with his heritage. (v. 62 CSB)
By retelling what happened to Israel – God’s miraculous rescue and israel’s rebellion – the psalmist cautions us all.
Forgetting what God has done can lead to rebellion.
Rebelling against God has serious consequences.
Forgetting is a dangerous thing.
We must be intentional about remembering what God has done.
Remembering helps us put our hope in God.
Remembering helps us obey God’s instructions.
Remembering keeps us from rebelling.
And we must teach the next generation God’s words and His ways so they too can put their hope in God.
Father, You are God Most High, my Redeemer. Thank You for atoning for my sins. I do not want to forget what You have done and rebel. I want to have a faithful heart and to obey Your commands. Help me to always remember the wonders You have done. I want to be intentional in telling the next generation of your wondrous works so they might put their hope in You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
**Today’s picture is of my Grandma pointing out her favorite verse to my kids. I took this picture about a year before my Grandma died. It is one of my treasures.