(18) Let this be written for a coming generation so that a people yet to be created may praise Yah(weh), (19) for he looked down from his holy height. From heaven Yahweh gazed upon the earth (20) to hear the groaning of the prisoners, to set free those condemned to death, (21) so that they may declare in Zion the name of Yahweh and his praise in Jerusalem (22) when the peoples and the kingdoms assemble to worship Yahweh.
Two words are repeated in these five verses. “Yahweh,” whose acts of mercy are the focus of this segment, occurs four times (vss. 18, 19, 21, & 22). “People(s),” used twice (vss. 18 & 22), refers to those who praise Yahweh because of his great goodness.
We should also note the poetic parallelisms found in each verse: “a coming generation” and “a people yet to be created” (vs. 18), “looked down from his holy height” and “from heaven gazed upon the earth” (vs. 19), “the prisoners” and “those condemned to death” (vs. 20), “declare in Zion the name of Yahweh” and “his praise in Jerusalem” (vs. 21), and, finally, “the peoples” and “kingdoms” (vs. 22).
I. Why a record? So that future generations may praise Yahweh (18)
II. What to record? Yahweh’s acts of mercy so that all may serve him (19-22)
By providing a written record, Yahweh has made it possible for future generations to praise and worship him.
Consider the significance of verse 18. In this one statement we have a succinct rationale for the Scriptures, the historical record of who God is and what he has done. How else could we who are part of “the coming generation...a people yet to be created” know about Yahweh and his working throughout the centuries of human history? Oral traditions could never suffice. Only a written record provides the scope and breadth of information, the precise testimony we need to know and worship Yahweh in the way that he desires. What a magnificent resource we have in the Old and New Testament! They enlighten us concerning Yahweh’s dealings with humanity from the very moment of creation until the present day and even beyond into the future.
Other passages proclaim the same truth. In Psalm 119 we read, “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me” (vss. 97 & 98). In the New Testament we have this testimony from Paul: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16 & 17). We should repeatedly praise God for the inspired and inerrant record he has preserved for us. By means of the Bible, we know who he is and how we are to relate to him.