Communicating the Truth
(H) A Maskill of Asaph. (1) Listen, my people, to my instruction. Incline your ears to the words of my mouth. (2) I will open my mouth in a parable. I will utter obscure truths from ancient times, (3) things which we have heard and known and which our fathers have told us. (4) We will not hide them from their children, but tell the coming generation the praises of Yahweh and his might and the wondrous things he has done.
In this brief opening paragraph, we find two important repetitions. First “mouth” is used twice (vss. 1 & 2), and then “tell” is repeated (vss. 3 & 4). Both terms are related to the central thrust of this introduction, namely, to the vital importance of communicating timeless truths about God from one generation to the next. Note the three groups mentioned representing the past, the present, and the future: “from ancient times...our fathers” (vss. 2 & 3), “us...we” (vss. 3 & 4), and “their children...the coming generation” (vs. 4).
Our solemn responsibility:
I. Pay attention to the truths we learned from our fathers. (1-3)
II. Proclaim these truths to the coming generations. (4)
Each generation has the solemn responsibility to communicate to the following generations the truths it has received.
The Bible contains a clear approach to Christian Education that is embodied in the opening verses of this psalm. Each generation of believers bears the same responsibility to communicate the truths they have received from the previous generations to those that follow. Moses clearly expressed this idea: “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates” (Deut. 6:6-9). Paul echoed this same idea to Timothy: “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Tim. 2:2). In this verse, four generations are in view: Paul, Timothy, reliable men, and others whom these men would teach.
While the Word of God contains all the truth that any generation needs to know, the indoctrination of those who follow in the next generation is an indispensable part of the learning process. The word, “indoctrination,” sadly carries negative connotations in today’s world which is well acquainted with the pernicious effects of brain washing, mind control, and totalitarian regimes. However, the idea of indoctrination can be quite positive when it simply refers to “instruction in truth received from God.” Believing parents are entrusted with the solemn responsibility of communicating the truths of Scripture to their children. Proverbs 22:6 is often quoted in this regard: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” In the Great Commission where Jesus gave his disciples the responsibility of making disciples, his precise words were, “teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you” (Mt. 28:20). The discipling of the nations should be the church’s top priority. A failure to communicate God’s truth to the next generation constitutes a failure to obey God’s will for those who know and love him.