Psalm 78, sermon preached in 1985.
Rev. Dennis Tuuri
The primary means of restoring blessings to the people is restoring the hearts of the fathers back to the children: by building strong covenantal families.
What should we be teaching our children? What should be the content?
Verses 9-11 sum up Psalm 78:
The Ephraimites, armed with the bow,
turned back on the day of battle.
10 They did not keep God’s covenant,
but refused to walk according to his law.
11 They forgot his works
and the wonders that he had shown them.
We see that the godly way is to teach our children the covenant of God, the laws of God, and the works of God.
The Covenant of God – The Scriptures are a revelation, primarily of who God is to man. God reveals Himself to man. What is a covenant? An agreement between two or more people. It is a covenant between a vassal and a Lord. It is initiated by a superior. A covenant has terms with blessings and curses.
The law structure tells us how we ought to live. We ought to teach our children the covenant. God’s blessings are only available through the covenant. The Old Testament stories picture the coming of Jesus Christ.
God initiates and completes the covenant. The covenant of grace is consummated in the coming of Christ. When you teach children Bible stories, you want to look at it covenantally. What does it say about God, about Jesus and about people? For example, when dealing with Joseph, we should not merely deal with his brothers or with Joseph’s triumphs, but rather we should ask what does this story say about God? It says that God is sovereign over the affairs of men. What does it say about a mediator? Joseph is a mediator; a type of Christ. He feeds his brothers later on. What does it say about the covenant people? God did this for the sake of His Covenant people. Joseph’s brothers are later on the recipients of God’s providence (see Degraaff)
We ought also to use the catechism. Children learn truth through the catechism. They may not know all things, but they know how to identify errors.
A Covenant is like a marriage. It is a relationship; there are structures, positions (law of the household). This is a way to teach our children about the covenant.
When a child begins to talk you can begin to teach them how to memorize verses. The Shema teaches any child the basic elements of a covenant.
The covenant of a grace is a model for all of life. The covenant should pervade everything we do and say.
We should teach them about blessings and curses.
After the covenant, we should teach them about God’s law. The basic law is to love the Lord your God and your neighbor as yourself. When they are young we should teach them this.
We should also teach them by example and by our character. You should show your child that there are structures within the household. How to teach them the law of God?
Begin with the case laws (Exodus 21-23). Restitution, slavery, etc. Read it one law at a time. It requires us to study it a little (see Jordan’s book: Laws of the Covenant).
We are to begin to help them make application, particularly the area of restitution.
Finally, the Psalmist tells us that they had forgotten the wonderful works God accomplished.
God’s main work was His deliverance of Israel from His enemies. The nation of Israel ought not to make covenant with the enemy, but rather seek their conversion. We are to teach our children that we live in a land of God-haters. We should teach them that we are at war. God is concerned about the conversion of His enemies. We are also to teach the victory of Christ.
We are not to teach our children from a humanistic perspective, but that there is no neutrality.