In his classic work Knowing God, J. I. Packer points out the difference between knowing about God and knowing God. He understood that it was possible for someone to have sound theology, know the Bible well, be involved in ministry, and yet not really have a relationship with God.
One way we can know God’s character is by reflecting on how He has related to His people. The Psalmist in today’s reading recounts God’s history with His people so that the next generation would “put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds” (vv. 6–7). The goal is not just to learn history, but to trust in the God revealed by it. The Psalmist reflects on God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt. He reminds them how God defeated the Egyptian army and provided for His people in the wilderness (vv. 12–16). Instead of being grateful, Israel rebelled and complained (vv. 17–19). In His grace, God continued to provide for their needs and judged them for their sins (vv. 20–31). These acts were both designed to cause repentance. Yet, Israel continued to rebel. They grieved God again and again. In response to their ungratefulness and disloyalty, God showed Himself to be slow to anger, merciful, and forgiving (v. 38).
The Psalmist reflects on the time period of the judges and early chapters of Samuel. He recounts God’s continued faithfulness and Israel’s obstinacy. God raised up David as king to serve as a faithful shepherd (vv. 65–72). On this side of history, we know David’s line also failed to be obedient, which led to exile. Yet, God promised that a Davidic king would reign on the throne of Israel forever (2 Sam. 7:11–16).
>> This psalm encourages us to share what we know about God with the next generation (vv. 4–8). We must tell God’s story again and again so the next generation will put their trust in Him. Consider how you can take part in passing on these important truths.
God in Heaven, we want to be intentional in passing on the stories of Your faithfulness to the next generation. Help us recognize opportunities to teach young people what a great God You are through the power of narrative.