In the 1970’s I attended a church in Perth where the pastor’s gift was evangelism. I remember that on most Sundays there would be new people becoming followers of Jesus. I was one of them and many of my friends today were also. The pastor told lots of good stories and also said some quotable statements. One of them was, “God has no grandchildren!” The context of his statement was often aimed at children of believers, kids that had been brought up in the church. He would often read John 1:12 which states, “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…” Then he would stress the fact that it was not enough to just follow on in your parent’s faith, in fact it was of great importance for each one to believe and acknowledge Jesus as their own Lord and Saviour. Many did.
In the first 3 verses of Psalm 44, we read of the Psalmist reviewing the past history of God’s interventions in his past generation’s lives. He has been taught well by his grandparents and parents, and this was according to the words of God in Exodus 10:2 which says “Tell your children and your grandchildren”. And so, he talks to God and says:
1 We have heard it with our ears, O God;
our ancestors have told us
what you did in their days,
in days long ago.
2 With your hand you drove out the nations
and planted our ancestors;
you crushed the peoples
and made our ancestors flourish.
3 It was not by their sword that they won the land,
nor did their arm bring them victory;
it was your right hand, your arm,
and the light of your face, for you loved them.
But then his conversation to the Lord changes in verses 4-8 and the psalmist becomes personal. He acknowledges how all this has become very real to him as well and using the personal pronoun (in bold font) he states:
4 You are my King and my God,
who decreesvictories for Jacob.
5 Through you we push back our enemies;
through your name we trample our foes.
6 I put no trust in my bow,
my sword does not bring me victory;
7 but you give us victory over our enemies,
you put our adversaries to shame.
8 In God we make our boast all day long,
and we will praise your name forever.
He acknowledges that it is not enough just to know the stories told him by past generations but they now have become his stories – his experience!
I was not brought up in a Christian home, coming to faith in Jesus at 19 years old, but I have now known many who had the privilege of believing parents (including my wife and our own children) and who now have also committed their lives to following Jesus. Our task is not yet over though, as we now move into another generation, whom we trust will also remember all that they have been taught and decide to follow Jesus as their parents and grandparents have done. Prayer being the gift God has given us to exercise during this time.
But, as we consider the words of this poem we also see another important lesson in the psalmist’s words. They are concerning who deserves all the praise for what has, is and will happen. In the words of Wilcock, “God was doing something else at the time of the exodus and the conquest. He was making it crystal clear to Israel that all the achievements of those momentous days were his and not hers. The founding fathers knew, and their descendants now singing Psalm 44 also knew, that it was a divine arm and not a human one which had wrought these great things.” (# 5)
Read the verses 1-8 (underlined above) again and you will see just how much this truth is emphasized. And that’s why the psalmist finishes with the words:
In God we make our boast all day long,
and we will praise your name forever. (Verse 8)
Father, we do acknowledge that you have done great things in the lives of generations past and in our own lives. We ask that you do this same work of grace in the generations to come as they commit their lives to following you. Amen.