They say “the devil is in the details,” meaning that the details matter. It is the same with fathers, God obligates fathers to be men of details. Specifically, “His wonderful works” (Ps 78:4).
This describes a man who knows the details of how God has worked. There are two categories of the works of the Lord. First, there are the works of God recorded in Scripture. This is the most important aspect of a father’s message – the recitation of the deeds of God recorded in Holy scripture. This is why it is critical that men lead their children to memorize Scripture. If children do not know the facts of God’s wonderful works, they will not know how to communicate them to others or know how to address well the difficulties they are facing.
Second, there are the works God has done since the writing of Scripture. These works can range from the time of the early church, to the ways that God has worked in your family specifically. How fathers interpret history makes all the difference in the world.
What are the observable results of a father’s good teaching? Asaph presents four results that will be observable in our children when they have been properly taught. This is a very helpful section in this psalm because it shows us how to evaluate the results of our teaching. (Notice that these results have nothing to do with career goals, financial security, or education. They have to do with the attitudes that fill everything our children do).
Fathers must be on the lookout for the right results. What results should they expect to see in a home in which the truth of God has been fought for and bled for?
They Hope in God
The first result fathers should see in their children is that they “set their hope in God” (Psalm 78:7). The children described here are so confident in God that they are characterized by hope. This means that one of the most important goals of parenting is to present a child with a heart full of hope. How fragile they will be if they put their hope in anything else in this world.
They remember the works of God
The second result that fathers should see in their children is that they would “not forget the works of God” (Psalm 78:7).
Memory of the works of God is something that fathers need to help their children acquire. These truths should be etched in their memories so that they will come back to them in times of need. Their memories of Noah, Moses, Joseph and Job and the rest of the saints throughout biblical history.
Our children need to know the “works of the Lord”. When they don’t know where their next meal is coming from, or they experience a job loss, a betrayal, a failure, a market crash, or a barren womb, will they be fretful and downcast? Or will they remember, that as God fed the children of Israel in the wilderness, so will He feed them. Will they remember that even though there was no food within a thousand miles and no way to grow it, that God fed the children of Israel with the ‘food of angels”? When they are in danger, with no way out, will they collapse in fear? Or, will they think of the Red Sea and the words that were spoken there: “The Lord will fight for you” (Exodus 14:14).
When they are tempted to complain because life is hard, will they fall into a period of depression, or will they think of how God provided water out of a rock in the middle of nowhere?
The mother of the great orator of the American Revolution, Patrick Henry, had the wisdom to take her son to church every week to hear one of the greatest preachers of the colonial era – Samuel Davies. On the way home from church, she would quiz him about the sermon. She would require that young Patrick recite the entire sermon - even reproducing the oratorical inflections for which Davies was famous. She was helping him forge these great principles into his memory. This kind of constant conversation about important things is critical. You are serving your children well by building the right things into their memories.
I am often astounded at how children find so much joy in quoting one liners from Hollywood movies they have seen. But, they can’t remember a single line from one of the great stories of Scripture. A faithful father will lead his family so that they are quoting the great “one liners” from Scripture. The objective of a father’s teaching is “that they might know them”
They keep His commandments
The third result that a father should see is that his children “would keep His commandments” v7.
Yes, we should be vigilant to see if our children are obedient. We should monitor their obedience, even though it is out of style in our “anything goes”, “everything is acceptable as long as you feel good about it” culture. There are two parts to obedience. The first part is a matter of the heart. Do our children have a heart for obedience in the sense that they desire to obey and are not kicking against authority? In other words, we need to know if our children believe that obedience is the superior way. Or is it just another rule that has to be followed because “that’s the way we do it around here! Do they have a genuine, visceral understanding of Psalm 19:11, “in keeping them there is great reward”
The second part of recognizing whether or not children “keep His commandment” is the outward part that expresses itself in words, actions, and attitudes.
The outward part is important because it reflects the inward part. This is why outward obedience is so important. It reflects the thoughts and meditations of the heart.
Parents are given the responsibility to secure honor and obedience in their children. This is one way that they break the patterns of the previous generation. They raise up a new generation of obedient children. In order to do such a thing, fathers must be detail men. They must communicate the specifics. Vague generalities won’t do. Broad strokes are thin strokes. God calls fathers to be men who traffic in the details of the “works He has done” (Ps 78:4)