There’s an above average number of verses in Psalm 78 but, at its heart, there’s a strong challenge for Dads to speak up. It’s an encouragement for us to tell our kids and their kids of the greatness of God: His might, His wonder and the good things He has done.
Psalm 78 cheers us on to tell stories of God’s goodness; many and often. It also tells us of the importance of the atmosphere we establish in our homes and the vital role of parents. It looks squarely at fathers as it recalls salvation history.
I’m very aware that around The Big Table, like any table, there are those whose experience of fatherhood has been limited, negative, nasty or non-existent. Each has their own story of how this may have been your reality.
Psalm 78 is not seeking to change history, but it’s certainly an encouragement to change the story you’re writing right now. In so many ways, Psalm 78 points to the steadfast faithfulness of God and His constant mercy— particularly amidst the failures of parents.
There seems a constant and sad pattern though 1/2 Kings and 1/2 Chronicles. It’s a pattern of a generation turning to God and tearing down all the obstacles they’d put up between themselves and God, and then, in the very next generation, returning to the idols of the fathers’ fathers.
Psalm 78 isn’t celebrating success, it’s a plea to return to God all over again, and to remember why faithfulness to a faithful God is wisdom.
It’s an invitation and instruction to continue to tell stories both ancient and present about the faithfulness of a God who split the sea so they could walk right through it (verse 15), who has made water come from the driest of places (verse 16), who is always compassionate (v38), and who is drawing the lost through wilderness places to safe ground (v55).
I recently read of an ardent feminist who was quoted as saying that ‘fathers are a biological necessity but a psychological absurdity’. While this may be true for men who have implicitly or explicitly chosen to emasculate themselves or absolve themselves from any responsibility, it’s certainly not what Jesus calls us onto or into as fathers.
There’s been a fair swathe of testosterone surging through the western church in years past and with it, a tendency to present a prototypical ‘manly man’; one who loves Jesus, for sure, but who perhaps also drives a fuel-guzzling pick up, chews tabacci, wears fleecy checked shirts and has a low regard for shaving.
The strong sense I get from Psalm 78 is that the ‘manly man’ is one who wears/owns/carries responsibility well. A bloke who knows that he plays a leading role in setting the spiritual temperature of his household and has a mandate to point to Jesus in the way he loves and leads in word and deed.
So, a shout out to all men at The Big Table. Man up! Not in a creatine powder chugging kind of way, but by seeking, with humility and love, to lead our families and the people around us with grace and passion towards Jesus: the one who is the personification of our Father God, in the flesh. Cause blokes like that, in the process of following hard after Jesus, make great dads, great husbands and lovers, great friends and great leaders.