This is the second part of a two-part series. Read Part 1 here.
The Psalms can also be a helpful resource for teaching children, as we prepare them to navigate life and all its complexities—with God as their reference point. Allow me to share the following takeaways from my own devotional journey through the Psalms:
1. The Psalms Declare That God Is in Absolute Control
God reigns over the nations;
God is seated on his holy throne.
In a world where evil seems to be thriving and prospering, we can take comfort that God is still ruling and reigning. That righteousness is still His order of the day, and that justice is what His kingdom is about.
Over and over again, through the psalms, we are duly reminded of the sovereignty of God. Nations rise and fall. Kings come and go. The wicked will be judged. Nothing happens without the permission of God: He is in control. Everything is moving according to plan, and in the end, His kingdom will be fully established for all eternity.
The present pandemic has resulted in much stress and anxiety for many families, with worries and uncertainties over catching the virus, handling home-based learning, and vaccination issues.
Our family grappled with some of these questions during our devotions. As we considered what we should do, journeying through the book of Psalms reminded me, over and over again, of the Lord’s sovereignty. That gave me both the conviction and courage to assure my wife and children that as we pray and proceed, however things pan out, God is still in total control.
If you or your children are feeling shaken, or it feels like things are falling apart, read Psalm 93, and know that God reigns, and is holding everything together.
Journey Through Psalms 51-100
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2. The Psalms Remind Us to Trust and Praise God, No Matter What
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Saviour and my God.
One thing I noticed about the Psalms is that however down in the dumps the psalmist may feel, he often ends up declaring his trust in the Lord and praising Him.
This is a really good reminder. I am so prone to wallowing in my problems and throwing a huge pity party for myself that it can be very difficult to pull myself out of that “woe is me” state.
As a husband, father of seven, and founder of a Christian ministry, I often find myself juggling between ministry demands, and being more present for my wife and children. As you can imagine, it doesn’t feel great to be trying my very best and yet still failing on all fronts at times!
Downcast? Disturbed? Totally! Even so, in looking up to the Lord, I am lifted up by Him to press on with hope and strength. As Psalm 121:1–2 encourages us: “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
The cries in the psalms may be loud and desperate—but they are equally matched with thanksgiving and praise that resound to the highest of heavens. No matter how dire our circumstances may be, God has the final say. In the meantime, there is always good reason to thank and praise Him.
3. The Psalms Are Both Personal and Generational
We will not hide them from their descendants;
we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD,
his power, and the wonders he has done.
Lest I make it all about myself, the psalms quickly remind me that God is keenly interested in those before me as well as those who come after me.
The Psalms prompt God’s people in every generation to make a choice of learning from the past and living in obedience to the King, or following in the footsteps of “a stubborn and rebellious generation” (v. 8). As parents, we have a part to play in God’s generational timeline—to remind, recall, and reflect, so that our children may choose the former (Psalm 78:1–8).
I especially cherish the times when our family gathers around the Word. Usually, talking about a certain passage, doctrine, or issue gives me and my wife Serene the opportunity to share real-life examples of how these have shaped our lives and walk with the Lord. It always warms my heart to see the children’s eyes light up when they see how real God is in our family, and not just in the biblical stories.
Not only can we tell each generation of the greatness and goodness of God, but we can also warn them about how easy it is to take His mercy and grace for granted and to veer from His ways.
4. The Psalms Are Both Reflective and Forward Looking
The LORD reigns forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the LORD.
Although the psalms offer much to help us get through the perplexities of the here and now, they also prophetically point forward to the promise of what is to come. As God’s people, we are but strangers and sojourners in this present age.
The nation of Israel looked forward to the coming of the Messiah through the messianic psalms, which prophesy or contain veiled references to Christ (such as Psalms 2, 22, 110, 118). These pointed to His restoration, rule, and reign.
Today, we, too, can look forward to Christ’s second coming and the consummation of the kingdom of God. As parents, how we live our lives and set our priorities will help our children understand and embrace this truth with hope and joy.
Our focus is not to be on what is temporal, but that which is of eternal value (2 Corinthians 4:18). We are not to follow the ways of the world, but to wholeheartedly follow Jesus, that we may likewise lead our family to follow Him and to be ready when He returns.
The final five psalms (Psalms 146–150) aptly close the book of Psalms with high praise. Despite the challenges we face in life, we can look forward to the return of Jesus and the fullness of His kingdom. And when that finally happens, it’s going to be one big glorious praise party!
I began by declaring that I love the psalms. In fact, after penning this article, I’m loving the psalms even more.
The parenting and fathering journey is a humbling one. I think I know, but I don’t. I think I am in control, but I’m not. I think I can show the way, but really, most of the time, I’m at quite a loss.
I am thankful that through the psalms, I can learn how to first be a son to my heavenly Father, before learning how to be a father to my own children. As parents, let us turn to the psalms to guide us in the midst of our struggles, and in turn, point our children to Him also.
This is the second part of a two-part series on reflecting on the Psalms. Read Part 1 here.