There are many things that we must teach our children. I believe that our love demands that we teach them things that lead to life.
I have found a song in the Bible that God used to teach the children of Israel, a song that does little to build self esteem and pleasure. It is not a feel good song, at all. But, then I read it again…
Moses is commanded by God to teach the people of Israel a song. This song is to be a WITNESS AGAINST the people, a song to CONFRONT them. Not a song I think we would put on our playlist here in the 21st Century! Not a song in our CD player to greet children as they come to Sunday School. But God wanted Moses to write it and teach it to Israel.
Remember, throughout the book of Deuteronomy Moses has reminded the people of the blessings of obedience and the curse that comes from disobedience. The law is highlighted and the history, promises and faithfulness of God are key. Deuteronomy is both a warning and a covenant to those who follow him. Moses is refreshing the Israelite memory of all that God has done for them.
But this song…Why would God require it be learned, memorized and sung?
Have you ever had to write sentences in school as a form of punishment? I wonder if this song in Deuteronomy was the forerunner of school confessions…”I will not talk in class.” “I will not disrupt the teacher.” and so on. Parents are either ridiculed or esteemed for creative punishments that include children wearing signs with their sins written in bold dark letters on street corners. Did this creative and humiliating punishment originate with God in Deuteronomy? No, this is much more serious.
Read Deuteronomy 31:14-32:47 I know its long, and I suspect it is long and detailed on purpose. God’s indictment against the people is very specific and relevant. He DOES NOT gloss over their sins at all. And the comparison between God’s faithfulness and glory contrasts sharply with words describing his people; blemished, crooked, twisted, unmindful, forgetful, foolish, and so on.
Moses ends the song by telling the people “Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that you may be careful to do all the words of the law. For it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.”
I think this is more than a punitive punishment or humiliation. This is God, the Lord of all, reminding the people of His great love and faithfulness during their disobedience and rebellion. He knows them too well. I can rejoice in this song, after I got over the guilt and cringing and shame. I can rejoice and celebrate this song because GOD is the Deliverer, the Rock, my Avenger. You see, God gave this song to Moses, not in the midst of a great disobedience or rebellion. God gave this song for the people to learn before there was a change in leadership. It is a warning, a charge and full of consequences and reminders of what happens when we seek our own way. This wasn’t done in the heat of anger. This song was taught because God KNEW there would be a day Israel would pridefully leave Him and violate His law again. He reminded them of His goodness and their sinfulness. He reminded Him his desire was always that they be restored to Him. Still He loves them. Still He loves us. Still he loves ME!
What song are we teaching our children? I’m sure it’s nothing like this, but it makes me ponder very seriously conversations that I have been too hesitant and timid to confront before. What should I teach my children, when should I teach it to them and why am I teaching them this principle? This I know, I should call attention to God’s worthiness and the devotion He has shown us over and over again. I should teach them this song, because I love them and want them to know Him.