“Give ear, O my people, to my law; incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us” (Psalm 78:1).
The first thing we notice is that a command is issued. This is a command for men to get their ears turned around - in a different direction. This is something that all men need to do, especially in modern times, when there are a cacophony of voices vying for the attention of their ears. There are more voices calling out to men today than at any time in history. At any given moment our ears can be captured by phone, social media, computer, radio, DVD, internet sites, email, television and satellite feeds… it can be deafening. All of this can overwhelm the sounds which are most beneficial to us and our children. Because of this cacophony, a man needs to be discriminating about what his ears hear.
We live in days like the days of Samuel, “”…the word of the Lord was rare in those days,” 1 Sam. 3:1)
He inclines his ear to The Word of God
In the midst of all the voices calling out, there are two things that a man needs to incline his ears to:
1. “My law”
2. “The words of my mouth”
In the church and the home, the Word of God is often drowned out by those voices vying for our attention. The result: meditation on Scripture is eliminated from the schedule by things that steal time.
Men should get rid of anything that stands in the way of inclining their ears toward the Word of God. We live in a culture which presents thousands of opportunities for involvement.
For most families, time for the reading of Scripture is edged out by decent things. When this happens, the true treasure is sacrificed on the altar of entertainment, sports, games – or some other “lawful” endeavor.
On the contrary, it is the Word of God (“My law”) that is meant to take center stage in the family. John Piper, in a sermon on Psalm 78, said:
“It means that the Bible will be the sun and solar system of all that we teach our children. It will not be one among many books. It will be the central book, the all-permeating Book. The other books are dark planets; the Bible is the light-giving sun. All other books will be read in the light of this book. All books will be judged by this book. All books will find meaning in the world view built by this book. Which means that this book must be known first and known better than all the other books.”
Richard Baxter was known in his counsels to men, to be relentlessly principled in the use of their time. He says, “Have you not many good works of charity to do? And will you leave the most of this undone, and waste your time in plays, and cards, and feasts, and idleness, and then say, What harm is in all this, and are they not lawful?” p1040 Of Redemption of Time, in The Reformed Pastor, Vol 4
In most families, the “lawful” thing replaces the perfect thing.
Everything in this life wages war with fathers who want to fill their homes with the reading of the Word of God.
Baxter understood the harsh reality of the consequence of this kind of indolence on the souls of the next generation. He says that it shows that “Many take more pains about their horses and cattle than they do about their children’s souls.” Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor, P231 The poor Man’s Family Book. Today, it’s dogs and cats… Our world is now full of people who pay more attention to pets than children.
What are you listening to? What is filling up your time? What are you reading? What are you watching? How much of your life is devoted to passive entertainment? Remember that many things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. Many lawful things are nothing more than thieves of the profitable things.
Leaders of families must be sure that their ears and the ears of family members are inclined toward the Word of God. This cannot be accomplished without reading and meditating on Scripture.