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Part 3 Gods Plan for Raising Children
These verses contain the instructions from God to Moses and reveal to us the importance of teaching Gods word to our children. In a day when people ignore or scoff at scripture, we need to follow Gods admonition on how to honor his word.
6 And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.
vs 6 Where does God want us to place his words? What is the best way for us to do this? What are some ways you learn more about Gods word?
God wants us to have his words in our heart. The fact is we can tell our children what the Bible says and we can hope that they will follow Gods commands, but unless we have Gods word in our heart, all our attempts at teaching our children will come up empty and futile. Our actions really do speak louder than our words.
God wants his word to be upon our heart. Its one thing to talk about it, and another thing to intellectually understand the Bible, but God wants us to have it in our heart to believe it and live it. As Adam Clarke wrote in 1825, "For where else can love be? If it be not in the heart, it exists not. And if these words be not in the heartif they are not esteemed, prized, and received as a high and most glorious privilege, what hope is there that this love shall ever reign there?"
We cannot have Gods word in our heart without spending time reading it. Daily Bible reading is important in our spiritual growth. And it also helps if we spend time studying and meditating on the Bible. And then we need to put into practice what we have learned.
7 "You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
vs 7 What are we to teach our children? Moses lists four times during the day when we should talk to our children about Gods word, name them. How would you relate these four times to your own family schedule?
If we want our children to have Gods word in their heart, we must teach it. This verse tells us to do just that. One of the great tragedies of the past few decades is that the Bible has been taken out of our schools and our classrooms. Years ago my mother-in-law purchased a reprint of the McGuffey reader from which she learned as a child. As I read through those eight volumes from Americas past, I was amazed at the amount of scripture that was included in everyday classroom reading. It was presented for both its literary value and its moral teaching.
Many of our children today have no understanding of the beautiful literary qualities of the Bible, let alone all the wonderful moral lessons from scripture. God said we need to teach our children his words, so lets be faithful in doing it.
It is interesting that the Hebrew word used here for teach < Mt@fn:n@A#$i> shinnanttam really means to sharpen. It is used to mean teach in the sense that we instruct sharply or incisively. We are not to be lackadaisical in our instructions. We must teach so as to sharpen our childrens understanding of God and his moral precepts.
For many families, the only time the children hear words from the Bible is when they come to church. But in this verse we are instructed to talk about scripture all the time when we sit in our house with our family and when we walk by the way going to the grocery store or to a school function. We are to talk about Gods word when we lie down and when we rise in other words, from the time the children get up in the morning until the time they go to bed in the evening, and all throughout the day!
If more people would share the truths of Gods word more often to their families, maybe we would see a change in the lives of our communities, our society, and our nation.
As Matthew Henry commented, "Though the words alone without the things will do us no good, yet we are in danger of losing the things if we neglect the words, by which ordinarily divine light and power are conveyed to the heart. God's words must be laid up on our heart, that our thoughts may be daily conversant with them and employed about them, and thereby the whole soul may be brought to abide and act under the influence and impression of them. This immediately follows upon the law of loving God with all your heart; for those that do so will lay up his word in their hearts both as an evidence and effect of that love and as a means to preserve and increase it. He that loves God loves his Bible."
8 "You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.
vs 8 What do you think the symbolism of this verse means? How can we help our children to understand the Bible? What are things you do to make the Bible stories easier to understand? (optional question) Look up frontlets in a Bible Dictionary or read the commentary in your study Bible on this verse to find what this is referring to.
Not only do we need to talk to our children about Gods word, but we need to show them we believe its true by living it. In this verse, the hand indicates all the activities we are involved in throughout the day, and the eyes indicate all our thoughts and desires. We are to live Gods word in everything we do, in everything we think, and in everything we desire. Our children see us in our good moments and in our weak moments. What message are we sending to them?
The Jews actually bound scriptures to their hand and their forehead. The Nelsons Bible Dictionary tells us, "In Bible times, phylacteries were worn by every male Israelite above 13 years of age during morning prayer, except on the Sabbath and holidays. ... Phylacteries consisted of two small hollow cubes made of the skin of clean animals. These boxes were attached to leather straps which were used to fasten them to the left hand and to the forehead during morning worship."
This practice may seem strange to us today, but it was teaching the children that scripture was important and needed to be close while we are doing things with our hands and thinking with our minds.
I think its important for parents to help their children understand the truth of the Bible and help them see how the Bible stories may relate to their young lives. By quoting scripture as a guiding slogan in the parents life, it helps children to see the importance of Gods commands. But I think its important for children to discover the truth of the Bible for themselves. So I am very supportive of childrens Bibles that have pictures and tell the Bible stories in easy-to-understand language. I also think its good for parents to read to their children at an early age from a Bible story book. And of course sharing family devotions is another way to emphasize scriptures importance.
The one thing I believe parents should be careful of is telling their children that the Bible teaches against a custom of our day when there is little scriptural proof for such a statement. I have seen parents misuse Gods word to try to force their children to conform to the parents cultural understanding. I remember 40 years ago hearing a Mom tell her son that he shouldnt be playing songs on his guitar written in a minor key, because godly music would only be written in a major key! Times change and cultures change. We need to be sure that what we tell our children is wrong by Gods standards is really wrong and not just our older values showing through.
9 "You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
vs 9 Where are we instructed to place scripture in our house? Why do you think this is important? What are some other ways we can encourage our children to learn scripture? What is the most important thing we can do to impress on our children the importance of Gods word?
When Moses wrote these words, they did not have book binding as we do today. The books of the Bible were written on large, cumbersome scrolls. It took 22 to 24 scrolls to hold all the words of the Old Testament alone. Since they didnt have Bibles in a handy form as we do today, God told them to write the words on the doorposts and the gates of the house.
When my wife Lorna was growing up, her Mom would have little pieces of paper with scripture verses taped up all over the house. When Lorna was eating her breakfast, she would see some words from the Bible. When she was brushing her teeth, she would see other verses. As she was getting dressed, still more verses. Her Mom believed in placing Gods word on the doorposts.
By placing Bible sayings throughout the house, we are saying that the Bible is important. We can also encourage our children to memorize scripture. Sunday School or childrens programs will often have scriptures to memorize. Many times this isnt emphasized, but as parents we could take the initiative to help our children learn their scripture verse for that week. It is simply true that what we memorize when we are young stays with us the longest. It is so much more difficult to memorize verses as we get older! A little trick my wife uses working with the children is to give little rewards if they write a scripture verse 10 times. They dont have to memorize it. It is amazing how many of them do memorize it after writing it 10 times. But the most important way to impress our children as to the importance of Gods word is for us to live it. We need to practice what we preach!
So let us also place Gods word in a prominent place in our house. May it be the standard of all the activities of our day and may it rule our thoughts and desires. Let us teach it to our children, and let us share it with others throughout the day. May it be in our thoughts from morning to evening. And may we help others discover the beauty and the instruction from the greatest book ever written the Bible.
This study on Gods Plan for Raising Children © 1999 by David Humpal. All rights reserved.
All scriptures unless otherwise noted are from the New King James Version © 1984, Thomas Nelson Publishers
Adam Clarke Commentary, electronic version © 1996 Biblesoft
Matthew Henrys Commentary, electronic version © 1996 Biblesoft
Nelsons Illustrated Bible Dictionary, electronic version © 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers