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What’s Next?

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The word “next” has many applications. Most commonly it refers to what is to follow immediately. For example, in sports, next in baseball could refer to the one who is in the on-deck circle waiting for his opportunity to go to bat. In any team sport it can refer to the team your team is to face. Interestingly, some Psalms employ “next” to refer to what is to follow. Thus, in Psalm 48:13 we read

Walk about Zion, go around her,
count her towers,
consider well her ramparts,
view her citadels,
that you may tell of them to the next generation. (Ps. 48:12-13)1

Among the various understandings as to the meaning of this verse, perhaps the most likely was suggested by Willem A. Van Gemeren: “In the light of the tenor of the psalm, it is most likely that the physical defense system of ancient Jerusalem symbolized a far greater strength – the protection of God himself.”2 By application, it may well be that this psalm and especially this verse can find many applications to contemporary Christian living. As such it may well assure believers that “The close connection between material security and dependence on the Lord-Protector go hand in hand.”3 Indeed, may all Christians look to God for their protection and guidance, especially when telling and explaining this to those of the next generation.

This may well entail such activity even into one’s advanced years:

Even when I am old and gray,
do not forsake me, O God,

till I declare your power to the next generation,
your might to all who are to come. (Ps. 71:18)

This stands in conformity to the scriptural mandate of being faithful to the end. As I have written elsewhere, “May each believer be ever faithful to the end, mindful of the resurrected, risen, Christ’s instructions to the church in Smyrna: ‘Remain faithful even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life itself’.” (Rev 2:10)4

Encased in this regard is Asaph’s teaching in Psalm 78, where he declares:

I will open my mouth in parables,
I will utter hidden things, things from of old –

what we have heard and known,
what our fathers have told us.

We will not hide them from their children,
we will tell the next generation. (Ps. 78:2-4)

Asaph goes onto say that God,

… Decreed statutes for Jacob
and established the law in Israel,

which he commanded our forefathers
to teach their children

so the next generation would know them,
even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children. (Ps. 78:5-6; cf. Deut. 6:4-9)

Indeed, as we live even into old age, we should continue to instruct God’s people as to the basic necessity of passing on to, and stressing the importance of, God’s decrees. As Futato remarks, “This instruction was never intended solely for the original audience but was envisioned as being passed on to each subsequent generation.”5

Instructions concerning the next generation are also found in a later Davidic psalm, Psalm 109. This psalm is one in which David calls for God’s judgment against the evil doers. So severe is David’s condemnation that he says,

May none extend kindness to him
For he never thought of doing a kindness
but hounded to death the poor
and the needy and the brokenhearted. (Ps. 109:12, 16)

In this Psalm David presents a distinct contrast with those psalms which have favorable instructions for the next generation. Although he closes this psalm with a plea to the Lord for deliverance from evil doers, he also suggests that God deal in judgment against David’s evil accusers. Such a request does present a distinct contrast with Jesus’ words in Luke 23:33-34 where on the cross Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”. As we read in the Faith in Action Study Bible notes on Luke 23:34:

The cross is at the heart of God’s gracious offer of forgiveness to those who embrace it -- to all who are willing to turn from the selfishness of sin. Reconciliation with God not only transforms our relationship with him but also alters the way we relate to others.”6

As Ira B. Wilson wrote:

Tell the sweet story of God and His love,
Tell of His power to forgive;
Others will trust Him if only you prove,
True, every moment you live.7

1 All scripture citations are taken from the NIV.

2 Willem A. Van Gemeren, “Psalms” in The Expositors Bible Commentary, eds. Tremper Longman II and David E. Garland (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008), V:419.


4 Richard D. Patterson, “Faithful to the End”, Biblical Studies Press, 2012.

5 Mark Dl Futato, “The Book of Psalms” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, ed. Philip W. Comfort (Grand Rapids: Tyndale House, 2009), VII:260.

6 Faith in Action Study Bible, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005), 1732.

7 Ira B. Wilson, “Make Me a Blessing”.

Related Topics: Christian Life, Devotionals

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