Dear radio friends,
Today the message that we hear is taken from God’s Word in Psalm 8:2. Please open your Bibles and read what is found there: “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.”
Psalm 8 is a beautiful psalm on the glory of God as it is seen in His creation and, specifically, in the creation of man. David, the author of the psalm, senses that his subject is beyond him; his task of expressing God’s glory is completely beyond his abilities. So he begins by uttering a note of exclamation: “O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!” The word “excellent” means “surpassingly great, superb, and stupendous.” David means to say that the creation cannot adequately express God’s glory. He begins to think of the immensity of the stars: “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained,” he says that even that cannot exhaust the glory of the Maker. Although the universe expresses God’s majesty, power, and infinity, yet God stands above it all, for David goes on to say, “For thou hast set thy glory above the heavens” (v. 1). You can measure, if you want, the wonder of the stars in the distance and the miles and the light years, but you cannot come up to the glory of God. Even the stars cannot praise Him adequately.
Then it is as if David, under the inspiration of the Spirit, is pondering. Where shall I find something that expresses God’s glory in somewhat an adequate manner? Will it be an angelic chorus? How about a flowing mountain stream? Singing birds? What would it be? And the Holy Spirit leads him to see a way that God has ordained to show His glory — a way that God has picked out to reveal His grace, love, and beauty. He writes: “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength [or praise].” The lips of children. When infants, little children, speak the name of God, speak the name of Jesus; when they sing from their hearts — this, says David, is a great revelation of the glory of God.
Let that sink in! The surpassing excellence of God, His glory and beauty, is seen in infants, in the children of believers, praising God with their mouth.
Jesus thought so too. You might remember that in the last week of His earthly ministry He quoted this particular verse to the scribes and Pharisees, who were scowling and angry and pulling their hair out as the children were running through their temple crying out, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord!” They were talking about Jesus. The little children had heard their parents saying that on Palm Sunday. And they were marching through the temple praising Jesus Christ, the Son of God: “Hosanna to the Son of David.” Jesus stood by and smiled. The Pharisees were enraged. They said to Him: “Make them stop.” And He said, “Have ye never read the Scriptures? Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained praise because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.” When infant children of God praise God, Jesus said, then something of the glory of God is being displayed — something of His grace.
You can always tell, you know, when something praises God. The enemies of God get very angry, as the scribes and Pharisees were furious. God’s praises hurts their ears. God says that His purpose with the children of believers (covenant children) is that from their mouth they might praise Him and that this is ordained of Him to be a marvelous display of His majesty, power, and glory — even such a display that surpasses the testimony of the stars and of the creation itself.
God has ordained strength, we read, or better, praise, to come out of the lips of children. The word means “to praise,” and thus “to be strong.” Praise means to speak well of someone, to tell how good he is, to extol. There is, of course, one who is worthy of praise — God! “Thou art worthy of all praise,” we say and the Scriptures teach. There is one who is good. There is one who does well. There is one who is to be lifted up high, to be extolled. “Praise ye the Lord! Praise is comely for his saints. I will praise the Lord with my whole being,” says the psalmist. Praise means that you know God as God. It means that He stands before you, by faith, through the Scriptures, in all of His power, glory, holiness, goodness, love, mercy, and grace. It means that you have a correct estimate of God. You say, “God is great, God is wonderful, God is awesome, God is glorious.” And you are humbled and lost in the dust before the God who is so glorious.
God has ordained that such praise come out of the mouth of children. When believing children are taught about God, and the Holy Spirit sews that into the lining of a new heart, then they praise God. And God says that He delights in the praise that comes out of the mouth of babes and sucklings.
That is a word to us as parents, and that is a word to us as children. God has ordained praise out of the mouth of children. He has determined from all eternity in His strong will, His sovereign determination, His all-ruling purpose for all things, that He will glorify Himself through the lips of children. When out of the lips of believing children there come songs of praise, memory verses, prayers — when we go to a kindergarten program, when, in your home, your little boys and girls play church and they sing the songs they hear in church and they fold their hands, when a first grader learns how to read and he begins to read the Bible at the family table — God says that He has ordained this. Do not say that it is just cute. Do not say, “Well, the teachers planned a nice program, didn’t they?” And much less, do not be cynical. Do not say, “They don’t mean a word of it. They can’t understand what they are saying. They’re just being imitators, that’s all. And you, radio pastor Haak, you are just a sentimental person.” Do not say that. I am reading to you God’s Word. If you have an objection, you will have to bring the objection to God. He says that He ordained the praise. He planned it. He brought it to pass. Oh, He used instrumentality. But He did it.
That means that He opens the hearts of covenant children in their early infancy with the miracle of rebirth, the miracle of the life of Jesus within them. When He does that, parents, remember that He begins a warfare within your child, a warfare that they wage against their flesh, against their sin. So, yes, they sin. They scream, they argue, they fight, they throw a temper-tantrum. They are just like you and me. But they are, believing parent, by God’s grace, just like you! The great God in Jesus Christ has been revealed to their hearts. When they raise their hand in catechism or in school and they want to give the answer, and when they say their verse and when they pray and when they talk about God and when they sing, God has ordained, God has brought to pass praises from the lips of children. God has done this, not we; not for our honor. But God has done this.
God has ordained praise to come out of their mouth. Let us consider that carefully. That means that they are to talk and to sing the praises of God. That means that the children of the covenant, children of believing parents, are to be skilled in spiritual talk. By nature we are dumb. We have nothing to say about God’s glory. We can talk about the weather. We have our opinion about sports and how the coach ought to run the team. Men can tell you how drunk they were Friday night. They can publish a whole magazine about their lust. But they are dumb, they have nothing to say, about the God of heaven and earth.
God says that out of the mouth of covenant children, children of believing parents, there will come forth a spiritual talk. Their language will include God’s wonders. They are able to talk about sin and forgiveness. They are able to talk about Christ and the church. You will find them, says God, talking about that. Is that so? God says that will be so. By the power of the spiritual rebirth, God will create in them the image of His Son Jesus Christ. He will give them not just to form syllables and say, “Mama, Daddy.” He will form, by grace, the syllables of His praise within their hearts.
Is that what our children are saying? They say that by learning it from their parents. That is how God works it. So you place your little ones on your lap. You live with your little ones in the house as husband and wife. How you talk to your wife, husbands; how you talk to your husband, wife, is teaching your children how to use their lips in the praise of God.
Now I could ask the children and the older boys and girls (the fourth and fifth graders) and the teenagers: “Is it normal, is it comfortable for you to express your faith, to talk spiritual talk, to talk about God, His grace and love, your sins and struggles? Is that normal for you? Are you comfortable to do that? You should be comfortable to do that. If you are not, and if you cannot do that in high school, and if you do not do that in high school, yes, there is something wrong.” What’s wrong?
Today I would like to address that to you parents who are listening in, especially when I talk to the young people (you are listening very carefully). And I would like to say to us as parents, “Let us not set the bar for them to jump higher than what we jump.” “What do you mean,” you say to me? Let us remember that a lack of spirituality in our young people is a reflection of a lack of spirituality in the parent. Let us beware, let us listen to the Scriptures when they warn us that materialism — living our life in the pursuit of things, being concerned about what others have and we should have more, being concerned about how we look and spending hours and hours before the mirror — materialism will choke praise.
The psalmist says in Psalm 144:11 that he desires to be separated from the children of the strangers whose mouths speak vanity (that is, emptiness — there is no substance in what they have to say because their hearts, and the hearts of their parents, are set only on possessions, on this life). What matters to you as a parent? What do you want your children to have? Possessions? Fame? Career? Jesus says that all of these things choke praise.
Father, if someone would take his strong hands right now and put them around the throat of your little girl, would you not do something if he tried to choke her? If you and I live our life for the things of this life, then God says those are strong hands around the throat of your children choking the song of praise.
Materialism will choke praise. Hypocrisy will mute God’s praise. If they see that we are not consistent in our spiritual life, if they see that we talk one way around church people and another way when we are not around church people, when we are one way in public and another way at home, then we are muting our children. Then they become cynical. Then instead of praising God they sneer. Then instead of extolling God they scoff at spiritual things.
God has ordained praise from the lips of believing children. Why has He done this? The psalmist says, “because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.” This is in harmony with God’s method — God’s strategy of how He will defeat His enemies. Why hath God ordained that especially out of the mouth of little children He will bring forth glorious praise to Himself? Because God’s method is to use that which men consider the weakest as the instrument whereby He shall glorify Himself and His Son Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul gives this general policy of God, this strategy of God, in I Corinthians 1, when he tells us that not many mighty after the flesh have been called to Jesus Christ; that it is God’s purpose to bring to naught the things that are through the things that are not; that no flesh should glory in His presence. God, says the apostle, has committed Himself to a course of action in dealing with His enemies. That course of action is this: He shall bring them to naught, He shall bring them down through the instrumentality of what they consider to be weakness.
How will God silence the enemy and the avenger? How will He shut them up? For the enemy of God and the avenger are ever boasting, they are ever jeering against Him. They are ever filling the air with their shouts against God. They are ever polluting the air and polluting the sound waves. And they are forever saying, “We are mighty and God is nothing.” How will God silence them?
By the mouth of a little boy and a little girl. Oh yes, professors of Reformed theology and preachers of the Reformed, biblical faith, He uses you. But God says it delights Him especially to use a voice of a little boy to silence His enemy and the avenger.
The enemies of God are many. Leading those enemies is Satan, and his purpose is to rob God of His glory. He wants the praise for himself. He is after revenge. God is going to still, we read, the enemy and the avenger. The devil wants to pay God back. He thinks something was his and that God took it from him. When God, in justice, cast him out of heaven and threw him down from his high and lofty place as Lucifer, son of the morning, and damned him to hell, he believes that he was done wrong. And he wants to get God back. He does not want God to be praised. Oh, praise hurts his ears. It gives him pain. It shoots through his skull. He cannot stand to hear praise of God.
The devil is a mighty enemy. He says, “I’ll stop the sound of praise. I’ll tempt, I’ll destroy, God’s church. I’ll instill false doctrine into the church. I’ll destroy this church.” And God says, “I’ll defeat him.” How? By little children. “I’m going to defeat him in church, in the worship of the church.”
Now listen very carefully. Do not take your two- three- four-year old children out of the church, off by themselves into another room, to color while there are worship services going on. Do not do that. You are working contrary to God’s very purpose. We read in the Scripture that God has ordained praise out of the mouth of children. When on earth is God praised? In the worship service. How has God ordained that He be praised? By the lips of children. Now add it together. That means that little children are to be there. The enemy boasts. The devil boasts. He says, “the children, the young people, are mine. Religion is for old people. Religion is a crutch for the aged. But the beginning of life, the seed of life, is mine,” he says. “The flower of life, the teenage years are mine.”
But God silences him with the lips of children, with young people paying attention to sermons, with young people opening their mouths to sing of what lives in their heart — the praises of God. This is the strength of the church. The strength of the church is to be found in our children and in our young people. The strength of the church is there. You watch the mega-churches and the camera is scanning the audience. Few, if any, children. By the wonderful love of God alone, attend a church wherein almost every row has children, lots of children. Maybe they are writing notes. They are being taught to sit still. They are singing. And the devil quakes!
God ordains praise when the church worships and the children are present singing His praises. God ordains praise when they confess the name of God in your home. God ordains praise in the Christian school when children, little children, boys and girls and teenagers, confess His name. When they believe in creation in six twenty-four days God ordains praise for Himself.
Let us take this Word of God to us today. Let us apply it to our hearts. Let us take heed to ourselves as parents. What comes out of your mouth as a parent? God-dishonoring music? Blasphemy? Cursing and swearing? The four-letter word? What kind of conduct do you hold before your children? Do you argue and fight in front of your children? What is heard in your home — the TV all night?
Beloved in the Lord, let us take ourselves to the cross. Let us take ourselves to the Scriptures. Let us as parents see our place and our calling. Let us sing (personally). Let us speak (personally). Let us know (personally) the mighty praises of God. Then, as we live before our children, let us say, “Walk as I walk, do what I do, live as I live.”
Now let us go back to the start. Where shall we find an example worthy of God’s glory? Shall we look to the stars? God says, “Listen to little children when they sing songs and when they pray.” Angels in heaven are silent. Satan is disgusted and angry. And God is glorified when our children praise Him. May it ever be so.
Let us pray.
Father, we thank Thee for Thy Word. And we ask that Thou wilt bless and apply it to our hearts today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.