Generational Transference in the Bible: The Psalms

Generational Transference Passing

The Psalms overflow with the concept of generational transference of faith and ministry.[1] The Psalms indicate that older generations are to tell younger ones about the Lord.  Psalm 45:17, for instance, shows generational transference as a strategy for spreading God’s message throughout the world.  The psalmist suggests that by perpetuating the name of the Lord through all generations, the nations of the earth will praise the Lord forever. The writer of Psalm 71, for instance, begs God to allow him to proclaim the power of the Lord to the new generation, even though he himself has become old and grey.[2]  Psalm 78 says that God’s people should not hide the stories of God’s actions from the next generation, but share it passionately.[3]  Psalm 102 is written specifically with emerging generations in mind so that they may take over the responsibility of praising the Lord.[4]   Psalm 145:8 says that one generation should commend the works of the Lord to another.  Psalm 22 reflects the attributes of a godly king who proclaims God’s message and suffers terribly in order to honor the Lord.  The reward for such enduring faithfulness includes, significantly, that future generations will hear about the wonders of the Lord.[5]  Psalm 145:3-4 says:

“Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.  One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts.  They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works.  They will tell of your awesome works, and I will proclaim your great deeds.”

The author of Psalm 145 paints a picture of a prior generation as a community sharing the message of God to a subsequent generation.  In other words, a younger group of people is merged for a while with an older group and is impressed with the impact that God has had in the past.  The author is so impressed by this pattern that he postulates that the younger generation will naturally proclaim the same story of God to the generation that follows them.  This pattern is continuous.  It is a pattern that is as active today as it was in the days of Abraham or Moses or David 

Psalm 145 also reveals a releasing pattern of generational transference.  The author includes himself in the younger generation who receive the commendation of the Lord’s actions and who hear about the Lord’s splendor and majesty from the older generation.  As a response to the reception, the author indicates that he meditated on God’s wonderful works.  In other words, the older generation had shared with him the message and mission of God and he responded by learning and applying this proclamation to his life.  Again in the Psalm, the author reflected on how the older generation had told him of God’s awesome works and how, in turn, he reciprocated the action by also proclaiming God’s great deeds.  The nuance of transference is subtle but does represent a shift of responsibility between generations.  The author is given the freedom and blessing by the older generation to know the Lord for himself in his day in the way that makes sense to him.  The author, in turn, learns to give freedom and blessing to the older generation to do the same.  And in that chorus they praise God together inter-generationally.

[1] Psalm 79:13; 89:1; 145:4

[2] Psalm 71:18

[3] Psalm 78:4,6

[4] Psalm 102:18

[5] Psalm 22:30-31: “Future generations will also serve him.  Our children will hear about the wonders of the Lord.  His righteous acts will be told to those yet unborn.  They will hear about everything he has done.”

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