Read Psalm 102
Focus on verses 18
Historical records have value because they connect us to the past. They help us to learn where we came from and help us to avoid repeating mistakes. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say they should help us to avoid repeating mistakes but history would seem to indicate that we are slow learners at best in this regard.
In today’s reading the psalmist writes, “Let this be recorded for a generation to come so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord.“ (v. 18) In this case the record in question is the record of God’s revelation of Himself to humanity, the written word of God. The idea is that if we write down the great works of God for the next generation, this record of the great things that God has done in the past might inspire those who did not have the opportunity to experience them first hand to praise Him as their ancestors did.
I have found there to be a very small percentage of people will to learn from the mistakes of their parents. For instance, it has been my experience that when a parent warns their teenager that if they skate on thin ice there is a strong possibility that they will get wet, that the teenager will take it upon themselves to discover how this works. Of course the only way to discover exactly where the line between thin ice and safe ice is, is to cross the line, which if the young person is fortunate will merely result in cold wet clothes or a mild case of hypothermia rather than death by drowning.
The point is, most of us seem to have some crazy desire to learn from our own mistakes even when the warning of others who have already experienced them is clearly given. I have noticed that as I have become a little older my tendency to want to defy the odds is not nearly as strong as it used to be. Some might call that maturity, others might say I’ve lost my drive or become boring. Funny thing is, the older I get the more attractive the idea of a few hours of boredom now and then becomes. The other thing I’ve noticed is that, as we get older we become more interested in the records that our parents left behind. We also seem to be more interested in passing that record on to those who are coming behind us – though, like I was when I was younger, they don’t seem all that interested in them at this point. Fortunately, there are usually a few in each generation who take it upon themselves to be interested in preserving and passing on a record of the past so that the these records are available for the rest later in life when they actually become interested in learning from their history. For those who choose not to, I suppose we will have to continue making the same mistakes over and over…perhaps that is why history seems destined to repeat itself every few generations.