Psalm 81 — If only…

In this psalm, the psalmist begins with a call to worship, singing,

Sing for joy to God our strength; shout aloud to the God of Jacob!  Begin the music, strike the timbrel, play the melodious harp and lyre.  (1-2)

The occasion of the singing?  The feasts that God had commanded under Moses, namely, perhaps, the Passover which celebrated their delivery from Egypt, or the Feast of Tabernacles which celebrated God’s leading them through the desert.  Why did God command these feasts?  So that they would never forget him and what he had done for them.  The psalmist remembers these things, singing,

I heard an unknown voice say:  “I removed the burden from their shoulders; their hands were set free from the basket.  In your distress you called and I rescued you, I answered you out of a thundercloud; I tested you at the waters of Meribah.”  (5-7)

In this psalm, however, we hear the cry of God’s heart.  He tells the people,

Hear me, my people, and I will warn you— if you would only listen to me, Israel!  You shall have no foreign god among you; you shall not worship any god other than me.  I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt.  Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.  (8-10)

And again,

If my people would only listen to me, if Israel would only follow my ways, how quickly I would subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes…you would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”  (13-14, 16)

God pleads with the people, “If only you would just listen, I would bless you.  I would supply all your needs and fight for you in the battles you face.”

But then he said,

But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me.  So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices.  (11-12)

God wants to bless us.  He wants to do great things in our lives, but he will not force us.  If we want to go our own way, he will let us.  But when we choose to go our own way, it not only brings sadness into our lives, but into the heart of God.

So what will you do? Will you open your ears to him, and do what he says so that he can bless you.  Or will you follow the stubbornness of your heart, going to the destruction to which it leads?

It’s your choice.

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About bkshiroma

I'm from Hawaii, but have been in Japan as a missionary/English teacher since 1995. I'm currently going to a church called Crossroad Nishinomiya, an international church in Nishinomiya, a city right between Kobe and Osaka. Check out their website: crossroad-web.com 私がハワイから来ましたけど1995年に宣教師と英会話の教師として日本に引っ越しました。 今西宮にあるクロスロード西宮という国際の教会に行っています。どうぞ、そのホムページを見てください: crossroad-web.com
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