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  • Writer's picturePastor Mike

August 06 2023

Today, Sunday August 06

A Call to Worship

Psalm 81:1-5

To the Chief Musician. On an instrument of Gath. A Psalm of Asaph.

“Sing aloud to God our strength; Make a joyful shout to the God of Jacob. Raise a song and strike the timbrel, The pleasant harp with the lute. Blow the trumpet at the time of the New Moon, At the full moon, on our solemn feast day. For this is a statute for Israel, A law of the God of Jacob. This He established in Joseph as a testimony, When He went throughout the land of Egypt, Where I heard a language I did not understand.”

Today is Sunday, the “first day” of the week, a day that has been recognized for centuries by Christians as a special day of week that has been set aside to come together with God’s people to experience and enjoy cooperate worship. The Jewish people meet together for the reading of the Law and worship on Saturday, the “seventh day” of the week that is call Sabbath, the day of rest. We believe the disciples of Jesus begin gathering on the “first day” because it is the day of the week that Jesus rose from grave.

I mention all of that to say it is interesting that on this Sunday morning, as we begin looking at Psalm 81, that it is basically a call to worship by a man named Asaph. Remember that there were a number of men named Asaph in Israel’s history. The “original” Asaph was one of David’s three chief Musicians that was appointed by him to lead worship in Jerusalem and the tabernacle after he became king. Asaph’s sons and descendants formed a musical guild within the Levitical tribe that continued this ministry for centuries to come. We find them mentioned in Ezra 2:41, when the captives return from Babylon.

According to the titles given to most of the Psalms, we know that at least 12 of them were written by a man named Asaph. Psalm 81 is another of the Psalms of Asaph, those belonging to an Asaph collection, possibly grouped together because of similarities of thought, style, and purpose. The Asaph Psalms are marked for their prophetic character and their emphasis on the sanctuary. When it comes to Psalm 81, we have no clue at all as to when this Psalm was written. It is considered one of the historical Psalms in that it recounts afresh the early history of Israel.

In Psalm 81, Asaph called the people together to worship the Lord (vv. 1-5), but then the Lord's messenger received a special message from God and delivered it to the people (vv. 6-10). The occasion was a stated feast on the Jewish calendar, but we are not told which feast it was. Passover is suggested by verses 5-7 and 10, but the mention of the new moon and the full moon in verse 3, suggests Trumpets and Tabernacles.

The Jewish religious year begins in the month of Nisan (our March-April), during which the Feast of Passover is celebrated (Ex. 12). The civil year begins with Tishri (our September-October), the seventh month in the religious year, during which the Jews celebrate the Feast of Trumpets (first day, "Rosh Hashanna"), the Day of Atonement (tenth day, "Yom Kippur"), and the Feast of Tabernacles (days fifteen to twenty-two). (See Lev. 23:23-44 and Num. 29.) The first day would be “new moon” and the fifteenth day the “full moon”.

The trumpets mentioned here are not the silver trumpets (Num. 10) but the "shofar," the ram's horn, as was used at Jericho (Josh. 6). This argues for the occasion being the Feast of Tabernacles, although perhaps Asaph blended Passover and Tabernacles, for they go together. Passover celebrated the deliverance from Egypt and Tabernacles the Lord's care of His people during their wilderness years. Tabernacles was also a joyful harvest festival. The Psalm reminds us of three different aspects of true worship.

The leader first called everyone together to praise God's Name (vv. 1-5). This included the people (v. 1), the musicians (v. 2), and the priests to blow the trumpets (v. 3). In the Old Testament Law, you find stated times of worship (the weekly Sabbath, the annual feasts, etc.) as well as spontaneous times of worship (at the defeat of the enemy, for example). Both are essential to balanced worship, and both should focus on the goodness of the Lord.

If all worship were personal and spontaneous, there would be diversity but no unity; but if all worship only followed a schedule, there would be uniformity and no diversity. Both voices and instruments were used in worship. The nation is called "Jacob, Israel, and Joseph" (vv. 4-5). Jacob and his wives built the family, and Joseph preserved them alive in Egypt. God gave Jacob the name "Israel," which means "he strives with God and prevails" (Gen. 32:22-32).

I trust that on this Lord’s Day you will join with others in unity to praise and worship our risen Savior!

God bless!

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Aug 06, 2023

Amen, thank you, Mike!

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