August 07 2023
Today, Monday August 07
“If You Will Listen to Me”
“I removed his shoulder from the burden; His hands were freed from the baskets. You called in trouble, and I delivered you; I answered you in the secret place of thunder; I tested you at the waters of Meribah. Selah
"Hear, O My people, and I will admonish you! O Israel, if you will listen to Me! There shall be no foreign god among you; Nor shall you worship any foreign god. I am the LORD your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt; Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.
"But My people would not heed My voice, And Israel would have none of Me. So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart, To walk in their own counsels. "Oh, that My people would listen to Me, That Israel would walk in My ways! I would soon subdue their enemies, And turn My hand against their adversaries. The haters of the LORD would pretend submission to Him, But their fate would endure forever. He would have fed them also with the finest of wheat; And with honey from the rock I would have satisfied you."
From the title we know a man named Asaph wrote Psalm 81. From the contents we know it wrote it specifically for the nation of Israel calling them to worship during one of the feast days. But we have no idea of when he wrote this Psalm in Israel’s history. Because of that it appears that the Lord wanted it to be used to prompt all the generations of Israel to remember God’s greatness, His goodness and mercy, and respond with obedience to His Word and worship.
I believe that this Psalm has a powerful application for us as believers today to remember how the Lord delivered us from our slavery to sin and the world, and how He desires to bless us if we obey Him and put Him first in all areas of our life. When I read this Psalm each month, I replace the name Israel, or references to them, with my name. For instance, in verse 8, “Hear, O My Michael, and I will admonish you.! O Michael, if you would listen to me!” And in verse 13, “Oh, that Michael would listen to Me, That Michael would walk in My ways!”
The last clause of verse 5 could be translated, "We heard a voice we had not known", referring to the message God sent in verses 6-10. At some point in the festal celebration, a priest received God's message and declared it to the people. The emphasis in this Psalm is on hearing the Word of God (vv. 6, 11,13; see 95:7-11 and Heb. 3). Every seventh year at the Feast of Tabernacles, the priests read the book of Deuteronomy to the people, and perhaps this was one of those special sabbatical years. Read Deuteronomy 31:9-13 and note the emphasis on "hearing God" (Also Deut. 4:1, 6,10; 5:1; 6:3-4; 9:1). It is delightful to sing praises to God and to pray, but if we want Him to listen to us, we must listen to Him.
Frequently the Lord reminded His people of their miraculous deliverance from Egypt (v. 6), the power of God that accomplished it, and the love of God that motivated it. He also reminded them of the covenant they accepted at Sinai (v. 7a; Deut. 5:2-3). The people hearing this message were not at Sinai, but the decision of their ancestors was binding on them and their descendants. God's message also mentioned their failure to trust Him at Meribah (Ex. 17; Num. 20). At the Feast of Tabernacles, the priests poured out water in the temple to commemorate these events (John 7:37-39). The Lord emphasized that He would not tolerate His people worshiping idols (vv. 8-9; Ex. 20:1-4; Deut. 4:15-20). What could the false gods of the neighboring nations give to them? God was ready to satisfy His people! "Open your mouth wide and I will fill it" (v. 10).
In verses 11-16, we are reminded that obedience, service and worship and service go together (Matt. 4:10; Deut. 6:13), and this means we must obey what the Lord commands. But the nation did not obey God's Word, and He had to destroy all the people twenty years and older (Num. 14:26). But this attitude of spiritual "deafness" and willful disobedience persisted even after Israel entered the Promised Land, as recorded in the book of Judges. (See 78:10, 17, 32, 40, 56.) The greatest judgment God can send is to let people have their own way (see Rom. 1:24, 26, 28).
Had His people obeyed Him, the Lord would have kept the promises in His covenant and blessed them with protection and provision (Deut. 28:15; Lev. 26:17-20, 27-31). When we disobey the Lord, not only do we feel the pain of His chastening, but we also miss out on the blessings He so desires to give us. The Lord gave Israel water out of the rock, but He was prepared to give them honey out of the rock (Deut. 32:13). He sent manna from heaven, but He would have given them the finest of wheat. The word "if" (vv. 8&13) is small, but it carries big consequences (Deut. 5:29; 32:29; Isa. 48:18; Matt. 23:37).
The Lord has given us the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper to regularly remind us of the great sacrifice that He made to save us and deliver us from our sin! May the Lord help us to hear, to listen and to obey His Word today!