Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A Reminder Of God’s Command

Psalm 81:1-16

To the chief Musician upon Gittith, A Psalm of Asaph.

“Sing aloud unto God our strength: make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob.  Take a psalm, and bring hither the timbrel, the pleasant harp with the psaltery.  Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.  For this was a statute for Israel, and a law of the God of Jacob.

This he ordained in Joseph for a testimony, when he went out through the land of Egypt: where I heard a language that I understood not.  I removed his shoulder from the burden: his hands were delivered from the pots.  Thou calledst in trouble, and I delivered thee; I answered thee in the secret place of thunder: I proved thee at the waters of Meribah. Selah. ” (Psalm 81:1-7)

Traditionally this was a psalm to be performed with a harp.  As is apparent from the passage, the author wanted it to include not only the harp but timbrels, psalteries and trumpets as well.  It was intended to be sung at the special ceremonies on the first of each month as a reminder of what God had commanded Israel to do.   It was given as one of the Ten Commandments, when Israel first came out of Egypt.   They had prayed for God’s deliverance and he had answered their prayers, setting them free and miraculously bringing water from the rock. 

“Hear, O my people, and I will testify unto thee: O Israel, if thou wilt hearken unto me; There shall no strange god be in thee; neither shalt thou worship any strange god.  I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.” (Psalm 81:8-10)

Because God had delivered them they were not to worship any other gods or have any idols in their possession.  God was to be the only god the paid any attention to.  If they would obey in this he promised to supply any need they had. 

“But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me.  So I gave them up unto their own hearts' lust: and they walked in their own counsels.” (Psalm 81:11-12)

Moses had just gone back to the top of the mountain to receive the final draft of God’s covenant carved in stone when Israel made the golden calf to worship.  Later they worshipped the gods of the Midianites and other groups, repeatedly turning away during the period of the Judges.  It was like they deliberately tried to replace God with something else. 

“Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways!  I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries.  The haters of the LORD should have submitted themselves unto him: but their time should have endured for ever.  He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat: and with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee.” (Psalm 81:13-16)

If Israel had obeyed him, putting him first, God would have ended their conflicts with their enemies.  If they had loved God instead of hating him, Israel would have lasted forever.  He would have given them the best of everything, the finest wheat and honey from the caves in the rocks where it stayed fresh longer.  The troubles the faced were the result of their refusal to put God first.    This Psalm was written to remind Israel how important it was to put God first because people need constant reminders.  In Philippians 3:1, Paul said, “…To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.”  While it is not as exciting as hearing something new, being reminded of what God has said keeps us from forgetting as easily.    


  1. Great post, Donald. Some churchgoers complain because the messages are repetitious, or even because "they get tired of hearing how to be saved." God forbid we should be so jaded! Paul was right when he said to preach Christ, and Him crucified. May it be music to our ears. God bless,

    1. Unfortunately, for too many, the focus is on our feelings rather than on pleasing God. The want an entertaining or emotionally stimulating service. with little or no commitment on their part, and have no understanding of spiritual things.

      Thank you.