PSALMS 2018 | DAY XXX

READ PSALM 81 

The concluding passage of our study this week continues the practice of praying God’s Words back to Him. In fact, the rest of the passage is written in this manner. To understand the context of this final passage, we need to be reminded of Israel’s past – and our own.

Read Exodus 32. This is one of many instances in Israel’s past that is likely being referenced here. In what ways does this narrative display the following three references from Psalm 81?

But my people did not listen to my voice:

Israel would not submit to me:

So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts:

    to follow their own counsels:

The psalmist, on the heels of recounting God’s faithfulness and rejoicing in His goodness, continues praying God’s Words, and reminding the nation that they did not trust in the character of God. 

I’ll be honest; it’s easy to be hard on Israel. It’s easy to look at their narrative and shake our finger at them saying, “shame, shame.” We look at the Golden Calf narrative with the Promised Land in sight. We have the privilege of New Testament perspective. But they did not, and when their limited perspective caused them to doubt their God, they chose not to trust Him.

Consider your own life. When have you …

Not listened to the voice of God?

Been unwilling to submit to God?

Been given over to your stubborn heart to follow what you thought was best?

In the midst of a passage that resounds with judgment and condemnation, we find an earnest, affectionate plea: “Oh that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways!” Using God’s own words as a prayer to Him, the psalmist reminds himself and his nation that God delights in His children listening to Him and walking in His ways. He is not a bearish God, demanding submission without affection. He doesn’t delight in making minions follow Him simply because He is all-powerful. Though it is within His right, it is not within His character. God is a God of relationship, delighting in the obedient submission of His people.

Is this how you have viewed God’s call to obedience in your life in the past? In your present?

Read the final verse of Psalm 81. Summarize it in your own words. 

This Psalm concludes with an affectionate reminder of He who is Israel’s Provider. God delights in His children’s obedience and delights in filling their mouths and lives with good things. And, in the midst of just judgment and righteous rebuke, it is important for you and me to hear this: God wants to give you good gifts because He loves you. God is a generous God, desiring to cause you to flourish like the plant of Psalm 80 and the tree of Psalm 1. God, in His infinite mercy and kindness and generosity, desires to bless you. And in God’s economy, blessing often looks like obedience.

PRAY & REFLECT

Supplication: Confess to God the times in which you have not listened to His voice or have been unwilling to submit to Him. Confess your faithlessness to Him and ask for His forgiveness and restoration.

Submit: Confess to God that His character is unchanging and that His judgments are just. Praise Him that He delights in giving undesired blessings to His people and that, in His generosity, He blesses us with obedient hearts. 

Author: amygannett

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