Reflections from the Psalms

Psalm 81

“Hear, O my people, while I admonish you! O Israel, if you would but listen to me!…Oh, that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways!”

~ Psalm 81:8,13

The opening 7 verses of this psalm are a prologue of praise [v.1-3] and recollection of the relief [v.6], freedom [v.6], deliverance [v.7] and answer [v.7] of God to the call of his people Israel in the distress of their enslavement. Then, starting in v.8, the human author (Asaph) was drawing his original audience’s attention to a remembrance of the giving of the law by Moses as recorded in Deuteronomy [Deut. 5:1; 6:3-4]. Deuteronomy actually means “second law”, so the record found in this fifth book of the Pentateuch is the second giving/rehearsal of the law before the second-generation Exodus Israelites crossed the Jordan River to enter the Promised Land.  This psalm displays for us God’s heart’s desire that his people would listen to him [v.8], love him [v.9], follow him [v.13], be blessed by him [v.10,14] and be satisfied in him [v.16].  In Christ we have atonement, restored relationship and are given the grace to love and obey the LORD. With hearts rightly fixed on worshipping God, we naturally turn from the idol of self [contrast v.11-12].