Theme: When We Listen and Obey
In this week’s lessons, Psalm 81 serves as a warning to take care that our worship is of the true God, and in the right way.
Scripture: Psalm 81:1-16
At the end of the fourth stanza of this psalm, God indicates the result of his people’s refusing to hear his voice and worship and proclaim him only. He gives them up to their own devices, precisely as in Romans, where Paul indicates that he gives up the unbelieving world to its devices (see Rom. 1:24, 26, 28). In the case of the world, this abandonment by God is to moral perversion and to spiritual insanity. What is happening among the evangelicals? In our day evangelicals are being abandoned to materialism and secularism, the very things they rail against and deplore.
But what is the alternative? Suppose the people of God return to God and actually listen to him and follow in his ways. Then, says God, he will bless them by defeating their enemies and satisfying them with the best of all spiritual and physical things, here poetically called “the finest of the wheat” and “honey from the rock” (v. 16). This is the point of the psalm’s last stanza (vv. 13-16).
What God says reminds me of that well-known and frequently-quoted text from 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” The trouble with us is that we want to straighten out the other people. We want them to be humbled, to pray, to seek God’s face and to turn from their wicked ways. But the world can’t do that, not by itself. What the world needs is the gospel, which we must bring to it. Second Chronicles 7:14 and Psalm 81 are for us. It is for us to humble ourselves, repent and seek God. Then by grace the Lord may indeed hear from heaven, forgive our sin and heal our land.
What results from refusing to hear and obey God? Can you see this happening today?
What do the wheat and honey of this psalm represent?
Reflection: What is the best way to help heal our land?
Prayer: Ask God to show you where you need to be humbled and to turn from your wicked ways. Ask God how you may better seek him.
For Further Study: Since the Psalms are known as the hymnal of Israel, we can expect that it has much to teach us about who God is and how to worship him. Order your copy of James Boice’s three-volume paperback set and take 25% off the regular price.