Tonight we will examine Psalm 81. Asaph wrote this Psalm, but knowing when it was written or knowing the exact specifics of this Psalm is not known for sure. However, we can learn a lot about it as we will see: Notice the first part of our text:
Psalm 81:1 To the
Chief Musician. On an instrument of
ESV Psalm 81:1 To the choirmaster: according to The Gittith.
This was a Psalm that
would be played on the instrument of
Gittith = "a wine-press" 1) a musical
Since there is several
meaning to this word Gittith or
Thayer also points out
that our word is used as a song title for the Feast of Booths also known as the
Feast of Tabernacles. Verse 3 of our Psalm confirms that this Psalm is taking
place during one of the Jews 3 annual festivals, but verse 5 implies that the
Feast of the Passover is in mind.
I say all this to show
the possibilities behind this Psalm, but in the end, we do not the details
behind this Psalm other than it was according to the Gath and that it took
place at one or possibly all the 3 Feasts of the Jews.
This Psalm can be divided
into two parts. In verses 1-5 God is praised, but the remaining 11 verses are
written as if God is speaking and His basic message is that He wishes His
people would listen to Him.
Psalm 81:1 Sing
aloud to God our strength; Make a joyful shout to the God of Jacob.† 2 Raise a song and strike the
timbrel, The pleasant harp with the lute.†
3 Blow the trumpet at the time of the New Moon, At the full
moon, on our solemn feast day.† 4
For this is a statute for Israel, A law of the God of Jacob.† 5 This He established in Joseph as
a testimony, When He went throughout the
Asaph is calling on his
people to praise God at their feast day, and he wants them to do so without
holding back. Also, he wants them to praise God with joy in their heart. Of
course their praise to God under the O.T. included musical instruments, but
musical instruments are not commanded or to be used in our worship to God under
the N.T., but one thing that has never changed across the covenant is that God
does not want us to hold back when we worship Him. When we sing songs of
praise, we should sing aloud and with vigor.
God certainly does not
want us to worship Him half-heartedly, or because we feel like we have to. He
wants us to be full of joy and have the desire to praise Him. When we think
about what God has done for us, and that we have the privilege to come together
to form the body of Christ and we picture God as looking down on us as we
praise Him in song it should cause us to be full of joy and give us the
motivation to give God our best.
When the Jews got together
for their feast, they used three stringed instruments, the timbrel, harp, and
the lute. They also would blow a trumpet at the new moon, which for the Jew
marked the beginning of each month since they were on a Lunar Calendar. Since
verse 5 implies the Passover feast, the blowing of the trumpet at the beginning
of the month would correspond with Passover feast.
Additionally, they were
to blow the trumpet at the full moon, which marks the middle of the month,
which would correspond with the start of the feast of booth or feast
tabernacle. This is one reason it is believed that Psalm was to be sung and
played at all their feasts or at least at two of them.
Part of verse is a bit vague.
However, the first part based on context refers to when God† caused the Egyptians to let His people go,
which is why it is believed this Psalm can refer to the Passover feast as well.
The part that is vague is when the writer says, ďWhere I heard a language I did not understand,Ē some
commentaries suggest that the writer is saying that he did not recognize the
voice of God, or it could be referring to how he encountered someone speaking a
language he did not know. Personally, I think that writer is just referring the
Egyptian language because at three different times through out the O.T. the
Egyptians are referred to as the nation with a strange language (Deut. 28:49;
Ps. 114:1; and Jer. 5:15). Since the context is talking about the exodus from
Psalm 81:6 "I
removed his shoulder from the burden; His hands were freed from the baskets. 7 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†
With God being the
spokesman, He begins to recite how He relieved His people from the bondage in
When it says, He freed
them from the baskets, this is talking about the baskets or pots they used to
carry the bricks and the clay they used to make the bricks.
While God delivered them
from the bondage of Egyptian slavery, God delivers us from the bondage of sin.
Yes, sin can bring about temporary pleasure, but it always turns into a burden,
but if we trust in God and seek after Him, He can and will free us from the
bondage of sin.
I am not completely sure
what is meant by God answering them out of the secret place of thunder, but it
may refer to how God spoke to the children of Israel at Mount Sinai in Exodus
19, or others have suggested that it my refer to the cloud that led them during
When it says that God
tested them at the waters of Meribah, He tested them to make them understand
that they were totally dependent on Him. The Jews started getting thirsty and
that was all it took for them start complaining about God taking them out of
Instead of trusting in
God and waiting on Him to provide for them, the murmuring came before God, and
he had Moses strike a rock with his rod to make water flow from the rock. This
place was called the water of Meribah, which means water of strife.
This is another great example
of how important it is that we trust in God and His timing. When we become
impatient and start complaining, God is not going to be pleased with us. This
is a big problem in our society today because we want what we want right now,
but God does not work that way.
Another thing we can
learn from this is that God will allow our faith to be tested from time to
time. Question is, Will you pass the test or will you fail? We should not worry
about faith being tested because it is designed to make us stronger as James
James 1:2 My
brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,† 3 knowing that the testing of your
faith produces patience.† 4
But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and
complete, lacking nothing.
Also Paul says:
2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light affliction, which is
but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal
weight of glory,
When your faith is tested, embrace it and use that
challenging time to grow stronger in the faith knowing that God will be there
to help you through your test.
As I pointed out last
week, this word Selah is there for them to pause and to reflect on what has
Psalm 81:8 "Hear, O My people, and I will admonish
you! O Israel, if you will listen to Me!†
9 There shall be no foreign god among you; Nor shall you
worship any foreign god.† 10 I
am the LORD your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt; Open
your mouth wide, and I will fill it.
Many of the Psalms we
have looked at up to the point usually has the writer wanting God to listen to
their plea, but in this verse, God wants His people to listen to his plea. Of
course, God does not have in mind hearing Him along, but obeying what He says.
If they will listen to Him, He will admonish them or warn them.
One of Godís stipulations
is that they must stay away from idols and worshiping false gods. If they start
turning to false Godís, then they will no longer be committed to God Almighty.
When God took the Jews out of
God promised them if they
will remain faithful to Him, He will provide them with everything they need. He
will give them food and cause them to be able to defeat their enemies. As Paul
8:31 If God is for us, who can be against us?
This same promise is for us today under the new
covenant as well. God knows what we need before we even ask it, and He will
provide for us and help us to stand against our enemy the devil, but we must be
willing to stay faithful to Him. There are many Christians today who just want
a handout from God, but they are not willing obey what God tells them to do in
His Word. I can promise you that God is not into one-sided relationships. If
you show no interest in God, He will show no interest in you. If you are not
willing to serve God, then what makes you think He is going to help you out.
Psalm 81:11 "But My people would not heed
My voice, And
After everything God did
to make it possible for the children of
God never has and never
will force us to love Him or obey His commands, which is why he allowed these
Jews to follow their own stubborn hearts and to follow their own wisdom. God
did it in the O. T. and He does it today. We can see that God did this with the
Gentiles as well in:
Romans 1:20 For
since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly
seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal
power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,† 21 because, although they knew
God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became
futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.† 22 Professing to be wise, they
became fools,† 23 and changed
the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man --
and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.† 24 ∂ Therefore God also gave
them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies
among themselves,† 25 who
exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature
rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.† 26 For this reason God gave
them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for
what is against nature.† 27
Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their
lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving
in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.† 28 ∂ And even as they did not
like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased
mind, to do those things which are not fitting;†
29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality,
wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit,
evil-mindedness; they are whisperers,†
30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters,
inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,† 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy,
unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful;
Of course, the parable of
the prodigal††††††††††† son in Luke 15 is
a good example of this as well because his father represents God. We know that
the father did not hesitate to let his son go do what he wanted, but after his
son had hit rock bottom with his prodigal living, we know that his father was
watching for him and patiently waiting for him to come home every day. The same
thing is true for us. God will allow us to follow our stubborn hearts and live
a life of sin. When we do this, He will have nothing to do with us, but He
still loves us and hopes that one day we will come back home and heed His
81: 13"Oh, that My people would listen to Me, That
If the children of
If they had kept the faith none of their enemies
would have been able to stand against them. Also, He would have punished or
removed those who hated Him and pretended to submit to Him. Not only would He
take care of their enemies, He would have provided everything they needed to be
I just wonder how many of our lives would be
different today if we had been more faithful to God. How would our history be
different? What might have God done for us if we had not taken matters into our
own hands? I am sure some of us can look back on the events in our lives when we
failed to keep the faith as we should, and we know what results came from it.
It is depressing when we think about what could
have been if we had trusted in God. While we cannot change the past, we can do
our best change the future by remaining faithful and true to God by trusting in
This is a short Psalm, but I think it has taught
us some valuable lessons. It has taught how we should worship God by giving Him
our all, and we should find great joy in worshiping Him in spirit and truth.
Just as much as we like God to listen to us, He loves it when we choose to
listen to Him. It is easy for us to understand that you cannot have a one-sided
friendship, and so it should be easy for us to see that we cannot have a one-sided
relationship with God.
I hope this lesson will encourage you to keep your
ears open to God and listen to what He has to say in His Word. Yes, we can do
what we want, but if we want to please God and have Him in our life, then we
must take heed to His Word. Though trials and tribulations may come our way
that may test our faith, we can use that difficult times to grow closer to God
and learn to trust in His timing.