Bible Reading: Psalm 81

Psalm 81
Sing for joy to God our strength;

Shout joyfully to the God of Jacob.

Raise a song, strike the timbrel,

The sweet sounding lyre with the harp.

Blow the trumpet at the new moon,

At the full moon, on our feast day.

For it is a statute for Israel,

An ordinance of the God of Jacob.

He established it for a testimony in Joseph

When he went throughout the land of Egypt.

I heard a language that I did not know:

“I relieved his shoulder of the burden,

His hands were freed from the basket.

“You called in trouble and I rescued you;

I answered you in the hiding place of thunder;

I proved you at the waters of Meribah.

“Hear, O My people, and I will admonish you;

O Israel, if you would listen to Me!

“Let there be no strange god among you;

Nor shall you worship any foreign god.

“I, the Lord, am your God,

Who brought you up from the land of Egypt;

Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.

“But My people did not listen to My voice,

And Israel did not obey Me.

“So I gave them over to the stubbornness of their heart,

To walk in their own devices.

“Oh that My people would listen to Me,

That Israel would walk in My ways!

“I would quickly subdue their enemies

And turn My hand against their adversaries.

“Those who hate the Lord would pretend obedience to Him,

And their time of punishment would be forever.

“But I would feed you with the finest of the wheat,

And with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”

Our scripture today, the penultimate Psalm of Asaph, is a trumpet call to Israel given to the Director of Music for leading the people in worshipful praise and repentance (Numbers 10:10). It was probably written for the Feast of Tabernacles celebration commemorating the Israelites journey through the wilderness. The emphasis is on vigorous singing (and shouting) to be accompanied by musical instruments. The specific mention of the tambourine, or timbrel, in verse 2 suggests the people also danced while singing songs of worship to God. Is anyone up for some congregational dancing next Sunday morning?

In verse 10, God reminds the Israelites that He is the one who delivered them out of bondage in Egypt. He then proclaims, “Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it”. What a graphic depiction of God’s provision for those who truly seek Him! When a mother bird brings food back to her nest, she never has to pry open closed beaks. Appetite and eagerness are never in question. Unlike baby birds, we can’t open our mouth bigger than God can fill. In other words, we can’t ever “over-expect” God. The reverse is also implied. God will not fill a closed mouth. As Spurgeon noted, “Our cup is small and we blame the fountain.”

My sage sister recently discovered a second career as a life coach, and she counsels her clients with this simple but profound maxim: “You usually find what you are looking for.” In other words, our expectations almost always impact our outcomes. The Bible shows this to be true when it comes to how we approach our heavenly Father in worship, in prayer and in life. We honor God when we come to Him with mouths wide open in great expectation, because He is a mighty and loving Father.

Weekly Memory Verse: Vindicate the weak and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and destitute. Rescue the weak and needy; Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.  Psalm 82.3-4