Summary: Why worship the Lord? What benefits are there? What happens if we don't? Today we look at some psalms that greatly encourage our worship and closeness to God. It's a feeling like no other to come into God's presence in worship.
The theme of Psalm 81 could be: don’t pretend to love God—really love Him! It was written by Asaph or one of his descendants and starts out with a joyous occasion of celebrating a harvest festival to the Lord.
1 – 5a
So Israel is admonished to sing to God using percussion, brass, and strings—especially during the autumn harvest feasts. He uses this as an introduction to his real point: stay faithful in truth to God.
5a – 7
This refers to God speaking to the nation at Sinai after God took them (“Joseph”) out of Egypt, and away from having to carry bricks and straw in baskets. God spoke to them in the clouds and also showed them His provision (Meribah: Exodus 17:1-7). Jesus, our Messiah, has come to lift the burden of sin and righteous obedience from our shoulders as well. He said: Matthew 11:28 “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves.30For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
The interpretive template for this psalm is Deuteronomy 32, where Moses recounted the history of Israel and God’s provision for them. One of the strong admonishments was that Israel be faithful to Yahweh.
8 – 10
It’s not enough to just hear God’s Word, you need to listen, which suggests obedience. For Israel, they were to trust only in Yahweh to “fill” their mouths. But there were many “gods” in that land who wanted to fill them with things that would end up being destructive.
11 – 16
As we know, Israel did not listen, and so God allowed them to have what they wanted—a relationship with these other gods. With that, though, came many enemies that God allowed to overthrow them.
I like verse 15—it is quite possible to hate God yet “pretend submission to Him”. Sadly, we see this even today. I call them “make believers.” What God wants is to own you and to be your rescuer, and your provider. But many people want it both ways. They want to be seen as spiritual but don’t want to repent and be cleansed from sin and be governed by God.
Verse 16 harkens back again to Deut 32 where Moses talked about honey coming from the rock, I suppose like a crag where bees have built a nest. The idea there though is that God will satisfy.
Do you ever really let go and actually shout out to God? How freeing that would be
Israel was commanded to attend feasts, which were really calls to worship. Should we not feel the obligation to worship with all of our hearts?
I think we can infer from this psalm two qualities of worship: 1. It focuses us on God and not on other distractions and 2. It feeds us like nothing else.
This psalm is really about acting in the character of God. Yahweh Himself stands as an example of what a ruler should be like—not a power hungry despot, but a loving gentle caregiver.