Summary: Are you tired of experiencing regrets? Are you tired of missing out on all God desires for you? This message shares how we can live the life God intends for us.
What Might Have Been (Ps. 81)
The Psalm that we are going to look at today is Psalm 81, a psalm written by Asaph. Now, before we jump into it, I want to share with you the occasion surrounding this Psalm. Asaph was one of David’s worship leaders. In this psalm is pictures him calling the nations together to worship during one of their three sacred feasts. It is thought that the feast celebrated that day was the feast of tabernacles. So, Asaph calls them together to celebrate this feast, and as verse five indicates, sometime during their celebration God gives them a message. A message that needed to be heard then, and needs to be heard today. So, if you have your Bibles with you today, please turn with me to Psalm 81.
Read Psalm 81
John Greenleaf Whittier wrote, “Of all the sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: ‘It might have been.’” Verses eight through sixteen consists of a very sad message when we understand Israel’s history, for it reveals what might have been for the nation. When we read of their history we hear of them consistently in trouble and captivity. This was a nation, you could say, that was full of regrets. But it didn’t have to be this way. Things could have been so much better for them as this psalm points out. God had so much in store for them. He had a better life planned for them instead of what they experienced. Yet they opted out and took the path of regret...the path which pains the heart when we think “what might have been”. And for that reason the message we hear in verses eight through to sixteen is sad.
Yet, at the same time it is also encouraging, for it teaches us that we don’t have to take this path. You see, the nation of Israel could have experienced the life that God wanted to give them, a life free of regrets. They didn’t have to experience what they did and lose what God intended for them. And saints, we don’t either. We don’t need to take the path of regrets...the path that pains our hearts when we think “what may have been. What may have been if I did it God’s way”. We can enjoy what God has intended for us...we don’t have to miss out on it. And saint’s what God has intended for us doesn’t come with regrets. So, I guess the question this morning is, how? How can I enjoy what God has intended for me? Well, you can enjoy what God has intended for you by committing yourselves to the following three disciplines and the first is this...the discipline of listening to God.
1. Listen to God (v. 13)
God utters in the opening of verse thirteen, before He declares what might have been, “oh, that My people would listen to Me”. You can feel the tenderness of God’s heart here. You see God knew if His people would just listen to Him things would be different, things would be better. God doesn’t like seeing His people suffer, He doesn’t like them experiencing regret as they look back and think, “what might have been? What might have been if I had only listened to God?” God’s heart breaks for His people...and He urges the nation...and He urges us...“Oh, that My people would just listen to me”.
But the sad thing is, people fail to listen to Him all the time. Speaking to the nation of Israel God said, “But My people did not listen to my voice”. The nation of Israel was characterized by spiritual deafness. Their ears were closed to God’s voice. And friends, things haven’t changed. Our generation today is marked by spiritual deafness as well. Now it’s understandable that the unbelievers in our generation have their fingers in their ears. They hate Christ and they don’t want anything to do with Him. They don’t want to hear what He has to say because frankly they don’t care. But many people who profess to be believers in the church are doing the same thing. Many churchgoers don’t want to hear the full counsel of God’s Word anymore. Paul warned us of this time when he said, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting their ears tickled they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths”. He is saying, “There is coming a time when those who profess to be Christians will stop listening to Christ and instead listen to things they want to hear...things from deceitful spirits”. And that time is now. Today, people don’t want to hear God’s Word, they don’t want to hear about sacrificing and paying the cost, they don’t want to hear about giving of themselves but of getting, not of serving but of being served. They want to hear that which glorifies self, which promotes self. That’s why people are flocking to those who preach the Prosperity gospel...a gospel which caters to the getting of stuff and the promoting of self.