Sing with Joy to God

“My people heard not my voice,
and Israel obeyed me not;
So I gave them up to the hardness of their hearts;
they walked according to their own counsels.”

“If only my people would hear me,
and Israel walk in my ways,
Quickly would I humble their enemies;
against their foes I would turn my hand.”

“Those who hated the LORD would seek to flatter me,
but their fate would endure forever,
While Israel I would feed with the best of wheat,
and with honey from the rock I would fill them.”

(Psalm 81:12-13, 14-15, 16-17)

Scripture Study

Psalm 81:11–12 Yahweh regrets his people’s disobedience, but he allows them to reap the fruit of their own stubbornness. Here God does not directly address the people; he seems to be speaking to himself. It would be very odd if the psalmist thought of God speaking to someone else, someone not identified. Stubborn hearts in this context is rendered idiomatically in many languages as “I let them follow their blindness,” “… their hard hearts,” or “… their closed ears.” Follow their own counsels: instead of coming to the Lord for advice and guidance, they guide themselves and ignore God.

Psalm 81:13–14 In verse 13 there is again the parallelism my people and Israel, here in reverse order from the order in verse 11. In verse 14b turn my hand against means “fight,” “strike,”  “punish,”  “conquer.

Psalm 81:15–16 Most commentators and translators take verses 15–16 also to be the Lord’s words. In verse 15a the Hebrew is “Those who hate Yahweh would cower before him,” which has represented with the first person pronoun “me … me,” since it takes Yahweh to be the speaker. In verse 15b the Hebrew is “their time would last forever,” which is taken to mean their fate (rsv), their doom, “their punishment.” Some take “their time” to be a reference to Israel’s good times, which would last forever; this is possible but does not seem probable. Verse 16a in Hebrew is “he would feed him,” refers to God feeding Israel, parallel with I would satisfy you in verse 16b. Honey from the rock is taken by most to mean wild honey.

Scripture Reflection

God keeps hoping that his people will turn back to him and obey him, so that he can overwhelm them with favors—saving them from their enemies, causing them to be respected by all nations, and giving them good things in plenty.

God’s call here is applicable to all circumstances of human life, no matter how dire. Even when things are very bad, God is still “our strength.”

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.