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Sing Aloud to God Our Strength 

Look at what our God is to us!

Psalm 81

By Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • December 16, In the year of our Lord, 2012

What a privilege when someone famous writes to you, or when someone with authority communicates with you.

Do we comprehend what we have with the Bible? There is a God in heaven, and He has communicated to us. Is He famous? Does He have authority? If so, we should listen to Him eagerly.

Psalm 81 expresses God desire that His people would listen to Him. Verses 1–7 describe what God wanted, but verses 8–16 show what He found.

A Psalm of Praise – Psalm 81.0

0 To the Chief Musician.
On an instrument of Gath.
A Psalm of Asaph.
(Psa 81.0)

This psalm speaks of singing, and it is a song in itself. Singing about singing encourages us, because this psalm speaks of God our strength. Can you think of a greater person to fill our songs?

Praise God – Psalm 81.1–3

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.
(Psa 81.1–3)

Sing aloud to God, because He is our strength. The psalmist will use the rest of the psalm to show us why we should sing, and how God is our strength.

If He is not our strength, what is? How can you know whether He is your strength? How do you react to bad news or bad situations in life? Do you believe that God shall take care of you, even if everything else is crumbling around you? What brings you joy and what brings you sadness? Consider some passages that show how we should think on this matter,

Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills.
(Hab 3.17–19)

For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ (1Co 3.11).

He is the God of Jacob, which also means He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. See what He did for Israel, then you will get a good idea of what He will do for the church, because we are the Israel of God (Gal 6.16).

They sang with timbrel, harp, and lute, singing and making melody on those instruments, but now the Lord wants the melody coming from within, from the spirit (Eph 5.19).

Once a year on a full moon, the Jews had a special time when they would sing aloud to God. Of course, we can sing any time, and we should. We should especially come together with the saints and sing. That is what our Father wants us to do. Sing to Him every first day of the week. Those who see no need for worshiping with brethren, miss fulfilling many passages of Scripture.

Praise God for His Law – Psalm 81.4, 5

For this is a statute for Israel,
A law of the God of Jacob.
This He established in Joseph as a testimony,
When He went throughout the land of Egypt,
Where I heard a language I did not understand.
(Psa 81.4, 5)

The assembly for the Jews was not an option, and it is not an option for Christians (Heb 10.25). I know that most Christians view it as an option, even saying that when they stop attending they have not quit God, but the truth is they have. Both Psalm 81 and Hebrews 10 show that our God wants us to assemble regularly, which includes singing.

When did God make this a statute and law for Israel? Asaph went clear back to the time that Joseph entered Egypt, when it was still a foreign place to him and he had not become established, learning the language. Joseph learned to see the blessings of God although his brothers hated him, sold him into slavery, where he was falsely accused of wrongdoing, and spent time in prison without having committed any crime. Even then in those circumstances, Joseph could see God’s hand, and praised God for being with him. Joseph gave God the glory when interpreting dreams. Joseph’s strength was God, not himself.

Praise God for His Help – Psalm 81.6, 7

“I removed his shoulder from the burden;
His hands were freed from the baskets.
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
(Psa 81.6, 7)

God not only was with Joseph in Egypt, but later with the whole nation. That is why He delivered them through Moses.

As you know, the Egyptians enslaved Israel, but later God sent a deliverer, Moses to free them from the burdens they bore down there.

They were in trouble, and they called on their God, and He heard them, delivering them, answering them from His secret place, for He dwells in secret even as the thunder does.

He also tested Israel at the waters of Meribah, where they did not have water initially, but the Lord wanted to see what Israel would do. Would they seek Him or complain? (Exo 17.1–7). God creates or allows some adversities in life that we might learn from them. Deuteronomy 8.1–3; Ecclesiastes 7.2–4, 13, 14 Would they continue to see Him as their strength? Would they continue to believe that all they had to do was call upon Him in time of trouble, or would they turn to some god, or would they complain?

Praise God for His Desire for Us – Psalm 81.8–10

“Hear, O My people, and I will admonish you!
O Israel, if you will listen to Me!
There shall be no foreign god among you;
Nor shall you worship any foreign god.
I am the Lord your God,
Who brought you out of the land of Egypt;
Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.
(Psa 81.8–10)

He wanted them to know at the waters of Meribah, that they should listen to Him, for after all He had listened to them, and given them what they wanted. Would they give Him what He wanted?

God wanting His people to hear Him is a major theme in this psalm. He just wants His people to listen to Him, even today. Why is it that we want Him to listen to us, but we are slow to listen to Him?

“For they are a nation void of counsel,
Nor is there any understanding in them.
Oh, that they were wise, that they understood this,
That they would consider their latter end!”
(Deu 32.28, 29)

What was it He wanted them to hear? Do not have any foreign god among you. He wanted them to remember that He was the Lord their God. He was the One who brought them out of Egypt, and He is the One who brought us out of sin. Therefore, Israel could open wide its mouth, and He would fill it. Like a mother bird feeding her chicks. Do you know how many times in the Scriptures God says to us for us to open wide our mouths and He will fill it?

What does this passage teach you?

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? (Rom 8.32).

Praise God for His Discipline – Psalm 81.11, 12

“But My people would not heed My voice,
And Israel would have none of Me.
So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart,
To walk in their own counsels.”
(Psa 81.11, 12)

Although He promised so much, the majority of Israel would not listen to Him, even as the majority of the world, and many in the church, will not heed His voice, which is why most of the world are not Christians, and why many Christians have fallen away.

Israel did not want to have any of Him. This explains the rapid secularization of America; most people do not want to have anything to do with God.

Verse 12 then states the really sad part. God gives people over to their own stubborn heart, that they might walk in their own counsel rather than in His.

“Just as they have chosen their own ways,
And their soul delights in their abominations,
So will I choose their delusions,
And bring their fears on them;
Because, when I called, no one answered,
When I spoke they did not hear;
But they did evil before My eyes,
And chose that in which I do not delight.”
(Isa 66.3b, 4)

“Ephraim is joined to idols,
Let him alone.”
(Hos 4.17)

“[God] in bygone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways” (Acts 14.16).

Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness… (Rom 1.24).

For this reason God gave them up to vile passions… (Rom 1.26).

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind… (Rom 1.28).

And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie (2 Th 2.11).

Therefore, it does not surprise me that society is experiencing a breakdown on all fronts.

Praise God for His Blessings – Psalm 81.13–16

“Oh, that My people would listen to Me,
That Israel would walk in My ways!
I would soon subdue their enemies,
And turn My hand against their adversaries.
The haters of the Lord would pretend submission to Him,
But their fate would endure forever.
He would have fed them also with the finest of wheat;
And with honey from the rock I would have satisfied you.”
(Psa 81.13–16)

How often does God in the Scriptures express His wish? He tells us frequently about fulfilling our prayers, but what if we want to bless Him, what can we do? What can we give Him that He does not have? We can give Him our ears. We can give Him our hearts. We can give Him our lives.

He told Israel that if they would listen to Him, He would subdue their enemies, turn His hand against their adversaries, and although those enemies would pretend submission to Him, He would make sure that they endured their fate.

If Israel would have listened to Him, He would have fed them with the finest of wheat, and He could even have brought honey from a rock for them!

This again explains much of what is happening in the western nations. The general population refuses to hear God anymore, preferring to hear other things. I believe that the breakdown of western culture has come because of the breakdown in the western church.

Listen to what God said through Isaiah the prophet,

Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,
The Holy One of Israel:
“I am the Lord your God,
Who teaches you to profit,
Who leads you by the way you should go.
Oh, that you had heeded My commandments!
Then your peace would have been like a river,
And your righteousness like the waves of the sea.
Your descendants also would have been like the sand,
And the offspring of your body like the grains of sand;
His name would not have been cut off
Nor destroyed from before Me.”
(Isa 48.17–19)

For Israel it was, “What might have been…” For many people, it is that way. Here is the truth,

Of all the sad words
Of tongue and pen,
The saddest are these:
It might have been.
(John Greenleaf Whittier)

Asaph showed what God is to His people.

Verses 1–3:

God is our strength!

God is Jacob’s God, and He is the church’s God.

Verses 4, 5:

God is the Authority

God is the Deliverer

Verses 6, 7:

God is the Reliever

God is the Deliverer

God is the Answer

God is the Tester

Verses 8–10:

He is a jealous God

He is a loyal God

He is a giving God

Verses 11, 12:

He is a hurting God

He is a disciplining God

Verses 13–16:

He is a God who desires

He is a God who promises

He is a God who punishes

He is a God who gives

See what He is to us, but see what little He asks for in return. He wants us to sing to Him, to call during trouble, to listen, to worship Him alone, and to receive His blessings. Does that seem like too much for Him to ask of us?

Israel was like the prodigal son, truly anyone who strays from God, imitates the prodigal son in Luke 15. Many people are also like the other brother. Both of them lived beneath their privileges!

Roy Deaver says,

“Some people are so far away from God (or, perhaps are so indifferent) that they do not recognize His voice when He speaks (through His word)” (p. 288).