August 19, 2021
Prayer: “But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels. 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 foes.” Psalm 81:11-14 ESV
Observation: Asaph begins this psalter with a call to worship Yahweh and recounts his mighty acts of deliverance. The tone then shifts in the above verses to God’s anguish over Israel drifting from communion with him. Their stubborn hearts had grown cold toward the Lord. Consequently, they stopped listening to him (through the law and the prophets) and pursued idol worship of foreign gods (verse 9). Closing their minds to how the Mosaic law offered freedom from the consequences of sin, God gave Israel over to their self-seeking counsel. One generation later, David’s son, Solomon, would offer godly wisdom to his son: to trust in the Lord with all his heart and lean not on his understanding. And if Rehoboam would acknowledge (would listen to) Yahweh, he would make the king’s path straight (Proverbs 3:5-6). Likewise, in this psalm, God offers Israel a safe and secure way forward with protection from their enemies (verses 14-15) and provisions that will satisfy their needs (verse 16).
Takeaway: We stop listening to God when our hearts are proud or when our pain or that of others seems insufferable. And when we think we know better than God, he will turn us over to our desires. But because God does not give up on his children, he will be waiting for us when we finally realize that worldly wisdom leads to more intense pain and suffering and leaves us unsatisfied. Only in him will we find perfect love and contentment. Listen to our Lover!
Prayer: Father God, in our mercy, please soften our hearts and open our ears to your Truth, that we might avoid the destructive leading of our proud hearts. Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling