Oh, that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways (v. 13).
One commentator describes this Psalm as – it might have been.
I have listened to many discuss their lives and the saddest phrase is, “What would have happened if I hadn’t done this?”
Psalm 81 describes Israel after they disobeyed a very simple command:
There shall be no strange god among you; you shall not bow down to a foreign god (v. 9).
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 (vv. 11-12).
Just by obeying a simple command – no other gods – Psalm 81 says that God would subdue their enemies and defeat their foes (vv. 14).
What were the “other gods”?
Baal, with worship including prostitution and sacrificing children; Ashtoreth, again with worship involving child sacrifice; and Molech, which also sacrificed children by burning them alive. There were other gods, and their worship followed the same practices of sensuality and child slaughter.
It is a mystery why the Israelites would leave the God of love, joy, who delivered from Egypt, gave manna, and did other miracles, to worship idols of stone and wood. As Psalm 81 describes:
I relieved your shoulder of the burden; your hands were freed from the basket. In distress, you called, and I delivered you (vv. 6-7).
And the Psalm explains what could have been for Israel:
He would feed you with the finest of the wheat, and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you (v. 16).
This is still our choice today.
Follow God or He will leave us to the results of our own thoughts and actions. We find that Israel, as they suffered the consequences of their own actions, often got mad at God. I see this today – many are mad at God for not delivering them from the mire of their own decisions.
If we don’t serve stone and wood today, what do we serve?
Are we still sacrificing the unborn for convenience? The Old Testament teaches the elimination of fear by tithes and offerings – how many worries about money are in our culture? Doubt and skepticism flow from false Bible teachers today under the guise of “authenticity” – leading to a repudiation of God’s ways, thus eliminating the praise of God that brings peace.
Both the Old Testament and the New Testament teach one God – worship Him only. Our lives and our country will be blessed according to our decisions.
Psalm 81 is an interesting Psalm in that it begins with the solution to the warnings given in the rest of the verses:
Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob (v. 1).