Psalm 81 — Healthy Voices Leading Us To God’s Strength
Updated: Nov 4
Psalm 81:1-16 NIV
Sing for joy to God our strength; shout aloud to the God of Jacob!
Begin the music, strike the timbrel, play the melodious harp and lyre.
Sound the ram’s horn at the New Moon, and when the moon is full, on the day of our festival;
this is a decree for Israel, an ordinance of the God of Jacob.
The Psalmist called everyone, including us, to sing and shout for joy to God because He is our strength. Our definition and perspective of success is different from non-believers. For us, having a life that is centred around God, His words and His mission, is what brings meaning to our lives. We can celebrate our lives with great joy because of that. Let the music play!
Let’s ask ourselves how often we get to use God’s strength. If we consciously ask God how we can be better disciples of Christ, He will provide us with strength. The reverse is true too, if we don’t ask God for His strength, we won’t get it. A little effort to seek God’s strength produces amazing results. The word of God will come to us not simply with words but with power in the Spirit. We will seek to be kinder and more loving, and ultimately more Christ-like. We will enjoy the favour of people who appreciate our blessings to them.
God made a decree for the assembly at the festival, that ram’s horn be blown. The assembly today is our Church. We gather to worship God and celebrate our lives as we are empowered by His strength.
When God went out against Egypt, He established it as a statute for Joseph. I heard an unknown voice say:
“I removed the burden from their shoulders; their hands were set free from the basket.
In your distress you called and I rescued you, I answered you out of a thundercloud; I tested you at the waters of Meribah.
Hear Me, My people, and I will warn you — if you would only listen to Me, Israel!
You shall have no foreign god among you; you shall not worship any god other than Me.
I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.”
The Psalmist wrote about an unknown voice he heard. Whose voice was that? It could be his inner thoughts and voice that the Spirit moves him to have. He was reminded of how God removed the burden from the Israelites and set them free from their slavery.
The voice spoke from God’s perspective, recounting how He responded to the people’s cry to Him while they were slaves in Egypt. He “removed the burden (of slavery) from their shoulders” and rescued them. God tested them and warned them that they should not have other Gods. He told them that if they would only listen to Him, He would provide for them.
We were once slaves to sin. God heard our cries and He rescued us. He has promised to provide for our spiritual needs, and also asked that we listen to Him. Do we do that?
“But My people would not listen to Me; Israel would not submit to Me.
So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices.
“If My people would only listen to Me, if Israel would only follow My ways,
how quickly I would subdue their enemies and turn My hand against their foes!
Those who hate the Lord would cringe before Him, and their punishment would last forever.
But you would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”
During the 40 years that the Israelites wandered in the wilderness, God lovingly provided for them as He promised, sending manna and quail.
However, to God’s anger and sadness, “My people would not listen to Me”. Thus, because the Israelites chose to be stubborn, God gave them over to pursue what they want and to face the resulting consequences. It would have been so easy for God to subdue Israel’s enemies if they had followed His ways. For those who obey God, He would feed “with the finest of wheat” and satisfy with “honey from the rock”.
If we choose to be stubborn and reject God’s voice, He will give us the freewill to pursue our desires, and face the outcome. Jesus has subdued our enemy Satan, and triumphed over death. Our loving Father tests and warns us out of love too. Without God’s tests and warnings would our deceitful hearts understand the enemies we are facing? We won’t. Jesus died on the cross for our sins. The message of the Cross should give us the power to repent.
As we keep a close walk with the Holy Spirit, what healthy voices do we hear? We need to be reminded of the crucifixion of Christ, of how he died for us while we still sinners. We need to be reminded of the times when God heard our distress calls and answered us. We need to be reminded of the tests in our lives, how we overcame them and mature.
What are some verses that could help us to form healthy voices?
Warnings from God
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-20 NIV)
Love of God
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8 NIV)
Power of the Cross
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18 NIV)
Andy is the head of compliance for an international bank and is happily married, with three daughters. He became a disciple of Christ three decades ago, and studies God's Word passionately. He desires to be constantly led by the Spirit. Andy joined the Central Christian Church in 1990.