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Psalm 81, If Only You Would Listen

Call To Worship (81:1-3)

Psalm 81 is another psalm of Asaph. In Psalms 79-80 we saw Asaph describing God’s wrath against Jerusalem and his plea for the “son of man” (the Messiah) to deliver the people. Psalm 81 begins with a call to worship. The first three verses call for Israel to sing aloud to God and to shout for joy. It is time for Israel to worship the Lord. Verse 1 is probably a call to the whole congregation to sing and shout. Verse 2 is probably a call to the Levites who were appointed in the temple as singers and musicians. Verse 3 is probably a call to the priests who had the responsibility of blowing the trumpets. So this seems to be Asaph’s call to all the people to participate in worship. Verse 3 speaks about the feast day. This psalm was probably written in the 7th month when Israel had three festivals: New Year festival (7th month, 1st day), Day of Atonement (7th month, 10th day), and Festival of Tabernacles (7th month, 15th day). The full moon also coincided with the Festival of Tabernacles. The purpose of these festivals was for the people to remember the mighty works of God, specifically Israel’s deliverance from Egypt. This is what Asaph tells the people to recall as they worship in the Lord in the next few verses.

Remember What The Lord Has Done (81:4-7)

Asaph tells the people to recall the deliverance the Lord achieved for Israel in Egypt. Asaph says that the Lord went out over the land, which may be reference to the Passover, when God went through Egypt and struck down the firstborn of every child and animal that did not have the blood on the doorposts. In verse 6 the Lord Himself begins to speak. The Lord reminds the people how he relieved the people of their burdens in Egypt. The people repeatedly forgot the miserable lives they were leading in Egypt. Israel’s children at one point in time were being killed by the Egyptians. The people of Israel were forced labor and were treated harshly as the book of Exodus opens. The Lord says that he relieved the people from that labor and they are to remember that in the Passover and in the Festival of Tabernacles. Notice verse 7:

“In distress you called, and I delivered you; I answered you in the secret place of thunder; I tested you at the waters of Meribah.”

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