Stop and thank God for being present with you today. Ask for God’s guidance as you hear God’s voice through scripture and the writer.
Psalm 81:1 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
To the leader: according to The Gittith. Of Asaph.
Sing aloud to God our strength;
shout for joy to the God of Jacob.
I am the Lord your God,
who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.
Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.
“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.
O that my people would listen to me,
that Israel would walk in my ways!
Then I would quickly subdue their enemies,
and turn my hand against their foes.
Those who hate the Lord would cringe before him,
and their doom would last forever.
I would feed you with the finest of the wheat,
and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”
“Self-destructive behavior.” Those sad words still ring in my ears after more than 30 years. My father spoke them from a gurney just as he was wheeled away for lung surgery after decades of smoking. Psalm 81 somewhat grimly lets us know that God does not often allow us to escape from the earthly consequences of our sin and self-destructive behaviors. But, thanks be to our great loving God, neither does God leave us alone as we suffer. God heals and restores us. My father emerged from surgery, never smoked another cigarette and lived faithfully and well for 25 more years.
We are always better off doing things God’s way. God’s way is not always the easiest or most obvious. Jesus warned that the path to life is a narrow path, whereas the path to destruction is wide and well-traveled. As you reflect on the Psalm today, spend a few moments in reflection and confession. How are you walking on the wide path? Then be aware that simply because you are spending time today with scripture and prayer, you ARE listening to God, you are seeking the narrow way. Ask God for the wisdom to listen and respond. Offer praise to God for always being with you.
I confess that, like the people of Israel, I often do not listen to your voice or submit to you. I suffer the consequences of that sin. But I do hunger and thirst for righteousness. That is why I am praying this prayer right now. Fill me, as you promise, feed me sweet honey from the rock of Your Word! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Go with God!