Psalm 81, Psalm 88, Psalm 92-93: If only

If only blog picGood morning, afternoon or evening my friends, whichever applies to when you are reading this!

I want to focus on Psalm 81 in this post, the last 4 verses in particular. God speaking says: “13 “If my people would only listen to me, if Israel would only follow my ways, 14 how quickly I would subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes!  15 Those who hate the Lord would cringe before him, and their punishment would last forever.  16 But you would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”

As I was reading this I was struck by the tone of longing in God’s voice as he speaks these words. “If only” is a cry of one who wishes to do good for someone but does not have the opportunity. It is tempting to read those words and think “You’re God, you can do whatever you wish! So if you want to subdue their enemies and punish them and feed Israel with the finest wheat and honey, then go right ahead!” That thought crossed through my mind. But as I’ve read further into the Psalms, I’ve come to realize that God repeatedly expresses his longing to bless his people, but their rebellion and disobedience don’t let him.

We’ll talk more about rebellion another time,  but for today I was more struck by the language the Psalmist uses to express God’ desire and how closely it resembles our own language when God seems distant. Or at least it closely resembles the way I feel when I wish God would act or answer. In fact David use this same phrase in Psalm 139:19 when he wished God would deal with the wicked.

Perhaps this longing for what is right and good is part of God’s fingerprint in us? I have nothing to substantiate this, but it is something to think about. Think of how many times in your life you have wondered “if only” and try  to consider how many times God has directed that same sentiment at you. It is kind of sobering.

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture?  What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now?  Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: 1 Chronicles 7-10

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