Listening for God’s voice

21 May

Often, as I think about blogging, I realize that I have nothing profound to say.  That is true again today, but I go for it anyway.

Psalm 81 is an interesting poem to God.  The psalm praises God for what God has done for Israel.  This recitation of the salvation story, delivery from Egypt, is repeated over and over again.  I wonder how often we repeat what God has done in our lives?

1-5 A song to our strong God!
a shout to the God of Jacob!
Anthems from the choir, music from the band,
sweet sounds from lute and harp,
Trumpets and trombones and horns:
it’s festival day, a feast to God!
A day decreed by God,
solemnly ordered by the God of Jacob.
He commanded Joseph to keep this day
so we’d never forget what he did in Egypt.

I love this line in the psalm.   The New Revised Standard Version just says, “I heard a voice I had not known.”  I like Eugene Peterson’s version so much more.  I have heard this gentle whisper before in my life.  In the quiet of prayer I have felt, more than heard, that gentle whisper.  The psalmist tells us what they have heard from God.  God has lighten the load, relieved the pain, and quenched their thirst.

I hear this most gentle whisper from One
I never guessed would speak to me:

6-7 “I took the world off your shoulders,
freed you from a life of hard labor.
You called to me in your pain;
I got you out of a bad place.
I answered you from where the thunder hides,
I proved you at Meribah Fountain.

After God speaks about who God has provided for us, God continues to give instruction.  God says, “don’t worship other gods, or take up with the latest god.”   Do you think that because we do not have the kinds of gods that ancient Egypt had, that we are not in danger of worshiping other gods?  I think we have all kinds of people and things that we care about more than God and therefore our worship is divided.  Think about where you spend your time, your money, your energy, or your love; is there something that has your attention or devotion; perhaps you have a god of worship.  I  think God tell us to not take up with other gods because the God knows we will not find life or healing or strength for the journey apart from God.

8-10 “Listen, dear ones—get this straight;
O Israel, don’t take this lightly.
Don’t take up with strange gods,
don’t worship the latest in gods.
I’m God, your God, the very God
who rescued you from doom in Egypt,
Then fed you all you could eat,
filled your hungry stomachs.

11-12 “But my people didn’t listen,
Israel paid no attention;
So I let go of the reins and told them, ‘Run!
Do it your own way!’

The writer says clearly that God will not force us to listen to God.  When we insist on our own way, and will not pay attention, God says, “Run! Do it your own way!”  God does not want puppets or slaves or mindless followers; God wants human beings who will choose to love God above all else and love God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength.

13-16 “Oh, dear people, will you listen to me now?
Israel, will you follow my map?
I’ll make short work of your enemies,
give your foes the back of my hand.
I’ll send the God-haters cringing like dogs,
never to be heard from again.
You’ll feast on my fresh-baked bread
spread with butter and rock-pure honey.”

God is with us, knowing us and loving us, why should we feast on God fresh-baked bread spread with butter and rock-pure honey.

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