Psalm 81
Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
To the chief Musician upon Gittith, A Psalm of Asaph. Sing aloud unto God our strength: make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob.
Consecration and Expectation

Psalm 81:8-10

I. The duty of religion flows directly from the fact of God. Wherever God is acknowledged there religion is obligatory. To us then who admit that there is a God of whom we know something religion cannot be optional. God is, and it is our duty to honour and obey Him. Full obedience, then, is one fundamental element of religion, as it is brought before us in our text We might find a ground for demanding obedience to God further back than any special experience of God's redemptive working. A sufficient stringency of duty arises, for instance, from the relation of the creature to the Creator. The demand that we should perfectly obey and wholly consecrate ourselves to the Lord our God comes to us as it did to Israel. Nor can we pretend to have complied faithfully with it. Under the uniformity of our worship our fickleness has been every whit as real as that of Israel long ago. Might not an impartial observer conclude that we worshipped at least two Gods? A God of this world six days and a God of the world to come, whom we seek to placate, on the odd seventh day, with no great earnestness, by certain acts of worship of no long duration? The truth is that we fail in the fundamental element of religion which I have called obedience, unless we do all things, week-day and Sunday, to the glory of the only God. There is an interesting parallel between us and the Israelites. As Israel traced its origin to God's redemptive grace working by Moses, so we may trace the origin of our Christian Church to God's redemptive grace working by Christ.

II. We pass now to the second element of religion which our text gives us—the element of expectation. We fail in this duty of expectancy as much as in the duty of obedience. A large expectation is as much a duty as a complete consecration. The religion of redemption is emphatically the religion of hope. Our prayers disappoint us, not because we ask more than we had a right to expect, but because we ask too little. If we ask of the greater things we shall get all we need of the less. All sin is unreasonable, but no sin has so little to say for itself as the sin of those who profess to lament their failure, and yet refuse to admit those words of salvation which are ever sounding in their ears, and which, if believed, would make all things new.

—P. J. Maclagan, The Gospel View of Things, p. 187.

References.—LXXXI.—International Critical Commentary, vol. ii. p. 209. LXXXI. 12, 13.—Bishop Harvey Goodwin, Parish Sermons (2nd Series), p. 50. LXXXII. 8.—F. D. Maurice, Sermons, vol. iii. p. 1. LXXXII.—International Critical Commentary, vol. ii. p. 214. LXXXIII. 3.—J. T. Stannard, The Divine Humanity, p. 141. LXXXIII. 16.—J. Keble, Sermons from Lent to Passiontide, pp. 23, 34.—LXXXIII.—International Critical Commentary, vol. ii. p. 217.

Take a psalm, and bring hither the timbrel, the pleasant harp with the psaltery.
Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.
For this was a statute for Israel, and a law of the God of Jacob.
This he ordained in Joseph for a testimony, when he went out through the land of Egypt: where I heard a language that I understood not.
I removed his shoulder from the burden: his hands were delivered from the pots.
Thou calledst in trouble, and I delivered thee; I answered thee in the secret place of thunder: I proved thee at the waters of Meribah. Selah.
Hear, O my people, and I will testify unto thee: O Israel, if thou wilt hearken unto me;
There shall no strange god be in thee; neither shalt thou worship any strange god.
I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.
But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me.
So I gave them up unto their own hearts' lust: and they walked in their own counsels.
Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways!
I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries.
The haters of the LORD should have submitted themselves unto him: but their time should have endured for ever.
He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat: and with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee.
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