We begin today with another disturbing image of a battered people: O God, the nations have come into Your inheritance; they have defiled Your holy temple; they have laid Jerusalem in ruins…How long, O LORD? Will You be angry forever? Will Your jealousy burn like fire? Listen for multiple instances of this question “How long, O LORD?” today.
This feeling of rejection and despair fills the first two Psalms and receives an answer, interestingly, in the third. Typically in the Psalms we’ve seen two types of speech: either the writer speaks directly to the LORD, or he speaks to His fellow worshippers. The writer of Psalm 81 diverges from this pattern and inserts the LORD’s words to Israel into the Psalm. It reads like a verse from the prophets: Hear, O my people, while I admonish you! O Israel, if you would but listen to Me! There shall be no strange god among you; you shall not bow down to a foreign god. 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. This too is worship, at a time when the LORD grieves that My people did not listen to My voice; Israel would not submit to Me…
In Psalm 82 the writer has a message to the worshippers of those foreign gods: God has taken His place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods He holds judgment: “How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked?” These gods have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. And finally, he welcomes the LORD’s inevitable triumph: Arise, O God, judge the earth; for You shall inherit all the nations!
Psalm 83 is again a prayer born of distress, as the nations surrounding Israel have conspired to wipe them out as a nation, and have invited Assyria to join the party. Psalm 84 stands out for its celebration of the LORD’s goodness, but still maintains the posture of petition. And listen to the vision of restoration in Psalm 85: Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs up from the ground, and righteousness looks down from the sky.
Our verse for this week is 2 Timothy 3:16: All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.
Psalms 79 through 85. Now let’s read it!
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,