Learning from Psalms 81-90
81:1-16- God calls us to worship Him with joy - ‘Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob!’(1). He has blessed us with His salvation - ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt’. He will continue to bless us, as we keep on looking to Him for blessing - ‘Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it’(10). God wants to bless us. He wants us to seek His blessing - ‘O that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in My ways!... I would feed you with the finest of wheat, and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you’(13,16). Far too often, we can’t be bothered with God and are not really interested in seeking His blessing - ‘My people did not listen to My voice; Israel would have none of me’(11). ‘You will seek Me and find Me; when you seek Me with all your heart’(Jeremiah 29:13).
82:1-83:18- ‘The Lord’ is ‘the Most High’(18). Through faith in Jesus Christ, we become ‘sons of the Most High’: ‘You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus’(82:6; Galatians 3:26). Through the great love of God, we have received the great privilege of becoming ‘sons of the Most High’. With this great privilege comes the great responsibility of sharing His love with others: ‘Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the desolate. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked’(82:3-4). Let us rejoice in our great privilege. Let us be faithful to our great responsibility. This is the way of enjoying God’s great blessing: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God’. This is the way of ‘giving glory to our Father in heaven’(Matthew 5:9,16).
84:1-12- ‘How I love Your Temple, Almighty Lord! How I want to be there! I long to be in the Lord’s Temple. With my whole being I sing for joy to the living God’(1-2). This is much more than paying lip-service to the Lord. This is real. Worshipping the Lord meant everything to the Psalmist: ‘I long for You, O God. I thirst for You, the living God; when can I go and worship in Your presence’(42:1-2). He found great joy in worshipping the Lord: ‘Let Your light and Your truth guide me... to the place where You dwell. Then will I go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight...’(43:4). He worshipped God with his whole heart: ‘O God, You are my God, and I long for You. My whole being desires You... my soul is thirsty for You’(63:1). This is real worship, joyful worship, heartfetlt worship. May God help us to worship Him like that!
85:1-13- We are to pray for revival - ‘Restore us again, O God our Saviour... Will You not revive us again that Your people may rejoice in You?’(4,6). We are to pray that God will ‘grant us His salvation’. We are to pray that ‘His saving presence will remain in our land’. We must pray that ‘His glory may dwell in our land’(7,9). We are to pray for real listening - ‘I will listen to what God the Lord will say’- , a real turning to the Lord - ‘turning to Him in our hearts’- , and a real sense of His blessing - ‘He will speak peace to His people’(8). Prayer for revival does not begin as a prayer for others. It begins with ourselves: ‘O Holy Ghost, revival comes from Thee; send a revival - start the work in me’. It begins with this prayer: “Lord, take my life, and make it wholly Thine; fill my poor heart with Thy great love divine’(Mission Praise, 587).
86:1-17- ‘You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you... Teach me Your way, O Lord, and I will walk in Your truth... I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart... For great is Your love towards me’(5,11-13). God loves us. He forgives our sins. We receive His love. We want to love Him more. His love inspires our praise - ‘I will praise You...’. His love inspires our prayer - ‘Teach me Your way...’. Our whole life is to be a celebration of His love - ‘Great is Your love towards me’. We are to celebrate His love with ‘joy’(4). We rejoice in the Lord because of who He is- ‘You, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness’- and what He has done for us - ‘You, O Lord, have helped me and comforted me’(15,17).
87:1-7- ‘Glorious things are said of you, O city of God... The Lord will write in the register of the peoples: “This one was born in Zion”. As they make music they will sing, “All my fountains are in You”’(3,6-7). The ‘city of God’ is our glorious destination - ‘we are looking for the city that is to come’, ‘the Holy City’(Hebrews 13:14; Revelation 21:2). It is also the place of our heavenly birth - ‘This one was born in Zion’. The heavenly birth - This is where our journey to the ‘city of God’ begins: ‘No one can see the Kingdom of God without being born from above’(John 3:3). Between our heavenly birth and our glorious destination, there is life in the Spirit: The Psalmist says, ‘All my fountains are in You’. Jesus says, ‘Rivers of living water shall flow from the heart of anyone who believes in Me’(John7:38).
88:1-18- The Psalmist is really ‘down in the dumps’. He feels like he is ‘in the depths of the Pit”, He feels like he is ‘in the darkest depths’(6). This is the way he feels, but he has not stopped praying - ‘O Lord, the God who saves me, day and night I cry out before You... I call to You, O Lord, every day... I cry to You for help, O Lord; in the morning my prayer comes before You’(1,9,13). His prayer doesn’t make pleasant reading: ‘My soul is full of trouble... I am like a man without strength... Your wrath lies heavily upon me... the darkness is my closest friend’(3-4,7,18). How can we be helped when we feel like this? We can be helped by Jesus. He knows what it feels like. For us, He has entered the ‘darkness’- ‘My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?’. For us, He has triumphed - ‘risen from the dead’(Matthew 27:45-46; 28:5-7).
89:1-37- ‘I will sing of the Lord’s great love for ever; with my mouth I will make known Your faithfulness through all generations’(1). Many years have passed since these words were written by the Psalmist. Many generations have come and gone since Jesus Christ came to our world. The years come and go. The centuries run their course. One generation gives way to another generation. Time moves on relentlessly. None of us can halt the march of time. Many changes have taken place over the course of time. There is something which must never change. The Lord is to be praised ‘for ever’. He is to be praised ‘through all generations’. We must look back and remember. Jesus Christ was crucified for us. Jesus Christ has risen for us. This is the Good News which inspires our praise: ‘I will sing of the Lord’s great love for ever...’.
89:38-90:17- ‘Lord, You have been our dwelling place throughout all generations... From everlasting to everlasting, You are God’(1-2). The Bible begins with the words, ‘In the beginning, God...’. Before the world began, there was God - ‘the eternal God’. He is ‘the high and exalted One’. He is the God ‘who inhabits eternity’. He is the God ‘who lives for ever’. He has no beginning. He has no end. He is ‘the beginning and the end’. Our life on earth has a beginning. It has an end. Trusting in ‘the eternal God’, we rejoice in His precious promises - ‘The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms’; ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love’; ‘The free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord’(Genesis 1:1; Deuteronomy 33:27; Isaiah 57:15; Revelation 21:6; Jeremiah 31:3; Romans 6:23).