Something to do
1. If you have a Bible, read about why Simeon and Levi did not have a part of the *Promised Land. You will find help in Genesis 49:5-7 and Joshua 19:1-9 and all of Joshua 21.
2. When something bad happens to you or your church or your country, pray the words of verse 19.
3. Ask God to be your *shepherd, and to make you one of his *flock. If you can, read Psalm 23 in this series of psalms.
4. Count how many times "*sabaoth" happens in this psalm. Remember what it means: God has armies to give him (and you!) help.
Start The Music!
Jesus said, "Can the bridegroom’s friends be sad when the bridegroom is with them?" (Matthew 9: 15). (A bridegroom is a man getting married.)
(This is) for the music leader.
(It is a psalm) of *Asaph.
v1 Sing to God because you are so happy!
(Do this because) God makes us strong!
Shout aloud to the God of *Jacob.
v2 Start the music! Hit the *tambourine
and make beautiful sounds on the *harp and the *lyre.
v3 Start the New Moon *Festival with the sound of the *shofar.
Do it at the Full Moon (*Festival) also.
v4 For this is a rule for Israel,
something that the God of *Jacob said that we must do.
v5 He told it to *Joseph when he attacked the land of Egypt.
I heard a language that I did not understand.
v6 (It said) "I took the weight off his shoulders.
His hands did not have to carry a heavy basket (any more).
v7 When you had trouble, you called (to me) and I made you safe.
I gave you help from the centre of the storm.
I *tested you at the Waters of Meribah. *SELAH
v8 My people, hear me! You are near to danger.
Israel, I really want you to listen to me!
v9 There should not be another god among you
and you certainly should not go down on your knees to another god.
v10 I am the *LORD your God.
I brought you out of the land of Egypt.
Open your mouth wide and I will fill it".
v11 But my people did not listen to my voice
and Israel did not obey me.
v12 And so I let them follow their own ideas.
They did whatever they wanted to do.
v13 I want my people to listen to me!
I want Israel to walk in my ways!
v14 Then I would quickly beat all their enemies
and fight against all those that are angry with them.
v15 The people that hate the *LORD will be afraid of him
and this will happen for a long time.
v16 But he would feed him (Israel) with the best *wheat
and I would give you (Israel) plenty of *honey from the rock.
The Story of Psalm 81
*Harvest time is when we pick fruit and vegetables. The *Jews had three big *harvest times:
· April, when they picked *barley (to make bread)
· May, when they picked *wheat (also to make bread)
· October, when they picked *grapes (to make *wine). Wine is a drink with alcohol in it.
Psalm 81 is a *Festival Psalm. The *festival was at the time of the *grape *harvest. They called it "the *festival of *tents". *Tents were houses made of animal skins. At the *festival of *tents the *Jews lived for a week in *tents. This taught them how they lived when God took them out of Egypt, hundreds of years before. It told them how good God was to them.
Psalm 81 taught the *Jews that, now God had brought them into their own land, they should have no other gods. Then he would give them help against their enemies, as he did in Egypt.
Some Bible students think that Psalm 81 came from the north part of Israel. Its date was about 750 years before Christ came to the earth.
What Psalm 81 means
Study the psalm in three parts:
· Verses 1 – 4: Now the *Festival
· Verses 5 – 7: What God did in Egypt
· Verses 8 – 16: Trouble when you have other gods
In verses 1 and 4, "*Jacob" is another name for "Israel", so "God of *Jacob" means "God of Israel". Really, there were two *festivals in October, one when the moon was new, the other 2 weeks later when it was full. They are both in verse 3. The second one was the *festival of *tents. Older Bibles may call it "the *feast of booths" or "the *feast of tabernacles".
In verse 5, Bible students are not certain whether the second "he" is *Joseph or God. *Joseph, as *Jacob, is another name for Israel. If it is God, then "attacked" is when God led his people out from Egypt. If it is *Joseph, then we should translate "attacked" as "became great in". "The language" must have been words that God said. Maybe "understand" means "believe"! Verse 6 tells us about the hard work that God’s people did in Egypt. Some parts of the Bible suggest that God lives in storms, verse 7. The Waters (or Lakes) of Meribah were on the way from Egypt to Israel. The story is in Exodus 17:1-7. Bible students think that *SELAH means "stop and pray, or think, or make music".
In verses 8 - 10 ,God speaks to his people. He *warns them (tells them of the danger) of other gods. These gods are false gods, because there is only one *real God. "Open your mouth wide" means "open it as much as you can". "I will fill it" may mean:
· with food, as in verse 16, or
· with the right words to say and pray, not the wrong ones as in verses 10 and 11.
In verse 11 "follow their own ideas" is an English way to say "do whatever they think".
Verses 13 and 14 suggest that "following their own ideas" had brought trouble. The psalm does not say what the trouble was. But it does say that if they obey God the trouble will stop. God would make their enemies obey him, verse 15, and be good to his own people, verse 16.