Turn Up Your Ears: A Plea from Psalms 78 + 81
Hear, O my people, while I admonish you!
O Israel, if you would but listen to me! (Psalm 81:8, ESV)
Last summer, a young friend once asked me to summarize the entire Bible. She was asking me a lot of questions related to my time with the Lord and how I studied my Bible. “I mean, it’s really long and mostly confusing. I just want to know what it’s all about...” and she shrugged her shoulders like perhaps she didn’t care. But I knew she did.
“Well, that is an awesome question. If I had to summarize the Bible in one word, it would be “redemption.” It’s the good news about God’s plan to restore what humanity destroyed.”
“Everything in Scripture points to that plan of redemption. And that plan is Jesus. But the Bible is also about the people who need Jesus. There are basically two types of people in Scripture: those who listen to Him and those who don’t. God records the results to each group, which begs us to ask ourselves, “Which one am I?”
As I read through Psalm 81 this week, it felt as if God dropped down face-to-face with me and exposed His heart through this message to Israel:
10 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.
11 “But my people did not listen to my voice;
Israel would not submit to me.
12 So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts,
to follow their own counsels.
13 Oh, that my people would listen to me,
that Israel would walk in my ways!
14 I would soon subdue their enemies
and turn my hand against their foes.
15 Those who hate the Lord would cringe toward him,
and their fate would last forever.
16 But he would feed you with the finest of the wheat,
and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”
He begins, “I am YOUR God. I brought you out of the land of Egypt.”
It’s easy to brush past that history reminder and forget exactly what God did during the exodus from Egypt (you can read the story in Exodus 12). A little earlier in Psalm 78, God reminds any reader exactly what happened:
11 They forgot his works
and the wonders that he had shown them.
12 In the sight of their fathers he performed wonders
in the land of Egypt, in the fields of Zoan.
13 He divided the sea and let them pass through it,
and made the waters stand like a heap.
14 In the daytime he led them with a cloud,
and all the night with a fiery light.
15 He split rocks in the wilderness
and gave them drink abundantly as from the deep.
16 He made streams come out of the rock
and caused waters to flow down like rivers.
17 Yet they sinned still more against him,
rebelling against the Most High in the desert.
18 They tested God in their heart
by demanding the food they craved.
19 They spoke against God, saying,
“Can God spread a table in the wilderness?”
God cared so intimately for them. He divided seas. He split rocks. He led them in ways they could easily see. He satisfied their thirst abundantly. He made rivers in the desert.
But they scoffed loud -- “Can God spread a table in the wilderness?”
Can God do the impossible?
Sometimes I get easily frustrated by the Israelites. (I forget my heart is just as stubborn.) There are times I want to throw my hands in the air and demand them to OPEN YOUR EYES. TURN UP YOUR EARS. Just LOOK around you, Israelites! See what He has done for you! He gives! He provides! He leads!
… but they aren’t listening.
If I’m not careful, I can close my Bible and muse on the stupidity of the Israelites while my heart slips into the same mistakes they made. Life throws curveballs, as they say. We all walk through deserts and wastelands. And too often I stop listening to God and follow my own stubborn counsel.
My Bible stays closed on the kitchen table. I stop seeing His provision in the past. I can’t find Him leading me in ways I can see. I don’t think He can do the impossible. I stop listening.
All the while God says, “Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.” (Psalm 81:10)
“I will provide, I will lead, and I will fill you abundantly IF YOU WILL LISTEN TO ME...”
Girls, if you are looking for provision -- if you need direction -- if you are searching for something, anything, to fill those holes in your heart -- I’ve got one powerful, proven suggestion.
Open your Bible. Listen to God.
8 Let me hear what God the Lord will speak,
for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints;
but let them not turn back to folly.
9 Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him,
that glory may dwell in our land.
Kaysie Strickland is definitely nothing fancy. Jesus found her in a mess and won her with His Words. She feels called to be a servant of the Word and His people through spending her life and words proclaiming the reckless restoration available in the gospel. She is married to her best friend on earth, drinks lots of coffee + tea, constantly rearranges the furniture in her house (God bless her husband), loves gardening and DIY projects, enjoys long conversations over coffee, and loves all the words. You can find her on Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Blog