If My People Would Only Listen to Me.

13“If my people would only listen to me, if Israel would only follow my ways, 14how quickly I would subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes! (Psalm 81, 13-14)

The above verses are from Psalm 81, which is one of my favorite Psalms in the Holy Bible. Each time when I come across the above verses it makes me pause and think for a while; because there is something very profound in the above verses. It seems like the Spirit of the LORD is giving us an important key that could help us to fight our enemies.

Psalm 81 unlike most of the other psalms was written by Asaph and not by David. Asaph begins, like many of the psalms of David, this psalm with praises to God Almighty.

1Sing for joy to God our strength; shout aloud to the God of Jacob! 2Begin the music, strike the timbrel, play the melodious harp and lyre. 3Sound the ram’s horn at the New Moon, and when the moon is full, on the day of our festival; 4this is a decree for Israel, an ordinance of the God of Jacob. 5When God went out against Egypt, established it as a statute for Joseph. (Psalm 81, 1-5)

But, after finishing the praises; he, continues by saying: “I heard an unknown voice say:

6“I removed the burden from their shoulders; their hands were set free from the basket. 7In your distress you called and I rescued you, I answered you out of a thundercloud; I tested you at the waters of Meribah. (Psalm 81, 6-7)

Yes, in the above verses the Spirit of the LORD is speaking through Asaph. He describes the good things that the LORD did for the Israelites. As the above verses say:

He set the Israelites free from the slavery of Egyptians. As you know, the Israelites were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt; remember; here, slavery means, real slavery; a kind of slavery that you and I are not familiar with. The Israelites worked 24×7, they were literally suppressed and oppressed.  

They were so burdened that they had no time to take their hands off from their labor baskets. Actually, the Israelites were groaning under the heavy burden imposed on them by the Pharaoh.

But the LORD Almighty heard their groaning and came down to deliver them from the clutches of Pharaoh; and indeed, He delivered them as He promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  

But the Israelites were ungrateful; they rebelled against their God innumerable times both in the desert of Sinai and also in the Promised Land which was really unusual and unreasonable.

In fact, The LORD did not burden them with anything that they could not do; He did not put any unreasonable demands before them; He just demanded only one thing and that was:

9You shall have no foreign god among you; you shall not worship any god other than me. 10I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it. (Psalm 81, 9-10)

Yes, His only demand was “You shall not have any foreign Gods among you; I am the LORD your God who brought you out of Egypt”

But the Israelites were rebellious, they were quick to return to their Idolatry. Actually, there was no reason whatsoever for the Israelites to doubt the love and faithfulness of God. They saw with their own eyes all the great miracles that God did in the midst of them both in Egypt and also in the desert of Sinai.

God Almighty, without any reason for doubt, by His great deeds, proved before them that – He is the LORD their God; but still the Israelites were eager to turn to foreign gods; their feet were quick to return to Idolatry and disobedience.

Again, in verse 11, The Spirit of the LORD says; despite all the miracles; the Israelites still did not listen to their God who brought them out of Egypt with a mighty hand an out-stretched arm.

11“But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me.( Psalm 81, 11)

Finally, the LORD decides to give them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices which brought a temporary break in the relationship between God Almighty and the Israelites.

12So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices.( Psalm 81, 12)

As you might be familiar with; just imagine what will happen if God withdraws His hands from the lives of His people? That is really scary; right? The moment this happens, obviously, the enemy steps in as it is the golden moment that the devil was waiting for and he begins his oppression.

Now; the Israelites are confronted with enemies from all sides. They are surrounded by their enemies from far and near; even, the nature turns against them. However, the Israelites are insensitive and arrogant; they rely on their own strength to fight their enemies. They seek the help of their idols to deliver them from the hands of their enemies.

They perform rituals and offer sacrifices to their idols to get relief from their enemies; unfortunately, their own strength and their idols could not defeat their enemies.  

Again, we hear the LORD speaking to them through the Psalmist; He says:

13“If my people would only listen to me, if Israel would only follow my ways, 14how quickly I would subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes!( Psalm 81, 13-14)

Yes; as you read in the above verses – The LORD says:

 “If my people would only listen to me and only follow my ways; how quickly I would have subdued their enemies and turn My hand against their foes.”

Saints, next let us examine how the situation described in psalm 81 relates to us, believers in Christ:

Well, first of all; we could find  a similarity between us, believers in Christ, and the ancient Israelites. As they were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, we too were slaves of a spiritual Pharaoh called Satan. He kept us under slavery and oppression. Those days we did not know the difference between right and wrong. We obeyed every word of this pharaoh which brought more misery and suffering into our lives.

But God Almighty heard our groaning and came down from Heaven to set us free. He delivered us from the hands of this Pharaoh. The LORD, as He did in the lives of Israelites, set our hands free from the baskets of Pharoah. He brought us also into a spacious land.

However, many of us, like the Israelites have turned away from God; many have turned to other gods seeking quick blessings and easy solutions for their problems. Many have brought into their hearts and homes things that are abominable in the eyes of God Almighty. Many have put their trust back in the idols of Egypt that once they served.

Sometimes, like the Israelites, many of us too, when facing challenges in life, look for quick solutions. We too begin to doubt the faithfulness of God in times of difficulties.

In extreme cases many even turn to Idolatry. For a moment, they tend to forget the fact that: the LORD Almighty is “God Almighty” and He was the one who brought them out of the land of Slavery.

Saints, I am not describing anything strange; this truly happens in the lives of many born-again believers. Sometimes; it compels God Almighty to withdraw His hands from our lives when we doubt His faithfulness and search for solutions from ungodly sources. Unfortunately, the enemy steps in when this happens and our lives become more miserable.

If you look around; you will find many born-again believers suffering just for the reason that they have done things that challenge the Authority of God in their lives. In times of difficulties they looked for help from ungodly sources that eventually took control of their lives.

Sometimes, believers think – they, themselves, with the help of their money, power and relationships can deal with their enemies that have surrounded them.

Saints; these enemies can come in different forms; it can be diseases, financial difficulties; challenges at work places; family problems; issues in marriages etc.

Here what we need to bear in mind is – these enemies often get their strength from the spiritual realm; they are not troubling you with their own strength but with the strength they get from the dark forces.

But, how do you deal with an enemy that has links to the spiritual realm? Here, undoubtedly you need the power of God Almighty to subdue them and you should be spiritually sensitive enough to figure this out.

Of course, there are times when we go through difficulties because of natural reasons; we might get sick or have issues in relationships but we might find it easy to handle them and they will not overwhelm you.

However, when these issues become too persistent and begin to overwhelm you, then, you need to understand that: there is a higher power behind them and you should seek the power of God Almighty.

As I mentioned in the beginning; psalm 81, verse 13 gives us the key to deal with  these types of situations and that key is: Listening to God and following His ways. 13“If my people would only listen to me, if Israel would only follow my ways, 14how quickly I would subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes! ( Psalm 81, 13-14)

Yes, when we listen to our God and follow His ways; then, our enemies will become His enemies and He will subdue them quickly.

Here you might wonder – “how I do this”

Yes, it is by obeying the Commandments of God with all your heart. It is by living your life according to the Word of God. It is by saying good-bye to everything that have taken the place of God in your life. When this happens; you will find your enemies disappearing like a mist.

Stay Blessed

 

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