Psalm 81 – Mandatory Fun

Bible opened to Psalm 81 with Chuao Caramel Apple Crush Chocolate in hand

WARNING: Melty Chocolate detected! Please dispose of melted chocolate as quickly as possible in the nearest approved  Chocolate Disposal Receptacle.

proper chocolate disposal technique using an approved chocolate disposal receptacle

Today’s passage: Psalm 81

Today’s chocolateChuao Caramel Apple Crush

This is a weird one. It starts with a call to worship, an summons to sing to God and play various instruments for him. You think it’s a psalm of orientation, but then in verse six, the psalmist (Asaph again) starts relaying God’s words, and in essence it’s God speaking for the next eleven verses until the end of the psalm.

And God is sad! “Oh that My people would listen to Me, that Israel would walk in My ways!” (13), he laments. He implies that his people’s troubles with their adversaries come from their refusal to accept his blessing. “Open your mouth wide and I will fill it” (10), he commands.

Which brings us to another weird aspect of the psalm. The psalmist begins, “Sing for joy to God our strength” (1), an invitation to rejoice, but then he gives the reason why: “For it is a statute for Israel, an ordinance of the God of Jacob” (4). It’s a commandment to–I’m having trouble finding the term to express it–do happiness musically. And our gut instinct is to say that you can’t force people to feel happy, but both Asaph and God here seem to think there’s a sense in which you can. Or, more accurately: perhaps they’re saying, “Do this thing, and it will make you happy.” Perhaps as God commands Israel, he leaves them with a choice: accept my love and find joy, or disobey me and remain troubled.

This is a weird one. But, I think, in a good way.


2 thoughts on “Psalm 81 – Mandatory Fun

  1. The Bible is full of so many weird things like this, but really, if you think about it, they’re like real life. Things happen that aren’t great even when the best of things happen, they aren’t happening for everyone. God is still good though.


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