Psalm 81:13-16 (ESV)

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.”

God calls out to His people that they would listen to Him and obey Him. And if they would do that He would bless them beyond imagining. He would subdue their enemies and He would feed them sumptuously. Some will turn this into teaching that God never wants you to suffer or endure hardship. It does not mean that. But it does mean that God’s plans for us are for our good. To obey God is better for us than anything we could otherwise do. God’s plans for us are not for our ill. Even if God should allow us to go through very deep water, which He does allow for a great many of His children, this Psalm would still be true. He feeds us with the finest of wheat. We do not live by bread alone and it is right to see in this promise the bread of life. Jesus and the teachings of the Word of God are the finest of wheat. There is such a feast for the soul in walking according to the ways of God.

Do you deny this? Why then do you stay in the faith? Why not leave? What makes us stay? A fear of hell? What robbery we commit against ourselves. Fear of hardship here and now? Life is hard, for both the righteous and the wicked. Better to suffer because of our faith in Christ than for anything else that might cause us suffering. I urge you – find Jesus and His word to be the finest food you can possibly ingest.

Feel the love of God for His children in this text. Note the word “Oh” in verse 13. “Oh” that God’s people would listen. It is a fervent desire of our God that we obey Him. It is His heart’s longing that we be right with Him and that He be able to bless us beyond our imaginings. We therefore can be sure that if we get serious about it He will help us to accomplish real, consistent, habitual obedience. God will not lie to us. He will give us the strength that we need in order to live a life of conformity to Him. God wants what is best for us. He is not a tyrant.

We are the reason that we do not fare better spiritually. We worry and doubt and fear – and it hurts us. God has better for us. Don’t you want a heart that constantly sings – even when things are headed south? Even when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death? It is not impossible. It is supposed to be the norm. According to this verse one of the reasons that it is not is because we disobey. But we do not believe that. We think we are hunky dory with God and that all our miserableness is due to the hardships we are called to go through. We think He is being hard on us. No. We are being hard on us.

Hardships are not the reason that we find God to be distant or why we need pleasant events in our lives in order to be happy. Hardships take our joy away because what makes us happy is ease. Suffering takes our joy away because comfort is what gives us joy. If God were really the reason that we have joy then we would not lose it, because we always have Him. This does not mean that we will never be sad. But it will alter why we get sad. The sin in the world should break our hearts. Cruelty and abuse and the starving masses should break our hearts. What breaks yours? We should get angry at the devil, at those who lead people astray, at the abuse of the innocent, false teachers and profit mongers, to name but a few. But what makes us angry? Does someone have to step on our toes in order for us to be angry? There is something fundamentally wrong with us. And what it is, is that we do not hunger for the fine wheat that God has prepared for us. We chase after all the wrong things, while at the same time singing about the God. How we need to feel the truth, in the deepest parts of our souls, that God expresses to us in the closing verses of this Psalm.

[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.”

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