How often do you want your own way? Whether it’s where to go on vacation, how to load the dishwasher, or what time to put the kids to bed, we each like to do things the way we think is best.
That makes us just like the Israelites in the Old Testament.
Each morning I read a Psalm as part of my quiet time. I just go through them in order, then start over when I get to the end of the book. I’m also working through Priscilla Shirer’s devotional Discerning the Voice of God.
One day last week, when the same Psalm I happened to read in my Bible showed up in the devotional section I was on, I figured maybe I’d better pay attention!
It was Psalm 81, and here’s the portion that grabbed my attention. It’s verses 8-16.
Hear, O my people, and I will testify unto thee: O Israel, if thou wilt hearken unto me; There shall no strange god be in thee; neither shalt thou worship any strange god.
I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.
But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me. So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: and they walked in their own counsels.
Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways! I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries.
The haters of the Lord should have submitted themselves unto him: but their time should have endured for ever. He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat: and with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee.
This passage describes the time when God brought the children of Israel out of their bondage in Egypt. When Israel refused to obey Him, God let them have their own way. Needless to say, it didn’t go well for them. They missed so many of the blessings that God had in store for them!
Since we can identify with wanting our own way, I looked for some warnings listed in this passage that we can apply in our own lives.
Keep strange gods out of our lives.
Usually “strange” gods would be those that other nations worshiped, or foreign gods. The Israelites were to be known as a people who worshiped only Jehovah God.
As Christians, I wonder if we often worship the same things our culture does. Are we worshiping the world’s philosophies, their entertainment, their materialism, or their politics?
God wants us to worship Him alone, and to give Him glory for what happens in our lives.
Don’t walk in our own counsel.
If you’re like me, we can get in our own heads and come up with some pretty valid-sounding reasons to do what we want to do. Anytime we have a decision to make, we need to pray and seek Godly counsel, both from God’s Word and from another respected Christian, if needed.
Listen for God’s instruction.
Verse 11 says “But my people would not hearken to my voice…” How are we going to hear God’s voice? Through His Word, the Bible. It’s a simple truth, but we need to read and study our Bible so that we will know what it says and can obey it.
Trust God to give us what’s best for us.
Too often I think I know what’s best for me, but, in reality, I don’t. I don’t see the whole picture like God does, nor do I understand what I need to draw me into a closer relationship with Him. He wants to subdue our enemies and feed us with the finest things, if we will only follow Him.
Realize that true satisfaction only comes as we walk with God.
Our husband, children, friends, ministry or career can’t provide us with what God can. If we’re looking for fulfillment from any of those things, we’re going to be disappointed. God is able to satisfy not only our physical needs, but our spiritual and emotional ones as well.
Here’s my prayer after considering what these verses say.
Dear God, show me any strange gods that are in my life, and help me remove them so that I worship only You. Keep me from walking in my own counsel. Don’t let me have my own way, but help me willingly yield to your guidance.
Let me hear You through Your Word, and then walk in your ways. Feed me in every sense with your best food, and satisfy me daily with your sweetness.