Ps 81 “It Might Have Been…”
“In the early 1960s, excavators uncovered a manuscript including Psalms 81–85 at Masada, the Jewish fortress on the west side of the Dead Sea. Psalm 81 was sung each Thursday as part of the daily services for worshipers? The author, Asaph, reminds the people that God is pleading with them “if only you would obey me…if only you would submit to me.” Three times God says, “THEN…I would quickly subdue your enemies, THEN I would feed you with the blessings, THEN I would be your satisfaction.” John Greenleaf Whittier’s words say it all: “For all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: it might have been.”
Therefore we are to remind ourselves to learn from the past so that we do not need to repeat it. Today we do it by reviewing the faithfulness of God at regular intervals as we sing for joy, shout joyfully to God, raise a song, and blow the trumpet.
God is saying the same to us: If we would obey, THEN I will open wide the windows of heaven and pour out blessings so great we would not be able to contain them! [Mal 3-author’s paraphrase]
John Stott knew this principle: Do “not to ignore what Scripture taught…but hold fast to the fullness of the Bible’s teachings.” Years may have changed, but the thoughts of yesterday meet our needs of today. Therefore, review and pray this psalm as a way of remembering and praising God.