Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray with Me”.
Psalm 81 opens with a hymn of praise, performed with vocals, drums, a stringed instrument (perhaps an ancient ancestor of the guitar) and a unique wind instrument–a ram’s horn. Sounds almost like a modern worship band!
This rollicking celebration at the new moon festival was part of Israel’s constitution–the standard operating procedures given by God when he freed them from Egyptian slavery. God didn’t legislate a culture of dour, straight-laced correctness. He invited people to celebrate, to rock a bit.
He also wanted a culture that honored him as the God who gives freedom. Author Vernard Ellard in his book, The Mad Morality paraphrases God as saying to Israel,
“I’m the God who set you free, right?”
“I’ve adequately demonstrated that your freedom is my prime concern, right?”
“So I’m going to give you 10 suggestions for how to stay free. I’ve dealt with your slavery to Egypt. But beware of other people and other things that offer freedom. Because I’m the only God out there who wants people who are free, not a nation of slaves.” (Paraphrased from Ellard, Vernon. The MAD Morality or the Ten Commandments Revisited. New York: Abingdon Press, 1972. pp. 16-17).
But the people broke God’s rules and his heart by giving their freedom to false gods. Listen to God’s cry:
If only my people would listen to me,
if Israel would only follow my ways,
how quickly I would subdue their enemies
and turn my hand against their foes
I would feed you with the finest of wheat;
with honey from the rock I would satisfy you (vv. 13-14, 16).
Our father, we bring to you the false gods that offer us freedom.
Billionaire Jeffrey Epstein worshipped the god of sex, but ended his life hanging in his prison cell. Lord, help us not to offer our freedom to the god of sex.
We think of the T-shirt that reads, “Don’t mess with my freedom, my firearms, my family, my faith”. Is the wearer confident that if anyone messes with him, he is strong and wise enough to mete out justice with a gun? O Lord, help us not to offer our freedom to the god of individualism, the god of self.
We think of rigid doctrinal purists who are confident they have the right method to interpret scripture, and the right doctrines derived from scripture, and the right morality based on scripture. O Lord, help us not to offer our freedom to the god of rationalism, the god of rigid systems, the god that places our own definition of truth above the command to love you and people and creation.
We think of people who are slaves to conspiracy theories, waiting anxiously for the next cryptic revelation from QAnon or the next announcement of world-ordering decisions from the Illuminati or the next hint of suspicion about which evil actors developed and distributed COVID-19. Lord, help us not to lose our freedom to anxious thoughts and to fearful imaginings about the great evils that stalk our world.
With the poet we pray,
- help us listen to your voice.
- help us believe your words more than all the clamor on the Internet.
- help us rest in the fact that it is you, not the Illuminati nor the wealthy nor the powerful, that rule our world.
- help us hope in your soon coming that will set the world to rights.
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.