Psalm 81 starts with a call to praise God. The call is to praise God on our feast day. One of the feast days in Israel was the Passover, which is alluded to after the introductory call to praise God.
“…when he went out over the land of Egypt.”
Here is the reference to the Passover. And, it was on this day that God made a statute, a rule, a decree.
“I hear a language I had not known.”
The psalmist hears a voice he has not known. Like any well-written piece of literature, the Scriptures speak with more than one voice (why would we expect something less from God’s book?). This paper by Brad Jersak notes four voices. The first three are the voice of the accuser, the voice of the victim, and the voice of the law. These were the voices that psalmist was used to hearing. But, now he hears a voice he had not known before – the voice of the Lamb. When we read Scripture, we must discern which voice is speaking.
“I relieved your shoulder of the burden; your hands were freed from the basket. In distress you called, and I delivered you; I answered you in the secret place of thunder; I tested you at the waters of Meribah.”
The old voices were demanding, each in their own way. The old voices constantly required something from the psalmist. But, this new voice, the voice of the Lamb, relieves and frees. The Lamb comes in the place of darkness and the time of distress and removes the burden of working to please God. This voice does not demand but loves.
“Hear, O my people, while I admonish you! O Israel, if you would but listen to me!”
To admonish is literally to put in the mind or to train by word. If we would just listen to this new voice, the voice of the Lamb, it is trying to correct our thinking on who He is and what He longs for from us. This new voice is calling us to repent, to change the way we think about God, sin, and righteousness.
“There shall be no strange god among you; you shall not bow down to a foreign god.”
Here is the statute, rule, and decree the psalmist spoke of earlier. We shouldn’t listen to any other voice but the voice of the Lamb.
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.”
The God who brought us out of Egypt, out of the world and its ways, the God of the Passover, that’s our God. He longs to feed us. He longs for us to feast on Him, but we must open our mouth wide to receive what He wants to give us.
“But my people did not listen to my voice…so I gave them over to their stubborn hearts.”
We reject the voice of the Lamb. We won’t listen to it. So, God gives us to the other voices until we see the folly of their counsel.
“Oh, that my people would listen to me…I would soon subdue their enemies.”
God is calling us to turn from these other voices. He is calling us to listen to the voice of the Lamb. If we turn, then He will silence these other voices and their demands upon us.
“He would feed you with the finest of wheat, and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”
If you hear the voice of the Lord, of the Deliverer, the Lamb, then you will be fed the finest bread, your mind will be filled with the finest truth, and you will get honey from the rock, sweetness from Christ. You will feast with the Lord and He will satisfy you.