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Reading:                                       Psalm 81

For the director of music. According to gittith. Of Asaph.

Verses 1-9

Sing for joy to God our strength;
shout aloud to the God of Jacob!
Begin the music, strike the timbrel,
play the melodious harp and lyre.

Sound the ram’s horn at the New Moon,
and when the moon is full, on the day of our festival;
this is a decree for Israel, an ordinance of the God of Jacob.
When God went out against Egypt,
he established it as a statute for Joseph.

I heard an unknown voice say:

 “I removed the burden from their shoulders;
their hands were set free from the basket.
In your distress you called and I rescued you,
I answered you out of a thundercloud;
I tested you at the waters of Meribah.
Hear me, my people, and I will warn you—
if you would only listen to me, Israel!
You shall have no foreign god among you;
you shall not worship any god other than me
(NIV).

Reflection

Psalm 81 begins with a call for God’s people to celebrate: Sing for joy to God our strength; shout aloud to the God of Jacob! Begin the music, strike the timbrel, play the melodious harp and lyre.

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A celebration in the sky — photo courtesy of Donald Adam

Why should we break forth in music and song? Well, we have a good reason to celebrate. We have been set free from our burdens. Because of the victory of Christ, we have been set free from slavery to sin. The psalmist expresses this thought with these words: I heard an unknown voice say: “I removed the burden from their shoulders; their hands were set free from the basket. In your distress you called and I rescued you.”

Who is that unknown voice? That unknown voice belongs to the LORD. He is the One who set the people free from bondage in Egypt. God went out against Egypt. He opposed the most powerful nation of the world at that time and claimed a people for Himself by rescuing them from the hand of Pharaoh.

Our heavenly Father has done the same for us. At the cost of his life, Jesus redeemed us from bondage to sin and Satan and he brought us into his Kingdom. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:13-14). We have plenty of reasons to celebrate and break forth into music and song. Let nothing hold you back. The joy of the Lord is our strength.

Response: LORD God, I thank you for rescuing me from a life of sin and futility. I praise you for redeeming me. I rejoice in your continual goodness. Amen.

Your Turn: Do you find it difficult or easy to break into song as you think of the Lord’s love for you?