Psalm 81

Read: Psalm 81: 1 – 3; Hebrews 10:24 – 25; Exodus 15:21; Psalm 7:17; Psalm 9:11

The two great intentions of our services of worship are examined in Psalm 81: 1) to give glory to God and 2) to receive instruction from God.  In the process of this examination of worship, the psalmist gives us a picture of proper worship. In Psalm 81: 1 – 3 we see that proper worship involves a methodology and a schedule. The methodology involves “making a joyful noise” – singing aloud, using musical instruments.  The schedule of worship is simply put:  “In the appointed time” — regularly, according to the times and seasons set by God’s Law.  

Think About It: Why is music important in worship?  Feast days and fast days were set by Old Testament law for the Jews; what are the worship requirements for the church? Am I an enthusiastic participant in worship?

Prayer: That my participation in worship be enthusiastic, whole-hearted.


Read: Psalm 81:4 – 7; Genesis 32:24 – 32; Exodus 17:7; Numbers 20:13; Hebrews 12:5 – 11

Psalm 81:4 – 7 shows us that proper worship is centered in God.  We praise, thank, glorify, and bless God for who He is and for what He has done. Psalm 81 defines who God is as “the God of Jacob.” What God has done for us is explained as delivering us (v. 6); answering our prayers (v. 7); providing for us and purifying us (v.7).

Think About It:  What was the behavior of the Hebrews like at Meribah? What did God provide for Israel at Meribah? How does the Meribah incident apply to my relationship with God?  What does it suggest regarding the worship of God?

Prayer: Thank God for caring enough about me to exercise discipline when it is needed.


Read: Psalm 81:8; Exodus18:19; Deuteronomy 7:12, 11:13 – 15; Hebrews 12:25

Psalm 81:8 shows us that in proper worship we hear and obey God.  God speaks to us as we worship. He expects us to listen, and He wants us to respond with  obedience. (James 1:22 – 25).  To recognize that we have heard the voice of God, and then to ignore what we have heard, must be worse than never hearing at all.

Think About It: Through what means do I hear God’s voice when I worship?

Am I a doer of the word?

Prayer: That I might be both a hearer and doer of God’s word.


Read: Psalm 81:9; Exodus 20:1 – 6; 1 Corinthians 10:14; Colossians 3:5

Psalm 81:9 shows us that in proper worship we cast down idols. Turning towards God in worship must necessarily involve turning away from idols. An idol is anything that we put in the place of God; anything to which we ascribe worth that is not God; anything from which we derive self-worth that is not God.  

Think About It: Idols in ancient times were easily identifiable: statues of Molech, Dagon, Baal.  What are some examples of contemporary idolatry? Have I cast the idols out of my life?

Prayer: That I might turn completely from idols to serve the living God.


Read: Psalm 81:10; Matthew 21:22; John 16:24; James 4:1 – 3

Psalm 81:10 shows us that in proper worship we raise our expectations towards God. God promises to give good things to those who ask.  The psalm tells us that God’s people had failed to ask of Him the blessings He was willing to give.

Think About It: Why would God’s people fail to “open their mouth”? What are some reasons why we may not receive a temporal blessing for which we ask?  

Prayer: Ask God for what I need.


Read: Psalm 81:11 – 12; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Isaiah 33:14; Hebrews 12:22 – 29

Psalm 81: 11 – 12 shows us that proper worship involves a healthy fear of God.

That fear recognizes the danger of revolting against God. How will God deal with us if we revolt against His authority? 1. He will give us up to walking in the lusts of our own hearts; 2. He will give us up to our own counsels.  The worst thing that can happen to us is for us to be controlled by our own lustful, selfish desires, and guided by our own foolish counsels.

Think About It: How can a healthy fear of God be incorporated into a worship experience?  Do I stand in awe of God?

Prayer: That I might give God the reverence and respect due to Him.


Read: Psalm 81:13 – 16

Psalm 81:13 – 16 shows us that proper worship seeks the happiness that comes from fellowship with God.

Think About It: According to Psalm 81:13 – 16, how will God insure my happiness if I walk with Him?  What exactly is He willing to do for me? What does the phrase “honey from the rock” imply about God’s blessings?  

Prayer: That I might desire with all my heart the things God wants for me; that I might find all my joy in walking in fellowship with Him.