Psalm 81 (VOICE) 1 Sing with joy to God, our strength, our fortress. Raise your voices to the True God of Jacob. 2 Sing and strike up a melody; sound the tambourine, strum the sweet lyre and the harp. 3 Blow the trumpet to announce the new moon, the full moon, the day of our feast.[b] 4 For this is prescribed for Israel, a rule ordained by the True God of Jacob. 5 A precept established by God in Joseph during His journey in Egypt. I hear it said in a language foreign to me: 6 “I removed the burden from your shoulders; I removed heavy baskets from your hands. 7 You cried out to Me, I heard your distress, and I delivered you; I answered you from the secret place, where clouds of thunder roll. I tested you at the waters of Meribah. [pause] 8 “O My people, hear Me; I will rebuke you. Israel, Israel! If you would only listen to Me. 9 Do not surround yourselves with other gods or bow down to strange gods. 10 I am the Eternal, your True God. I liberated you from slavery, led you out from the land of Egypt. If you open your mouth wide, I will fill it.
The nation of Israel, God’s chosen people, celebrated many festivals honoring God and His provisions. Musicians and poets composed songs specifically for use on feast days – think Christmas carols or patriotic songs on the 4th of July. Psalm 81 is one of those songs.
Psalm 81 was written to celebrate the Festival of Sukkot (which is the festival of tabernacles, shelters, or booths - not phone booths, or booths in a restaurant, this festival is about booths that are closer to tents.
The festival of Booths is celebrated as a reminder of the way that God provided for the Israelites while they were in the desert from the time they left Egypt until they made it to the promised land.
I became aware of the festival of Booths, when we moved to Massachusetts. The church I served there had spend over a decade ‘in the wilderness’ without a permanent home. Because of that, when they finally broke ground on their very own church building, they adopted the festival of Booths (celebrated with a bonfire and campout every September) to help them remember God’s providence, protection, and guidance when they were without a home.
In a way, every time we come together to worship it is a mini festival of Booths. We sometimes think our worship is about giving something to or doing something for God, but our worship is always simply a response to what God has already done. When we intentionally stop, recognize, and respond to what God has done and is doing for us, we are worshiping him.
Sharing God’s Love,
Prayer: Holy, loving God, all that we can offer you is simply to recognize what you have done for us. Cultivate gratitude in us. Amen.