Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, July 20th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 81

Simeon's Horae HomileticaeHorae Homileticae

Verse 10


Psalms 81:10. I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.

ACCESS to God, and a certainty of acceptance with him, have been amongst the most distinguished privileges of the Lord’s people in all ages. To his ancient people the Jews, God said, “What nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for?” To us, under the Christian dispensation, it is promised, that “wherever two or three are gathered together in the name of Jesus, there will that blessed Saviour be in the midst of them.” None shall “draw nigh to him in prayer, but he will also draw nigh to them,” to answer their prayers. In the psalm before us, God most affectionately encourages his people to come to him, and to enlarge their requests to the utmost extent of their necessities: “Hear, O my people! and I will testify unto thee, O Israel, if thou wilt hearken unto me.” “I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt; open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.”
Here, Brethren, let me call your attention to,


The invitation given us—

How comprehensive the words in which it is contained!
[Here is no limit to our petitions. On the contrary, we are encouraged to extend them to every thing that our souls can desire. Nor is there any limit assigned, beyond which we are not to expect an answer. Whatever we want for body or for soul, for time or for eternity, it shall all be given us, if only we will “approach unto God,” and “make our requests known unto him.”]
And how marvellous the invitation, as sent by God to sinful man!
[God can receive nothing from us: “our goodness can never extend to him.” He is altogether independent of us: and if the whole human race were annihilated this very moment, God would suffer no loss. Neither his honour nor his happiness were in the least diminished, when the fallen angels were cast out of heaven into the bottomless abyss of hell: nor if we were all plunged into the same abyss of misery, would God be in the least affected by it. Yet, behold, He deigns to send us the gracious invitation which we have just heard, and permits even the vilest amongst us to regard it as addressed personally to himself. To every soul amongst us he says, “Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.”]

Listen then with wonder to,


The consideration with which it is enforced—

Surprising encouragement! Mark it,


As referring to God’s ancient people—

[God had brought them out of Egypt with a mighty hand and a stretched-out arm. What an evidence was this of his power! and what a pledge was this of his willingness to do for them all that their necessities might require! Behold the sea opening before them, to give a dry path to them, and to overwhelm in one common ruin every one of their pursuers! Behold the bread given them for forty years by a daily miraculous supply from heaven, and the water from the rock following them in all their way! See them at last established in the Promised Land! Could they ask more than had already been done for them? And if these things had been done notwithstanding all their rebellions, what should they not obtain if they would implore it with all humility from God?]


As comprehending that more wonderful redemption vouchsafed to us

[If the typical redemption from Egypt afforded such encouragement to prayer, what must we think of that redemption which it shadowed forth, even the redemption of our souls from death and hell, by the precious blood of God’s only dear Son? Hear Jehovah saying, ‘I am the Lord thy God, who became a man for thee; who died upon the cross for thee; who bore thy sins in my own body on the tree, that thou mightest be freed from the condemnation due to them, and mightest inherit a throne of glory!’ What a claim is this to our gratitude! what an incentive to the utmost possible enlargement of our petitions! and what an encouragement to our most unshaken affiance! Take the invitation by itself, and it expresses all that we can wish: but take it in connexion with this consideration with which it is enforced, and methinks there will not be one amongst us that will not most cordially accept it, and most thankfully avail himself of the liberty, the inestimable liberty, thus accorded to him.]

But, seeing that this invitation has been so often sent to us,


How amazing is it that any of us can live without prayer!

[Methinks it were almost a libel upon human nature to suppose that there should be any one so stupid and so brutish as to live without prayer; and I ought to make an apology for suggesting even a possibility that such an one may be found in this assembly. Well; forgive me, if in this I have erred: yet I would affectionately put it home to the consciences of all who are here present, and ask, Have you, my Brethren, and you, and you, really sought after God, and spread your wants before him, and implored mercy at his hands, and wrestled with him, as it were, in prayer, for an out-pouring of his Spirit upon you? Have you done it this week past? Have you done it this very morning? Can you call God to witness that you have thus opened your mouth wide before him, in the hope that he would fill and satisfy you with the abundance of his grace? Is there no one amongst you that stands reproved for his neglect of this duty? Yea, rather, are there not some amongst you who have never poured out their souls before God in prayer during their whole life, or, at all events, only under the pressure of some great calamity, which, when it was past, left them in the same careless and obdurate state as before? Perhaps some of you may have repeated some form which you learned in carly life, or may have read some form out of a book: but this is not prayer, if it be unattended with the real desires of the heart: prayer, is not a mere service of the lip and knee, but the effusion of the soul before God in earnest supplication. I lament to think how many there are utter strangers to such holy wrestlings, such sweet communion with their God. Let me, then, remind such persons what sad regret they excite in the bosom of Jehovah; and what bitter regret they themselves also will one day experience in their own bosoms. God says, “O that my people had hearkened to me, and Israel had walked in my ways!” And will not you also, ere long, adopt a similar language, and say, “O that I had hearkened to the voice of my God, and had walked in the ways to which he called me!” And if God contemplate with such regret the blessings which he would have bestowed [Note: ver. 13–16.], with what sad regret will you one day view the blessings you have lost! Be wise in time; and now avail yourselves of the opportunity that is afforded you, “seeking the Lord whilst he may be found, and calling upon him whilst he is near.”]


How lamentable is it that any one should yield to discouragement in prayer!

[What could God say to you, more than he has said; or do for you, more than he has done? St. Paul says, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with Him also freely give us all things?” Only reflect on what he has done, and how impossible it was any fallen creature should dare to ask such things at God’s hands, and you need not fear to enlarge your petitions, to the utmost extent of language to express, or of imagination to conceive. You are not straitened in him; be not straitened in yourselves [Note: 2 Corinthians 6:12.]. Only spread your wants before him freely, and you shall find that “He is able to do for you exceeding abundantly above all that you can ask or even think [Note: Ephesians 3:20.].” Go to him, then, and “pray to him with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit;” yea, “pray without ceasing,” and “give him no rest” till he has answered your requests. But be not hasty to imagine that he will not hear; because he may already have heard and answered in the way most conducive to your good, whilst you are doubting whether he will so much as listen to your petitions. Of course you cannot expect to receive, unless you ask according to his will [Note: 1 John 5:14.]; but, with that reserve only, I assure you, that “ye may ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you [Note: John 15:7.].” Only “ask in faith,” and “according to your faith it shall be done unto you.”]

Verses 11-12


Psalms 81:11-12. My people would not hearken to my voice, and Israel would none of me: so I gave them up.

THE history of the Jews is not a mere record of times and persons far distant from us, but a display of the Divine procedure towards others, as a pledge of a similar procedure towards us. The Jews were intended as examples to the Church of God in all ages: their prosperity whilst serving God, and their adversity when they had departed from him, were designed to shew us what blessings we may expect at God’s hands, if we serve him acceptably; and what judgments, if we rebel against him [Note: See 1Co 10:1-11 and Hebrews 3:16-19; Hebrews 4:1.]. In this view it will be profitable to consider the words before us; and,


The perverseness complained of—

Nothing could exceed the kindness of God towards his people of old—
[How tender and affectionate is his address to them [Note: ver. 8.]! — — — He entreats them not to look to any strange god, since he alone has an exclusive right to their regard [Note: ver. 9, 10.] — — — He assures them also, that whatsoever they shall ask at his hands, he will do it for them [Note: ver. 10. with Deuteronomy 4:7.] — — —

And is it not precisely in the same way that he addresses us? He invites us to look to him [Note: Isaiah 45:22; Isaiah 55:1-3.], and to come unto him [Note: Matthew 11:28.], and to ask of him whatsoever we will, with an assurance that we shall not be disappointed of our hope [Note: John 14:13-14; John 15:7.]. There is no limitation or exception, provided only the things we desire be agreeable to his holy will. If we plead with him in earnest, there is no sin that shall not be forgiven [Note: Isaiah 1:18.], no corruption that shall not be mortified [Note: Micah 7:19.], no want that shall not be supplied [Note: Philippians 4:19.]. He engages, that, to whatever temptation we may be exposed, his grace shall be sufficient for us [Note: 2 Corinthians 12:8-9.].]

But their obstinacy was incorrigible—
[The Jews, with but few exceptions, “would not hearken to his voice.” His precepts, his promises, his threatenings, were alike disregarded by them. “They would none of him;” but said to his messengers whom he sent to reclaim them, “Make the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us” — — —
And is it not thus with us? Is not his authority trampled on by us? and are not both his mercies and judgments almost universally despised? We will have other objects of our affections in preference to him — — — We will not open our mouths in prayer, though we know that nothing is to be obtained without it — — — The language of our hearts and actions is, “We will not have this man to reign over us [Note: Luke 19:14.]” — — — Notwithstanding all that he has done to “redeem” us from death and hell, we will not take upon ourselves his light and easy yoke.]

While we thus imitate the perverseness of the Jews, let us tremble for fear of,


The judgments inflicted on account of it—



What a loss they sustained—

[He would have preserved them in Canaan, and loaded them with all imaginable blessings, even as he had done in former times [Note: Deuteronomy 32:29.] — — —

But this was a very faint shadow of what he would do for us. What victory would he have given us over all our spiritual enemies! — — — What a fulness of consolation and joy also would he have bestowed upon us, in the communications of his grace, and the manifestations of his love! Surely his Spirit, as “a Spirit of adoption,” should have “witnessed with our spirits that we were his,” and should have “sealed us unto the day of redemption” — — —]


What misery they incurred—

[God gave them up to idolatry, and to their own hearts’ lusts; and left them to “walk in their own counsels [Note: See Romans 1:24; Romans 1:26; Romans 1:28. “So I gave them up.”]” — — —

And this is the curse which he denounces against us also. “His spirit will not always strive with us.” If he see that we are bent upon our evil ways, he will abandon us to our own delusions [Note: 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12.], and will say, “He is joined to idols, let him alone [Note: Hosea 4:17.]” — — — A greater curse than this God cannot inflict, because our remaining days will be occupied only in augmenting our guilt and aggravating our condemnation [Note: Romans 2:5.] — — — Were the judgment only to deliver our bodies to Satan now, that might load to our final salvation: but to give us over to the uncontrolled influence of self, is a certain prelude to our everlasting damnation. It is, in fact, the very beginning of hell, where it will be said to the unhappy souls, “He that is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is unjust, let him be unjust still [Note: Revelation 22:11.].”]

Hence it appears,

Whose will be the fault, if any be lost—

[None can lay it to the charge of God that he is unwilling to save them. He has sworn with an oath that he willeth not the death of any sinner [Note: Ezekiel 33:11. 1 Timothy 2:4.]. And in the psalm before us he takes up a lamentation over those who obstinately compel him to give them up [Note: ver. 13.]. Thus did our blessed Lord over the murderous Jerusalem [Note: Luke 19:40-41.]: and thus does he over all impenitent transgressors; “Ye will not come unto me that ye may have life [Note: John 5:40.].” “Often would I have gathered you, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings; but ye would not [Note: Matthew 23:37.].” And what a bitter source of self-condemnation will this be to us, that God would have saved us, but we would not be saved by him! The language which God now uses over us, we shall then use in reference to ourselves: “O that I had hearkened to his voice! O that I had walked in his ways!” How should I have been at this instant triumphing over my cruel adversary, and feasting on all the richest fruits of paradise, instead of dwelling with everlasting burnings, without one drop of water to cool my tongue! Surely this reflection will bo the bitterest ingredient in that bitter cup, which they who perish will be drinking of to all eternity.]


Whose will be the glory, if any be saved—

[We never come to Christ, till the Father, by the mighty working of his power, draws us to him. Such is the pride of the human heart, that no man will submit to be saved by grace alone, till God has made him “willing in the day of his power.” If therefore we have been brought to hearken to his voice, let us remember Who it is that has unstopped our ears.
If it be said, We prayed for these blessings; and therefore we at least may glory that the blessings do not come to us unsolicited; we would ask, Who inclined or enabled us to pray? We should never have been inclined to pray, if God had not given us a spirit of grace and of supplication; “nor should we have known what to pray for as we ought, if He by his Spirit had not helped our infirmities.” If still it be said, “Yet we prayed;” Be it so: but how long were you before you prayed at all? And what have been your prayers since ever you began to pray? Are you not amazed when you review your prayers, and see how cold, and dead, and formal they have been? What if a beggar had asked of you in the way that you have but too often asked of God? Would you have granted his request? or, if you had granted his request, and not only relieved his present necessities, but conferred upon him one half of your fortune, would you not be surprised, if he, instead of admiring your unequalled generosity, were taking credit to himself for asking relief from you? Know then, that if you are partaking of God’s mercy, you are no other than “beggars, who have been taken from the dunghill, and set among the princes.” Know, that ye are altogether debtors to the grace of God, and must ascribe to him “the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever.”]

Bibliographical Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Psalms 81". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/shh/psalms-81.html. 1832.
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