Nitzavim/Vayelekh Deuteronomy 29:9-31:30
Psalm 65, Psalm 81 respectively
Since we visited Psalm 65 while studying Torah portion 20, Tetzaveh, we shall turn our attention to Psalm 81. Written by Asaf, this psalm is one of the most mysterious. To enumerate some of its mysteries, its language seems to allude to both New moon (verse 4), but the word translated as "full moon" (CJB) is derived from a root meaning "to conceal," or "to cover." Furthermore, verses 6-7 seem to refer to Pesach (Passover). To make matters more enigmatic, Yosef is referred to, but a he is added to his name in the Hebrew. The CJB is one of the few English versions that carries this over from the Hebrew. Any one of these could be a fascinating study in and of itself, but the main message of Psalm 81 pleads with us to heed what it has to say.
Verses 7-17 of Psalm 81 contains some of the most poignant words of Scripture as HaShem laments the waywardness of His people. To be specific, verses 10-13 elucidate: "’There is not to be with you any foreign god; you are not to worship an alien god. I am [ADONAI] your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt. Open your mouth, and I will fill it.' But my people did not listen to my voice; Isra'el would have none of me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to live by their own plans." This is eerily similar to what our L-rd Yeshua says as He bewails Yerushalayim
(Jerusalem): ""Yerushalayim! Yerushalayim! You kill the prophets! You stone those who are sent to you! How often I wanted to gather your children, just as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, but you refused! Look! God is abandoning your house to you, leaving it desolate. For I tell you, from now on, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of [ADONAI].'"" (Matthew 23:37-39) From these two passages alone, we come to the realization that it is dangerous for us to harden our hearts.
Woe betide the soul who hears Heaven say, "If that’s what you want." Much as HaShem longs for us to heed His Voice and be obedient, He will not plead with us forever. There will come a point when we are handed over to the very thing after which we chase and its bitter consequences. Even this, though, is the incredible mercy of HaShem. Better that we face some form of discipline here in this life than when we stand before the Judgment Seat of Messiah Yeshua, when all is said and done, and it is too late to turn from our rebellion. It is not G-d’s will, after all, that any should perish, but that all should repent (Lamentations 3:33; 2 Peter 3:9).
As we continue in this season of repentance culminating in Yom Kippur, let us consider the exacting price of a wayward heart. If we choose to surrender our will for His will, we will be spared a lot of grief and heartache both in this life and in the world to come. As it is written: "Don't delude yourselves: no one makes a fool of G-d! A person reaps what he sows. Those who keep sowing in the field of their old nature, in order to meet its demands, will eventually reap ruin; but those who keep sowing in the field of the Spirit will reap from the Spirit everlasting life." (Galatians 6:7-8) Even G-d’s judgment and wrath are rooted in His mercy, but it is unwise to take that mercy for granted.