Given Over

“So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart, to walk in their own counsels.”

Psalm 81:12

What could possibly provoke the Shepherd of Israel to say such a thing to the people He loves? The answer is in the earlier verses of the Psalm. Psalm 78 gives much more detail. The Lord had spoken to Israel through Moses and the prophets. They had His word but they would not hear or heed. Instead they preferred their own counsel.

Israel’s determination to do what was right in their own eyes led the Lord to cry out. “O Israel, if you will listen to Me!” (v 8). In the next verse we read that Israel had forsaken the first commandment which implies they had forsaken all Ten. Whenever we place our wisdom ahead of God’s word it reveals that we think ourselves wiser than our Creator. What an absurdity!

Sadly, we all too often hear that some in the professing church are doing the same as Israel. They take the counsel of men that is contrary to the Bible and, in so doing, they are claiming to be wiser and a greater authority than their Creator (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16, 17). The Bible is to be the measure of our lives. It is the height of arrogance for any created being to think that he knows better than his Creator. If people persist on this course Paul writes, “As they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God give them over to a debased mind” (Romans 1:28).

What would have been if Israel had listened to and heeded the word of the Lord? “He would have fed them with the finest of wheat; and with honey from the rock I would have satisfied you” (v 16). Instead of receiving all the good things the Lord desired to give, their stubbornness to hear and heed the Lord meant that He gave them over to their own counsel and they reaped accordingly.

Christians are in a similar situation. The world is trying to coerce us into its mould and we must decide: will we hear and heed God’s word or will we arrogantly think we know better and accept the world’s counsel? Consider what would have been for Israel had they obeyed the Lord and what they suffered because of their arrogance. The church is also suffering because so many have replaced God’s word with their own wisdom and rejected the wisdom and authority of the Lord. “Oh, that My people would listen to Me” (v 13).