Open Your Mouth and I Will Fill It With Honey

Last February Patrick and I became foster parents to the cutest little girl. She was eleven months old at the time, tiny and pale, but full of joy. She is on her way to two years old now. She is a little less tiny, still pretty pale, but absolutely full of love and joy. We are kind of obsessed with her. But here’s the thing: we’re also her parents (going to be adopting her soon !!! ), and she can just be a little pill sometimes. She is precious and fun, but she is also feisty and almost two. So, maybe you can imagine that we don’t just have fun 100% of the time, or at least I don’t. But she is teaching me so much about the Father.

Last week she woke up from a nap just famished because, you know, she hadn’t eaten in two hours. So I fed her a snack of cereal, then some string cheese, but then she saw some grapes on the counter and could not be bothered to think about a single other thing than how badly her body needed grapes. So she’s pointed and yelling, begging for grapes, except she only has like 10 words and none of them are grapes. So mostly, she’s just yelling, as if the only reason she didn’t have grapes yet was that I couldn’t hear her screaming. I tell her to ask nicely and she says, “leese” which is close enough for me. I grab a handful of grapes and begin to cut them into smaller pieces and scrape out the seeds (I don’t why someone bought grapes with seeds). This delay makes it obvious to her that I don’t care for her at all and that I am in fact refusing her request for nourishment. So she yells again, but now with a shriek of resentment in her voice.

At this point, I say, mostly to myself, “Why don’t you just trust me to give you good things? I have always, 100% of the time, given you what you need. I’ve given you food, rest, love, play, warmth. In my eleven months of parenting you, I have always given you what you needed.”

In a moment, I realize that I am just like her. Sitting in my high chair, yelling for grapes (after having eaten a full meal) with no confidence that I will get what I need. Instantly, I am humbled by motherhood, brought low before the goodness of the Father, who knows what I need and always gives it to me. Even when what I need is to be reminded by my screaming child of His provision.

I read Psalm 81 this past summer and have carried it with me since. The past year I’ve grown a lot in my understanding of the Israelites, both their love and zeal and their fickle hearts. I have seen myself in their story in ways that I am not so proud of. Throughout the unfolding story of the Bible, we see the Israelites (God’s people with whom He made a covenant promise to make them into a great nation that would be blessed to be a blessing) in a cyclical pattern. They continually submit to the Lord in worship, then turn to other things. They cry out to God in their distress and need, not trusting Him to provide, but then He does. Psalm 81 is a recounting of their story in a small way.

Sing for joy to God our strength;
    shout aloud to the God of Jacob!
Begin the music, strike the timbrel,
    play the melodious harp and lyre.

Sound the ram’s horn at the New Moon,
    and when the moon is full, on the day of our festival;
this is a decree for Israel,
    an ordinance of the God of Jacob.
When God went out against Egypt,
    he established it as a statute for Joseph.

I heard an unknown voice say:

“I removed the burden from their shoulders;
    their hands were set free from the basket.
In your distress you called and I rescued you,
    I answered you out of a thundercloud;
    I tested you at the waters of Meribah.[c]
Hear me, my people, and I will warn you—
    if you would only listen to me, Israel!
You shall have no foreign god among you;
    you shall not worship any god other than me.
 I am the Lord your God,
    who brought you up out of Egypt.
Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.

 “But my people would not listen to me;
    Israel would not submit to me.
So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts
    to follow their own devices.

“If my people would only listen to me,
    if Israel would only follow my ways,
how quickly I would subdue their enemies
    and turn my hand against their foes!
Those who hate the Lord would cringe before him,
    and their punishment would last forever.
But you would be fed with the finest of wheat;
    with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”

Psalm 81 (emphasis mine)

The Psalmist calls for the people to praise their God, guiding them to reflect on who that God is and hoping to lead them to praise. He identifies the God they are to worship, as the God of Jacob, the Father of their nation. The psalmist then identifies God as the one who “went out against Egypt.” The Israelite people were enslaved in Egypt, under a heavy yoke of oppression. When they cried out the Lord heard them and answered their cries by sending Moses to speak with Pharoah, the Egyptian leader. Pharoah was unwilling to let the Israelites go, so the Lord sent plague after plague until Pharoah relented. Then the Lord walked the Israelites to freedom, even parting the waters of the sea so that they could walk out of Egypt on dry land. The God that the psalmist would remind us of, is the God who brought freedom to the oppressed, safety from the waters, manna from heaven to fill their bellies while in the wilderness.

Then the psalmist says, “He established it as a statue for Joseph.” Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, spent years in prison in Egypt until the Lord raised him up to be the second greatest in all of Egypt. Joseph’s faithfulness to the Lord, his listening ear to the dreams and visions God gave him, meant that Egypt had plenty of food despite a horrific famine in the region. Joseph became the means through which the Lord provided salvation for his people (Joseph’s father Jacob, who would later be called Israel, and his brothers). The psalmist is not asking us to blindly worship a god who is far away, disinterested in us, and fickle. The psalmist is turning our attention back to the history of God and His people so that we might see with great confidence the faithfulness of the Father.

Only after a continued reminder of who God is, does the psalmist write this:

You shall have no foreign god among you;
    you shall not worship any god other than me.
 I am the Lord your God,
    who brought you up out of Egypt.
Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.

Worship the Lord alone; give Him all your honor and praise. He is the God who has been faithful to alleviate oppression and meet your needs. Remember that. And as you remember, open your mouth wide and He will fill it. We can trust that the Father is not subject to change. He has been faithful to His people. He will continue to be faithful. So open your mouth and He will fill it.

But you would be fed with the finest of wheat;
    with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.

Those who worship the Lord, remembering who He is, are “to be fed with the finest of wheat.” He promises to satisfy them “with honey from the rock.” The One True God has led His people out from under oppression, has given them life, and has filled them to fullness with all they need.

So when my daughter yells for grapes, with no trust in me to give her good things, I am reminded of my own idolatrous heart, my forgetful spirit that fails to remember the faithfulness of God. But in that remembrance, I am drawn to repentance and worship. He is the God who is always faithful to His covenant, who will always provide, sustain, and be with His people. Let us repent and believe in the promises of the God who lead the Israelites out of Egypt, who sent the prophets, and ultimately sent the long-awaited Messiah.

It can be so easy to misunderstand our own situation when we are like my daughter. We sit and wait. We see what we want, maybe even what we think we need. Then we ask our Father for it. But the time in between the request and the response can often feel void of interaction or care. It is easy for my daughter to not notice or to misunderstand my delay in getting her grapes for a lack of love or care for her. It is easy for her to not understand that I am taking the seeds out so she won’t swallow them and cutting the grapes into small pieces so she won’t choke. It’s not so easy for her to see the delay as an act of loving response to her request. My daughter will continue to learn that I am reliable, loving, and meet her needs. We must practice the discipline of remembrance so that we might not forget that our Father has always given us good things and will continue to do so. We might not experience all beautiful and easy seasons in life. But we can learn to trust that even in seasons of intense pain, chronic illness, grief, and loss, that our Father has not turned away. He has not left or betrayed us. He will give us the good things that we need. He will be our God; we will be His people.

 

This song is a good reminder to me of these truths.

Standing on this mountaintop
Looking just how far we’ve come
Knowing that for every step
You were with us

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

(Never Once by Matt Redman)