Brian D. Dykstra, teacher at Hope PR Christian School in Walker, MI
“I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it” (Psalm 81:10).
I spent a lot of time with my cousins while I was growing up. It was fun. Several of us were about the same age which allowed us plenty of opportunities for play. An advantage for me in this situation was that I came as close as an only child could to having brothers and sisters, but, since I was not always with them, we did not have to go through the arguments which are mandatory for siblings.
One of our favourite activities was playing basketball. I learned a few things during those contests. The calendar said my cousin Bob was two years older than I, but while he was above average in size and strength, I was below average in those two categories. He seemed four years older. I learned strength is an advantage in athletic competition. I also learned that quickness is overrated because although my quickness allowed me to reach the best spot under the basket first, his strength decreed I was not going to stay there long. My winning percentage against him was not high.
Yet, sometimes, you “just gotta win!” So, one morning during breakfast, I asked, “What’s the record here for eating toast?” I do not remember the answer but it might have been eight or ten. I was determined not to leave the table until I had set a new record and not by just one measly piece of toast either! By applying only a thin layer of butter on each piece of toast and progressively loosening my belt one hole at a time, I consumed thirteen pieces of toast, shattering the old record. I felt firmly ensconced as the toast-eating champ! Desire and appetite had produced astounding results.
Psalm 81:10 causes us to consider our spiritual appetites. The Psalm begins by reminding us of God’s grace in the deliverance of Israel from the cruel bondage of Egypt. The events at the waters of Meribah gave evidence of Israel’s unworthiness to be called God’s people. Their rebellion and stubbornness demonstrated that Israel did not deserve to experience God’s favour. Israel’s history also makes clear that their deliverance could not be attributed to any other god. Israel would give no excuse for idolatry.
God uses His covenant name in verse 10. He is the God who is able to keep all the promises He has spoken to His people. His purposes will not be frustrated by Satan nor by the weak and sinful flesh of His own people. Sacred history affirms God’s ability to save His people.
Regarding the future, we are told to open our mouths wide and God will fill it. If we find ourselves hungry, God is not at fault. He has plenty to give. Those who hunger either have their mouths open only a little or find the bread of the Word disgusting, so they keep their mouths clamped shut. Those who have their mouths open wide by the faith given to them by God, will find their desire for bread completely satisfied.
Our children have that opportunity in our Christian schools. I know the Word is not preached here, nor are the sacraments administered here. Yet, in large part our schools exist because of the preaching of the gospel to His covenant people and our commitment to keep the vows spoken at the sacrament of baptism. Also God’s Word is brought to His people in covenant schools when instruction is given in the light of His truth.
The question is, what appetite do our children have in school? Are mouths open wide because the Triune God has been pleased to allow us to have our own schools? How great is the desire to learn of God’s work in time and creation? If the appetite is small, that which is eaten will be as well.
However, Psalm 81 does not end on a positive note: “But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me.” God had given Israel over to their own sinful lusts. They walked in the ways their earthly wisdom dictated were best. The result was disastrous.
May God give His grace so we learn from what happened to Israel. He is not mocked. As parents must do what we can to send to school children with healthy appetites. As the years of instruction go by, we had better tell them to keep loosening their belts. God will use our schools as part of the means to fill the wide open mouths of His covenant children. By a hearty desire to learn how God’s Word applies to different areas of life and an appetite for the Word which is our guide on earth, God accomplishes the great work of having His people live in covenant fellowship with Him in Jesus Christ.