He established it as a statute for Joseph
when he went out against Egypt,
where we heard a language we did not understand.
He says, “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. Selah
“Hear, O my people, and I will warn you—
if you would but listen to me, O Israel!
You shall have no foreign god among you;
you shall not bow down to an alien god.
I am the LORD your God,
who brought you up out of Egypt.
Open wide your mouth and I will fill it. (Psalm 81:5-10)
It’s hard not to become cynical. Shortly after the Israelites had received manna from God, they were running short of water. Moses struck the rock of Horeb and water came out to supply the needs of the people of Israel. The place was ever after called Massah and Meribah; Massah meant “testing” and Meribah meant “quarreling.” The names signified the complaining and doubt of the Israelites.
God reminded them how he had taken care of them in the past. He reminded them how there was nothing in their behavior that would motivate someone to take care of them. But when they had asked for his help, he had given it to them. In response, all he expected was ordinary gratitude. He asked only that they would listen to him and that they wouldn’t worship any other gods.
It should have been natural for the Israelites to respond positively to God. He had cared for them over and over. There should have been no doubts. And he promised them that he was ready to keep on taking care of them. All they had to do was open their mouths, to thank him, to remain faithful to him, and all would be well. God didn’t ask for a lot. God’s burden is light. His yoke is easy. Being thankful for God’s goodness, and for his help, isn’t much for God to expect from us.