Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Ps 81:1-16. Gittith—(See on Ps 8:1, title). A festal Psalm, probably for the passover (compare Mt 26:30), in which, after an exhortation to praise God, He is introduced, reminding Israel of their obligations, chiding their neglect, and depicting the happy results of obedience.
1. our strength—(Ps 38:7).
Take a psalm, and bring hither the timbrel, the pleasant harp with the psaltery.
2. unites the most joyful kinds of music, vocal and instrumental.
Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.
3. the new moon—or the month.
the time appointed—(Compare Pr 7:20).
For this was a statute for Israel, and a law of the God of Jacob.
This he ordained in Joseph for a testimony, when he went out through the land of Egypt: where I heard a language that I understood not.
5. a testimony—The feasts, especially the passover, attested God's relation to His people.
Joseph—for Israel (Ps 80:1).
went out through—or, "over," that is, Israel in the exodus.
I heard—change of person. The writer speaks for the nation.
language—literally, "lip" (Ps 14:1). An aggravation or element of their distress that their oppressors were foreigners (De 28:49).
I removed his shoulder from the burden: his hands were delivered from the pots.
6. God's language alludes to the burdensome slavery of the Israelites.
Thou calledst in trouble, and I delivered thee; I answered thee in the secret place of thunder: I proved thee at the waters of Meribah. Selah.
7. secret place—the cloud from which He troubled the Egyptians (Ex 14:24).
proved thee—(Ps 7:10; 17:3)—tested their faith by the miracle.
Hear, O my people, and I will testify unto thee: O Israel, if thou wilt hearken unto me;
8. (Compare Ps 50:7). The reproof follows to Ps 81:12.
if thou wilt hearken—He then propounds the terms of His covenant: they should worship Him alone, who (Ps 81:10) had delivered them, and would still confer all needed blessings.
There shall no strange god be in thee; neither shalt thou worship any strange god.
I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.
But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me.
11, 12. They failed, and He gave them up to their own desires and hardness of heart (De 29:18; Pr 1:30; Ro 11:25).
So I gave them up unto their own hearts' lust: and they walked in their own counsels.
Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways!
13-16. Obedience would have secured all promised blessings and the subjection of foes. In this passage, "should have," "would have," &c., are better, "should" and "would" expressing God's intention at the time, that is, when they left Egypt.
I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries.
The haters of the LORD should have submitted themselves unto him: but their time should have endured for ever.
He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat: and with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee.