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Bible Commentaries

Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Psalms 81

Verses 1-16

After a summons to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles (Psalms 81:1-3) this Ps. recalls the meaning of Israel’s national festivals as memorials of their deliverance from Egypt (Psalms 81:4-7). From Psalms 81:6 onward God is the speaker. In Psalms 81:8-10 He repeats His ancient command to Israel to worship Him alone, and in Psalms 81:11-12 He tells of their disobedience and its consequences. The concluding vv. express His desire that Israel may now prove more loyal than of old, that He may bless them with victory over their enemies, and with all outward prosperity (Psalms 81:13-16). There is nothing to fix the date of the Ps., except that the allusion to the feast in Psalms 81:1-3 shows that either the first or the second Temple was in existence when it was written, and that Psalms 81:14-15 point to a tirae when Israel was confronted by enemies. It was after the return from the exile that the Feast of Tabernacles came into greatest prominence (Ezra 3:4; Nehemiah 8:13-17; Zechariah 14:16-19).

Title.—Gittith] see on Psalms 8.

3. In the time appointed] RV ’at the full moon.’ The Feast of Tabernacles began on the 15th day of the seventh month (Leviticus 23:34), i.e. at full moon. The beginning of the same month (the new moon) was celebrated by the Feast of Trumpets (Leviticus 23:24).

5. He went out through] RV ’he went over’ (RM ’against’): cp. Exodus 13, etc. ’He’ refers to God. Where I heard.. understood not] rather, ’I heard the speech of one that I knew not,’ i.e. of God. The Psalmist puts himself in the place of the ancient Israelites, and thus introduces the words of God which follow. Before the exodus God had been unknown to Israel by His name ’I Am,’ or ’Jehovah’ (Exodus 3:13-14; Exodus 6:2-8).

6. Pots] RV ’basket.’ Baskets for carrying bricks, etc., are often represented on the Egyptian monuments.

7. Secret place of thunder] the pillar of cloud and fire: see Exodus 14:24. Meribah] = ’Strife’: see Numbers 20:13.

Selah] see on Psalms 3:4.

9. is a quotation of the first commandment (Exodus 20:3; Deuteronomy 5:7).

10. Open thy mouth, etc.] So Orientals feast their favoured guests.

12. And they walked] RV ’that they might walk.’

13-16. The verbs refer to the present—Would hearken.. would walk.. subdue.. turn.. submit.. endure.. feed.. satisfy.

15. The haters of the lord] i.e. Israel’s enemies.

Unto him] probably means ’unto Israel.’

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Psalms 81". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.