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Bible Commentaries

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

Psalms 81

Verses 1-2

Asaph summoned the Israelites to sing joyfully to God their strength with musical accompaniment.

Verses 1-5

1. A call to the celebration 81:1-5

Verses 1-16

Psalms 81

This psalm is a joyful celebration of God’s deliverance of His people. The Israelites probably sang it at the Feast of Tabernacles, since it is a review of God’s faithfulness and focuses especially on the wilderness wanderings. [Note: A. Ross, p. 853.] The Feast of Tabernacles reminded the Israelites of this period in their history.

"Psalms 81 is a close companion to Psalms 50. If anything, the lines of the argument are even clearer here." [Note: Brueggemann, p. 92.]

Verses 3-5

He called on them to participate in a festival. The Israelites blew trumpets and offered sacrifices at the beginning of each new month, and each month began with the new moon (Numbers 10:10; Numbers 28:11-15). The Feast of Tabernacles was a joyous occasion that began on the fifteenth day of the seventh month (September-October) when the moon was full (Leviticus 23:34). God required the Israelites to observe these occasions. He began to specify these national festivals when He gave the Israelites instructions concerning the Passover (Exodus 12). Back then, this instruction was completely new to the nation, as though it was a voice they had never heard before.

Verses 6-7

God had told His people that He was freeing them from their bondage as slaves in Egypt. They had cried out to Him in their distress, and He answered them from heaven.

"To judge by this model, it is good to recall God’s answers with some sharpness of detail." [Note: Kidner, Psalms 73-150, p. 294.]

Then He tested them at the waters of Meribah to see if they would trust Him (Exodus 17:1-7), and in order to train them to do so.

Verses 6-16

2. A report of God’s communication 81:6-16

Verses 8-10

These verses summarize God’s revelation to Israel at Mt. Sinai, where He gave them the Mosaic Law.

Verses 11-12

Israel had not kept God’s law, however. Consequently He let His people go their own way (cf. Romans 1) so they would learn to return to Him.

Verses 13-16

Asaph continued to relate God’s account of Israel’s history since the Exodus. If only His people would obey Him, He would subdue their enemies and adversaries. He would also bless them abundantly with prosperity (cf. Deuteronomy 32:13-14). The last verse addresses Israel in the second person and constituted a call to the present generation of readers to follow God faithfully.

It is important to review God’s past grace periodically and regularly, because recalling His faithfulness will challenge His people to remain faithful to Him. This is one of the values of attending church services regularly.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 81". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". 2012.