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Bible Commentaries

Trapp's Complete Commentary

Psalms 81

Verse 1

Psalms 81:1 « To the chief Musician upon Gittith, [A Psalm] of Asaph. » Sing aloud unto God our strength: make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob.

Upon Gittith ] An instrument brought from Gath, or used by Obed Edom, the Gittite; or a psalm to be sung at the vintages, i.e. at the Feast of Tabernacles. It containeth a solemn thanksgiving (for which cause also that feast was instituted), with so great joy, that Plutarch took occasion therehence to write, but falsely, that the Jews did then keep a feast, or holy day, to Bacchus, ωσχοφορια .

Ver. 1. Sing aloud unto God ] Be loud and large in his praises, set them forth cheerfully and courageously. God loveth zeal in all his services, In symposio gaudium cantu accendite.

Verse 2

Psa 81:2 Take a psalm, and bring hither the timbrel, the pleasant harp with the psaltery.

Ver. 2. Bring hither the timbrel ] These instruments then used in God s service (as a part of the Jewish pedagogy) were types of that spiritual joy which we should express in holy duties, no less than if we heard the most exquisite music. There should be continual music (habitual joy) in the temple of the Holy Ghost.

Verse 3

Psa 81:3 Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.

Ver. 3. Blow up the trumpet in the new moon ] And the like at other solemn feasts, three whereof (all in the seventh month to be kept) Beza thinketh to be here plainly and distinctly noted. These feasts were a shadow of things to come, but the body is in Christ, Colossians 2:16-17 .

Verse 4

Psa 81:4 For this [was] a statute for Israel, [and] a law of the God of Jacob.

Ver. 4. For this was a statute ] The keeping of it therefore is not arbitrary, but necessary: Aut faciendum aut patiendum.

And a law ] Which was to be kept as the apple of the eye, Proverbs 7:2 .

Verse 5

Psa 81:5 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.

Ver. 5. This he ordained in Joseph ] Put for all Israel, as Psalms 80:1 , though the Chaldee understandeth it of Joseph in person, and the next words of his going through the land of Egypt to gather corn in the seven plentiful years, and that at his first coming into Egypt he understood not their language.

When I heard a language ] Idolatrous language, say some, contrary to the language of Canaan: this God knew not, that is, liked not, Isaiah 19:18 ; or, rather a strange foreign language, which is no small grievance, Jer 5:15 Ezekiel 2:6 1 Corinthians 14:11 , to those especially who understand no otherwise than by blows, as beasts do men.

Verse 6

Psa 81:6 I removed his shoulder from the burden: his hands were delivered from the pots.

Ver. 6. I removed his shoulder from the burden ] From the woeful slavery of Egyptian tyrants and task masters, Sordidissimo ministerio.

His hands passed away from the pots ] Or baskets, wherein was carried earth for brick clamping and pot making, &c., whereunto they were so close tied that they might not stir a foot from their daily work, till God delivered them. Some say that the pyramids were built by them.

Verse 7

Psa 81:7 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.

Ver. 7. Thou calledst in trouble ] Their trouble called, though themselves had been silent. I have seen, I have seen the afflictions of my people, &c., but they cried to the Lord at the Red Sea, Exodus 14:10 ; Exodus 14:15 , and were delivered.

I answered thee in the secret place of thunder ] i.e. In the pillar of cloud that stood between the two armies, and thundered against the Egyptians, Exodus 14:24 ; confer Lamentations 3:44 .

I proved thee at the waters of Meribah ] When thou hadst but newly foot out of snare, and yet there and then thou showedst thyself. O thine ungratefulness, &c. This hath been thy manner from thy youth.

Verse 8

Psa 81:8 Hear, O my people, and I will testify unto thee: O Israel, if thou wilt hearken unto me;

Ver. 8. Hear, O my people, &c. ] Notwithstanding thy many and mighty provocations at Meribah and elsewhere, I made a covenant with thee at Mount Sinai, and gave thee right judgments and true laws, good statutes and commandments, Nehemiah 9:13 .

Verse 9

Psa 81:9 There shall no strange god be in thee; neither shalt thou worship any strange god.

Ver. 9. There shall no strange god ] This is the first and chief commandment, wherein all the rest are contained, saith Luther.

Verse 10

Psa 81:10 I [am] the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.

Ver. 10. Open thou thy mouth wide, &c. ] If thou be straitened, it is not in me, but in thine own bowels; he secretly taxeth them for their ολιγοπιστια and their ολιγοφυχια in prayer, their faithlessness and faint-heartedness, whereby they do deny, as it were, their own prayers: ask largely, and speed accordingly.

Verse 11

Psa 81:11 But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me.

Ver. 11. But my people would not hearken ] Here beginneth the second part of the psalm, which is objurgatory, and very suitable to the season of the year at that feast, that if it were a fruitful year the Israelites might see and acknowledge God’s goodness therein; as, if otherwise, they might accuse themselves, and not the Lord.

Israel would none ] Heb. acquiesced not in me, was not well affected to me, but had hearts full of harlotry, Perplexis cogitationibus (Vat.).

Verse 12

Psa 81:12 So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: [and] they walked in their own counsels.

Ver. 12. So I gave them up ] I left them as a ship without a rudder; as a horse without reins, to go whither they would, and do what they would. This is a fearful judgment ( poena rebellionis maxima ), Hos 4:14 Rom 1:28 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 .

And they walked in their own counsels ] To their own ruin, because they took counsel, but not of God, and covered with a covering, but not of his Spirit, that they might add sin to sin, Isaiah 30:1 .

Verse 13

Psa 81:13 Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, [and] Israel had walked in my ways!

Ver. 13. Oh that my people had hearkened unto me ] A wish after the manner of men; to set forth God’s great desire of our welfare, which he here uttereth, as it were, with a sigh and a groan.

Verse 14

Psa 81:14 I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries.

Ver. 14. I should soon have subdued ] I would have turned the scales, and made them as much overweight to their enemies as they were to them.

And turned my hand, &c. ] God, with a turn of his hand, can overturn his enemies, and relieve his little ones, Zechariah 13:7 . If he but spread forth his hands, as a swimmer spreadeth forth his hands to swim, he shall bring down the pride of oppressors together, Isaiah 25:11 .

Verse 15

Psa 81:15 The haters of the LORD should have submitted themselves unto him: but their time should have endured for ever.

Ver. 15. The haters of the Lord should have submitted ] Heb. lied, that is, yielded feigned obedience, as Psalms 18:44 .

But their time should have endured for ever ] i.e. Their strength, saith the Chaldee; their tranquillity and prosperity, say others. Theodoret referreth it to the enemies thus: The time of their calamity shall endure for ever, they shall be eternally miserable.

Verse 16

Psa 81:16 He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat: and with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee.

Ver. 16. With the finest of the wheat ] Heb. With the fat or marrow of wheat, with the choicest of picked nourishment.

And with honey, &c. ] Hyperbole incomparabilis felicitatis et foecunditatis. See Deuteronomy 32:13 , shadowing out the sweetness of the word and sacraments.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 81". Trapp's Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.