PSALM 81.

A Joyful Salutation and Godís Response.

To the chief musician upon Gittith, to be sung to the accompaniment of the zitherlike instrument which David brought along from the Philistine city of Gath, a psalm of Asaph, an antiphonal, festal hymn, probably for the celebration of the Passover, God Himself answering the praise of His people by reminding them of their obligations and picturing to them the happy consequences of obedience and loyalty to Him. V. 1. Sing aloud unto God, our Strength, letting exultation sound forth in His honor, to praise Him for His almighty protection; make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob, the only true God, Jacob representing the Church of all times. V. 2. Take a psalm, the summons being addressed to the chorus of Levites to begin their songs of praise, and bring hither the timbrel, the pleasant harp with the psaltery, zither and harp being used largely in the Temple orchestra on account of the pleasing quality of their music. V. 3. Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, the horns, as blown by the priests, being the most prominent instruments on the Feast of the New Moon, the civil new year, on the first of Tishri, Num. 10, 10, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast-day, for trumpets were used on all the great festivals. V. 4. For this was a statute, for Israel, pertaining to the precepts governing the covenant people, and a law of the God of Jacob, fixed by Him to regulate the customs of the feasts. V. 5. This He ordained in Joseph, this one tribe here representing the entire nation, for a testimony, when He went out through the land of Egypt, in preparing for the exodus of His people; for from that time dated the personal intercourse of Jehovah with His people; where I heard a language that I understood not, the psalmist speaking in the name of Israel, states that the fact of a strange language in the mouth of their oppressors in Egypt increased the burden of their slavery. The mention of these facts agreed with the object of the Hebrew festivals, which were to bring the great deeds of God to the remembrance of all believers. The Lord Himself now takes up the strain of the hymn. V. 6. I removed his shoulder from the burden, by setting His people free from the serfdom of Egypt; his hands were delivered from the pots, from the baskets which the children of Israel were forced to carry as hods in transporting building materials for the monuments of Pharaoh. V. 7. Thou calledst in trouble, when the Egyptians oppressed them, and I delivered thee, Ex. 2, 24. 25; I answered thee in the secret place of thunder, literally, the veil of the thunder, the pillar of cloud, from out of which God wrought His wonders at the passage of the Red Sea. I proved thee at the waters of Meribah, testing their faith by the miracle there performed, Ex. 17, 6. 7. Selah. V. 8. Hear, O My people, a most impressive appeal, and I will testify unto thee; O Israel, if thou wilt hearken unto Me! The Lord now states the terms of the solemn covenant between Himself and Israel. V. 9. There shall no strange god be in thee, every form of idolatry being an abomination before Him; neither shalt thou worship any strange god. V. 10. I am the Lord, thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, Ex. 20, 2; open thy mouth wide, to receive the great spiritual blessings due to the people of the covenant, and I will fill it, He alone being able to give the full and lasting satisfaction of peace and blessedness. V. 11. But My people would not hearken to My voice, as events after the giving of the Law showed; and Israel would none of Me, disobedience and self-will being its outstanding characteristics. V. 12. So I gave them up unto their own heartsí lust, their stubbornness, that being Godís punishment upon the stubborn and rebellious of all times; and they walked, were engaged in and with, their own counsels, totally estranged to Jehovah. V. 13. Oh, that My people had hearkened unto Me, and Israel had walked in My ways! In that event their entire history would have had a different cast, and their fate would not have been so sad. V. 14. I should soon have subdued their enemies, whom they were too indifferent to drive out completely, Judg.1 and 2, and turned My hand against their adversaries, to exterminate them altogether. V. 15. The haters of the Lord should have submitted themselves unto Him, brought into subjection by the almighty power of the Lord; but their time, that of the children of Israel, their pleasant relations with the covenant God, should have endured forever. V. 16. He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat, with the richest blessings of His goodness and mercy; and with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee. Cp. Deut. 32, 1-47. Such is the earnest appeal of the Lord as it finds its application in the Church, also of the New Testament, a sermon which should be heeded especially in these last days of indifference and enmity toward God.