God’s Goodness and Israel’s Waywardness.
To the Chief Musician; set to the [a]Philistine lute. A Psalm of Asaph.
81 Sing aloud to God our strength;
Shout for joy to the God of Jacob (Israel).
Raise a song, sound the timbrel,
The sweet sounding lyre with the harp.
Blow the trumpet at the New Moon,
At the [b]full moon, on our feast day.
For this is a statute for Israel,
An ordinance of the God of Jacob.
He established it for a testimony in [c]Joseph
When He went throughout the land of Egypt.
I heard the language [of One whom] I did not know, saying,
“I removed the burden from his shoulder;
His hands were freed from the basket.
“You called in [the time of] trouble and I rescued you;
I answered you in the secret place of thunder;
I tested you at the waters of Meribah.(A) Selah.
“Hear, O My people, and I will admonish you—
O Israel, if you would listen to Me!
“Let there be no strange god among you,
Nor shall you worship any foreign god.
“I am the Lord your God,
Who brought you up from the land of Egypt.
Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.
“But My people would not listen to My voice,
And Israel did not [consent to] obey Me.
“So I gave them up to the stubbornness of their heart,
To walk in [the path of] their own counsel.(B)
“Oh, that My people would listen to Me,
That Israel would walk in My ways!
“Then I would quickly subdue and humble their enemies
And turn My hand against their adversaries;
Those who hate the Lord would pretend obedience to Him and cringe before Him,
And their time of punishment would be forever.
“But I would feed Israel with the finest of the wheat;
And with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”
- Psalm 81:1 A technical musical term, meaning uncertain.
- Psalm 81:3 Or New Moon, lit covering, i.e. when the moon is “covered” or hidden. This was taken by the ancient rabbis to refer to the festival of the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashana).
- Psalm 81:5 Curiously, in this one verse Joseph’s name has an extra letter, an “h.” In an example of rabbinic lore, the ancient rabbis said that because Joseph sanctified the divine name in private (by resisting Potiphar’s wife) he merited having one letter of the divine name (Yahweh) added to his. Another rabbinic explanation is that when Pharaoh was about to elevate Joseph to power, the astrologers demanded that Joseph speak the 70 languages of the world. The angel Gabriel came to teach him, but Joseph was unable until Gabriel added to his name the extra letter from the divine name.