Psalm 81

For the Chief Musician. On an instrument of Gath. By Asaph.
1 Sing aloud to God, our strength! Make a joyful shout to the God of Jacob! 2 Raise a song, and bring here the tambourine, the pleasant lyre with the harp. 3 Blow the trumpet at the New Moon, at the full moon, on our feast day. 4 For it is a statute for Israel, an ordinance of the God of Jacob. 5 He appointed it in Joseph for a testimony, when he went out over the land of Egypt, I heard a language that I didn’t know. 6 “I removed his shoulder from the burden. His hands were freed from the basket. 7 You called in trouble, and I delivered you. I answered you in the secret place of thunder. I tested you at the waters of Meribah.” Selah. 8 “Hear, my people, and I will testify to you, Israel, if you would listen to me! 9 There shall be no strange god in you, neither shall you worship any foreign god. 10 I am the LORD, your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it. 11 But my people didn’t listen to my voice. Israel desired none of me. 12 So I let them go after the stubbornness of their hearts, that they might walk in their own counsels. 13 Oh that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways! 14 I would soon subdue their enemies, and turn my hand against their adversaries. 15 The haters of the LORD would cringe before him, and their punishment would last forever. 16 But he would have also fed them with the finest of the wheat. I will satisfy you with honey out of the rock.”

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1–7

All the worship we can render to the Lord is beneath his excellences, and our obligations to him, especially in our redemption from sin and wrath. What God had done on Israel’s behalf, was kept in remembrance by public solemnities. To make a deliverance appear more gracious, more glorious, it is good to observe all that makes the trouble we are delivered from appear more grievous. We ought never to forget the base and ruinous drudgery to which Satan, our oppressor, brought us. But when, in distress of conscience, we are led to cry for deliverance, the Lord answers our prayers, and sets us at liberty. Convictions of sin, and trials by affliction, prove his regard to his people. If the Jews, on their solemn feast-days, were thus to call to mind their redemption out of Egypt, much more ought we, on the Christian sabbath, to call to mind a more glorious redemption, wrought out for us by our Lord Jesus Christ, from worse bondage.

Verses 8–16

We cannot look for too little from the creature, nor too much from the Creator. We may have enough from God, if we pray for it in faith. All the wickedness of the world is owing to man’s wilfulness. People are not religious, because they will not be so. God is not the Author of their sin, he leaves them to the lusts of their own hearts, and the counsels of their own heads; if they do not well, the blame must be upon themselves. The Lord is unwilling that any should perish. What enemies sinners are to themselves! It is sin that makes our troubles long, and our salvation slow. Upon the same conditions of faith and obedience, do Christians hold those spiritual and eternal good things, which the pleasant fields and fertile hills of Canaan showed forth. Christ is the Bread of life; he is the Rock of salvation, and his promises are as honey to pious minds. But those who reject him as their Lord and Master, must also lose him as their Saviour and their reward.

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