An exhortation to a solemn praising of God, 1-3. God challenges that duty by reason of his benefits, 4-7. God, exhorting to obedience, complains of their disobedience, which proves their own hurt, 8-16.
1 [To the Chief Musician upon Gittith. A Psalm of Asaph.] Sing aloud to God our strength. Make a joyful noise to the God of Jacob.
2 Take a psalm and bring here the tambourine, the pleasant harp with the psaltery.
3 Blow the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.
4 For this was a statute for Israel and a law of the God of Jacob.
5 He ordained this in Joseph for a testimony when he went out through the land of Egypt. I heard a language that I did not understand:
6 "I removed his shoulder from the burden. His hands were delivered from the pots.
7 You called in trouble, and I delivered you. I answered you in the secret place of thunder. I proved you at the waters of Meribah." [Selah.]
8 "Hear, O my people, and I will testify to you, O Israel, if you would listen to me.
9 There shall no strange god be in you, neither shall you worship any strange god.
10 I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.
11 But my people would not listen to my voice, and Israel would not obey me.
12 So I gave them up to the lust of their hearts, and they walked in their own counsels.
13 O that my people had listened to me and Israel had walked in my ways!
14 I would soon subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their adversaries.
15 The haters of the LORD should have submitted themselves to him, and their time should have endured forever.
16 He would have fed them also with the finest of the wheat. And with honey out of the rock I would satisfy you."
Matthew Henry Commentary - Psalms, Chapter 81[➚]
John Calvin's Chapter Summary:
This psalm consists of two parts. Whoever was its author, he exhorts the people to remember the unparalleled grace of God towards them, in delivering them by his outstretched arm, and choosing them to be a kingdom of priests, and a peculiar Church to himself; that thus they may be excited devoutly to honor their deliverer, both by celebrating his praises, and by leading a holy life. God is next introduced as upbraiding them for their ingratitude in continuing obstinately to refuse to submit to the yoke of the law, notwithstanding the tender and gracious manner in which he allured them to himself.