An Admonition to Fidelity
1For the leader; “upon the gittith.”* Of Asaph.
2Sing joyfully to God our strength;a
raise loud shouts to the God of Jacob!
3Take up a melody, sound the timbrel,
the pleasant lyre with a harp.
4*Blow the shofar at the new moon,
at the full moon, on our solemn feast.b
5For this is a law for Israel,
an edict of the God of Jacob,c
6He made it a decree for Joseph
when he came out of the land of Egypt.
7*I heard a tongue I did not know:
“I removed his shoulder from the burden;*
8In distress you called and I rescued you;
I answered you in secret with thunder;
If only you will listen to me, Israel!f
you shall not bow down to an alien god.
11‘I am the LORD your God,
who brought you up from the land of Egypt.
Open wide your mouth that I may fill it.’
12But my people did not listen to my words;
Israel would not submit to me.
13So I thrust them away to the hardness of their heart;
‘Let them walk in their own machinations.’h
14O that my people would listen to me,
that Israel would walk in my ways,i
15In a moment I would humble their foes,
and turn back my hand against their oppressors.j
16Those who hate the LORD will try flattering him,
but their fate is fixed forever.
17But Israel I will feed with the finest wheat,
I will satisfy them with honey from the rock.”k
* [Psalm 81] At a pilgrimage feast, probably harvest in the fall, the people assemble in the Temple in accord with the Sinai ordinances (Ps 81:2–6). They hear a divine word (mediated by a Temple speaker) telling how God rescued them from slavery in Egypt (Ps 81:7–9), gave them the fundamental commandment of fidelity (Ps 81:9–11), which would bring punishment if they refused to obey (Ps 81:12–13). But if Israel repents, God will be with them once again, bestowing protection and fertility (Ps 81:14–16).
* [81:1] Upon the gittith: probably the title of the melody to which the Psalm was to be sung or a musical instrument.