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). 2 Raise a song, sound the timbrel, The sweet sounding lyre with the harp. 3 Blow the trumpet at the New Moon, At the [b]full moon, on our feast day. 4 For this is a statute for Israel, An ordinance of the God of Jacob. 5 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,
6 “I removed the burden from his shoulder; His hands were freed from the basket. 7 “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.Selah. 8 “Hear, O My people, and I will admonish you— O Israel, if you would listen to Me! 9 “Let there be no strange god among you, Nor shall you worship any foreign god. 10 “I am the Lord your God, Who brought you up from 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 did not [consent to] obey Me. 12 “So I gave them up to the stubbornness of their heart, To walk in [the path of] their own counsel. 13 “Oh, that My people would listen to Me, That Israel would walk in My ways! 14 “Then I would quickly subdue and humble their enemies And turn My hand against their adversaries; 15 Those who hate the Lord would pretend obedience to Him and cringe before Him, And their time of punishment would be forever. 16 “But I would feed Israel with the finest of the wheat; And with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”
Unjust Judgments Rebuked.
A Psalm of Asaph.
82 God stands in the divine assembly; He judges among the gods (divine beings). 2 How long will you judge unjustly And show partiality to the wicked? Selah. 3 Vindicate the weak and fatherless; Do justice and maintain the rights of the afflicted and destitute. 4 Rescue the weak and needy; Rescue them from the hand of the wicked.
5 The rulers do not know nor do they understand; They walk on in the darkness [of complacent satisfaction]; All the foundations of the earth [the fundamental principles of the administration of justice] are shaken. 6 I said, “You are [d]gods; Indeed, all of you are sons of the Most High. 7 “Nevertheless you will die like men And fall like any one of the princes.” 8 Arise, O God, judge the earth! For to You belong all the nations.
God Implored to Confound His Enemies.
A Song. A Psalm of Asaph.
83 Do not keep silent, O God; Do not hold Your peace or be still, O God. 2 For behold, Your enemies are in tumult, And those who hate You have raised their heads [in hatred of You]. 3 They concoct crafty schemes against Your people, And conspire together against Your hidden and precious ones. 4 They have said, “Come, and let us wipe them out as a nation; Let the name of Israel be remembered no more.” 5 For they have conspired together with one mind; Against You they make a covenant— 6 The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, Of Moab and the Hagrites, 7 Gebal and Ammon and Amalek, Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre. 8 Assyria also has joined with them; They have helped the children of Lot [the Ammonites and the Moabites] and have been an arm [of strength] to them. Selah.
9 Deal with them as [You did] with Midian, As with Sisera and Jabin at the brook of Kishon, 10 Who were destroyed at En-dor, Who became like dung for the earth. 11 Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb And all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna, 12 Who said, “Let us possess for ourselves The pastures of God.”
13 O my God, make them like [e]whirling dust, Like chaff before the wind [worthless and without substance]. 14 Like fire consumes the forest, And like the flame sets the mountains on fire, 15 So pursue them with Your tempest And terrify them with [the violence of] Your storm. 16 Fill their faces with shame and disgrace, That they may [persistently] seek Your name, O Lord. 17 Let them be ashamed and dismayed forever; Yes, let them be humiliated and perish, 18 That they may know that You alone, whose name is the Lord, Are the Most High over all the earth.
Psalm 81:1A technical musical term, meaning uncertain.
Psalm 81:3Or 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 81:5Curiously, 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.
Psalm 82:6Most of the ancient rabbis understood the idea of “gods” referring to judges, but some applied vv 6, 7 to the Israelites at Sinai and maintained that they would have become immortal as a result of accepting the Law, if only they had not committed the sin of the golden calf.
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