|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
81:1-7 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.
Verse 1. - Sing aloud unto God our Strength. "Loud" singing is regarded as indicative of earnestness and sincerity (see 2 Chronicles 20:19; Nehemiah 12:42; Psalm 33:3; Psalm 98:4, etc.). (On God as Israel's "Strength," see Psalm 27:1; Psalm 28:8; Psalm 46:1; Psalm 111:7.) Make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob. The word translated "make a joyful noise" is especially used of the blare of trumpets (Leviticus 23:24; Numbers 29:1).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Sing aloud unto God our strength,.... The strength of Israel, who, by strength of hand, and a mighty arm, brought Israel out of Egypt, protected and upheld them in the wilderness, and brought them to, and settled and established them in the land of Canaan; and who is the strength of every true Israelite, from whom they have both their natural and spiritual strength; so that they can exercise grace, perform duty, bear afflictions, withstand temptations, fight with and conquer enemies, and hold on and out unto the end; and therefore have reason to sing the praises of God with great fervour, zeal, and affection:
make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob; or Israel, being the God that had made a covenant with them, had chosen them for his peculiar people, and had redeemed them out of the house of bondage, and bestowed peculiar favours upon them; and therefore were under obligation to show forth his praise vocally and audibly, and with strong expressions of joy; and the spiritual Israel of God much more so, who have an interest in the covenant of grace, and share in electing, redeeming, and calling grace, by all which he appears to be their God and Father, in a special sense.
The Treasury of David
1 Sing aloud unto God our strength: make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob.
2 Take a Psalm, and bring hither the timbrel, the pleasant harp with the psaltery.
3 Blow up 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 This he ordained in Joseph for a testimony, when he went out through the land of Egypt: where I heard a language that I understood not.
6 I removed his shoulder from the burden: his hands were delivered from the pots.
7 Thou calledst in trouble, and I delivered thee; I answered thee in the secret place of thunder: I proved thee at the waters of Meribah. Selah.
"Sing" in tune and measure, so that the public praise may be in harmony; sing with joyful notes, and sounds melodious. "Aloud." For the heartiest praise is due to our good Lord. His acts of love to us speak more loudly than any of our words of gratitude can do. No dulness should ever stupify our psalmody, or half-heartedness cause it to limp along. Sing aloud, ye debtors to sovereign grace, your hearts are profoundly grateful: let your voices express your thankfulness. "Unto God our strength." The Lord was the strength of his people in delivering them out of Egypt with a high hand, and also in sustaining them in the wilderness, placing them in Canaan, preserving them from their foes, and giving them victory. To whom do men give honour but to those upon whom they rely, therefore let us sing aloud unto our God, who is our strength and our song. "Make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob." The God of the nation, the God of their father Jacob, was extolled in gladsome music by the Israelitish people: let no Christian be silent, or slack in praise, for this God is our God. It is to be regretted that the niceties of modern singing frighten our congregations from joining lustily in the hymns. For our part we delight in full bursts of praise, and had rather discover the ruggedness of a want of musical training than miss the heartiness of universal congregational song. The gentility which lisps the tune in wellbred whispers, or leaves the singing altogether to the choir, is very like a mockery of worship. The gods of Greece and Rome may be worshipped well enough with classical music, but Jehovah can only be adored with the heart, and that music is the best for his service which gives the heart most play.
"Take a psalm." Select a sacred song, and then raise it with your hearty voices. "And bring hither the timbrel." Beat on your tambourines, ye damsels, let the sound be loud and inspiriting. "Sound the trumpets, beat the drums." God is not to be served with misery but with mirthful music, sound ye then the loud timbrel, as of old ye smote it by "Egypt's dark sea." "The pleasant harp with the psaltery." The timbrel for sound, must be joined by the harp for sweetness, and this by other stringed instruments for variety. Let the full compass of music be holiness unto the Lord.
"Blow up the trumpet in the new moon." Announce the sacred month, the beginning of months, when the Lord brought his people out of the house of bondage. Clear and shrill let the summons be which calls all Israel to adore the Redeeming Lord. "In the time appointed, on our solemn feast day." Obedience is to direct our worship, not whim and sentiment: God's appointment gives a solemnity to rites and times which no ceremonial pomp or hierarchical ordinance could confer. The Jews not only observed the ordained month, but that part of the month which had been divinely set apart. The Lord's people in the olden time welcomed the times appointed for worship; let us feel the same exultation, and never speak of the Sabbath as though it could be other than "a delight" and "honourable." Those who plead this passage as authority for their man-appointed feasts and fasts must be moonstruck. We will keep such feasts as the Lord appoints, but not those which Rome or Canterbury may ordain.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Ps 81:1-16. Gittith—(See on Ps 8:1, title). A festal Psalm, probably for the passover (compare Mt 26:30), in which, after an exhortation to praise God, He is introduced, reminding Israel of their obligations, chiding their neglect, and depicting the happy results of obedience.
1. our strength—(Ps 38:7).
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