|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 5. - This he ordained in Joseph for a testimony. The special mention of "Joseph" here is strange. Professor Cheyne explains, "God appointed the Law to be valid in northern as well as southern Israel." Hengstenberg and Professor Alexander account for the expression by the pre-eminence of Joseph during the sojourn in Egypt. When he went out through the land of Egypt. When he (Joseph) went out over (or, across) the land," i.e. at the time of the Exodus. Where I heard a language that I understood not. It can scarcely be supposed that this clause belongs properly to ver. 5. It is rather an introduction to the monody wherewith the psalm (as it has come down to us) concludes - the mournful complaint of God against his people. So Professor Cheyne, who translates, "The discourse of no whom I had not known (i.e. of God) did I hear."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
This he ordained in Joseph for a testimony,.... That is, this law concerning the blowing of trumpets on the new moon, and the keeping the solemn feast at the full of the moon, was made to be observed by all Israel, who are meant by Joseph, for a testimony of God's good will to them, and of their duty and obedience to him:
when he went out through the land of Egypt, or "over it" (b); which some understand of Joseph, who is said to go over all the land of Egypt, to gather in provision against the seven years of famine, Genesis 41:45 and Jarchi says that his deliverance from prison was at the beginning of the year, and was advanced in Pharaoh's court: and the meaning is, either "when he", the Lord, "went out against the land of Egypt", so Arama, in order to slay their firstborn; and when he passed over Israel, and saved them; marched through the land in his indignation, and went forth for the salvation of his people, Exodus 11:4 then was the ordinance of the passover appointed: or when Israel went out of Egypt, designed by Joseph, some little time after, while in the wilderness, and dwelling in tents, the feast of tabernacles was instituted; but rather this shows that the feast of passover is before meant, which was instituted at the time of Israel's going out of Egypt, and was the solemn feast day ordained for a statute, law and testimony in Israel; and that the new moon, or month rather, on which the trumpet was to be blown, was the month Abib, the beginning of months, by an ordinance of God, Exodus 12:2.
where I heard a language that I understood not; here the prophet represents the people of Israel in Egypt; though the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions, read,
he heard, and he understood not and the language is either the voice of God out of the fire, which before was never heard in this unusual manner, nor understood, Deuteronomy 5:24 or the speech of Moses, who had Aaron for his mouth and spokesman; or rather the Egyptian language, which was not understood by the Israelites without an interpreter, Genesis 42:23 which sense is confirmed by Psalm 114:1, and this is mentioned as an aggravation of their affliction in Egypt; see Jeremiah 5:15.
(b) "in ipsum exeundo", Montanus; "cum exiret ipse super terram", Pagninus.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5. a testimony—The feasts, especially the passover, attested God's relation to His people.
Joseph—for Israel (Ps 80:1).
went out through—or, "over," that is, Israel in the exodus.
I heard—change of person. The writer speaks for the nation.
language—literally, "lip" (Ps 14:1). An aggravation or element of their distress that their oppressors were foreigners (De 28:49).
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