|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
81:8-16 We cannot look for too little from the creature, nor too much from the Creator. We may have enough from God, if we pray for it in faith. All the wickedness of the world is owing to man's wilfulness. People are not religious, because they will not be so. God is not the Author of their sin, he leaves them to the lusts of their own hearts, and the counsels of their own heads; if they do not well, the blame must be upon themselves. The Lord is unwilling that any should perish. What enemies sinners are to themselves! It is sin that makes our troubles long, and our salvation slow. Upon the same conditions of faith and obedience, do Christians hold those spiritual and eternal good things, which the pleasant fields and fertile hills of Canaan showed forth. Christ is the Bread of life; he is the Rock of salvation, and his promises are as honey to pious minds. But those who reject him as their Lord and Master, must also lose him as their Saviour and their reward.
Verse 8. - Hear, O my people (comp. vers. 11, 13). Israel is still "God's people," however rebellious (vers. 11, 12). God has not yet given them up. And I will testify unto thee; or, "protest unto thee" (Kay, Cheyne). O Israel, if thou wilt hearken unto me; or, "if thou wouldst but hearken unto me!"
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Hear, O my people, and I will testify unto thee,.... Of himself, his being, and perfections; what he was unto them, had done for them, and would do for them, as in the following verses: or "testify in thee" (d), bear witness to their spirits, that they were his people, and he was their God; this is a witness which the people of God have in themselves; it is the inward testimony of the Spirit; besides which, there is the outward testimony of the word, and which also may be here meant; for it may be rendered,
I will give a testimony to thee: the law is a testimony of the will of God to his people, what he would have done, or not done; and the Gospel is a testimony of his grace, and the whole word testifies of Christ, his person, offices, obedience, sufferings, and death: some render it, "testify against thee" (e), for their murmurings, rebellion, and idolatry, as in Psalm 50:7 and they are called upon to hear the voice of God in his word, and in his providences, being his people; and as such he addresses them, which bespeaks interest in them, affection to them, and an acknowledgment of them, and carries in it a reason why they should hear him:
O Israel, if thou wilt hearken unto me; this explains who are meant by the Lord's people, Israel, the posterity of Jacob, a chosen and special people, who are exhorted not only to hear, but to hearken and to obey; suggesting, it would be well with them, if they did as in Psalm 81:13, and some (f) take these words to be a wish, as there; "Israel, O that thou wouldest hearken unto me": see Isaiah 48:18.
(d) "testificabor in te", Gejerus. (e) "Ut testificer contra te", Schmidt. (f) So Michaelis, and Gussetius, and Genevenses, in ib. Comment. Ebr. p. 431.
The Treasury of David
8 Hear, O my people, and I will testify unto thee: O Israel, if thou wilt hearken unto me;
9 There shall no strange God be in thee; neither shalt thou worship any strange god.
10 I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.
11 But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me.
12 So I gave them up unto their own hearts' lust: and they walked in their own counsels.
13 Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways!
14 I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries.
15 The haters of the Lord should have submitted themselves unto him: but their time should have endured for ever.
16 He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat: and with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee.
"Hear, O my people, and I will testily unto thee." What? Are the people so insensible as to be deaf to their God? So it would seem, for he earnestly asks a hearing. Are we not also at times quite as careless and immovable? "O Israel, if thou wilt hearken unto me." There is much in this "if." How low have they fallen who will not hearken unto God himself! The deaf adder is not more grovelling. We are not fond of being upbraided, we had rather avoid sharp and cutting truths; and, though the Lord himself rebuke us, we fly from his gentle reproofs.
"There shall no strange god be in thee." No alien god is to be tolerated in Israel's tents. "Neither shalt thou worship any strange god." Where false gods are, their worship is sure to follow. Man is so desperate an idolater that the image is always a strong temptation: while the nests are there the birds will be eager to return. No other god had done anything for the Jews, and therefore they had no reason for paying homage to any other. To us the same argument will apply, We owe all to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: the world, the flesh, the devil, none of these have been of any service to us; they are aliens, foreigners, enemies, and it is not for us to bow down before them. "Little children keep yourselves from idols," is our Lord's voice to us, and by the power of his Spirit we would cast out every false god from our hearts.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
8. (Compare Ps 50:7). The reproof follows to Ps 81:12.
if thou wilt hearken—He then propounds the terms of His covenant: they should worship Him alone, who (Ps 81:10) had delivered them, and would still confer all needed blessings.
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