Psalm 81:6
I removed his shoulder from the burden: his hands were delivered from the pots.
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(6) Pots.—Deriving from a root to boil, and with allusion to potteries, which, probably, together with the brick-kilns, formed the scene of the forced labour of Israel. The LXX. and Vulg. have “slaved in the basket,” but the basket, which is represented on Egyptian monuments, is doubtless meant by the burden of the last clause.

Psalm 81:6-7. I removed his shoulder — That is, the shoulder of my people; from the burden — I delivered them from the burdensome slavery of Egypt. His hands were delivered from the pots — Hebrew, מדוד תעברנה, his hands passed from the pots, or, as Chandler renders it, his hands from the pots, through which they had passed. Thus God reminds Israel of their redemption, by his mercy and power, from the burdens and drudgery imposed on them in Egypt. And from this verse to the end of the Psalm, it is evident God is the speaker. Thou calledst in trouble — At the Red sea, Exodus 14:10-12; and I delivered thee — In an unexpected and extraordinary way, and disappointed the designs of thy enemies. I answered thee in the secret place of thunder — From the dark and cloudy pillar, whence I thundered and fought against the Egyptians: see Exodus 13:21; and Exodus 14:19; Exodus 14:24. Some refer this to the thunder at Sinai; but at that time they were not in trouble, but in a safe and glorious condition. Be assured, reader, that God is as ready, at all times, to hear the prayers and relieve the distresses of his people, as he was when the Israelites cried unto him in Egypt, and in the wilderness, and received answers from the cloudy pillar. Believe this, and apply to him in thy troubles.

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.I removed his shoulder from the burden - The burden which the people of Israel were called to hear in Egypt. The reference is undoubtedly to their burdens in making bricks, and conveying them to the place where they were to be used; and perhaps also to the fact that they were required to carry stone in building houses and towns for the Egyptians. Compare Exodus 1:11-14; Exodus 5:4-17. The meaning is, that he had saved them from these burdens, to wit, by delivering them from their hard bondage. The speaker here evidently is God. In the previous verse it is the people. Such a change of person is not uncommon in the Scriptures.

His hands were delivered from the pots - Margin, as in Hebrew, passed away. That is, they were separated from them, or made free. The word rendered pots usually has that signification. Job 41:20; 1 Samuel 2:14; 2 Chronicles 35:13; but it may also mean a basket. Jeremiah 24:2; 2 Kings 10:7. The latter is probably the meaning here. The allusion is to baskets which might have been used in carrying clay, or conveying the bricks after they were made: perhaps a kind of hamper that was swung over the shoulders, with clay or bricks in each - somewhat like the instrument used now by the Chinese in carrying tea - or like the neck-yoke which is employed in carrying sap where maple sugar is manufactured, or milk on dairy farms. There are many representations on Egyptian sculptures which would illustrate this. The idea is that of a burden, or task, and the allusion is to the deliverance that was accomplished by removing them to another land.

6. God's language alludes to the burdensome slavery of the Israelites. I delivered him from burdensome slavery. Pots; as this word is taken, 1 Samuel 2:14 2 Chronicles 35:13. Or, baskets, as it signifies, 2 Kings 10:7 Jeremiah 24:2. In the general, it seems to note all those vessels wherein they carried water, straw, lime, bricks, &c.

I removed his shoulder from the burden,.... These are the words of God, declaring how he had delivered the Israelites from the oppression and cruelty of the Egyptians; who made their lives bitter in hard bondage, and obliged them to carry heavy loads of bricks upon their shoulders:

his hands were delivered from the pots, or "baskets" (c); into which the bricks were put when made, and carried on their shoulders; or from making of pots, as Kimchi, who thinks the Israelites were employed in making pots of clay as well as bricks; see Psalm 68:13, the Targum is,

"his hands withdrew themselves from casting clay into the pots:''

the whole is typical of the saints' deliverance by Christ from the bondage of sin, Satan, and the law.

(c) "a sporta, a cophino", Gejerus, Amama, Michaelis.

I removed his shoulder from the burden: his hands were delivered from the {f} pots.

(f) If they were never able to give sufficient thanks to God, for this deliverance from corporal bondage, how much more are we indebted to him for our spiritual deliverance from the tyranny of Satan and sin?

6. I have removed his shoulder from the burden:

His hands shall go free from the basket.

The term ‘basket’ does not occur in Exodus, but baskets for carrying the burdens of bricks or clay so often referred to in Exodus (Exodus 1:11; Exodus 2:11; Exodus 5:4-5; Exodus 6:6-7) are frequently represented in Egyptian paintings.

From the pots (A.V.), i.e. from making the pots (P.B.V.), is an improbable explanation.

The P.B.V. in Psalm 81:5, “when he came out of the land of Egypt and had heard a strange language,” is derived through the Vulg. from the LXX. Similarly Jerome; but it is probably only a conjectural rendering of a difficult passage, and does not represent a different text.

Verses 6-16. - The "discourse" is now given. It commences somewhat abruptly, and is, perhaps, itself a fragment, the beginning of which is lost. God reminds Israel of his past favours (vers. 6, 7), exhorts them to faithfulness (vers. 8, 9), promises them blessings (ver. 10), complains of their waywardness (vers. 11, 12), and finally makes a last appeal to them to turn to him, and recover his protection, before it is too late (vers. 13-16). Verse 6. - I removed his shoulder from the burden. In Egypt, burdens were borne upon the shoulder, either simply held upon it with both hands, or distributed between the two shoulders by means of a yoke (see Rawlinson's 'Herodotus,' vol. 2. p. 214). His hands were delivered from the pots; rather, from the basket; i.e. the basket in which the clay was carried before it was made into bricks. Psalm 81:6It is a gentle but profoundly earnest festival discourse which God the Redeemer addresses to His redeemed people. It begins, as one would expect in a Passover speech, with a reference to the סבלות of Egypt (Exodus 1:11-14; Exodus 5:4; Exodus 6:6.), and to the duwd, the task-basket for the transport of the clay and of the bricks (Exodus 1:14; Exodus 5:7.).

(Note: In the Papyrus Leydensis i. 346 the Israelites are called the "Aperiu (עברים), who dragged along the stones for the great watch-tower of the city of Rameses," and in the Pap. Leyd. i. 349, according to Lauth, the "Aperiu, who dragged along the stones for the storehouse of the city of Rameses.")

Out of such distress did He free the poor people who cried for deliverance (Exodus 2:23-25); He answered them בּסתר רעם, i.e., not (according to Psalm 22:22; Isaiah 32:2): affording them protection against the storm, but (according to Psalm 18:12; Psalm 77:17.): out of the thunder-clouds in which He at the same time revealed and veiled Himself, casting down the enemies of Israel with His lightnings, which is intended to refer pre-eminently to the passage through the Red Sea (vid., Psalm 77:19); and He proved them (אבחנך, with ŏ contracted from ō, cf. on Job 35:6) at the waters of Merbah, viz., whether they would trust Him further on after such glorious tokens of His power and loving-kindness. The name "Waters of Merı̂bah," which properly is borne only by Merı̂bath Kadesh, the place of the giving of water in the fortieth year (Numbers 20:13; Numbers 27:14; Deuteronomy 32:51; Deuteronomy 33:8), is here transferred to the place of the giving of water in the first year, which was named Massah u-Merı̂bah (Exodus 17:7), as the remembrances of these two miracles, which took place under similar circumstances, in general blend together (vid., on Psalm 95:8.). It is not now said that Israel did not act in response to the expectation of God, who had son wondrously verified Himself; the music, as Seal imports, here rises, and makes a long and forcible pause in what is being said. What now follows further, are, as the further progress of Psalm 81:12 shows, the words of God addressed to the Israel of the desert, which at the same time with its faithfulness are brought to the remembrance of the Israel of the present. העיד בּ, as in Psalm 50:7; Deuteronomy 8:19, to bear testimony that concerns him against any one. אם (according to the sense, o si, as in Psalm 95:7, which is in many ways akin to this Psalm) properly opens a searching question which wishes that the thing asked may come about (whether thou wilt indeed give me a willing hearing?!). In Psalm 81:10 the key-note of the revelation of the Law from Sinai is struck: the fundamental command which opens the decalogue demanded fidelity to Jahve and forbade idol-worship as the sin of sins. אל זר is an idol in opposition to the God of Israel as the true God; and אל נכר, a strange god in opposition to the true God as the God of Israel. To this one God Israel ought to yield itself all the more undividedly and heartily as it was more manifestly indebted entirely to Him, who in His condescension had chosen it, and in His wonder-working might had redeemed it (המּעלך, part. Hiph. with the eh elided, like הפּדך, Deuteronomy 13:6, and אכלך, from כּלּה, Exodus 33:3); and how easy this submission ought to have been to it, since He desired nothing in return for the rich abundance of His good gifts, which satisfy and quicken body and soul, but only a wide-opened mouth, i.e., a believing longing, hungering for mercy and eager for salvation (Psalm 119:131)!

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