The Writer of this Psalm is calling upon Israel to bless the God of Israel: and he proposeth the subject and points to the cause. The Psalm concludes with lamenting the sad departures of Israel in many instances.
To the chief musician upon Gittith, A Psalm of Asaph.
It is very probable that this Psalm formed part of the religious worship in the temple on the feast days. We find several occasions of this sort: such as the feast of trumpets; Leviticus 23:24; Numbers 29:1; and the jubilee trumpet; Leviticus 25:9: and we know that instruments of music were used in the temple service. But as we also know, that almost all things in the dispensation under the law were shadows and types only of a better dispensation under the gospel, I venture to believe that we cannot derive any one authority for musical instruments in the house of God, from what we behold in those periods before the coming of Christ. And, without doubt, every mind that is truly spiritual must allow that the melody of the soul can need no stringed instruments to awaken real devotion within. These were carnal things before the time of reformation. I would desire to sing with the spirit, and to sing with the understanding also, when I approach the throne of grace, to praise a God in Christ. I would sing loud indeed unto Jesus the Rock of my strength, and desire to bring all the devout chords of my soul to tell my God of his redemption, of his jubilee, and salvation. 1 Corinthians 14:15; Ephesians 5:17-20.
Moses appointed certain seasons of memorial; such, for example, as the passover; Exodus 12:23-24.
The Reader, will remark, in this place, a change of the person speaking. In the preceding verses the church is speaking, and the members of it are calling upon one another to attend the service of the Lord. But here it is the Lord himself that is introduced as speaking.
These are sweet views of God's former dealings with his people; and a reference to Israel's history will mark out the several periods here spoken of. But, Reader! do not you and I also see our own history, and Jesus interposing for our salvation?
Reader! let us for a moment drop Israel's history, to which these verses refer, to look into our own. We know how the Lord delivered Israel upon the several occasions here described; but may not you and I conceive, without violence to the words, that Jesus speaks to us in the same gracious language? Oh! precious Lord! let there be no strange god in our hearts! Forbid that we ever set up the idol there. But do thou open our mouth, open our hearts, and fill us with thyself, that we may live to thee and to thy glory!
Reader! what saith thy heart to these charges? What saith thy experience to this awful giving up? Oh! Lord! do thou still keep, still preserve, and abide in thy love, for thou hatest putting away. Reader! do not overlook, in the midst of the solemn things of this verse, that the Lord still calls Israel his people. Precious thought! They are his by creation, his by redemption, his by new creation, and the conquests of his Spirit, in Christ Jesus. Pray read that blessed scripture, Isaiah 43:1, etc.
So Jesus wept over Jerusalem! And had Israel then, or upon the occasion which this Psalm records, hearkened unto the Lord, the temporal prosperity of Israel would have continued. For, I beg the Reader to observe, that in both instances it is of temporal prosperity the Lord evidently speaks. Here it is of feeding them with fine wheat, and honey out of the rock; and there, in Christ's days, it is of preserving Jerusalem from being visited by the destruction of the sword. Luke 19:41-44.
READER! let every renewed call, which we behold in the old dispensation, to excite the people to praise, remind us of our higher privileges, and become an additional incentive to the most animated love and praise to our God in Christ. Were the Old Testament saints perpetually reminded of the distinguishing love of God to his people; and was it the voice of trumpets by which the Holy Ghost caused it to be proclaimed in his church, Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound? Think what increased causes we may find, to whom Jesus himself hath manifested his great trumpet of salvation, declaring that when it is blown, they shall come that are ready to perish.
And shall we, like Israel, forget the Lord? Shall we say, or, what is to the same effect, shall we do, as they did; that it may be said of us, His people would not hearken to his voice, and Jesus's Israel would have none of him? Oh, Lord! in mercy avert these awful departures. No! precious Jesus! it is thou who hast brought our souls out of the spiritual Egypt of sin and death! It is thou who hast converted us from the language of nature to a language of grace, which we understood not, neither should have known, but from thy teaching. Thou hast indeed removed from our shoulders the burden of sin, and delivered us from the slavery of Satan; thou hast heard and answered prayer; and thou hast been our God and our Saviour. Oh! then still go on, to satisfy our souls with the bread of life, and the water of life, which is thyself, and keep us by thine almighty power, through faith unto salvation.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Psalms 81". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://pro.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29