S.R. Hirsch translates the Hebrew heading as meaning,
TO HIM WHO GRANTS VICTORY OVER THE WINE PRESSING: BY ASAPH
The Mairi says that it was traditional to say this Psalm on the Hebrew New Year (Rosh HaShana) which is approaching us soon (September 13 and 14, 2007). Even though the Israelites were delivered from Egypt in the month of Nisan at the time of Passover which is about seven months later, on Rosh HaShanah their actual physical servitude in Egypt itself came to an end. In principle, we can make a new beginning any moment we decide to do so but some seasons are more propitious than others. This is another chance we all have now to start over again. Let us do our best. Let us pray to the Almighty to enable us to do our best and better ourselves for our own sake and for the sake of all they who are in contact with us and whom we have some inlfuence over.
[Psalms 81:1] SING ALOUD UNTO GOD OUR STRENGTH: MAKE A JOYFUL NOISE UNTO THE GOD OF JACOB.
Our God is the God of Jacob.
The Creator of the world is the God of Israel.
HE chose Israel as HIS people to fulfil a special task in this world.
God gives us strength.
We need to be happy in the Almighty who is our source of strength and re-invigoration.
[Psalms 81:2] TAKE A PSALM, AND BRING HITHER THE TIMBREL, THE PLEASANT HARP WITH THE PSALTERY.
As we have mentioned several times the word "Nevel" (or "NaBaL") translated as PSALTERY actually probably means "bagpipe".
[Psalms 81:3] BLOW UP THE TRUMPET IN THE NEW MOON, IN THE TIME APPOINTED, ON OUR SOLEMN FEAST DAY.
<<TRUMPET>>: In Hebrew "shofar" meaning the horn of a ram such as is blown on Rosh HaShanah.
[Psalms 81:4] FOR THIS WAS A STATUTE FOR ISRAEL, AND A LAW OF THE GOD OF JACOB.
[Psalms 81:5] 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.
<<JOSEPH>>: The name "Joseph" in Hebrew is usually spelt "YoSeF" but in this case the spelling is "YeHoSeF" with an additional "Ho" sound which together with the preliminary "Ye" gives us "YeHo" hinting at part of the name of the Almighty. S.R. Hirsch says that this is to remind us that Joseph even in Exile never betrayed the Almighty.
The Almighty saved our forefather Joseph who was sold as a slave into Egypt a land whose language he did not understand. The Mairi points out that sometimes in the Bible the term "Joseph" is applied to all Israel. We all have some aspect of Joseph within us. Like Joseph there are times when everyone of us is alone and realizes that only the Almighty can help us make it through to the daybreak.
[Psalms 81:6] I REMOVED HIS SHOULDER FROM THE BURDEN: HIS HANDS WERE DELIVERED FROM THE POTS.
<<THE POTS>>: Hebrew "me-dud" literally "from the pot". It may be that subjection of Joseph or of the Hebrews in Egypt included labor connected with "the pot" such as the preparation of food or of clothes-dye, etc.
[Psalms 81:7] 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.
<<MERIBAH>> In Hebrew means "quarrel", i.e. "The Waters of Contention". This is where Moses struck the rock.
THIS IS THE WATER OF MERIBAH; BECAUSE THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL STROVE WITH THE LORD, AND HE WAS SANCTIFIED IN THEM [Numbers 20:13].
[Psalms 81:8] HEAR, O MY PEOPLE, AND I WILL TESTIFY UNTO THEE: O ISRAEL, IF THOU WILT HEARKEN UNTO ME;
[Psalms 81:9] THERE SHALL NO STRANGE GOD BE IN THEE; NEITHER SHALT THOU WORSHIP ANY STRANGE GOD.
[Psalms 81:10] I AM THE LORD THY GOD, WHICH BROUGHT THEE OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT: OPEN THY MOUTH WIDE, AND I WILL FILL IT.
Throughout the Bible the Almighty emphasizes HIS Divinity as being HE who was responsible for taking us out of Egypt. As far as an individual is concerned this is more important than the Creation of the World. The Coming out of Egypt shows Divine Providence, the intervention of God in the affairs of man especially in matters concerning the People of Israel. Open your mouth to praise God and pray to HIM and HE will give you your needs and answer your request.
[Psalms 81:11] BUT MY PEOPLE WOULD NOT HEARKEN TO MY VOICE; AND ISRAEL WOULD NONE OF ME.
[Psalms 81:12] SO I GAVE THEM UP UNTO THEIR OWN HEARTS' LUST: AND THEY WALKED IN THEIR OWN COUNSELS.
[Psalms 81:13] OH THAT MY PEOPLE HAD HEARKENED UNTO ME, AND ISRAEL HAD WALKED IN MY WAYS!
[Psalms 81:14] I SHOULD SOON HAVE SUBDUED THEIR ENEMIES, AND TURNED MY HAND AGAINST THEIR ADVERSARIES.
[Psalms 81:15] THE HATERS OF THE LORD SHOULD HAVE SUBMITTED THEMSELVES UNTO HIM: BUT THEIR TIME SHOULD HAVE ENDURED FOR EVER.
[Psalms 81:16] HE SHOULD HAVE FED THEM ALSO WITH THE FINEST OF THE WHEAT: AND WITH HONEY OUT OF THE ROCK SHOULD I HAVE SATISFIED THEE.
Our forefathers "blew" their opportunity several times in the past. Let us avoid making the same mistake.
A lot of us could have done better in the past in both the spiritual and physical sense but we wasted the opportunity.
T5he whole point of this Psalm is that with a little effort and good will we can still make it all better, even better perhaps
than it ever could have been.
All it takes is to turn to the Almighty God of Israel to receive an answer.