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Psalm 81 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Psalm 81[a]

An Admonition to Fidelity

For the leader; “upon the gittith.”[b] Of Asaph.


Sing joyfully to God our strength;
    raise loud shouts to the God of Jacob!
Take up a melody, sound the timbrel,
    the pleasant lyre with a harp.
[c]Blow the shofar at the new moon,
    at the full moon, on our solemn feast.
For this is a law for Israel,
    an edict of the God of Jacob,
He made it a decree for Joseph
    when he came out of the land of Egypt.


[d]I heard a tongue I did not know:
    “I removed his shoulder from the burden;[e]
    his hands moved away from the basket.
In distress you called and I rescued you;
    I answered you in secret with thunder;
At the waters of Meribah[f] I tested you: ‘Listen, my people, I will testify against you
    If only you will listen to me, Israel!
10 There shall be no foreign god among you;[g]
    you shall not bow down to an alien god.
11 ‘I am the Lord your God,
    who brought you up from the land of Egypt.
    Open wide your mouth that I may fill it.’
12 But my people did not listen to my words;
    Israel would not submit to me.
13 So I thrust them away to the hardness of their heart;
    ‘Let them walk in their own machinations.’
14 O that my people would listen to me,
    that Israel would walk in my ways,
15 In a moment I would humble their foes,
    and turn back my hand against their oppressors.
16 Those who hate the Lord will try flattering him,
    but their fate is fixed forever.
17 But Israel I will feed with the finest wheat,
    I will satisfy them with honey from the rock.”


  1. Psalm 81 At a pilgrimage feast, probably harvest in the fall, the people assemble in the Temple in accord with the Sinai ordinances (Ps 81:2–6). They hear a divine word (mediated by a Temple speaker) telling how God rescued them from slavery in Egypt (Ps 81:7–9), gave them the fundamental commandment of fidelity (Ps 81:9–11), which would bring punishment if they refused to obey (Ps 81:12–13). But if Israel repents, God will be with them once again, bestowing protection and fertility (Ps 81:14–16).
  2. 81:1 Upon the gittith: probably the title of the melody to which the Psalm was to be sung or a musical instrument.
  3. 81:4 New moon…full moon: the pilgrimage feast of harvest began with a great assembly (Lv 23:24; Nm 29:1), used the new moon as a sign (Nm 29:6), and included trumpets (Lv 23:24).
  4. 81:7 I heard a tongue I did not know: a Temple official speaks the word of God (Ps 81:5b–16), which is authoritative and unlike merely human words (cf. Nm 24:4, 16).
  5. 81:7 I removed his shoulder from the burden: A reference to the liberation of Israel from slavery in Egypt. The basket: for carrying clay to make bricks, cf. Ex 1:14.
  6. 81:8 Meribah: place of rebellion in the wilderness; cf. Ex 17:7; Nm 20:13.
  7. 81:10 There shall be no foreign god among you: as in Ps 50 and 95, Israel is challenged to obey the first commandment of fidelity to God after the proclamation of the exodus.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Psalm 81 New International Version (NIV)

Psalm 81[a]

For the director of music. According to gittith.[b] Of Asaph.

Sing for joy to God our strength;
    shout aloud to the God of Jacob!
Begin the music, strike the timbrel,
    play the melodious harp and lyre.

Sound the ram’s horn at the New Moon,
    and when the moon is full, on the day of our festival;
this is a decree for Israel,
    an ordinance of the God of Jacob.
When God went out against Egypt,
    he established it as a statute for Joseph.

I heard an unknown voice say:

“I removed the burden from their shoulders;
    their hands were set free from the basket.
In your distress you called and I rescued you,
    I answered you out of a thundercloud;
    I tested you at the waters of Meribah.[c]
Hear me, my people, and I will warn you—
    if you would only listen to me, Israel!
You shall have no foreign god among you;
    you shall not worship any god other than me.
10 I am the Lord your God,
    who brought you up out of Egypt.
Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.

11 “But my people would not listen to me;
    Israel would not submit to me.
12 So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts
    to follow their own devices.

13 “If my people would only listen to me,
    if Israel would only follow my ways,
14 how quickly I would subdue their enemies
    and turn my hand against their foes!
15 Those who hate the Lord would cringe before him,
    and their punishment would last forever.
16 But you would be fed with the finest of wheat;
    with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”


  1. Psalm 81:1 In Hebrew texts 81:1-16 is numbered 81:2-17.
  2. Psalm 81:1 Title: Probably a musical term
  3. Psalm 81:7 The Hebrew has Selah (a word of uncertain meaning) here.
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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