Shalom, everyone! Psalm 81 is traditionally recited as the “psalm of the day” (Shir Shel Yom) for the fifth day of the week, which corresponds to Thursday on the Gregorian calendar. The psalm is recited at the end of Thursday morning prayer (Shacharit) services. According to post-Exilic Second Temple tradition, Psalm 81 was chosen for the fifth day of the week because of it’s relation to the fifth day of Creation.
Psalm 81 was written by Asaph, a Levite, and grandson of the prophet Samuel. Psalm 81 reminds us that no matter how far we have fallen as a people, YAH still remembers us as His people. He is our deliver: He delivered us from bondage in Egypt, and He will deliver us from the current bondage and captivity our people are suffering. YAH subdues our enemies. YAH gives tremendous blessings to His people. All YAH wants in return is our exclusive loyalty to Him by having no other gods, our obedience to His commandments, and our remembrance and observance of His mo’edim.
The following is Psalm 81 in English, taken from the Jewish Publication Society (JPS) 1917 version of the Tanakh. For a side-by-side modern Hebrew-English translation please click on the link below to Mechon-Mamre:
1 For the Leader; upon the Gittith. [A Psalm] of Asaph.
2 Sing aloud unto God our strength; shout unto the God of Jacob.
3 Take up the melody, and sound the timbrel, the sweet harp with the psaltery.
4 Blow the horn at the new moon, at the full moon for our feast-day.
5 For it is a statute for Israel, an ordinance of the God of Jacob.
6 He appointed it in Joseph for a testimony, when He went forth against the land of Egypt. The speech of one that I knew not did I hear:
7 ‘I removed his shoulder from the burden; his hands were freed from the basket.
8 Thou didst call in trouble, and I rescued thee; I answered thee in the secret place of thunder; I proved thee at the waters of Meribah. Selah.
9 Hear, O My people, and I will admonish thee: O Israel, if thou wouldest hearken unto Me!
10 There shall no strange god be in thee; neither shalt thou worship any foreign god.
11 I am the LORD thy God, who brought thee up out of the land of Egypt; open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.
12 But My people hearkened not to My voice; and Israel would none of Me.
13 So I let them go after the stubbornness of their heart, that they might walk in their own counsels.
14 Oh that My people would hearken unto Me, that Israel would walk in My ways!
15 I would soon subdue their enemies, and turn My hand against their adversaries.
16 The haters of the LORD should dwindle away before Him; and their punishment should endure for ever.
17 They should also be fed with the fat of wheat; and with honey out of the rock would I satisfy thee.’