Psalms 80

PSALM LXXX

A prayer for the captives, 1-3.

A description of their miseries, 4-7.

Israel compared to a vineyard, 8-14.

Its desolate state, and a prayer for its restoration, 15-19.

NOTES ON PSALM LXXX

The title: see Ps 45:1; 60:1; 69:1, where every thing material

is explained. This Psalm seems to have been written on the same

occasion with the former. One ancient MS. in the public library in

Cambridge writes the eightieth and the seventy-ninth all as one

Psalm; the subject-matter is precisely the same-was made on the

same occasion, and probably by the same author.

Verse 1. O Shepherd of Israel] The subject continued from the

last verse of the preceding Psalm.

Leadest Joseph] Israel and Joseph mean here the whole of the

Jewish tribes; all were at this time in captivity; all had been

the people of the Lord; all, no doubt, made supplication unto him

now that his chastening hand was upon them; and for all the

psalmist makes supplication.

That dwellest between the cherubims] It was between the

cherubim, over the cover of the ark, called the propitiatory or

mercy-seat, that the glory of the Lord, or symbol of the Divine

Presence, appeared. It is on this account that the Lord is so

often said to dwell between the cherubim. Of these symbolical

beings there is a long and painful account, or system of

conjectures, in Parkhurst's Hebrew Lexicon, of about twenty quarto

pages, under the word carab.

Shine forth.] Restore thy worship; and give us such evidences of

thy presence now, as our fathers had under the first tabernacle,

and afterwards in the temple built by Solomon.

Verse 2. Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh] It is

supposed that these three tribes represent the whole, Benjamin

being incorporated with Judah, Manasseh comprehending the country

beyond Jordan, and Ephraim all the rest.-Dodd.

Verse 3. Turn us again] hashibenu, convert or restore

us. There are four parts in this Psalm, three of which end with

the above words; see the third, seventh, and nineteenth verses;

and one with words similar, Ps 80:14.

Verse 5. Thou feedest them with the bread of tears] They have no

peace, no comfort, nothing but continual sorrow.

In great measure.] shalish, threefold. Some think it was

a certain measure used by the Chaldeans, the real capacity of

which is not known. others think it signifies abundance or

abundantly.

Verse 6. Thou makest us a strife] The neighbouring districts

have a controversy about us; we are a subject of contention to

them. A people so wonderfully preserved, and so wonderfully

punished, is a mystery to them. They see in us both the goodness

and severity of God. Or, all the neighbouring nations join

together to malign and execrate us. We are hated by all; derided

and cursed by all.

Verse 8. Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt] This is a most

elegant metaphor, and every where well supported. The same

similitude is used by Isaiah, Isa 5:1, &c.; by Jeremiah,

Jer 2:21; by Ezekiel, Eze 17:5, 6; by Hosea, Ho 10:1; by

Joel, Joe 1:7; by Moses, De 32:32, 33; and often by our Lord

himself, Mt 20:1, &c.; Mt 21:33, &c.; Mr 12:1, &c. And this

was the ordinary figure to represent the Jewish Church. We may

remark several analogies here:-

1. This vine was brought out of Egypt that it might be planted

in a better and more favourable soil. The Israelites were brought

out of their Egyptian bondage that they might be established in

the land of Canaan, where they might grow and flourish, and

worship the true God.

2. When the husbandman has marked out a proper place for his

vineyard, he hews down and roots up all other trees; gathers out

the stones, brambles, &c., that might choke the young vines, and

prevent them from being fruitful. So God cast out the heathen

nations from the land of Canaan, that his pure worship might be

established, and that there might not remain there any incitements

to idolatry.

Verse 9. Thou preparedst-before it] 3. When the ground is

properly cleared, then it is well digged and manured, and the

vines are placed in the ground at proper distances, &c. So when

God had cast out the heathen, he caused the land to be divided by

lot to the different tribes, and then to the several families of

which these tribes were composed.

And didst cause it to take deep root] 4. By sheltering, propping

up, and loosening the ground about the tender plants, they are

caused to take a deep and firm rooting in the ground. Thus did

God, by especial manifestations of his kind providence, support

and protect the Israelites in Canaan; and by various religious

ordinances, and civil institutions, he established them in the

land; and, by the ministry of priests and prophets, did every

thing necessary to make them morally fruitful.

It filled the land.] 5. To multiply vines, the gardener cuts off

a shoot from the old tree, leaving a joint or knob both at top and

bottom; then plants it in proper soil; the lower knob furnishes

the roots, and the upper the shoot, which should be carefully

trained as it grows, in order to form another vine. By these means

one tree will soon form a complete vineyard, and multiply itself

to any given quantity. Thus God so carefully, tenderly, and

abundantly blessed the Israelites, that they increased and

multiplied; and, in process of time, filled the whole land of

Canaan. Vines are propagated, not only by cuttings, but by layers,

seed, grafting, and inoculation.

Verse 10. The hills were covered] 6. The vine, carefully

cultivated in a suitable soil, may be spread to any extent. In the

land of Judea it formed shades under which the people not only

sheltered and refreshed themselves in times of sultry heats; but

it is said they even ate, drank, and dwelt under the shelter of

their vines. See 1Ki 4:25; Mic 4:4;

1Mac 14:12. God so blessed the Jews, particularly in the days of

David and Solomon, that all the neighbouring nations were

subdued-the Syrians, Idumeans, Philistines, Moabites, and

Ammonites.

Verse 11. She sent out her boughs unto the sea and her branches

unto the river.] The Israelitish empire extended from the River

Euphrates on the east to the Mediterranean Sea on the west, and

from the same Euphrates on the north of the promised land to its

farthest extent on the south; Syria bounding the north, and Arabia

and Egypt the south. And this was according to the promises which

God had made to the fathers, Ex 23:31; De 11:24.

Verse 12. Why hast thou broken down] 7. When a vineyard is

planted, it is properly fenced to preserve it from being trodden

down, or otherwise injured by beasts, and to protect the fruit

from being taken by the unprincipled passenger. So God protected

Jerusalem and his temple by his own almighty arm; and none of

their enemies could molest them as long as they had that

protection. As it was now spoiled, it was a proof that that

protection had been withdrawn; therefore the psalmist addresses

the Lord with, "Why hast thou broken down her hedges?" Had God

continued his protection, Jerusalem would not have been destroyed.

Verse 13. The boar out of the wood] Nebuchadnezzar, king of

Babylon, who was a fierce and cruel sovereign. The allusion is

plain. The wild hogs and buffaloes make sad havoc in the fields

of the Hindoos, and in their orchards: to keep them out, men are

placed at night on covered stages in the fields.

Verse 14. Return-O God of hosts] Thou hast abandoned us, and

therefore our enemies have us in captivity. Come back to us, and

we shall again be restored.

Behold, and visit this vine] Consider the state of thy own

people, thy own worship, thy own temple. Look down! Let thine eye

affect thy heart.

Verse 15. The vineyard which thy right hand hath planted] Thy

holy and pure worship, which thy Almighty power had established in

this city.

And the branch-thou madest strong for thy self.] The original

veal ben, "and upon the SON whom thou hast strengthened for

thyself." Many have thought that the Lord Jesus is meant. And so

the Chaldee understood it, as it translates the passage thus:

veal MALCA MESHICHA, And upon the King Messiah,

whom thou hast strengthened for thyself." The Syriac, Vulgate,

Septuagint, AEthiopic, and Arabic, have, "the Son of man,' as in

the seventeenth verse. Eighteen of Kennicott's and De Rossi's

MSS. have ben Adam, "Son of man," and as the Versions

have all the same reading, it was probably that of the original

copies. As Christ seems here to be intended, this is the first

place in the Old Testament where the title Son of man is applied

to him. The old Psalter understands this of setting Christ at the

right hand of God.

Verse 17. The man of thy right hand] The only person who can be

said to be at the right hand of God as intercessor, is JESUS the

MESSIAH. Let him become our Deliverer: appoint him for this

purpose, and let his strength be manifested In our weakness! By

whom are the Jews to be restored, if indeed they ever be restored

to their own land, but by JESUS CHRIST? By HIM alone can they find

mercy; through HIM alone can they ever be reconciled to God.

Verse 18. So will not we go back from thee] We shall no more

become idolaters: and it is allowed on all hands that the Jews

were never guilty of idolatry after their return from the

Babylonish captivity.

Quicken us] Make us alive, for we are nearly as good as dead.

We will call upon thy name.] We will invoke thee. Thou shalt be

for ever the object of our adoration, and the centre of all our

hopes.

Verse 19. Turn as again] Redeem us from this captivity.

O Lord God of hosts] Thou who hast all power in heaven and

earth, the innumerable hosts of both worlds being at thy command.

Cause thy face to shine] Let us know that thou art reconciled to

us. Let us once more enjoy thy approbation. Smile upon thy poor

rebels, weary of their sins, and prostrate at thy feet, imploring

mercy.

And we shall be saved.] From the power and oppression of the

Chaldeans, from the guilt and condemnation of our sins, and from

thy wrath and everlasting displeasure. Thus, O God, save US!

ANALYSIS OF THE EIGHTIETH PSALM

The parts of this Psalm are the following:-

I. A prayer, Ps 80:1-3.

II. A complaint by way of expostulation, Ps 80:4-7.

III. In the twelve last verses, to move God's mercy, he, 1.

Shows God's love to Israel under the allegory of a vine,

Ps 80:8-12. 2. Deplores the waste made upon it, Ps 80:12, 13.

3. Prays for its restoration, Ps 80:13-18.

IV. He makes a vow of perpetual service, Ps 80:19.

I. The first part, his petition, Ps 80:1. 1. For audience,

Ps 80:2. 2. For assistance, Ps 80:3. 3. For grace to amend,

Ps 80:3.

The arguments he uses to induce the Lord to hear. 1. He was

formerly their Shepherd. 2. He sat between the cherubim, on the

mercy-seat. 3. He has only to shine forth, and show himself; and

they shall be saved.

II. The second part, his complaint. He complains, 1. That God

was angry with them. 2. That the people were in the most

distressed circumstances, Ps 80:5. 3. Of what they suffered from

their neighbours, Ps 80:6.

On which he redoubles his prayer. 1. Turn us. 2. Cause thy face

to shine. And, 3. Then we shall be saved, Ps 80:7.

III. The third part: what God had done for his people. 1. He

brought the vine out of Egypt, Ps 80:8. 2. He cast out the

heathen, Ps 80:8. 3. He planted it. 4. He prepared the soil for

it. 5. He caused it to take deep root. 6. And it filled the land,

from the river Euphrates to the Mediterranean Sea, Ps 80:9-11.

He deplores the waste made upon it. 1. The fence was broken

down. 2. It was spoiled by those who passed by, and by the wild

beasts.

Then he prays, 1. Look down from heaven. 2. Visit this vine. 3.

It is cut down. 4. It is burnt with fire. 5. Let thy power in its

behalf be shown by the Man of thy right hand. See the notes.

Some think Zerubbabel is meant; others think the Jewish nation

is thus called the son of man, and the man of God's right hand.

IV. The last part of the Psalm: gratitude and obedience are

promised. 1. We will backslide no more, Ps 80:18. 2. We are

nearly dead; quicken us, and we will live to thee. 3. We will

invoke thy name. We will serve thee alone, and never more bow down

to any strange god, Ps 80:18.

All these things considered, he thinks he has good ground for

his prayer; and therefore confidently repeats what he had twice

before said: "Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts, cause thy face

to shine," &c.

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