Again we have a song out of the midst of distress. There is far more light and colour about it than in the previous one. The circumstances do not seem to be any more favourable than those described before. There is this difference however, between the two psalms. The first is mainly occupied with the disastrous conditions; this one begins with a prayer which is a recognition of the past relationship of God to His people.
This is therefore a great song of God as Shepherd. The aspects of the shepherd nature dealt with are those of His guidance and care protection. The Shepherd of glory, Who by the shining saves from danger, is appealed to. Then the figure is changed, and God is the Husbandman. His vine, which He planted and which flourished so perfectly has become a prey to the ravages of wild beasts and fire. Suddenly the figure ceases, and its meaning is revealed in the words,
“Let Thy hand be upon the man of Thy right hand, Upon the son of man whom Thou madest strong for Thyself.”
The burden of the psalm is expressed in the thrice repeated prayer (vv. Psalms 80:3; Psalms 80:7; Psalms 80:19). The suffering of the people is due to their own sin in turning away from God as Shepherd, Husbandman, and King. Their restoration can only come as He turns them back to Himself. Notice the ascent in these verse in the names which the singer uses for God. “God,” “God of hosts,” “Jehovah God of Hosts.”
the Third Sunday after Epiphany