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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible
Psalms 80



Verse 1

Psalms 80.

The Psalmist in his prayer complaineth of the miseries of the church. God's former favours are turned into judgments: he prayeth for deliverance.

To the chief musician upon Shoshannim-Eduth. A Psalm of Asaph.

Title. מזמור ףּלאס עדות שׁשׁנים אל למנזח lamnatseach el shoshanniim eiduth leasaph mizmor.] The author of this psalm, under the figure of a vine, represents the deplorable state of the Jewish nation, and begs of God, at length to take compassion on them, and to protect some young prince, whom he seemed to have raised up and inspirited with vigour for a restoration. See Psalms 80:17. This young prince seems to be Josiah, by the character of vigour, by the reformation's seeming to depend upon him, Psalms 80:18 and by the author's praying God to appear in their favour, in the face of all the tribes, which, in his time, we know, were assembled together at Jerusalem: just at that time, probably, this hymn was composed. Others think, that it was written upon the invasion of Judea by Sennacherib. It is plain however from the first verse, that it was composed while the temple was standing. At the same time it is certain, that the spiritual mind will view the whole in an infinitely higher sense, as relating to Christ and his church. See the REFLECTIONS.

Psalms 80:1. Thou that dwellest between the cherubims i.e. those two sacred emblematical figures which were set in the most holy place, upon the mercy-seat; before which the high-priest sprinkled the blood upon the great day of atonement.

Verse 2

Psalms 80:2. Before Ephraim, &c.— That is, before all the tribes; in the face of all the people assembled at Jerusalem. These three in some sense included the whole; Benjamin being incorporated with Judah; Manasseh comprehending the country beyond Jordan, and Ephraim all the rest. Mudge.

Verse 3

Psalms 80:3. Turn us again, O God There are evidently four parts in this psalm; all of which conclude with this verse, or with one varying very little from it. In the first, the Psalmist intreats God to assist them, as he formerly did their forefathers. In the second, he beseeches him to have compassion upon their miserable condition. In the third, not to forsake those now, for whom he had already done so much: and the fourth concludes with a prayer for their king, and a promise of future obedience, as a grateful return for God's favours. Instead of turn us, Mudge reads very properly, restore us.

Verse 4

Psalms 80:4. How long wilt thou be angry? &c.— How long dost thou preserve thy wrath during the prayer of thy people? Mudge.

Verse 8

Psalms 80:8. Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt The Psalmist, whoever he was, describing the Israelites under the simile of a vine, continues the metaphor to a considerable length, and carries it on very happily through the several particulars. Among the many excellencies with which this allegory abounds, that nicety observable both in the beginning and close of it, is not the least; the author sliding, as it were, from the comparison into the subject itself, and from thence into the comparison, by an almost insensible gradation. Thou hast brought a vine, &c. See Bishop Lowth's 10th Prelection.

Verse 10

Psalms 80:10. And the boughs, &c.— And the stately cedars with the branches thereof. Mudge.

Verse 11

Psalms 80:11. She sent out her boughs, &c.— That is to the Mediterranean sea, and to the river Euphrates; alluding to the extent of the Israelitish dominions. The enemies and destroyers of Israel are represented under the idea of a boar or wild beast. Theodoret says, that Nebuchadnezzar was meant by the Psalmist; and that he terms him very properly the wild beast of the field, because he was more fierce than any other monarch.

Verse 15

Psalms 80:15. And the vineyard which thy right hand hath planted. And the stock, &c. and the youth thou has invigorated for thyself: "The stock of thy own planting, and the "man of thy own raising to keep it." So the sense will be continued onto the next verse; which should be rendered, It is burned with fire, it is plucked up. Let them perish at the rebuke of thy countenance: where, the vine being again mentioned, it becomes not unnatural to add a prayer for the destruction of its enemies, the boar and wild beast. Mudge.

Verse 17

Psalms 80:17. Let thy hand be, &c.— Let thy hand be over the prince; thy right arm over the young man thou hast invigorated for thyself. Mudge. God is prayed to let his hand be upon or over him; i.e. to support him in his attacks from the enemies of his country, to influence his counsels with his almighty wisdom, and to enable him to vindicate the honour of his nation.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, The eyes of the Lord are ever upon his faithful people, and his ears open to their prayers; to him therefore in every distress they look, and find him ever near to help in time of need.

1. The Psalmist begs God's gracious regard and powerful deliverance. He addressed him as the shepherd of Israel, whose tender care towards the sheep of his pasture had been proved by long experience. Thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; who had done so in time past, and was still ready to manifest the same regard towards them: thou that dwellest between the cherubims, exalted on a throne of grace, to receive the petitions of them that seek him, give ear to our prayers; shine forth, to dispel the gloom which thickens round us: Before Ephriam, and Benjamin, and Manasseh, stir up thy strength, these tribes on their march, Numbers 17:13 immediately following the ark; and come and save us from the power of our enemies, who are too mighty for us. This may be considered as the prayer of the church for the appearance of Christ in the flesh, the Sun of righteousness, whose rising with healing in his wings was the great object of their desire, and his spiritual salvation the great hope of their souls.

2. He humbly expostulates with God on their afflictions. How long wilt thou be angry against the prayer of thy people? appear so at least, by refusing them an answer; or be really displeased with them, because they asked amiss; were insincere, or lukewarm? Thou feedest them with the bread of tears, and givest them tears to drink in great measure: so abundant were their sorrows, that even they did not eat or drink, but tears mingled with their repast. Thou makest us a strife unto our neighbours, who divide our spoil; and our enemies laugh among themselves, at the easy prey they have gotten, and the disappointment of our hopes. Note; (1.) When we pray, it becomes us well to consider what we say, and in what manner we approach God; lest, by our formality and unbelief, our prayers should be turned into sin. (2.) The way to join the everlasting songs of angels lies frequently, in this world, through the vale of tears. (3.) The people of God will be often the derision of their enemies. But woe to those who laugh now; for they shall mourn and weep, when blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted.

3. In order to obtain the salvation that he desired, the Psalmist begs the conversion of their souls to God. Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine, in token of reconciliation, and then he is sure their hope shall not be delayed, we shall be saved. And thus is repeated, as the great burden of their prayer; for, this being obtained, every other request would be granted. Note; (1.) The soul has already begun to turn to God, on whom this spirit of prayer and supplication is poured out. (2.) The great desire of the awakened sinner is, to obtain reconciliation with God.

2nd, The former favours of God to his Israel are here pleaded as an argument for his present regard towards them in their distress. The church is compared to a vine, of which Jesus is the living root; and to a vineyard, of which God is the husbandman.

1. By the divine mercy and providence they had been brought out of Egypt: the Canaanites dispossessed to make room for them; and they planted in their stead. Deep-rooted and vigorous, they multiplied exceedingly, and extended their branches unto the sea and the river.

2. They had experienced a sad reverse of state, and inquire into the cause. Why hast thou then broken down her hedges? withdrawn his defence and protection, in consequence of which they were become desolate; so that every traveller, every enemy, now made inroads upon them, to spoil and lay their vineyard waste. Fierce and cruel as the beasts of the desert, their foes devoured them without pity or remorse: Their cities were burnt with fire; their land wasted; and the inhabitants slaughtered: being under God's rebuke, they fell an easy prey to their invaders, Note; (1.) If God corrects, surely there is a cause: sin, sin, breeds all our misery. (2.) The strongest nation becomes an easy prey, the moment God withdraws his protection.

3. They earnestly intreat a return of the divine favour; that God would from heaven cast a favourable look towards them, and, as he was so able to rescue them, would graciously visit them with his salvation; nor suffer the vineyard, the planting of his own hands, and therefore dear to him, to be destroyed; and the branch he had made so strong for himself, the people separated for his service and designed for his glory, to be broken down. Therefore, let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, which may be applied to the king of Israel, but in a higher sense belongs to the Lord Jesus, the great repairer of the breaches of his church, who in the fulness of time should become incarnate, the son of man, the object of his Father's regard, and made strong for all the arduous work of redemption; and for thyself, because by his undertaking, and the accomplishment of his mediatorial office, glory was given to God in the highest. Note; There is help laid on one mighty to save; we may therefore boldly trust, and not be afraid.

4. They engage heartily to cleave to God. So will not we go back from thee: the all-sufficiency of Jesus would encourage their faith and hope; and God's love, herein manifested, attach them to his service. Quicken us, and we will call upon thy name: so dead and lifeless often are our hearts, that we have no power to pray with any fervency, till the Lord pours out a spirit of prayer and supplication, and then our drooping souls revive. Note; (1.) Though we can do nothing as of ourselves, we can do all things through Christ strengthening us. (2.) Prayer is the daily employment of every one who is truly alive to God.

5. The Psalmist, in behalf of the people of Israel, concludes with reiterating his former supplication for converting grace; and addressing his prayer to the Lord God of hosts, so able to save all that come to him, expects in faith the salvation for which he so ardently pleads. Note; Repetition in our prayers is not always vain, but often speaks the language of most importunate desire. Lord, have mercy upon us! Christ, have mercy upon us! Lord, have mercy upon us!


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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 80:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.

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