Psalm 80:17

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 17. Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand. Let thy power rest on thy true Benjamin, son of thy right hand; give a commission to some chosen man by whom thou wilt deliver. Honour him, save us, and glorify thyself. There is no doubt here an outlook to the Messiah, for whom believing Jews had learned to look as the Saviour in time of trouble.

Upon the son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself. Send forth thy power with him whom thou shalt strengthen to accomplish thy purposes of grace. It pleases God to work for the sons of men by sons of men. "By man came death, by man came also the resurrection from the dead." Nations rise or fall largely through the instrumentality of individuals: by a Napoleon the kingdoms are scourged, and by a Wellington nations are saved from the tyrant. It is by the man Christ Jesus that fallen Israel is yet to rise, and indeed through him, who deigns to call himself the Son of Man, the world is to be delivered from the dominion of Satan and the curse of sin. O Lord, fulfil thy promise to the man of thy right hand, who participates in thy glory, and give him to see the pleasure of the Lord prospering in his hand.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 17. Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, etc. Neither the church, nor any member thereof needeth any more security for their stability and perpetuation, but Christ; for now when the vineyard is burnt, and the visible church defaced, the remnant are content to rest satisfied with this, which also they take for granted, and do subscribe unto it: Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself. The consanguinity of Christ with the believer, and his humiliation in his human nature, are strong supporters of the faith and comfort of his people that do seek salvation through him; therefore do the faithful here fix themselves on this, that as he is God's Son, so he is a branch of their vineyard also; that as he is at the right hand of the Father as God, so he is the man of his right hand also; the Son of Man, or of Adam, partaker of flesh and blood with us, of the same stock that we are of, in all things like to us, except sin; for the Son of Man is the style whereby Christ styled himself in his humiliation. The perpetuity of the church, and the perseverance of the saints, is founded upon the sufficiency of Christ; and the unfeigned believer may assure himself, as of the continuance of the church, so of his own perseverance and constant communion with God through him. Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, etc.; so will not we go back from thee. David Dickson.

Verse 17. The man of thy right hand... The Son of Man. These striking expressions apply in the fullest and most perfect sense to Christ. If the Man of God's right hand be the man placed there, to whom can the title apply but to him? for, to which of the angels said God at any time, Sit thou on my right hand? Hebrews 1:5 ; and much less has he said this of any Jewish king. As to the other appellation, The Son of Man, it is one of Christ's most definite titles, being given to him in Scripture no less than seventy-one times; in sixty- seven instances by himself; once by Daniel; once by the martyr Stephen; and twice by the Apostle John in the Revelation. He it is, too, whom the Father has made strong for the salvation of his church, and who will yet turn away captivity from the chosen people, and restore them to a place in the church, so that henceforth they will not go back from God. Editorial Note to Calvin in loc.

Verse 17 The man of thy right hand. The man of the right hand is,

  1. Most dear, whom one holds equally dear with his own right hand, Matthew 5:29-30 . Jacob called the son of his most beloved wife, Benjamin, the son of his right hand, Genesis 35:18 , who was so dear to him that his life was bound up in the lad's life, Genesis 44:30 .

  1. Most honoured; a man upon whom one wishes to confer the highest honour, is placed at the right hand as Solomon placed his mother, 1 Kings 2:19 , and the spouse stands at the right hand, Psalms 45:10 . Sitting down at the right hand is in Scripture a proof of the greatest honour.

  1. Allied, because covenants and mutual agreements are ratified by giving the right hand, 2 Kings 10:15 . Jehu said to Jehonadab, Is thy heart right? and Jehonadab answered, It is. If it be, give me thine hand. And he gave him his hand. The right hand used to be given, as in Galatians 2:9 . The man of God's right hand, therefore, is one most dear to God, most honoured and joined with him in covenant. James Alting. 1618-1679.

Verse 17. Though the phrase, man of thy right hand, may have an immediate reference to the King who ruled in Judah when this Psalm was penned, it must ultimately and most properly intend Jesus Christ, the great antitype of all the kings of David's line. The New Testament is the best interpreter of the Old; and it assures us that this highly dignified man is the Son of God. Hebrews 1:1 Hebrews 1:3 Hebrews 1:13 . But if we would understand the genuine import of the phrase, we must attend to a custom which obtained in Judea and other eastern countries. At meals, the master of the feast placed the person whom he loved best on his right hand, as a token of love and respect; and as they sat on couches, in the intervals between the dishes, when the master leaned on his left elbow, the man at his right hand, leaning also on his, would naturally repose his head on the master's bosom, while at the same time the master laid his right hand on the favourite's shoulder or side, in testimony of his favourable regards. This custom is obviously referred to in John 21:20 , where John is called the disciple whom Jesus loved, who also leaned on his breast at supper. Now, since Christ is called the man of God's right hand, this says that he is the object of his warmest and most honourable regards. In him he is well pleased, and in token of this, he has set him in the most honourable place. He is the Son of Man, whom the Father made to stand strong for himself, i.e., to support the honour and dignity of the divine character amidst a perverse and crooked generation: the consideration of the Father's right hand being upon him, or of the Father's satisfaction in him as our Surety, serves to animate and embolden our addresses to his throne, and is the keenest incitement to put in practice that resolution, Henceforth will we not go back from thee. Alexander Pirie.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 17-18. The power of God seen in Jesus, the cause of the perseverance of the saints.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 8-15. Parallel between the Church and a vine.