The psalmist complains of the miseries of the church. (1-7) Its former prosperity and present desolation. (8-16) A prayer for mercy. (17-19)
Verses 1-7 He that dwelleth upon the mercy-seat, is the good Shepherd of his people. But we can neither expect the comfort of his love, nor the protection of his arm, unless we partake of his converting grace. If he is really angry at the prayers of his people, it is because, although they pray, their ends are not right, or there is some secret sin indulged in them, or he will try their patience and perseverance in prayer. When God is displeased with his people, we must expect to see them in tears, and their enemies in triumph. There is no salvation but from God's favour; there is no conversion to God but by his own grace.
Verses 8-16 The church is represented as a vine and a vineyard. The root of this vine is Christ, the branches are believers. The church is like a vine, needing support, but spreading and fruitful. If a vine do not bring forth fruit, no tree is so worthless. And are not we planted as in a well-cultivated garden, with every means of being fruitful in works of righteousness? But the useless leaves of profession, and the empty boughs of notions and forms, abound far more than real piety. It was wasted and ruined. There was a good reason for this change in God's way toward them. And it is well or ill with us, according as we are under God's smiles or frowns. When we consider the state of the purest part of the visible church, we cannot wonder that it is visited with sharp corrections. They request that God would help the vine. Lord, it is formed by thyself, and for thyself, therefore it may, with humble confidence, be committed to thyself.
Verses 17-19 The Messiah, the Protector and Saviour of the church, is the Man of God's right hand; he is the Arm of the Lord, for all power is given to him. In him is our strength, by which we are enabled to persevere to the end. The vine, therefore, cannot be ruined, nor can any fruitful branch perish; but the unfruitful will be cut off and cast into the fire. The end of our redemption is, that we should serve Him who hath redeemed us, and not go back to our old sins.
Psalms 80:1-19 . Eduth--Testimony, referring to the topic as a testimony of God to His people (compare Psalms 19:7 ). This Psalm probably relates to the captivity of the ten tribes, as the former to that of Judah. Its complaint is aggravated by the contrast of former prosperity, and the prayer for relief occurs as a refrain through the Psalm.
1, 2. Joseph--for Ephraim ( 1 Chronicles 7:20-29 , Psalms 78:67 , Revelation 7:8 ), for Israel.
Shepherd--(Compare Genesis 49:24 ).
leadest, &c.--( Psalms 77:20 ).
dwellest . . . cherubim--( Exodus 25:20 ); the place of God's visible glory, whence He communed with the people ( Hebrews 9:5 ).
shine forth--appear ( Psalms 50:2 , 94:1 ).
2. Before Ephraim, &c.--These tribes marched next the ark ( Numbers 2:18-24 ). The name of Benjamin may be introduced merely in allusion to that fact, and not because that tribe was identified with Israel in the schism ( 1 Kings 12:16-21 ; compare also Numbers 10:24 ).
3. Turn us--that is, from captivity.
thy face to shine--( Numbers 6:25 ).
4. be angry--(Compare Margin.)
5. bread of tears--still an Eastern figure for affliction.
6. strife--object or cause of ( Isaiah 9:11 ). On last clause compare Psalms 79:4 , Ezekiel 36:4 .
8-11. brought--or, "plucked up," as by roots, to be replanted.
a vine--( Psalms 78:47 ). The figure ( Isaiah 16:8 ) represents the flourishing state of Israel, as predicted ( Genesis 28:14 ), and verified ( 1 Kings 4:20-25 ).
12. hedges--( Isaiah 5:5 ).
13. The boar--may represent the ravaging Assyrian and
the wild beast--other heathen.
14, 15. visit this vine--favorably ( Psalms 8:4 ).
15. And the vineyard--or, "And protect or guard what thy right hand," &c.
the branch--literally, "over the Son of man," preceding this phrase, with "protect" or "watch."
for thyself--a tacit allusion to the plea for help; for
16. it--the "vine" or
they--the "people" are suffering from Thy displeasure.
17. thy hand . . . upon--that is, strengthen ( Ezra 7:6 , 8:22 ).
man of . . . hand--may allude to Benjamin ( Genesis 35:18 ). The terms in the latter clause correspond with those of Psalms 80:15 , from "and the branch," &c., literally, and confirm the exposition given above.
18. We need quickening grace ( Psalms 71:20 , 119:25 ) to persevere in Thy right worship ( Genesis 4:26 , Romans 10:11 ).
19. (Compare Psalms 80:3 , "O God"; Psalms 80:7 , "O God of hosts").