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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Psalms 80



Verses 1-19

Though we know not the occasion on which this song was composed, yet as the tribes still inhabited the land, it probably was written on the same occasion as the preseding, and prays for the same salvation.

Psalms 80:1. Thou that dwellest between the cherubims. In allusion to the shekinah, or visible glory, which dwelt upon the mercy seat, above the ark, and was overshadowed by the cherubim.

Psalms 80:2. Before Ephraim, and Benjamin, and Manasseh. The twelve tribes in the wilderness encamped about the ark, forming a square whose sides were each twelve miles. The above three are mentioned here, because, according to the order of the march, these immediately followed the ark.

Psalms 80:7. Turn us, oh God—and we shall be saved. This is a prayer of confidence, that God would revive Judah and her allies after the double stroke of Shishak and Jeroboam’s most bloody wars.

Psalms 80:15. And the branch. This is a frequent emblem of the Messiah. Isaiah 11:1. Jeremiah 23:5. Zechariah 3:8; Zechariah 6:12. But the Hebrew here is אל בן al ben, upon the SON. The LXX and the Vulgate have “the Son of man;” and the Chaldee, “upon the King Messiah, whom thou madest strong for thyself.” It is rendered literally at Psalms 80:17, the man of thy right hand—the Son of man, that is Christ Jesus. Psalms 110:1. Hebrews 1:13.


This, in some few copies, is not divided from the preseding psalm. The substance of the prayer is twofold. The first part of it pleads for restoring grace, under the idea that Messiah was the compassionate shepherd of Israel. The second, by the beautiful and well-supported allegory of the vine, moves the Lord to pity his once favourite vineyard. The late C. Wesley has admirably preserved the spirit of the original.

Surely, oh Lord, we once were thine, Thou hast for us thy wonders wrought, A generous and right noble vine, When newly out of Egypt brought. Thou didst the heathen stock expel, The hardened race received their doom, Druids and all the brood of hell, And monks of antichristian Rome.

Planted by thy Almighty hand, Watered with blood, the vine took root, And spread throughout the happy land, And filled the earth with golden fruit.

The hills were covered with her shade, Her branchy arms extended wide, Her fair luxuriant honours spread, And rivalled all the cedar’s pride.

Why hast thou then abhorred thine own, And cast thy pleasant plant away, Broke down her mounds, her fence o’erthrown, And left her to the beasts a prey.

All that go by pluck off her grapes, Our Zion of her children spoil, While error in ten thousand shapes, Assays the simple to beguile.

The boar out of the German wood, Tears up her roots with ruthless power, The lion roaring for his food, And all the forest beasts devour.

Look on them with thy flaming eyes, The sin-consuming virtue dart; And bid our fallen church arise, And make us after thy own heart.


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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 80:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.

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