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Bible Commentaries

The Biblical Illustrator

Psalms 80

 

 

Verses 1-19

Psalms 80:1-19

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, Thou that leadest Joseph like a flock.

The Almighty in relation to erring man

I. As a shepherd (Psalms 80:1).

1. His flock indicated. “Joseph” may stand for all Israel, and Israel as an illustration of the moral condition of men everywhere.

2. His dwelling-place described. Dwelt in symbol on mercy-seat. Now, God is in Christ, reconciling the world.

3. His interposition invoked (Psalms 80:2).

II. As a character (Psalms 80:4). God’s chastisements are--

1. Always deserved.

2. Often very painful. Physical anguish, moral distress, social bereavement, disappointment, persecution.

3. They sometimes stimulate prayer. However great our afflictions, if they but send us in prayer to God, they are blessings in disguise.

III. As a cultivator (Psalms 80:8-13).

1. The work He does.

2. The evil He permits. “Why hast thou then broken down her hedges?” etc. He did not do it by His direct agency, only by permission. He could have prevented it. He could have crushed the invaders. But He did not. For wise and beneficent purposes, He permitted it. So it is in the department of spiritual culture. He permits evils.

IV. As the restorer (Psalms 80:14-19).

1. He restores by special visitation. “Look down from heaven,” etc. Dead souls are restored to life because God visits the world. “He bowed the heavens and came down.” He appeared in Christ.

2. He restores from apparently the most hopeless condition (Psalms 80:16). “There is nothing too hard for the Lord.” “He is able of these stones to raise up children,” etc. “Can these dry bones live?” you say. Yes, they can.

3. He restores by quickening the soul into devotion (Psalms 80:18). (Homilist.)

The relative Deity

I. Here He is presented in His relative character. He is a “Shepherd.” As a Shepherd He has universal knowledge, self-sacrificing love, and almighty power.

II. Here He is presented in His relative agency. “Thou that leadest Joseph like a flock.” He leads us now by the dictates of moral reason, the events of His providence, the revelations of His book, and the influence of His Spirit.

III. Here He is presented in His relative posture. “Thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth.” Man, from his nature, requires a place for his God--some point in space where he may meet Him. Under the old dispensation this want was met by His appearing in the Shekinah over the mercy-seat. In the new it is met in Christ, of which the old manifestation was but the symbol. Christ is the “Mercy Seat “ where man meets his God.

IV. Here He is presented in His relative light, “Shine forth.” We want Him to shine forth upon us through Christ. (Homilist.)

Thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth.

The mercy-seat

The prayer in the text may be offered--

1. When we are seeking the pardon of our offences,--when our hearts are stricken with conviction,--when we understand and feel that it is an evil thing to sin against God.

2. When we are oppressed by spiritual adversaries.

3. When commending particular efforts for the advancement of the Saviour’s kingdom to the Divine regard.

4. When we contemplate the general condition and wants of mankind. (J. Parsons.)

The God that dwelleth between the cherubims

I. The character of God represented by this phrase.

1. A God of glory.

2. A God of holiness and justice.

3. A God of mercy, full of love and goodness.

4. A God of condescending intercourse. God might be approached with safety and success as He sat upon the mercy-seat sprinkled with blood (Exodus 29:43-46).

II. The import of the prayer in the text. “Thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth,” smile upon us with Thy heavenly favour; cast away all our transgressions from Thy sight; break in upon our darkened souls with the light of Thy truth, and cause us to see and know the truth with enlightened understandings; chase away with Thy bright beamings the gloom of sin and unbelief; and let Thy peace “which passeth all understanding,” and the “joy of the Holy Ghost,” dwell within us, to be our portion at all times. Guide us by Thy unerring counsel here, and receive us to Thy eternal glory hereafter. (J. S. Broad, M. A.)

The word “God” means the Shining One

Special reference is probably made to the Shekinah. God under the Old Testament was manifesting His presence in a cloud of dazzling light. The name, therefore, by which He was known was the Brilliant or Shining One. It was long supposed that God etymologically meant good. God, good--they were believed to be one and the same word. But further investigation seems to point out that the English God, the Latin Deus, the Greek Theos, the Welsh Duw--all come from an old Aryan root signifying “to shine.” Men thought of God, and to what could they compare Him? To nothing else than the shining splendour of the light. God is light, God means the “Shining One.” (Cynddylan Jones.)


Verses 1-19

Psalms 80:1-19

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, Thou that leadest Joseph like a flock.

The Almighty in relation to erring man

I. As a shepherd (Psalms 80:1).

1. His flock indicated. “Joseph” may stand for all Israel, and Israel as an illustration of the moral condition of men everywhere.

2. His dwelling-place described. Dwelt in symbol on mercy-seat. Now, God is in Christ, reconciling the world.

3. His interposition invoked (Psalms 80:2).

II. As a character (Psalms 80:4). God’s chastisements are--

1. Always deserved.

2. Often very painful. Physical anguish, moral distress, social bereavement, disappointment, persecution.

3. They sometimes stimulate prayer. However great our afflictions, if they but send us in prayer to God, they are blessings in disguise.

III. As a cultivator (Psalms 80:8-13).

1. The work He does.

2. The evil He permits. “Why hast thou then broken down her hedges?” etc. He did not do it by His direct agency, only by permission. He could have prevented it. He could have crushed the invaders. But He did not. For wise and beneficent purposes, He permitted it. So it is in the department of spiritual culture. He permits evils.

IV. As the restorer (Psalms 80:14-19).

1. He restores by special visitation. “Look down from heaven,” etc. Dead souls are restored to life because God visits the world. “He bowed the heavens and came down.” He appeared in Christ.

2. He restores from apparently the most hopeless condition (Psalms 80:16). “There is nothing too hard for the Lord.” “He is able of these stones to raise up children,” etc. “Can these dry bones live?” you say. Yes, they can.

3. He restores by quickening the soul into devotion (Psalms 80:18). (Homilist.)

The relative Deity

I. Here He is presented in His relative character. He is a “Shepherd.” As a Shepherd He has universal knowledge, self-sacrificing love, and almighty power.

II. Here He is presented in His relative agency. “Thou that leadest Joseph like a flock.” He leads us now by the dictates of moral reason, the events of His providence, the revelations of His book, and the influence of His Spirit.

III. Here He is presented in His relative posture. “Thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth.” Man, from his nature, requires a place for his God--some point in space where he may meet Him. Under the old dispensation this want was met by His appearing in the Shekinah over the mercy-seat. In the new it is met in Christ, of which the old manifestation was but the symbol. Christ is the “Mercy Seat “ where man meets his God.

IV. Here He is presented in His relative light, “Shine forth.” We want Him to shine forth upon us through Christ. (Homilist.)

Thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth.

The mercy-seat

The prayer in the text may be offered--

1. When we are seeking the pardon of our offences,--when our hearts are stricken with conviction,--when we understand and feel that it is an evil thing to sin against God.

2. When we are oppressed by spiritual adversaries.

3. When commending particular efforts for the advancement of the Saviour’s kingdom to the Divine regard.

4. When we contemplate the general condition and wants of mankind. (J. Parsons.)

The God that dwelleth between the cherubims

I. The character of God represented by this phrase.

1. A God of glory.

2. A God of holiness and justice.

3. A God of mercy, full of love and goodness.

4. A God of condescending intercourse. God might be approached with safety and success as He sat upon the mercy-seat sprinkled with blood (Exodus 29:43-46).

II. The import of the prayer in the text. “Thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth,” smile upon us with Thy heavenly favour; cast away all our transgressions from Thy sight; break in upon our darkened souls with the light of Thy truth, and cause us to see and know the truth with enlightened understandings; chase away with Thy bright beamings the gloom of sin and unbelief; and let Thy peace “which passeth all understanding,” and the “joy of the Holy Ghost,” dwell within us, to be our portion at all times. Guide us by Thy unerring counsel here, and receive us to Thy eternal glory hereafter. (J. S. Broad, M. A.)

The word “God” means the Shining One

Special reference is probably made to the Shekinah. God under the Old Testament was manifesting His presence in a cloud of dazzling light. The name, therefore, by which He was known was the Brilliant or Shining One. It was long supposed that God etymologically meant good. God, good--they were believed to be one and the same word. But further investigation seems to point out that the English God, the Latin Deus, the Greek Theos, the Welsh Duw--all come from an old Aryan root signifying “to shine.” Men thought of God, and to what could they compare Him? To nothing else than the shining splendour of the light. God is light, God means the “Shining One.” (Cynddylan Jones.)


Verse 2

Psalms 80:2

Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh stir up Thy strength, and come and save us.

For understanding of this verse we must remember that, when the ark of the covenant rested, or marched, in the wilderness, these three tribes were in the rearward of the host of Israel, or on the west side thereof, as is set down (Numbers 2:18-19). When the host marched, and the ark set forward, Moses said to the Lord, “Rise up, Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate Thee flee before Thee”; answerable to this, doth the sixty-eighth psalm begin, when the ark removed, and was carried up to Mount Zion; now, the people of God being in distress here, do call those days to remembrance, and do request the Lord, that as He had in the eyesight of those three tribes here mentioned, manifested Himself many a time to be the leader and defender of His people, so He would now also in this their lamentable condition stir up Himself for their relief and safety. Whence learn

1. The remembrance of the Lord’s humbling Himself to be familiar with His people, and how sweet and glorious communion His people have had with Him, may, and should, encourage believers in Him to seek and expect new experience of the like mercy in their need, as here the Israelites do pray for new proof of that favour, which their ancestors did find sometimes.

2. The posterity of those who have been in fellowship with God should pray for themselves, and be prayed for by the Church, that they may have room in the Lord’s host, and have God their leader, as their godly fathers had before them. (D. Dickson.)


Verse 4

Psalms 80:4

O Lord God of hosts, how long wilt thou be angry against the prayer of Thy people?

God’s anger

The Lord God of hosts is not properly a title of creation, but of providence. All creatures have their existence from God as their Maker; but so have they also their order from Him as their Governor. So that here, God would be respected, not as a creator, but as a general. His anger, therefore, seems so much the more fearful, as it is presented to us under so great a title, “The Lord God of hosts is angry.” They talk of Tamerlane, that he could daunt his enemies with the very look of his countenance. Oh! then what terror dwells in the countenance of the offended God!

I. God may be angry; and sin the cause of His anger. He hath scourged some in very mercy, till they have smarted under His rod (Job 6:4; Psalms 88:15-16). If He will do thus much in love, what shall be the terrors of His wrath? If the sun were wanting, it would be night for all the stare; and if God frown upon a man, for all the glittering honours of this world, he sits in the shadow of death. Thus terrible is the anger of God; now, what is He angry withal but sin? That is the perpetual make-bate between God and us; the fuel of the fire of His indignation (Isaiah 59:2; Isaiah 63:10).

II. God may be long angry. It is some favour when we have the respite to cry, “How long, Lord, wilt thou be angry with us?” There is some hope of remedy when we once complain of our sickness. Yet God may be long angry, and long continue sensible testimonies of His anger (Psalms 95:10). But how, then, doth the prophet say “that he retaineth not anger”? Well enough; for He never retaineth it one moment longer than we retain the cause of it. So soon as we ever cease sinning against Him, He ceaseth to be angry with us.

III. God may be angry with the whole people. The universality of sin calls for the universality of repentance, or else it will provoke God’s anger to strike us with universal judgments. If the whole people be guilty, the whole people must fall to deprecation. Such was the Ninevite’s repentance, “every man turning from his evil ways.”

IV. God may be angry with His own people. Yea, their sins anger Him most of all, because, together with wickedness, there is unkindness. As dearly as He loves them, their sins may provoke Him. Our interest in God is so far from excusing our iniquities, that it aggravates them. The nearer we are to Him, the nearer do our offences torch Him; as a man more takes to heart a discourtesy done by a friend than a great injury by a stranger.

V. God may be angry with His people that prayeth.

1. There may be infirmities enough in our very prayers to make them unacceptable.

2. But such is the mercy of our God, that He will wink at many infirmities in our devotions, and will not reject the prayer of an honest heart because of some weakness in the petitioner. It must be a greater cause than all this that makes God angry at our prayers. In general, it is sin (John 9:31; Psalms 66:18; Isaiah 1:15). God will have none of those petitions that are presented to Him with bloody hands.

3. In particular, it is the hypocrisy of sin, or the sin of hypocrisy, that makes God so angry with our prayers. (T. Adams.)

Obstructed prayer

I. In what sense God may be said to be angry with our prayers.

1. When He denies our requests.

2. When He delays His answers.

3. When He bestows blessings under a different form, and in a different manner from what we expected.

II. Some of the causes for this.

1. Our desires may be, and no doubt often are, improper.

2. Desires, not in themselves improper, may be unsuitable to us, such as would not, if granted, become our case or circumstances.

3. Prayers may be ill-timed.

4. They may be polluted and spoiled by sins.

5. They may be incompatible with the plans of infinite wisdom.

III. Improvement.

1. Instead of restraining prayer, this should make us more importunate.

2. Though we should not give over praying, we ought to give over sinning.

3. Acquiesce in all the Divine proceedings.

4. Be thankful that whatever favours God may see fit to withhold or suspend, He bestows far more than we have deserved. (Essex Remembrancer.)


Verse 13

Psalms 80:13

The boar out of the wood doth waste it, and the wild beast of the field doth devour it.

People to be feared

By this homely but expressive figure, the text sets forth the bad influences which in olden time broke in upon God’s heritage, as with swine’s foot trampling, and as with swine’s snout uprooting the vineyards of prosperity. What was true then is true now. There have been enough trees of righteousness planted to overshadow the whole earth, had it not been for the axemen who hewed them down.

I. I propose to point out to you those whom I consider to be the uprooting and devouring classes of society.

1. First, the public criminals. What is the fire that burns your store down compared with the conflagration which consumes your morals? What is the theft of the gold and silver from your money safe compared with the theft of your children’s virtue?

2. Again: in this class of uprooting and devouring population are untrustworthy officials (Ecclesiastes 10:16). It is a great calamity to a city when bad men get into public authority. Too great leniency to criminals is too great severity to society.

3. Again: among the uprooting and devouring classes in our midst, are the idle. When the French nobleman was asked why he kept busy when he had so large a property, he said: “I keep on engraving so I may not hang myself.” I do not care who the man is, you cannot afford to be idle. It is from the idle classes that the criminal classes are made up. Character, like water, gets putrid if it stands still too long.

4. Again: among the uprooting classes I place the oppressed poor. While there is no excuse for criminality, even in oppression, I state it as a simple fact that much of the scoundrelism of the community is consequent upon ill-treatment. There are many men and women battered and bruised, and stung until the hour of despair has come, and they stand with the ferocity of a wild beast, which, pursued until it can run no longer, turns round, foaming and bleeding, to fight the hounds. I want you to know who are the uprooting classes of society.

II. Because I want you to be more discriminating in your charities. Because I want your hearts open with generosity, and your hands open with charity. Because I want you to be made the sworn friends of all city evangelization, and all newsboys’ lodging houses, and all Howard missions, and Children’s Aid Societies. But more than that, I have preached the sermon because I thought in the contrast you would see how very kindly God had dealt with you, and I thought that you would go to-day to your comfortable homes, and sit at your well-filled tables, and look at the round faces of your children, and that then you would burst into tears at the review of God’s goodness to you, and that you would go to your room and lock the door; and kneel down, and say: “O Lord, I have been an ingrate; make me Thy child.” (T. De Witt Talmage.)

Ecclesiastical ruins

Whatever may have been the period when this psalm was written, it is a remarkable fact that it has been suitable for every age, from the days of the Judges until now, and been found expressive of the prayer and outlook of the people of the Lord. Failure has ever attended the ecclesiastical systems of earth. The theocracy which Joshua left was soon in ruins. The magnificent and well-ordered temple ritual organized by David and established by Solomon did not continue in its glory for one generation. Again and again it was restored by reforms, but grew worse and worse till the Lord Christ came. Then followed the Christian Church; but as that slowly rose into power it became a degenerate vine, and Catholicism grew to be such a curse that one-third of the Christian world rose in open protest, and the revolt of another third was stifled with blood. Then came the Reformed Churches. For a while they flourish, but full soon when the Master looks for fruit they bring forth wild grapes. The holiest souls in each to-day are crying, as they have through all the ages, “The forest boar rends it, and the wild beast feeds upon it.” This continued failure is solemn and instructive. As yet every religious system has sooner or later degenerated. Its fence has been broken down and wayfarers have mocked. Man was not made for ecclesiastical organization, but ecclesiastical organization for man. The work of the Holy Spirit of God is upon separate souls, and sometimes ecclesiastical failure drives the soul into closer communion with the true God. Grand spirits, like Asaph, are developed amidst Church disorder. Let the psalmists and the prophets, let the heroes of successive reformations, Columba and Patrick, Wickliffle and Luther, Wesley and Whitfield bear testimony to this. (J. H. Cooke.)


Verse 17

Psalms 80:17

Let Thy hand be upon the man of Thy right hand.

Christ made strong for God

Of Jesus only can it be unreservedly said, that He is the man of God’s right hand, and that He hath made Him strong for Himself. Of all the terms in the passage, we may indeed say that they are peculiarly emphatic, and embody views of character and position which could only be realized in the person and work of Christ.

I. The import of the designations herein given to Christ.

1. The Man of God’s right hand. Inasmuch as a seat at the right hand among men is esteemed the place of honour and power, so the act of elevating to dignity and authority by Jehovah is spoken of as a placing at His right hand; and accordingly Jesus is referred to as sitting at His right hand, or as described in one instance, “the right hand of power.” This leads us at once to perceive that the personal and official dignity of the Saviour are eplicity alluded to in our text, in His being called “the Man of God’s right hand.”

2. The Son of Man. Whilst the title in question implies the doctrine of Christ’s perfect manhood, it equally implies that He was more than a mere man. Differing hence in these respects from all the sons of men--though still a man in His creature existence--with much expressiveness could He be called “the Son of Man.”

II. The appointment of Jesus to the office of redeemer. Such appointment is expressly involved, if not explicitly stated, in the words, “whom Thou hast made strong for Thyself”; for God is thus represented as having chosen or designated “the Son of Man” to the office He thus holds. In this sense He “made Him” or appointed Him for Himself, to the office of Redeemer.

III. The peculiar fitness of the Man of God’s right hand to discharge the duties of the office to which He was appointed. It is impossible for any created intelligence to say what strength, or amount of spiritual power, was required on the part of Jesus--the Man of God’s right hand--to accomplish the work of redemption; but it behoves us not the less to direct our attention as closely as possible to the specific difficulties we know He had to encounter, that we may arrive at a fair estimate of His endurance; and hence of the greatness of that love and mercy by which these were animated.

IV. What is implied in this petition, requesting God to let His hand be upon the Man of His right hand.

1. A perception of danger.

2. A consciousness that man’s help is not to be found in himself.

3. A willingness to rely for salvation on the means appointed by God, through the Son of His love.

4. Full persuasion of God’s willingness to confer the blessing thus sought. (J. Allan.)

A prayer for the Messiah

1. In all ages the saints have greatly longed for their Saviour. Abraham saw His day afar off, and rejoiced that a child was to be born unto him, in whom all nations of the earth should be blessed. And the godly in this verse long for Him, and pray for His coming.

2. He is here shortly three ways described.


Verse 18

Psalms 80:18

So will not we go back from Thee.

Apostasy from God

I. Wherein lies the true nature of apostasy from God.

1. Every failure and defect in the exercise of grace is not to be reckoned as an apostasy. The soul may faint and flag in the pursuit of God, and yet not be carried off so far as to steer a contrary course.

2. Every positive discovery of corruption in the actual commission of sin is not apostasy. A man may halt and slip, yea, he may stumble, and fall, and yet not go back.

3. Apostasy from God includes not only a deviation in the life, but an alienation of the heart (Psalms 95:10; Acts 3:32; Psalms 44:18).

4. Apostasy from God is really an undoing of all the good which we have done. It is ending in the flesh, after we have begun in the Spirit; when our faces have been towards Zion, and our doings framed to turn to God; this is a revoking and disannulling of all, and driving towards hell.

II. Of what concernment and importance it is to believers to re secured against such apostasy.

1. How much they are in danger of it, viz. if left alone, and abandoned to themselves.

2. How much danger they incur by apostasy, if they should be left to be guilty of it.

III. How is the strength of Christ our security in this case?

1. Omnipotence belongs to Christ, on the account of His Godhead, and this shall be exerted on the behalf of them that believe, as there is occasion.

2. Christ was anointed with power, as Mediator, the improvement whereof is not to His own advantage, but the advantage of those that believe in Him (Isaiah 63:1; Luke 1:69).

3. Christ hath destroyed the power of the devil by a power superior to him. This is meant by His dividing the spoil with the strong (Isaiah 53:12).

4. Christ, by the matchless efficacy and merit of His blood, hath purchased for us confirming grace, and the perpetual presence of the Spirit with us.

5. Christ’s prevailing intercession secures to us the needful, actual succours of grace, while we are here in this world.

IV. Why hath God ordered it so, that believers should be secured against apostasy by the strength of Christ?

1. This agrees with God’s general design of heaping all the glory possible upon Jesus Christ.

2. This suits with God’s design of grace in our eternal election; for we are chosen in Christ (Ephesians 1:4). Therefore it is fit that we should be also preserved in Christ (Jude 1:1).

3. It is necessary that we should be secured against apostasy by the strength of Christ, because He is the First and the Last in our sanctification.

4. It is necessary that Christ should secure us in our way to glory, because it is His business to receive us into the possession of that glory at the close of all (John 14:3).

5. The wisdom of God is hereby seen in a most shameful baffling of the devil.

6. Believers could not have a better security than that whereof there hath been a visible experiment in the Person of Christ Himself.

V. Uses.

1. This lays open the ground of the devil’s enmity against Christ, which hath been always most extreme and implacable.

2. It is inexcusable folly for any one in the world to lean to his own arm.

3. Make no promises of perseverance in your own strength.

4. Look to your faith as the principal grace, which contributes to your establishment (Isaiah 7:9).

5. Do not arrogate the honour of your standing in Christ, and abiding with Christ, in the least measure to yourselves. Let Christ have all the glory of your setting out, and holding out; let Him have it now, and let Him have it at the last. (T. Cruse.)

Backsliders and their guilt

I. Point out those who may be justly charged with going back from God.

1. Those who, having been once instructed in the Gospel, and having enjoyed the benefits of its means of grace, and continued for some time professors of Christianity, have afterwards renounced the faith through an evil heart of unbelief. The religion of Jesus presents insurmountable objections to fraud, deceit, or dishonesty--to the indulgence of sinful passions or of unlawful pleasures; yet they are attached to their worldly enjoyments, and, desirous of shaking off the restraints of religion, they begin by impugning particular doctrines, and imagine that the precepts of Christianity are not so strict, or its denunciations against sin so very positive as they seem, and fancy that they shall find some way of escaping punishment not commonly understood, some easier way than passing through the strait gate which Christ has pointed out By degrees they go on to deny religion altogether, and to magnify for themselves difficulties into serious objections.

2. Those who shrink from an open and fair avowal and confession of their faith. They are afraid lest they be accounted puritanical, singular, narrow-minded or superstitious; they dread the laugh, the ridicule, the contempt of weak and worthless mortals whom they cannot possibly esteem, more than the reproofs of a disapproving conscience, more than the awful displeasure of God.

3. There are many who, from pure fickleness and love of change, are carried about with every wind of doctrine; many have no root in themselves, and therefore become the deluded followers of every new instructor, of every arrogant pretender to superior knowledge or holiness.

4. There are also not a few who, influenced by worldly attachments and connections, accompany and follow their companions and friends, and separate themselves from others with whom they have had some trifling quarrel, or conceived something wrong. Those who thus act go in direct opposition to Christ’s admonition. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God.”

5. Those who act habitually inconsistent with their religious profession. A licentious and immoral Christian, a profane and ungodly believer, a false and deceitful follower of Jesus, a lover of God who is cruel or unjust to men, are characters which, by the very words of which they are expressed, involve a contradiction, and cannot by possibility have any existence.

6. They may be more especially charged with going back, who return to the wilful commission of sin, after having been engaged in the ordinances of devotion, namely, those professing Christians who have made public and solemn declaration of love, obedience, and attachment, to Jesus, and of a determination to act faithfully as Christians.

II. Let me entreat you to avoid following their example, because--

1. It is weak and contemptible. In the most ordinary affairs of life can you ever have confidence, can you ever have esteem for the fickle, changeable, and irresolute?

2. It is very sinful to go back from God; for dishonesty and unfaithfulness to engagements are uniformly regarded as criminal, and are generally punished. Shall he, then, who vows, escape the vows he has made before heaven?

III. Let me entreat you, then, to form the resolution here expressed by the psalmist, that you will not go back from God. Whatever your difficulties or trials, whether pleasures allure or dangers intimidate, it is yours to follow unmoved the great Captain of your salvation. Think of the recompense set before you--the crown of life set before him who shall be faithful unto death. (D. Macfarlan, D. D.)

Quicken us, and we will call upon Thy name.

The quickening necessary to prayer

Man requires spiritual quickening before he can pray. He must be quickened--

I. With the sense of the Divine presence. Who can pray without the vivid realization of the Divine personality, the Divine presence, and the Divine entreatability?

II. With the sense of moral obligation. Who will pray without feeling the strongest convictions of duty to love, serve, and honour the great God?

III. With the sense of spiritual needs. Sense of dependence underlies all prayer, all religion, all worship. This sense which, alas! is deadened within us, must be quickened before we can pray. (Homilist.)


Verse 19

Psalms 80:19

Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts, cause Thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.

Divine greatness and Divine graciousness

I. Divine greatness, “Lord God of hosts.” What hosts are under Him? All the tribes of irrational life on this earth, all classes of men, all the stars of heaven, all the myriad systems of globes in space, all the innumerable armies of intelligent existences, both the happy and the miserable, He is Lord of all. How great is God! “To whom will ye liken Me? saith the Lord,” etc.

II. Divine graciousness. “Cause Thy face to shine.”

1. The enjoyment of God’s graciousness requires a Divine change on man’s part. “Turn us.”

2. The enjoyment of God’s graciousness involves the realization of man’s highest hopes, “And we shall be saved.” What is that? We know what it meant to the author of this poem; but it means infinitely more to all human souls. (Homilist.)

One antidote for many ills

This seems to be the only prayer the psalmist puts up in this psalm, as being of itself sufficient for the removal of all the ills over which he mourned. The reason is obvious. He had traced all the calamities to one source--“O Lord God, how long wilt Thou be angry?” and now he seeks refreshing from one fountain.

I. The benefits of revival to any Church in the world will be a lasting blessing. I do not mean that spurious kind of revival. I do not mean all that excitement attendant upon religion, which has brought men into a kind of spasmodic godliness, and translated them from sensible beings into such as could only rave about a religion they did not understand. I do not think that is a real and true revival. God’s revivals, whilst they are attended with a great heat and warmth of piety, yet have with them knowledge as well as life, understanding as well as power. Among the blessings of the revival of Christians are--

1. The salvation of sinners. For this we must, and will, cry, “O Lord our God, visit Thy plantation, and pour out again upon us Thy mighty Spirit.”

2. The promotion of true love and unanimity in its midst. Oh, if God gives us revival, we shall have perfect unanimity.

3. The mouths of the enemies of the truth are stopped.

4. The promotion of the glory of God. If we would honour God by the Church, we must have a warm Church, a burning Church, loving the truths it holds, and carrying them out in the life.

II. What are the means of revival? They are twofold. One is, “Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts”; and the other is, “Cause Thy face to shine.” There can be no revival without both of these.

1. “Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts.”

2. The other means of revival is a precious one--“Cause Thy face to shine.” Ah! we might ask of God, that we might all be devoted, all His servants, all prayerful, and all what we want to be; but it would never come without this second prayer being answered; and even if it did come without this, where would be the blessing? It is the causing of His face to shine on His Church that makes a Church flourish. A black cloud has swept over us, all we want is that the sun should come, and it shall sweep that cloud away. There have been direful things; but what of them, if God, our God, shall appear?

III. Come, now, let me stir you all up, all of you who love the Saviour, to seek after this revival. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
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Psalms 81:1-16

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Psalms 80:4". The Biblical Illustrator. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/psalms-80.html. 1905-1909. New York.

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