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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Scott: Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms

Psalms 80



Verses 1-19

Psalm 80:1-19 Title. (Marg. Ref.) Many are of opinion, that this psalm was written, at the time when. Jerusalem was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar : but some think, that it relates to the desolations made by Sennacherib. The reasons for the latter opinion are, that after the destruction of the city and temple by Nebuchadnezzar, God no longer " dwelt between the cherubim," above the mercy-seat (1); for the ark and the mercy-seat, and the cherubim of gold, were destroyed, and never replaced : nor is the Lord, ever after that event, thus spoken of in Scripture; but Hezekiah, praying against Sennacherib, addressed God by this very title. ( Isaiah 37: 16 ,17) The Septuagint also expressly call this, " A psalm concerning the Assyrian." Again, Ephraim and Manasseh (2), seem to have had but little concern in the affairs of Judah,. at the time of the Babylonish captivity : but during the reign of Hezekiah, many of these, and the other tribes constituting the kingdom of Israel, accepted of his invitation, joined the Jews in keeping the passover, and aft-rwards assisted in breaking down the idolatrous high place and altars, not only in Judah, and in Benjamin as connected with Judah; but likewise in Ephraim and Manasseh. (Notes, 2 Chronicles 30:1-27; 2 Chronicles 31:1.) Yet soon after, Sennacherib invaded the land, reduced the remnant of the ten tribes to abject slavery, invaded Judah, and threatened to destroy Jerusalem and the temple. It was therefore natural, at this crisis, to implore, that God would stir up his strength, and come to save Judah; and thus shew his glory, in the presence of Benjamin, in whose lot part of Jerusalem and of the temple was situated; and also before Ephraim and Prayer of Manasseh , to encourage them, and to shew that God approved Hezekiah"s zeal for reformation.

V:1. The Psalmist seems to have offered this prayer, not for Judah only, but for the whole nation of Israel, including the ten tribes, which were subjugated, carried captive, and scattered by the Assyrians. JEHOVAH " the Shep" herd of Israel," the Protector, Ruler, and Guide of that favoured nation, had led Joseph, as well as Judah, like a flock, out of Egypt, through the desert, and into Canaan : (Notes, Psalm 23:1-3; Psalm 77:19-20. Isaiah 40: 9-11; 6311- 14 :) and there he dwelt between the cherubim, at Shiloh, in the tribe of Ephraim, before the ark was stationed at Jerusalem. (Marg. Ref.) The Psalmist therefore, remembering these ancient displays of the glory of God in the midst of his people, implores him again to shine forth in the splendour of his power, truth, and love; to dismay their enemies, and to rescue and cheer his worshippers. This divine interposition is represented by the breaking forth of the sun after a dismal tempest, and that pleasing change which ensues. (Notes, 2 Samuel 23:3-4. Mai4: 2 , 3.)

V:2. (Note, title.) These three tribes, in the wilderness, marched immediately after the ark and the cherubim, by divine appointment, which seems to be here alluded to. ( Numbers 2:17-24.) Stir up, &c.] Marg. Ref. h.

V:3. In order to renewed prosperity and comfort, the Psalmist was deeply convinced, that a revival of pure religion was necessary; and therefore he repeatedly prayed, and thus taught the people to pray, for converting grace, in order that God might cause " his face to shine on them." (719. Notes, Psalm 4:6-8; Psalm 85:4. Numbers 6:24-26. Jeremiah 31:18-20. Lamentations 5:19-22.)

V:4. This verse seems to mark out the time of Sennacnerib"s invasion, and his rapid success, notwithstanding tlie zeul of Hezckiah, Isaiah , and others for reformatior and their continual prayers for the interposition of God in behalf of his people. " The faithful fear God"s anger, " when they perceive that their prayers are not forthwith " heard." (Notes, 2 Kings 18:3-6; 2 Kings 18:13-17; 2 Kings 19:1-4; 2 Kings 19:14-19.)

V:5 , 6. The afflictions of Israel were so heavy and of such long continuance, that their bread seemed to be dipped in their tears, and their cup filled to the brim with them; while their neighbours contended about dividing their spoil, and derided their miseries. (Marg. Ref. Notes, 2 Kings 18:23-27.) The original word for " great measure," is supposed to mean a large cup, much larger than those which were commonly used to drink from. (Notes, Psalm 102:3-11.)

V:8- 13. The nation of Israel, brought out of Egypt, planted in Canaan, (the ancient inhabitants having been extirpated to make room for it,) and favoured with many great advantages, temporal and spiritual, above all other nations, is here represented under the emblem of a vine, planted in a well-cultivated vineyard. (Marg. Ref. r.) The people so multiplied and prospered, especially in the days of David and Song of Solomon , that this vine, having taken deep root, overspread the whole country, from the Mediterranean sea to the river Euphrates; and its luxuriant branches grew strong like cedars, or covered the cedars to the top, by clinging to them. But nothing is here said of its fruitfulness; for it brought forth wild grapes. (Notes, Is. Psalm 5:1-7 - Jeremiah 2:20-21.) This indeed was the reason, why the heathen were allowed to desolate the land, as the wild boar would waste a vineyard; why the Romans were afterwards permitted to destroy Jerusalem; and why the Lord took from the Jews their peculiar privileges, and conferred them on the Gentile churches. (Notes, Psalm 89:38-51. Matthew 21:33-44.) The vine is a constant emblem of the church of Christ, under every dispensation. It is a feeble tree, which needs support, and is of no value except for its excellent fruit. (Notes and P. O. Ezekiel 15:1-8 :) It produces a large quantity of luxuriant branches, which not only yield no grapes, but must be pruned away, or they will hinder those upon the fruitful branches from ripening. Thus mere professors of Christianity are branches of the true Vine, which must be taken away and cast into the tire, in order that true believers may become more abundantly fruitful. (Notes, John 15:1-8.) Goodly cedars. (10) " Cedars of God." Marg. (Note, 104:


V:14 , 15. (Marg. Ref.) The family of David, (which God had advanced and prospered for the good of Israel, and for his own glory,) as typical of Christ, was perhaps meant by this Branch. Yet Christ himself, even the promised Messiah, seems to have been principally intended. The Septuagint translate it, "The Son of man" (17). The clause may be literally rendered, "The Song of Solomon , whom " thou hast made strong for thyself." (Note, Psalm 89:19-37.) " The Chaldee Paraphrast expounds the Branch of " Messiah himself, . . . " On King Messiah, whom thou hast " * established, &c." Song of Solomon , do the Rabbies, Aben Ezra , and ". Obadiah , cited by Dr. Hammond. ... To the advent of " this Son of Prayer of Manasseh , Israel was ever accustomed to look for" ward in time of affliction; on his second and glorious " advent the Christian church must fix her eye, in the day " of her calamities." Bp. Horne.

V:16. The vine, above described, (or the nation which God had brought out of Egypt, and planted in Canaan,) was in great measure cut down and burned with fire, by the dispersion of the ten tribes, and the success of the Assyrians in Judah : and though a remnant still remained, and a strong branch of David"s race; yet if the anger of God were not turned away from them, they likewise must soon perish. (Notes, 2 Kings 19:4-31.)

V:17 , 18. This may imply a request that God would uphold, strengthen, and defend his king, of David"s race, on the throne of Judah, for the protection of his people and the maintenance of true religion. (Note, 2 Kings 19:14-19.) But the Man of God"s right hand," and " the " Son of Prayer of Manasseh ," point out the promised Messiah very clearly, and may be considered as a prayer of the church

for his coming, as " the power of God," for the conversion of sinners, and the salvation of his people. (Note, 14 , 15.) Those who refer the Psalm to the Babylonish captivity, interpret the preceding verse of the subversion of the kingdom, in the family of David after the death of Josiah; and these verses as a prayer for another king of the same race to be advanced to the throne, in order that the people might be induced and encouraged to adhere to the worship of God, and to cal on him in every time of trouble. Quicken us. (18) Make tts to lice, or to be lively. (Notes, Psalm 22:29. Psalm 119:25. Ephesians 2:4-10.)

V:19. An increase of earnestness in prayer seems discernible, in comparing the three repetitions of this important request. (37)


Hebrews , who dwells on the mercy-seat, is the good Shepherd of his people, and leads them as a valued flock with all attention and tenderness. In all troubles and dangers let us beseech him to " shine upon our souls," and upon our path, that we may be cheered and directed by his presence and favour : and let us intreat him continually to " stir up his strength, and come" and save us. But we can neither expect the comforts of his love, nor the protection of his powerful arm, except we are partakers of his converting grace. When we discover our need of this invaluable blessing, we ought to pray earnestly for it : the same must be our conduct, when we have lost our comfort, and are exposed to rebukes by having relapsed into sin, and are become sensible of the necessity of returning to the Lord our Rest: (Notes, Psalm 51:10-13. Psalm 116:7 :) and in all public calamities, whether of churches or nations, we must observe the same order, and pray that they may be prepared by conversion, for returning comfort and prosperity. The Lord is really angry at the prayers of the hypocrite, who employs them as a cloke for his iniquity : but not with those of any sinner, however vile, who sincerely seeks his mercy and grace. (Note, Proverbs 15:8-9.) Yet, while he proves our sincerity, and increases our humility and fervency, by delays; we often think that he is angry against our prayers, and will not accept them : but we shall certainly find the contrary, if we persevere in asking and seeking. The church of God in times of grievous oppressions, and the believer in times of darkness and distress, (especially when occasioned by sin,) may for a while be sunk in sorrows, and exposed to contempt and reproach : but when this leads to repentance, having sows in tears they will reap in more abundant joy. (Note Psalm 126:5-6. Matthew 5:4. 2 Corinthians 7:8-11.) When we, in this favoured land, consider our manifold advantages, and our very disproportionate improvement of them, we shall perceive great cause for humiliation. We are planted, as in a well cultivated enclosure, with every means of being fruitful in the works of righteousness : but alas-! the useless leaves of profession, and the empty boughs of notions and forms, abound far more, than substantial piety and charity. The Christian religion also, as planted by the apostles and primitive evangelists, took deep root, and spread very wide, so that it has filled many nations; but it has too generally proved an empty vine. The Lord"s zeal for the honour of his own truth, precepts, and ordinances, may be pleaded with him as a reason, why he should not break down the hedges, and permit infidels, and heretics, and persecutors, to root up the vineyard; and may suggest an enquiry why he permits them so long to practise and prosper. But when we consider the state of the purest parts of the visible church, we cannot won- der that we are visited with sharp corrections. Hebrews , however, who is not only the strongest Branch, but the Root and Stem of the vine; who is " the Man of God"s right " hand," " the Son of man whom" the Father " hath made " so strong for himself;" has been carried through his work for his church, and is possessed of all power in heaven and earth for her benefit. The vine cannot therefore be ruined, nor can any fruitful branch perish : but the unfruitful will be cut off arid cast into the fire. Let us then come to him and abide in him, " without whom we " can do nothing;" let us beg of him to uphold and strengthen us, that we may not go back from him; and let us still call u[iou his name, in behalf of ourselves and of the whole ihurch : " Turn us again, O LORD God of Hosts; " cause thy face to shine, and we shall be saved."


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Bibliography Information
Scott, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 80:4". Thomas Scott: Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms. 1804.

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