(The following texts highlighted in this color of blue is taken from

The Treasury of David by Charles Haddon Spurgeon)  "Excerpted text

Copyright AGES Library, LLC. All rights reserved.  Materials are reproduced

by permission."

 

                                                Psalm 80

 

TITLE.   To the Chief Musician upon Shoshannim Eduth. For the fourth

time we have a song upon Shoshannim, or the lilies; the former ones being

Psalms 45, 60, and 69. Why this title is given it would be difficult to say in

every case, but the delightfully poetical form of the present Psalm may well

justify the charming title. Eduth signifies testimony. The Psalm is a

testimony of the church as a "lily among thorns." Some interpreters

understand the present title to refer to an instrument of six strings, and

Schleusner translates the two words, "the hexachord of testimony." It may

be that further research will open up to us these "dark sayings upon a

harp." We shall be content to accept them as evidence that sacred song was

not lightly esteemed in the days of old. A Psalm of Asaph. A latter Asaph

we should suppose, who had the unhappiness to live, like the "last minstrel,

"in evil times. If by the Asaph of David's day, this Psalm was written in the

spirit of prophecy, for it sings of times unknown to David.

 

DIVISION. The Psalm divides itself naturally at the refrain which occurs

three times: "Turn us again, O God," etc. - vs.1-3 is an opening

address to the Lord God of Israel; from vs. 4-7 is a lamentation over

the national woe, and from vs. 8-19 the same complaint is repeated,

the nation being represented in a beautiful allegory as a vine. It is a

mournful Psalm, and its lilies are lilies of the valley.

 

1   "Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel," Hear thou the bleatings of thy

suffering flock. The name is full of tenderness, and hence is selected by the

troubled psalmist: broken hearts delight in names of grace. Good old Jacob

delighted to think of God as the Shepherd of Israel, and this verse may

refer to his dying expression: "From thence is the Shepherd, the stone of

Israel" (Genesis 49:24).We may be quite sure that He who deigns to be a

shepherd to His people will not turn a deaf ear to their complaints -  "thou that

 leadest Joseph like a flock;" - The people are called here by the name of that

renowned son who became a second father to the tribes, and kept them

alive in Egypt; possibly they were known to the Egyptians under the name

of "the family of Joseph," and if so, it seems most natural to call them by

that name in this place. The term may, however, refer to the ten tribes of

which Manasseh was the acknowledged head. The Lord had of old in the

wilderness led, guided, shepherded all the tribes; and, therefore, the appeal

is made to Him. The Lord's doings in the past are strong grounds for appeal

and expectation as to the present and the future – “thou that dwellest

between the cherubims, shine forth." The Lord's especial presence was

revealed upon the mercy-seat between the cherubim, and in all our

pleadings we should come to the Lord by this way: only upon the

mercy-seat will God reveal His grace, and only there can we hope to

commune with Him. Let us ever plead the name of Jesus, who is our true

mercy-seat, to whom we may come boldly, and through whom we may look

for a display of the glory of the Lord on our behalf. Our greatest dread is

the withdrawal of the Lord's presence, and our brightest hope is the

prospect of His return. In the darkest times of Israel, the light of her

Shepherd's countenance is all she needs.

 

2   "Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh stir up thy

strength, and come and save us." It is wise to mention the names of the

Lord's people in prayer, for they are precious to Him. Jesus bears the names

of His people on His breastplate. Just as the mention of the names of his

children has power with a father, so it is with the Lord. The three names

were near of kin; Ephraim and Manasseh represent Joseph, and it was meet

that Benjamin, the other son of the beloved Rachel, should be mentioned in

the same breath: these three tribes were wont to march together in the

wilderness, following immediately behind the ark. The prayer is that the

God of Israel would be mighty on behalf of His people, chasing away their

foes, and saving His people. O that in these days the Lord may be pleased

to remember every part of His church, and make all her tribes to see His

salvation. We would not mention our own denomination only, but lift up

prayer for all the sections of the one church.

 

3   "Turn us again, O God." It is not so much said, "turn our captivity,"

but "turn us." All will come right if we are right. The best turn is not that

of circumstances but of character. When the Lord turns His people He will

soon turn their condition. It needs the Lord Himself to do this, for

conversion is as divine a work as creation; and those who have been once

turned unto God, if they at any time backslide, as much need the Lord to

turn them again as to turn them at the first. The word may be read, "restore

us; "verily, it is a choice mercy that "He restoreth my soul." (ch. 23:3)

"and cause thy face to shine;" - Be favorable to us, smile upon us. This

was the high priest's blessing upon Israel: what the Lord has already given

us by our High Priest and Mediator we may right confidently ask of Him.

"and we shall be saved." All that is wanted for salvation is the Lord's

favor. One glance of His gracious eye would transform Tophet into

Paradise. No matter how fierce the foe, or dire the captivity, the shining

face of God ensures both victory and liberty. This verse is a very useful

prayer. Since we too often turn aside, let us often with our lips and heart cry,

“Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine, and we shall be

saved."

 

 

4   "O Lord God of Hosts, how long wilt thou be angry against the

prayer of thy people?" How long shall the smoke of thy wrath drown the

smoking incense of our prayers? Prayer would fain enter thy holy place, but

thy wrath battles with it, and prevents its entrance. That God should be

angry with us when sinning seems natural enough, but that He should be

angry even with our prayers is a bitter grief. With many a pang may the

pleader ask, "How long?" Commander of all the hosts of thy creatures, able

to save thy saints in their extremity, shall they for ever cry to thee in vain?

 

5   "Thou feedest them with the bread of tears;" - Their meat is

seasoned with brine distilled from weeping eyes. Their meals, which were

once such pleasant seasons of social merriment, are now like funeral feasts

to which each man contributes his bitter morsel. Thy people ate bread of

wheat before, but now they receive from thine own hand no better diet

than bread of tears - "and givest them tears to drink in great measure."

Tears are both their food and their drink, and that without stint. They swallow

tierces of tears, and swim in gulfs of grief, and all this by God's own appointment;

not because their enemies have them in their power by force of arms, but

because their God refuses to interpose. Tear bread is even more the fruit of

the curse than to eat bread in the sweat of one's face (Genesis 3:19), but it shall by

divine love be turned into a greater blessing by ministering to our spiritual health.

 

6   "Thou makest us a strife unto our neighbors:" - Always jealous and

malicious, Edom and Moab exulted over Israel's troubles, and then fell to

disputing about their share of the spoil. A neighbor's jeer is ever most

cutting, especially if a man has been superior to them, and claimed to

possess more grace. None are unneighborly as envious neighbors –

"and our enemies laugh among themselves." They find mirth in our

misery, comedy in our tragedy, salt for their wit in the brine of our tears,

amusement in our amazement. It is devilish to sport with another's griefs;

but it is the constant habit of the world which lieth in the wicked one to

make merry with the saints' tribulations; the seed of the serpent follow their

progenitor and rejoice in evil.

 

7   "Turn us again, O God of hosts, and cause thy face to shine; and

we shall be saved." The prayer rises in the form of its address to God. He is

here the God of Hosts. The more we approach the Lord in prayer and

contemplation the higher will our ideas of Him become.

 

8   "Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt:" - There it was in unfriendly

soil: the waters of the Nile watered it not, but were as death to its shoots,

while the inhabitants of the land despised it and trampled it down. Glorious

was the right hand of the Lord when with power and great wonders He

removed His pleasant plant in the teeth of those who sought its destruction -

"thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it." Seven nations were

digged out to make space for the vine of the Lord; the old trees, which

long had engrossed the soil, were torn up root and branch; oaks of Bashan,

and palm trees of Jericho were displaced for the chosen vine. It was

securely placed in its appointed position with divine prudence and wisdom.

(See Isaiah 5:1-7) - Small in appearance, very dependent, exceeding weak, and

apt to trail on the ground, yet the vine of Israel was chosen of the Lord, because

He knew that by incessant care, and abounding skill, he could make of it a goodly

fruit bearing plant.  (Christ revealed God’s will for us in the parable of the vine –
John 15:1-8 – CY – 2011)

 

9   "Thou preparedst room before it," - The weeds, brambles, and huge

stones were cleared; the Amorites, and their brethren in iniquity, were made to quit

the scene, their forces were routed, their kings slain, their cities captures, and

Canaan became like a plot of land, made ready for a vineyard - "and didst cause

it to take deep root, and it filled the land." Israel became settled and established

as a vine well rooted, and then it began to flourish and to spread to every side. This

analogy might be applied to the experience of every believer in Jesus. The Lord has

planted us, we are growing downward, "rooting roots," and by His grace we are also

advancing in manifest enlargement. The same is true of the church in a yet closer

degree, for at this moment through the goodwill of the dresser of the vineyard her

branches spread far and wide.

 

10  "The hills were covered with the shadow of it," - Israel dwelt up the

mountains' summits, cultivating every foot of soil. The nation multiplied and became

so great that other lands felt its influence, or were shadowed by it – “and the

boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars." The nation itself was so great

that even its tribes were powerful and worthy to take rank among the mighty. A

more correct rendering describes the cedars as covered with the vine, and we

know that in many lands vines climb the trees, and cover them. What a vine must

that be which ascends the cedars of God, and even overtops them! It is a

noble picture of the prosperity of the Israelitish people in their best days.

In Solomon's time the little land of Israel occupied a high place among

 the nations. There have been times when the church of God also has been

eminently conspicuous, and her power has been felt far and near.

 

11   "She sent out her boughs unto the sea," - Along the Mediterranean

and, perhaps, across its waters, Israel's power was felt -"and her branches

unto the river." On her Eastern side she pushed her commerce even to the

Euphrates. Those were brave days for Israel, and would have continued, had

not sin cut them short. When the church pleases the Lord, her influence becomes

immense, far beyond the proportion which her numbers or her power would lead

us to expect; but, alas! when the Lord leaves her (I Samuel 4:21-22) she becomes

as worthless, useless,  and despised as an untended vine, which is of all plants the

most valueless.

 

12  “Why hast thou then broken down her hedges,” -  Thou hast

withdrawn protection from her after caring for her with all this care;

wherefore is this, O Lord? A vine unprotected is exposed to every form of

injury; none regard it, all prey upon it: such was Israel when given over to

her enemies; such has the church full often been - "so that all they which pass

by the way do pluck her?" Her cruel neighbors have a pluck at her, and

marauding bands, like roaming beasts, must needs pick at her. With God no

enemy can harm us, without Him none are so weak as to be unable to do

us damage.

 

13   “The boar out of the wood doth waste it.,” -  Such creatures are

famous for rending and devouring vines. Babylon, like a beast from the

marshes of the Euphrates, came up and wasted Judah and Israel. Fierce

peoples, comparable to wild swine of the forest, warred with the Jewish

nation, until it was gored and torn like a vine destroyed by greedy hogs.

“and the wild beast of the field doth devour it.”  First one foe and then

another wreaked vengeance on the nation, neither did God interpose to

chase them away. Ruin followed ruin; the fox devoured the young shoots

which had been saved from the damage wrought by the boar. Alas, poor

land. How low wast thou brought! An oak or cedar might have been

crushed by such ravages, but how canst thou endure it, O weak and tender

vine? See what evils follow in the train of sin, and how terrible a thing
it is for a people to be forsaken of their God.

 

14  “Return, we beseech thee, O God of hosts:” -  Turn thyself to us as

well as us to thee. Thou hast gone from us because of our sins (Isaiah 59:2),

come back to us, for we sigh and cry after thee. Or, if it be too much to ask thee to

come then do at least give us some consideration and cast an eye upon our griefs.

“look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine.”  Do not close

thine eyes; it is thy vine, do not utterly turn away from it as though it were

quite gone from thy mind. Great Husbandman, at least note the mischief

which the beasts have done, for then it may be thy heart will pity, and thy

hand will be outstretched to deliver.

 

15   “And the vineyard which thy right hand hath planted,” -  Shall all thy

care be lost? Thou has done so much, wilt thou lose thy labor? With thy

power and wisdom thou didst great things for thy people, wilt thou now

utterly give them up, and suffer thine enemies to exult in the evil which

they delight in? - “and the branch that thou madest strong for thyself.”

A prayer for the leader whom the Lord had raised up, or for the Messiah

whom they expected.  Though the vine had been left, yet one branch had been

regarded of the Lord, as if to furnish a scion for another vine; therefore, is the

prayer made in this form. Let us pray the Lord, if He will not in the first place look

upon His church, to look upon the Lord Jesus, and then behold her in mercy for

His sake. This is the true art of prayer, to put Christ forward and cry,

 

                        "Him and then the sinner see,

                        Look through Jesus' wounds on me."

 

16   “It is burned with fire,” -  In broken utterances the sorrowful singer

utters his distress. The vineyard was like a forest which has been set on

fire; the choice vines were charred and dead - “it is cut down:” -  The cruel axe

had hacked after its murderous fashion, the branches were lopped, the trunk was

wounded, desolation reigned supreme - “they perish at the rebuke of thy

countenance.”  God's rebuke was to Israel what fire and axe would be to a vine.

His favor is life (ch. 30:5),  and His wrath is as messengers of death. One angry

glance from Jehovah's eye is sufficient to lay all the vineyards of Ephraim desolate.

O Lord, look not thus upon our churches. Rebuke us, but not in anger.

 

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. Honor 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"

(I Corinthians 15:21).  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, fulfill 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.

 

18   “So will not we go back from thee:” -  Under the leadership of one

whom God had chosen the nation would be kept faithful, grace would

work gratitude, and so cement them to their allegiance. It is in Christ that

we abide faithful; because He lives we live also. There is no hope of our

perseverance apart from Him - “quicken us, and we will call upon thy

name.”  If the Lord gives life out of death, His praise is sure to follow. The

Lord Jesus is such a leader, that in Him is life, and the life is the light of men.

(John 1:4) - He is our life. When He visits our souls anew we shall be revived,

and our praise shall ascend unto the name of the Triune God.

 

19  “Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts,” -  Here we have another

advance in the title and the incommunicable name of Jehovah, the I AM is

introduced. Faith's day grows brighter as the hours roll on; and her prayers

grow more full and mighty - “cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.”

Even we who were so destroyed. No extremity is too great for the power

of God.  He is able to save at the last point, and that too by simply turning His

smiling face upon His afflicted. Men can do little with their arm, but God can do

all things with a glance. Oh, to live for ever in the light of Jehovah's

countenance.

 

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