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Psalm 80

80:0Some Bible students think that someone wrote this psalm 700 years before Jesus came to the earth.

There were 4 kings of all Israel, Saul, David, Solomon and Rehoboam. While Rehoboam was king, the country became two kingdoms. The north was Israel, the south was Judah. There were 10 groups (or tribes) of people in the north, and 2 in the south. Ephraim and Manasseh and Simeon were tribes in the kingdom in the north. The tribes in the south were Judah and Benjamin. Ephraim, Manasseh and Benjamin always went together when the Jews walked from Egypt to the Promised Land. (The Promised Land was where they came to live. We call it Israel.) But in 720 BC, Assyria beat the kingdom in the north, and took the 10 tribes away.

In this psalm, the psalmist prays that the tribes may become united again. Ephraim and Manasseh were sons of Joseph. Both Joseph and Benjamin were sons of Rachel. Rachel was the wife of Jacob. His other name was Israel. The Bible uses all three names for God's people – Israel, Jacob and Joseph!

Other Bible students think that this psalm came after the exile. The exile was when the king of the country of Babylon took the people in the south kingdom away. This happened in 587 BC (BC means ‘years Before Christ came to the earth.’) These students think that the psalmist is praying for all the tribes to become united again in the Promised Land.

Make Us United

80:0This psalm is in three parts: each part ends ‘Make us return (to you). Make your face shine (on us) and make us safe.’ Bible students are not sure if ‘return’ means ‘return from exile’ in Assyria or Babylon; or ‘return to God from the wrong things we have done.’ Our translation chooses the second meaning, but both could be true. ‘Make your face shine’ is how the Jews said, ‘Do something good for us.’ This is what we call ‘The covenant.’ If God's people obey him, he will make them safe.

This is for the music leader.

Sing it to music that they call ‘Lilies of the Covenant.’

It is a psalm of Asaph.

1 Shepherd of Israel, listen to us!

You are the one that leads Joseph like a flock.

You sit like a king between the Cherubim.

80:1In verse 1 Joseph means the same as Israel, God's people. Maybe the psalmist used the name Joseph because he was the father of Ephraim and Manasseh. The words ‘shine on’ at the start of verse 2 are in verse 1 in the Hebrew Bible. As in verses 3, 7 and 19, ‘shine’ here means ‘do something good.’ The good thing the psalmist wants is for all the people to be united in their own country. ‘Get up’ in the Hebrew Bible is ‘wake up.’

2 Shine on Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh.

Get up and show how strong you are.

Come and make us safe.

3 God, make us return to you.

Make your face shine on us and make us safe.

4 LORD God of Many Armies,

how long will you be angry when your people pray?

80:4In the second part, verses 4-7, the psalmist asks God how long it will be before:

– God stops being angry with them

– God stops making them cry buckets full of tears

– God stops their enemies fighting them and laughing at them

In verses 4 (and 19) we have the name LORD God of Sabaoth. Isaiah and Jeremiah often used this name. Each part of the name means something. LORD means that he will always be alive. God means that he is powerful. Sabaoth means that he has great armies, both on earth and in heaven.

5 You have fed them tears for food

and buckets of tears for drink.

6 You have made the people that live near us fight us

and our enemies laugh among themselves at us.

7 God of Many Armies, make us return to you.

Make your face shine on us and make us safe.

8 You brought a vine from Egypt.

You moved away the people that lived in the land and planted it.

80:8In the last part of the psalm, the vine is a picture of God's people. He brought them from Egypt to the Promised Land of Israel, verse 8. They lived in it from the Sea in the west to the River in the east, from the mountains in the south to Lebanon in the north, verses 9-11. They used to build walls round vines to keep them safe. But God knocked down these walls and let wild animals attack and destroy it, verses 12-13. The wild animals are a picture of Israel's enemies. Then the psalmist prays that God will do something and send help to Israel, verses 14-19. ‘Hand’ and ‘right hand’ are Bible-pictures of God doing something in our world. ‘The son’, verse 15, and ‘the man’ and ‘the son of man’, verse 17, are all names for God's people Israel. Some Bible students think that it may be the king of Israel.

9 You made the ground ready for it,

so that it grew and filled the land.

10 Its shade covered the mountains in the south

and its branches covered the big cedar trees in the north.

11 Its branches reached the Mediterranean Sea in the west

and the River Euphrates in the east.

12 Why have you knocked down its walls

so that anyone that passes can rob its fruit?

13 Pigs from the woods attack it

and wild animals destroy it.

14-15 Come back to us, God of Many Armies!

Look down from heaven and see us!

Be careful with this vine

that your right hand planted.

The vine is the son that you made strong for yourself.

16 You let the enemy cut down your vine and burn it with fire.

Destroy them the enemy because you are angry!

17 Let your hand be on the man at your right hand.

He is the son of man that you made strong for yourself.

18 Then we will never turn away from you.

Give us life and we will always praise your name.

19 LORD God of Many Armies, make us return to you.

Make your face shine on us and make us safe.