Make Us United

Psalm 80

An EasyEnglish Translation with Notes (about 1200 word vocabulary) on Psalm 80

Gordon Churchyard

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.

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Jesus said, "I pray for the people that will believe in me Ö that they may be united. Then the world will believe that you sent me". (John 17: 20 - 21)

Psalm 80

  (This is) for the music leader.
(Sing it) to (music that they call) "*Lilies of the *Covenant".
(It is) a psalm of *Asaph.

v1   *Shepherd of Israel, listen to us!
  You are the one that leads *Joseph *like a *flock.
  You sit *like a king between the *Cherubim.

v2   Shine on Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh.
  Get up and show how strong you are.
  Come and make us safe.

v3   God, make us return (to you).
  Make your face shine (on us) and make us safe.

v4   *LORD God (of) *Sabaoth,
  how long will you be angry when your people pray?

v5   You have fed them tears for food
  and buckets of tears for drink.

v6   You have made the people that live near us fight (us)
  and our enemies laugh among themselves (at us).

v7   God (of) *Sabaoth, make us return (to you).
  Make your face shine (on us) and make us safe.

v8   You brought a *vine from Egypt.
  You moved away the people that lived (in the land) and planted it.

v9   You made (the ground) ready for it,
  so that it grew and filled the land.

v10   Its shade covered the mountains (in the south)
  and its branches covered the big cedar (trees in the north).

v11   Its branches reached the (Mediterranean) Sea (in the west)
  and the River (Euphrates in the east).

v12   Why have you knocked down its walls
  so that anyone that passes can rob its fruit?

v13   Pigs from the woods attack it
  and wild animals destroy it.

v14   Come back to us, God (of) *Sabaoth!
  Look down from *heaven and see (us)!
  Be careful with this *vine...

v15   ...that your right hand planted.
  (The *vine is) the son that you made strong for yourself.

v16   You let (the enemy) cut down your *vine and burn it with fire.
  Destroy them (the enemy) because you are angry!

v17   Let your hand be on the man at your right hand.
  (He is) the son of man that you made strong for yourself.

v18   Then we will never turn away from you.
  Give us life and we will (always) *praise your name.

v19   *LORD God (of) *Sabaoth, make us return (to you).
  Make your face shine (on us) and make us safe.

The Story of Psalm 80

Some 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 Godís 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 B.C. (B.C. means ďyears Before Christ came to the earthĒ.) These students think that the *psalmist is praying for all the *tribes to become united again in the *Promised Land.

What Psalm 80 means

Study this psalm 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 Godís people obey him, he will make them safe. In verse 1 *Joseph means the same as Israel, Godís 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 2are 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".

In 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.

In the last part of the psalm, the *vine is a picture of Godís 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 Israelís 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 Godís people Israel. Some Bible students think that it may be the king of Israel.

Something to do

1.  If you have a Bible, read about why Simeon and Levi did not have a part of the *Promised Land. You will find help in Genesis 49:5-7 and Joshua 19:1-9 and all of Joshua 21.

2.  When something bad happens to you or your church or your country, pray the words of verse 19.

3.  Ask God to be your *shepherd, and to make you one of his *flock. If you can, read Psalm 23 in this series of psalms.

4.  Count how many times "*sabaoth" happens in this psalm. Remember what it means: God has armies to give him (and you!) help.

Word List

Adonai ~ *Lord or master; (or better, my *Lord or my master) in *Hebrew.

angels ~ *spirits that live in *heaven with God.

Asaph ~ look in the Introduction to the Psalms of David Book 3.

cherubim ~ special *angels that live with God in *heaven.

covenant ~ two people have agreed what each should do (here, God and his people). Look after Psalm 25 in Book 1 of the Psalms of David for more about the covenant.

exile ~ away from your own country.

flock ~ a group of animals such as sheep.

grapes ~ the fruit of a plant called the *vine. People use them to make drink that has alcohol in it. The drink is *wine.

heaven ~ the home of God.

Hebrew ~ the language that the *Jews spoke when they wrote the Psalms of David.

huge ~ very, very large.

Jacob ~ another name for Israel, both the people and the land. (Jacob was Abrahamís grandson).

Jehovah ~ how some languages say *Yahweh, one of the names of God in *Hebrew.

Jew ~ someone who was born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their children.

Joseph ~ another name for the people Israel. (Joseph was Jacobís son.).

kingdom ~ the country that has a king.

like ~ another word for "as".

lilies ~ flowers.

Lord ~ a name for God; it means he has authority, or "master"; *Adonai in *Hebrew. Look also at *LORD below.

LORD ~ a special name for God that his people use. It is the *covenant name of God. In *Hebrew it is *Yahweh or *Jehovah. Look after Psalm 25 in Book 1 of the Psalms of David for more about the names of God.

praise ~ say how great somebody is; or, words that say how great someone is.

Promised Land ~ Israel.

psalmist ~ the person that wrote a psalm (or psalms).

Sabaoth ~ a *huge group of people, usually armies of *angels in the Bible.

Satan ~ the leader of the bad *spirits, known also as the Devil and Lucifer.

shepherd ~ a sheep farmer.

spirits ~ they are alive, but we cannot see them. There are good spirits usually known as *angels. Bad spirits (known also as evil spirits, or demons) do not live in *heaven now, but in the air round us. *Satan is their leader.

tribe ~ a large group of people from the same family.

vines ~ plants that grow *grapes (to make *wine).

wine ~ a drink with alcohol in it. People make it from *grapes.

Yahweh ~ the *covenant name for God. Most Bibles translate it *LORD with 4 capital letters. It means something *like "I am" or "always alive".


© 2001-2002, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level A (1200 words).

January 2002

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