PSALM 80 - Turn us again, O God
There are three nearly identical verses in this psalm (v.3, v.7, v.19).
Together, these verses set the theme, and also divide the psalm into three sections or stanzas.
Each of these verses marks the end of a section.
  1. The Shepherd in Glory -
    We need the Light of His Presence (v.1-3)
  2. He Feeds His Flock with Tears -
    We need the Light of His Presence (v.4-7)
  3. He Oversees His Vine in Blessing and in Disrepair -
    We need the Light of His Presence (v.8-19)
1. To the chief Musician upon Shoshannimeduth, A Psalm of Asaph.
Shoshannim-eduth {meaning 'lillies-testimony'} is probably a musical notation. Some suggest 'lillies' indicates the song was meant for the Spring season. The ScofRB suggests the combined word means "lillies of speech" (perhaps the words were to be beautifully and clearly presented).
     Asaph was a leading musician under King David. Psalms 50 and 73 - 83 are attributed to him. However, the sons of Asaph, who continued his ministry of music, are mentioned during the reigns of Hezekiah and Josiah (2Chr 29:30; 35:15), and in the restored Temple, in the time of Nehemiah (Neh 12:46). Some scholars believe this Psalm was written following the Babylonian captivity.
Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock;
thou that dwellest [between] the cherubims, shine forth.
2 Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh
stir up thy strength, and come [and] save us.
3 Turn us again, O God,
and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.
The One addressed is:
  • The Shepherd, who leads. eg., Psa 23; 77:20; 78:52
    God led Israel, during their exodus from Egypt to the promised land, in fulfillment of the prophecy of Joseph (by whom the LORD had previously preserved them), whose bones went with them. Gen 50:25
  • The Glory, who dwells. Ex 25:20-22
    God's Glory dwelt in the midst of His people, above the Mercy Seat on the Ark of the Covenant.
  • The God, who is strong to save.
    The word for God {HB=Elohim} reflects upon His supreme authority and might.
    But we should not presume upon Him.
    Salvation comes, not only by His power, but also at His initiative.
  • Our need:
    • That He would make Himself known...
      • to Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh -
        • During the wilderness wanderings, these tribes camped together, under the banner of Ephraim, on the west side of the Tabernacle. When the nation moved from one encampment to another, in the prescribed order of march, these tribes followed immediately behind the disassembled Tabernacle (Num 2:18-24; 10:21-24). Thus, at that time, the Ark of God's Presence was directly before them. But after entering the land, these tribes had been quick to lose sight of their God.
        • Ephraim and Manasseh (Joseph's sons) were the prominent tribes in the northern kingdom, which led the nation in turning away from the Lord, following Solomon's reign.
        • Benjamin, though a small tribe, had led the nation in debauchery during the time of the Judges (Judges ch.19,20).
      • by 'shining forth' {HB=yapha}- Psa 50:2; 94:1 (where this word is trans. 'show Thyself')
        In the contexts of the above references, this is a request for God to demonstrate His authority and power against He enemies and to correct whatever is out of order.
      • by 'causing His face to shine'- Here, 'shine' {HB='or} means: to light, enlighten.
        This is a request that God 'smile upon' or 'show favor toward' His people.
        See this word in Dan 9:17.
    • That He, by His might and mercy, would turn us back, from our sinful ways, to Him.
      See Psa 85:4; Jer 31:18,19; Lam 5:21
      This request includes recognition and repentance of our sin and of our sinful proclivities {ie., innate evil tendencies}.
      In themselves, they are lost. Only He can deliver them from themselves.
4 O LORD God of hosts,
how long wilt thou be angry against the prayer of thy people?
5 Thou feedest them with the bread of tears;
and givest them tears to drink in great measure.
6 Thou makest us a strife unto our neighbours:
and our enemies laugh among themselves.
7 Turn us again, O God of hosts,
and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.
The Glorious Shepherd's Sheep: Sorrowing and Distressed in...
  • Unanswered prayer - for the One, to whom they pray, is angry with them. Isa 59:1,2
  • Tears:
    • Israel's daily portion, due to God's chastisement for their sin (eg., Eze 4:16,17).
      Their portion is "in great measure" {lit., in triplicate}- perhaps referring to the threefold plagues upon Jerusalem (Eze 5:11-13), or the three destructions of Jerusalem (by Babylon, by Rome, and under the future Antichrist in the Tribulation).
    • Israel's long persecution, by Gentile nations who oppress and mock the 'chosen people.' Deu 28:37; Jer 24:9,10; Dan 9:16
  • Our need: That God would be our Commander.
    • They appeal to the 'God of hosts' {Elohim-Sabaoth} (v.7) -
      - 'hosts' means 'assembled multitudes,' 'armies.' (Compare v.3, where they appealed to 'God.')
      He is Mighty, they are many... but they are in disarray.
      Left to themselves, they are hopelessly lost.
      Only He can direct them aright and deliver them from the error of their ways.
    • Their request is that He, by His might and mercy, would turn them back to full submission under Him, that He would be their God and that they would truly be His people.
8. Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt:
thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it.
9 Thou preparedst [room] before it,
and didst cause it to take deep root,
and it filled the land.
10 The hills were covered with the shadow of it,
and the boughs thereof [were like] the goodly cedars.
11 She sent out her boughs unto the sea,
and her branches unto the river.
12 Why hast thou [then] broken down her hedges,
so that all they which pass by the way do pluck her?
13 The boar out of the wood doth waste it,
and the wild beast of the field doth devour it.
14 Return, we beseech thee, O God of hosts:
look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine;
15 And the vineyard which thy right hand hath planted,
and the branch [that] thou madest strong for thyself.
16 [It is] burned with fire, [it is] cut down:
they perish at the rebuke of thy countenance.
17 Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand,
upon the son of man [whom] thou madest strong for thyself.
18 So will not we go back from thee:
quicken us, and we will call upon thy name.
19 Turn us again, O LORD God of hosts,
cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.
The Glorious Shepherd's Vine: Planted and Uprooted.
  1. The history of Israel:
    1. The former state of blessing (v.8-11) -
      These verses describe the extent of the kingdom under Solomon (Psa 72:8a).
    2. The present state of disrepair (v.12-13) -
      1. As foretold by Isa 5:1-7
      2. As foretold by Jesus, Mark 12:1-11
      3. As foreseen in this Psalm:
        • the boar = an emblem of Rome
        • the beasts = a picture of the Antichrist and his false prophet (Rev. ch.13)
  2. The hope of God's people:
    1. That He who visited to judge, will return to restore (v.14-16)
      • The HB tense implies: 'once more' look down... 'once more' behold... 'once more' visit...
        (cp. Isa 63:15-19, the prayer of Israel's remnant prior to their restoration)
      • Their hope is in the rejected "Branch whom thou madest strong for Thyself." Isa 49:5-9
    2. That the Son of Man would so restore that 'we will never again go back from Thee.' (v.17-19)
      This is the effect of the 'New Covenant,' by which God writes His laws upon the hearts of His people (Jer 31:31-33).
      • The Son of Man - Jesus preferred this title for Himself, with this and other passages in mind.
        eg., Mat 18:11; 20:28; 24:27,30; cp. Dan 7:13,14
      • Israel was an unfaithful 'son'.
        The word 'branch' (in v.15) and the word 'son' (in v.17) are both HB=ben, son.
        Thus, v.15 may be speaking of Israel as God's unfaithful 'son' (eg., Hos 11:1-6).
        However, in v.15, the LXX and several manuscripts read 'the son of man' {HB=ben 'adam}, which would refer to the Messiah, whose rejection and cutting down (v.16) resulted in the extension of Israel's sorrows. (Luk 19:41-44)
      • There is no question that the Son of Man (in v.17) is the Branch of the LORD, by whom He would save His people. Jer 23:5,6
  3. Our need (v.19)-
    • They appeal to "the LORD God of hosts." (cp. v.3, v.7)
      • With each stanza of this psalm, there is increasing understanding concerning the One to whom they pray.
      • The LORD {HB=YHWH, the One Who Is}, the ever-living covenant keeping God of His people. He Himself has become the Salvation of His people. Joh 3:13-18; 1Tim 3:16; Rev 1:17,18
      • Although Israel did not realize it, they called upon the Savior by name early in their prayer in this psalm. In the original text, the last line of v.2, reads "Stir up thy strength, and come 'Yeshua.'" {Yeshuah, meaning 'Salvation,' is the Hebrew name of Jesus.}
        Although Israel did not receive Him, as such, Jesus also claimed to be the 'Shepherd of Israel' (v.1). See Joh 10:1-30
        As the 'right hand of the LORD,' Jesus the Christ, accomplished the work of salvation, through His death and resurrection. He is now seated at the right hand of the Father, waiting the time of His second coming. Psa 110:1; Acts 2:33-35
    • Their request will be answered when Israel recognizes and receives Him.
      Then, He will come and deliver them. Zech 12:10; 13:1; Rom 11:25-27
This Psalm speaks particularly to Israel. But there are lessons for Church Age believers also. The weakness, sorrows and disarray which we experience are often due to the distance which we have allowed between ourselves and the Lord. We cannot go through life in our own strength, or wisdom. If you truly know the Savior, you will joyfully submit to Him as your Lord, for He is the LORD God of hosts.

This Concludes the study in Psalm 80.
Return to Psalms of Messiah - Book Notes menu page.

Limited permission is granted to copy & distribute these notes from

Go to The Book opening page.