Psalm 80

The Word Made Fresh

(For the music director: to the tune of “Lilies of the Covenant.” A psalm of Asaph.)

1You have led Joseph as your flock, O Shepherd of Israel. Hear our plea!
You who sit on the throne between the cherubim, let your light shine
2on Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh.
Gather your strength and come to rescue us!
3Rescue us, LORD God of multitudes!
Show your face, that we may be saved!
4LORD God of multitudes,
how long will you be angry with the prayers of your people?
5You have given them nothing to eat or drink but their own tears,
and that in abundance.
6You make us the butt of jokes in the countries surrounding us
and our enemies are having a good laugh at our expense.
7Rescue us, O God of multitudes!
Show your face, that we may be saved!
8You brought a vine out of Egypt,
drove out the other nations and planted it.
9You prepared the ground for it,
and it took root and spread across the land.
10It covered the mountains in its shade
and its branches spread over the tall cedars.
11It sent vines all the way to the Mediterranean Sea,
and sent out runners all the way to the Euphrates River.
12Why then have you left it vulnerable
so that those who pass by help themselves to its fruit?
13Wild pigs from the forests trample it
and critters from the open lands feed on it.
14Come back, O God of multitudes!
Look down from heaven and see what has happened
to this vine you planted.
15We are the fruit of the seed your right hand has sown.
16But enemies have sent fire to consume us.
Show your face and send them scattering.
17Lay your right hand upon us,
for we are the ones you established for yourself.
18Then we will never again turn away from you.
Let us live that we may continue to worship you.
19Rescue us, LORD God of multitudes!
Show your face, that we may be saved!


Superscription: Asaph’s 9th. Three of the psalms – 49, 65, and 80 – mention “lilies,” perhaps as a musical arrangement. That this psalm also mentions “a covenant” is not surprising, as the psalm longs for a renewal of the covenant between God and Israel.

1-2: The setting of this psalm seems to be from the time of the early kingdom before the tribes split into north (Israel) and south (Judah). There were many times during which they were threatened by the Philistines or the Syrians (Arameans) or the Moabites.

3: This is the recurring prayer of the psalm; it is repeated in verse 7 and verse 19.

4-6: The situation is described: the nation has deteriorated to the point that there is no longer any respect for them from neighboring peoples.

7: Repeats verse 3.

8-13: The psalmist presents a metaphorical description of the Israelite’s conquest of the land under Joshua. Israel is the “vine out of Egypt.” God planted us here, goes the defense; why would God let us be uprooted?

14-18: The psalmist begs God to “turn around and look,” see how the people are languishing, and come to their rescue. They will gladly reinstate the covenant they made with God when they entered the land.

19: Repeats verses 3 and 7.


There are lots of psalms which confess the sins of the people in turning away from God, then ask for God to return them to favor and rescue them. So often we beg God to come to our aid and rescue us or heal us or protect us, without first admitting that we haven’t been as close to God or as obedient as we should have been. We ask for God’s favors without first giving God our favor. There is an important lesson to be learned here.