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Commentary On Psalms Volume 3 by Jean Calvin

PSALM 80

This is a sorrowful prayer, in which the faithful beseech God that he would be graciously pleased to succor his afflicted Church. To excite him the more readily to grant them relief in their distressing circumstances, they compare these circumstances with the condition of the Church in her beginnings, when the Divine favor was conspicuously manifested towards her.

To the chief musician upon Sosannim Eduth. A Psalm of Asaph.

This psalm is almost similar to the preceding; but, in my apprehension it was composed in behalf of the ten tribes, after that kingdom began to be wasted by various calamities. It is not without reason that mention is expressly made of Joseph, Ephraim, and Manasseh. Some expositors allege, that in this there is an allusion to the situation and order of the camps of the chosen tribes in the wilderness, as described by Moses in Numbers 2:18-21; for Manasseh and Ephraim marched together on one side. But it would have been strange to have passed over in silence the tribe of Judah, and also the holy city, and to have brought forward the tribes of Joseph, Manasseh, Ephraim, and Benjamin, had it not been intended to speak especially of the kingdom of Israel. If it is objected, that the ten tribes from the time when they were cut off from the house of David had become degenerate, and that the worship of God was corrupted among them, I answer, that there dwelt among them, notwithstanding, many devout worshippers of God, who had not bowed the knee before Baal, nor abandoned themselves to the prevailing superstition, (1 Kings 19:18.) Accordingly, Amos (Amos 6:6) finds fault with the hard-heartedness which existed in the tribe of Judah, because there was none among them who was |grieved for the affliction of Joseph.| It is also well known, that during the time of this defection, some prophets were sent to them to inspire them with the hope of deliverance. Although, then, the vast proportion of them were apostates, yet God did not cease to exercise his care over the seed which remained in the midst of them. And as formerly he had mitigated coming calamities, by promising beforehand his grace; so now, by dictating to the people a form of prayer, he confirms and encourages them in the hope of obtaining his grace, until they found, from actual experience, that they had not been deceived by vain promises. From this, we perceive in what respect this and the preceding psalm differ from each other. If any one considers what I have now stated unsatisfactory, he is at liberty to adopt a different view. But I flatter myself, that whoever carefully weighs all the circumstances, will readily acquiesce in my opinion. I will not insist upon the words Sosannim and Eduth, having already, in Psalm 45th, stated the opinions of interpreters concerning them; nor is this a matter of so great importance as to render it necessary to expend much labor upon it. Besides, those who are most learned in antiquities adduce nothing but probable conjectures.

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