|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
80:1-7 He that dwelleth upon the mercy-seat, is the good Shepherd of his people. But we can neither expect the comfort of his love, nor the protection of his arm, unless we partake of his converting grace. If he is really angry at the prayers of his people, it is because, although they pray, their ends are not right, or there is some secret sin indulged in them, or he will try their patience and perseverance in prayer. When God is displeased with his people, we must expect to see them in tears, and their enemies in triumph. There is no salvation but from God's favour; there is no conversion to God but by his own grace.
Verse 4. - O Lord God of hosts. A form of address unusual in the Psalms, but occurring in Psalm 59:5; Psalm 84:8; and below in ver. 18. How long wilt thou be angry against the prayer of thy people? literally, how long wilt thou smoke? (comp. Psalm 74:1). "Against the prayer" means "in spite of the prayer," or "notwithstanding the prayer." Ordinarily, God forgives, and ceases from his anger, as soon as the afflicted one makes earnest prayer to him. But this is not always so. A time comes when his wrath cannot be appeased - when "there is no remedy" (2 Chronicles 36:16). Evil has been persisted in too long.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
O Lord God of hosts,.... Aben Ezra and Kimchi observe, that the word "Elohe" is here understood, and the words to be read, "O Lord God, the God of hosts"; of the armies above and below, against whom there is no standing, nor any before him when he is angry:
how long wilt thou be angry against the prayer of thy people? which must be put up in a wrong manner, in a very cold and lukewarm way, without faith and love, and with wrath and doubting; or otherwise God is not angry with, nor sets himself against the prayer of his people; nor does he despise, but is highly delighted with it: or how long wilt thou be angry with thy people, and continue the tokens of thy displeasure, though they pray, and keep praying, unto thee? it is in the Hebrew text, "how long wilt thou smoke (m) at the prayer of thy people?" that is, cause thine anger to smoke at it; in which it is thought there is an allusion to the smoke of the incense, to which prayer is compared; see Psalm 141:2, and denotes the acceptance of it with God through the mediation of Christ; but here his displicency at it, not being offered up through him, and by faith in him; such were the prayers of the Pharisees, Matthew 6:5.
(m) "fumabis", Pagninus, Vatablus; "fumaturus es", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "fumasti", Montanus, Cocceius, Gejerus, Michaelis, & Ainsworth.
The Treasury of David
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.
"O Lord God of Hosts, how long wilt thou be angry against the prayer of thy people?" How long shall the smoke of thy wrath drown the smoking incense of our prayers? Prayer would fain enter thy holy place but thy wrath battles with it, and prevents its entrance. That God should be angry with us when sinning seems natural enough, but that he should be angry even with our prayers is a bitter grief. With many a pang may the pleader ask, "How long?" Commander of all the hosts of thy creatures, able to save thy saints in their extremity, shall they for ever cry to thee in vain?
"Thou feedest them with the bread of tears." Their meat is seasoned with brine distilled from weeping eyes. Their meals, which were once such pleasant seasons of social merriment, are now like funeral feasts to which each man contributes his bitter morsel. Thy people ate bread of wheat before, but now they receive from thine own hand no better diet than bread of tears. "And givest them tears to drink in great measure." Tears are both their food and their drink, and that without stint. They swallow tierces of tears, and swim in gulfs of grief, and all this by God's own appointment; not because their enemies have them in their power by force of arms, but because their God refuses to interpose. Tear-bread is even more the fruit of the curse than to eat bread in the sweat of one's face, but it shall by divine love be turned into a greater blessing by ministering to our spiritual health.
"Thou makest us a strife unto our neighbours." Always jealous and malicious, Edom and Moab exulted over Israel's troubles, and then fell to disputing about their share of the spoil. A neighbour's jeer is ever most cutting, especially if a man has been superior to them, and claimed to possess more grace. None are so un-neighbourly as envious neighbours. "And our enemies laugh among themselves." They find mirth in our misery, comedy in our tragedy, salt for their wit in the brine of our tears, amusement in our amazement. It is devilish to sport with another's griefs; but it is the constant habit of the world which lieth in the wicked one to make merry with the saints' tribulations; the seed of the serpent follow their progenitor and rejoice in evil.
"Turn us again, O God of hosts." The prayer rises in the form of Its address to God. He is here the God of Hosts. The more we approach the Lord in prayer and contemplation the higher will our ideas of him become.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
4. be angry—(Compare Margin.)
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