Psalm 80:12
Why have you then broken down her hedges, so that all they which pass by the way do pluck her?
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(12) Pluck.—For the same image of the broken fence, and the fruit gathered by the passers by, see Psalm 89:40-41.

Psalm 80:12-13. Why hast thou broken down her hedges — That is, taken away thy protection, which was to thy people for walls and bulwarks: so that all they which pass by do pluck her — Pluck off her grapes, or tear off her boughs, as the word ארוה, aruah, implies. Thus “the psalmist, having described the exaltation of Israel, under the figure of a vine, proceeds, under the same figure, to lament her depression. She is now represented as deprived of the protection of God, the counsels of the wise, and the arms of the valiant; of all her bulwarks and fortifications, and whatever else could contribute to her defence and security; so that, like a vineyard without a fence, she lay open, on every side, to the incursion and ravages of her neighbouring adversaries, who soon stripped her of all that was valuable, and trod her under foot.” — Horne. The boar of the wood doth waste it — By which he means some one of their most fierce and furious enemies; and the wild beasts of the field doth devour it — Some other potent enemy that made war upon and wasted them. Theodoret says, that Nebuchadnezzar was intended, and that he is very properly termed, The wild beast of the field, because he was more fierce than any other monarch. But the psalmist seems rather to refer to times antecedent to the period in which the Jews suffered so much from Nebuchadnezzar, and to intend some of their other cruel and unrelenting heathen enemies, who, like wild beasts, issuing out of a forest, invaded their country, resolved not only to spoil and plunder, but, if possible, to eradicate and extirpate this vine for ever. The metaphor of the vine is thus continued to a considerable length, and carried on very happily through the several particulars. “Among the many elegances with which this allegory abounds, that nicety, observable both in the beginning and close of it, is not the least; the author sliding, as it were, from the comparison into the subject itself, and from thence into the comparison, by an almost insensible gradation.” See Bishop Lowth’s Tenth Prelection.80:8-16 The church is represented as a vine and a vineyard. The root of this vine is Christ, the branches are believers. The church is like a vine, needing support, but spreading and fruitful. If a vine do not bring forth fruit, no tree is so worthless. And are not we planted as in a well-cultivated garden, with every means of being fruitful in works of righteousness? But the useless leaves of profession, and the empty boughs of notions and forms, abound far more than real piety. It was wasted and ruined. There was a good reason for this change in God's way toward them. And it is well or ill with us, according as we are under God's smiles or frowns. When we consider the state of the purest part of the visible church, we cannot wonder that it is visited with sharp corrections. They request that God would help the vine. Lord, it is formed by thyself, and for thyself, therefore it may, with humble confidence, be committed to thyself.Why hast thou then broken down her hedges? - Why hast thou dealt with thy people as one would with a vineyard who should break down all its enclosures, and leave it open to wild beasts? The word rendered hedges means wall or enclosure. Compare the notes at Isaiah 5:2.

So that all they which pass by the way - All travelers; or, wild beasts. So that there is nothing to prevent their coming up to the vine and plucking the grapes.

Do pluck her - Pluck, or pick off the grapes; or, if the phrase "all which pass by the way" denotes wild beasts, then the meaning is, that they eat off the leaves and branches of the vine.

12. hedges—(Isa 5:5). Broken down her hedges; taken away thy protection, which was to them for walls and bulwarks.

Pluck her; pluck up her grapes and boughs, and strike at her very root. Why hast thou then broken down her hedges,.... After having done all this for her; which signifies the Lord's removing his presence, power, and protection, from Israel; which were the hedge he set about them, and by which they were secured and defended from their enemies; but these being gone, they became an easy prey to them; see Job 1:10, the hedge about the church and people of God are the angels that encamp about them; salvation, which is as walls and bulwarks to them; and the Lord himself, who is a wall of fire around them; which may be said to be broken down when he withdraws his presence, and does not exert his power in the protection of them; but suffers them to be exposed to the persecutions of men:

so that all they which pass by the way do pluck her? the hedge being broken down, all passengers and travellers plucked the fruit of the vine as they passed along, there being noticing to keep them off from it: this may denote the plunder of the Israelites by their enemies, when left of God, they fell into their hands; and the havoc persecutors make of the church of Christ, and their spoiling them of their goods and substance, when they are permitted to do it.

Why hast thou then broken down her hedges, so that all they which pass by the way do pluck her?
12. Why &c.] The question is half expostulation, half inquiry, for Israel’s present plight is a riddle to the Psalmist.

hedges] R.V. fences. Vineyards were always carefully fenced to protect them (Isaiah 5:5). Almost the same words recur in Psalm 89:40-41.Verse 12. - Why hast thou then broken down her hedges? or, her fences. Vineyards in the East were fenced round with walls (see Isaiah 5:5). So all they which pass by the way do pluck her; i.e. "pluck off her grapes" - ravage her and plunder her (comp. Psalm 89:40, 41). In the second strophe there issues forth bitter complaint concerning the form of wrath which the present assumes, and, thus confirmed, the petition rises anew. The transferring of the smoking (עשׁן) of God's nostrils equals the hard breathing of anger (Psalm 74:1, Deuteronomy 29:19), to God Himself is bold, but in keeping with the spirit of the Biblical view of the wrath of God (vid., on Psalm 18:9), so that there is no need to avoid the expression by calling in the aid of the Syriac word עשׁן, to be strong, powerful (why art Thou hard, why dost Thou harden Thyself...). The perfect after עד־מתי has the sense of a present with a retrospective glance, as in Exodus 10:3, cf. עד־אנה, to be understood after the analogy of חרה בּ (to kindle equals to be angry against any one), for the prayer of the people is not an object of wrath, but only not a means of turning it aside. While the prayer is being presented, God veils Himself in the smoke of wrath, through which it is not able to penetrate. The lxx translators have read בתפלת עבדיך, for they render ἐπὶ τὴν προσευχήν τῶν δούλων σου (for which the common reading is τοῦ δούλου σου). Bread of tears is, according to Psalm 42:4, bread consisting of tears; tears, running down in streams upon the lips of the praying and fasting one, are his meat and his drink. השׁקה with an accusative signifies to give something to drink, and followed by Beth, to give to drink by means of something, but it is not to be translated: potitandum das eis cum lacrymis trientem (De Dieu, von Ortenberg, and Hitzig). שׁלישׁ (Talmudic, a third part) is the accusative of more precise definition (Vatablus, Gesenius, Olshausen, and Hupfeld): by thirds (lxx ἐν μέτρῳ, Symmachus μέτρῳ); for a third of an ephah is certainly a very small measure for the dust of the earth (Isaiah 40:12), but a large one for tears. The neighbours are the neighbouring nations, to whom Israel is become מדון, an object, a butt of contention. In למו is expressed the pleasure which the mocking gives them.
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