Psalm 80:17
Let your hand be on the man of your right hand, on the son of man whom you made strong for yourself.
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(17) Man of thy right hand.—This is manifestly a continuation of Psalm 80:15, and should follow it:—

“Protect what thy right hand hath planted,

The branch which thou hast made strong for thyself:

Let thy hand be over the man of thy right hand,

Over the son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself.”

A fine instance of the mode in which the thought can pass naturally from the figurative to the literal. The man of God’s right hand is evidently the man protected by the right hand, but the expression introduces such a tautology that we suspect a misreading.

In the words “son,” “son of man,” some see a reference to the Messiah. But the parallelism and context show that the poet is thinking of Israel as a community, of which the vine is the emblem.

Psalm 80:17-18. Let thy hand — Thy power, to protect and strengthen him; be upon the man of thy right hand — That king (whoever he was) of the house of David, that was now to rule and go in and out before them. He calls him the man of God’s right hand, because he was the representative of their state, which was dear to God, as a man’s right hand is dear to himself, and as Benjamin, whose name signifies the son of the right hand, was dear to his father Jacob; and because he was president in their affairs, and an instrument in God’s right hand of much good to them, defending them from themselves, and from their enemies, and directing them in the right way; and was under-shepherd to him who was the great Shepherd of Israel. Upon the son of man — That king of David’s race, just mentioned, in whose safety and prosperity he considered the welfare and happiness of the whole kingdom as being involved; whom thou madest strong for thyself — That is, to serve the interest of thy kingdom among men. So will we not go back from thee — This glorious favour of thine will oblige us to love and serve thee, and trust in thee so long as we have a being, and will preserve us from relapsing into idolatry and wickedness, as we have too often done. Quicken us — Revive and restore us to our former tranquillity and happiness; revive our dying interests, and our drooping spirits, and we will call upon thy name — We shall be encouraged, and will continue to do so upon all occasions, having found, by experience, that it is not in vain. But many interpreters, both Jewish and Christian, apply this to the Messiah, the Son of David, the protector and Saviour of the church, and the keeper of the vineyard. He is the man of God’s right hand; to whom he has sworn by his right hand, as the Chaldee interprets it; whom he has exalted to his right hand, and who is indeed the right hand and arm of the Lord, invested with all power in heaven and on earth. And he is that Song of Solomon of man whom the Father made strong for himself for the glorifying of his name, and the advancing of the interests of his kingdom among men. God’s hand was upon him throughout his whole undertaking, to support and strengthen, to protect and animate him, that the good pleasure of the Lord might prosper in his hand. And the stability and constancy of believers, in his work and service, are owing to his grace upholding and strengthening them. 80:17-19 The Messiah, the Protector and Saviour of the church, is the Man of God's right hand; he is the Arm of the Lord, for all power is given to him. In him is our strength, by which we are enabled to persevere to the end. The vine, therefore, cannot be ruined, nor can any fruitful branch perish; but the unfruitful will be cut off and cast into the fire. The end of our redemption is, that we should serve Him who hath redeemed us, and not go back to our old sins.Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand - Luther renders this, "Let thy hand guard the folks of thy right hand, and the people whom thou hast powerfully chosen." The right hand is the place of honor; and the phrase "the man of thy right hand" means one who occupies such a position of honor. The phrase "Let thy hand be upon" is ambiguous. It may denote either favor or wrath; let it be upon him either to protect him, or to punish him. The connection, however, evidently demands the former interpretation, for it is in reference to the "man whom God had made strong for himself." The allusion is either

(a) to some individual man whom God had raised up to honor, as a prince or ruler of the people; or

(b) to the people as such - as Luther understands it.

Most probably the former is the correct interpretation; and the prayer is, that God would interpose in behalf of the ruler of the people - the king of the nation - whom he had exalted to so high honor, and whom he had placed in such a position of responsibility; that he would now endow him properly for his work; that he would give him wisdom in counsel, and valor in battle, in order that the nation might be delivered from its foes. It is, therefore, a prayer for the civil and military ruler of the land, that God would give him grace, firmness, and wisdom, in a time of great emergency. Prof. Alexander strangely supposes that this refers to the Messiah.

Upon the son of man - This means simply man, the language being varied for the sake of poetry. Compare the notes at Psalm 8:4. It is true that the appellation "the Son of man" was a favorite designation which the Lord Jesus applied to himself to denote that he was truly a man, and to indicate his connection with human nature; but the phrase is often used merely to denote a man. Here it refers to the king or civil ruler.

Whom thou madest strong for thyself - The man whom thou hast raised up to that exalted station, and whom thou hast endowed to do a work for thee in that station. A magistrate is a servant and a representative of God, appointed to do a work for him - not for himself. See Romans 13:1-6.

17. thy hand … upon—that is, strengthen (Ezr 7:6; 8:22).

man of … hand—may allude to Benjamin (Ge 35:18). The terms in the latter clause correspond with those of Ps 80:15, from "and the branch," &c., literally, and confirm the exposition given above.

Upon the man, to protect and strengthen him.

Of thy right hand; whom thy right hand planted, Psalm 80:15; whom thou hast loved and respected even as thy right hand, which is very dear to us, Matthew 5:30 18:8; compare Zechariah 13:7; thy Benjamin, whom he mentioned

Psalm 80:2, to whose name he seems to allude, which signifies

the son of the right hand, i.e. a dearly beloved son, as Benjamin was to Jacob. Song of Solomon of man: by man, or son of man, he understands either,

1. The Messias, oft called in Scripture the Son of man: let him come, and let his kingdom be established, and so thine Israel shall be saved and delivered out of all its troubles. Or,

2. The royal family, the house of David, in whose safety and welfare. the happiness of the whole nation was wrapt up. Or rather,

3. The people of Israel, who are oft spoken of as one person, as God’s Song of Solomon and first-born, Exodus 4:22, and here as one vine. And seeing all the foregoing complaints have been concerning the calamities of the people of Israel, it seems most reasonable to understand this prayer to be made for them; the rather, because the following clause here applied to the man and son of man,

who thou madest strong for thyself, is used of the root or branch of the vine, Psalm 80:15. Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand,.... Which some understand of the people of Israel in general, beloved, supported, and strengthened, by the Lord: and others of the then king of Israel, or Judah, the vinedresser, or keeper of the vineyard under God; praying that he might be directed, supported, and protected, by the Lord; but it seems better to understand it with R. Obadiah on the place, and Abarbinel (x) of the Messiah; and so Aben Ezra interprets it either of Israel, or of Messiah the son of Ephraim. Christ is called the "man", though as yet he was not really man, because it was purposed and promised that he should; and he had agreed to become man, and had appeared often in an human form; and it was certain that he would be incarnate: and also the man of God's "right hand", which is expressive of the power of God, because by him, who, in time, became man, even the Son of God, the world, and all things in it, were made; and by him all things are upheld in their being; by him his people were to be redeemed, and have been redeemed from all their enemies; and by him they are upheld, kept, and preserved from a final and total falling away, and will be raised at the last day: and the phrase may design the support and strength the human nature of Christ, which was weak in itself, was to have, and had, not only from its union in the Son of God, but from God the Father; who promised and gave support and strength to it, under all the sufferings endured in it: to which may be added, that this phrase is expressive of love and affection; so Benjamin had his name, which signifies the son of the right hand, from the great affection of his father; so Christ is the Son of God's love, his dear and well beloved Son; as appears by hiding nothing from him, by putting all things into his hands, and appointing him the Head and Saviour of his people, and the Judge of the world; and his love to him is a love of complacency and delight, is everlasting and unchangeable: moreover, he may be so called, because he was to be, and now is, exalted at the right hand of God, in human nature, as a Prince and Saviour, above angels, authorities, and powers, and above every name whatever: and the prayer is either that the hand of vindictive justice might not be upon the vine, or the church of God, but upon Christ their surety, who was able to bear it, and had engaged to do it; or the hand of divine power and support might be upon him, to strengthen him for the work of redemption and salvation, that so that might prosper in his hand; and the hand of love, grace, and mercy, might be turned upon his people: it is added,

upon the son of man, whom thou madest strong for thyself; for the accomplishment of his purposes, promises, and covenant, for the bringing about the salvation of his own people, and for ends of his own glory: the same person is here meant as before; and his being called "the Son of Man", which is a very usual phrase for Christ in the New Testament, and which seems to be taken from hence, and from Daniel 7:13, shows that he could not be really from eternity, since he was to be the Son of Man, as he was, of Abraham, David, &c.

(x) Mashmiah Jeshuah, fol. 81. 2.

Let thy hand be upon the {n} man of thy right hand, upon the son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself.

(n) That is, on this vine or people, whom you have planted with your right hand, that they should be as one man or one body

17. A repetition of Psalm 80:15, dropping the metaphor. Extend Thy hand, put forth Thy power to protect the people which Thy right hand made into a nation and delivered from Egypt. The son of man describes it as affected by human frailty and therefore needing divine help. The personification of Israel as Jehovah’s son underlies the language of the verse. Possibly there is an allusion to Benjamin = ‘son of the right hand.’Verse 17. - Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand. Either upon Israel generally, or upon Ephraim - the northern kingdom - especially. A Judaean poet interceding for the rival state, is touching. Upon the son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself (comp. ver. 15 and the comment). The complaint now assumes a detailing character in this strophe, inasmuch as it contrasts the former days with the present; and the ever more and more importunate prayer moulds itself in accordance therewith. The retrospective description begins, as is rarely the case, with the second modus, inasmuch as "the speaker thinks more of the bare nature of the act than of the time" (Ew. 136, b). As in the blessing of Jacob (Genesis 49:22) Joseph is compared to the layer (בּן) of a fruitful growth (פּרת), whose shoots (בּנות) climb over the wall: so here Israel is compared to a vine (Genesis 49:22; גּפן פּריּח, Psalm 128:3), which has become great in Egypt and been transplanted thence into the Land of Promise. הסּיע, lxx μεταίρειν, as in Job 19:10, perhaps with an allusion to the מסעים of the people journeying to Canaan (Psalm 78:52).

(Note: Exod. Rabba, ch. 44, with reference to this passage, says: "When husbandmen seek to improve a vine, what do they do? They root (עוקרין) it out of its place and plant (שׁותלין) it in another." And Levit. Rabba, ch. 36, says: "As one does not plant a vine in a place where there are great, rough stones, but examines the ground and then plants it, so didst Thou drive out peoples and didst plant it," etc.)

Here God made His vine a way and a place (פּנּהּ, to clear, from פּנה, to turn, turn aside, Arabic fanija, to disappear, pass away; root פן, to urge forward), and after He had secured to it a free soil and unchecked possibility of extension, it (the vine) rooted its roots, i.e., struck them ever deeper and wider, and filled the earth round about (cf. the antitype in the final days, Isaiah 27:6). The Israelitish kingdom of God extended itself on every side in accordance with the promise. תּשׁלּח (cf. Ezekiel 17:6, and vegetable שׁלח, a shoot) also has the vine as its subject, like תּשׁרשׁ. Psalm 80:11-12 state this in a continued allegory, by the "mountains" pointing to the southern boundary, by the "cedars" to the northern, by the "sea" to the western, and by the "river" (Euphrates) to the eastern boundary of the country (vid., Deuteronomy 11:24 and other passages). צלּהּ and ענפיה are accusatives of the so-called more remote object (Ges. 143, 1). קציר is a cutting equals a branch; יונקת, a (vegetable) sucker equals a young, tender shoot; ארזי־אל, the cedars of Lebanon as being living monuments of the creative might of God. The allegory exceeds the measure of the reality of nature, inasmuch as this is obliged to be extended according to the reality of that which is typified and historical. But how unlike to the former times is the present! The poet asks "wherefore?" for the present state of things is a riddle to him. The surroundings of the vine are torn down; all who come in contact with it pluck it (ארה, to pick off, pluck off, Talmudic of the gathering of figs); the boar out of the wood (מיער with עין תלויה, Ajin)

(Note: According to Kiddushin, 30a, because this Ajin is the middle letter of the Psalter as the Waw of גחון, Leviticus 11:42, is the middle letter of the Tra. One would hardly like to be at the pains of proving the correctness of this statement; nevertheless in the seventeenth century there lived one Laymarius, a clergyman, who was not afraid of this trouble, and found the calculations of the Masora (e.g., that אדני ה occurs 222 times) in part inaccurate; vid., Monatliche Unterredungen, 1691, S. 467, and besides, Geiger, Urschrift und Uebersetzungen der Bibel, S. 258f.))

cuts it off (כּרסם, formed out of כּסם equals גּזם

(Note: Saadia appropriately renders it Arab. yqrḍhâ, by referring, as does Dunash also, to the Talmudic קרסם, which occurs of ants, like Arab. qrḍ, of rodents. So Peah ii. 7, Menachoth 71b, on which Rashi observes, "the locust (חגב) is accustomed to eat from above, the ant tears off the corn-stalk from below." Elsewhere קירסם denotes the breaking off of dry branches from the tree, as זרד the removal of green branches.))

viz., with its tusks; and that which moves about the fields (vid., concerning זיז, Psalm 50:11), i.e., the untractable, lively wild beast, devours it. Without doubt the poet associates a distinct nation with the wild boar in his mind; for animals are also in other instances the emblems of nations, as e.g., the leviathan, the water-serpent, the behemoth (Isaiah 30:6), and flies (Isaiah 7:18) are emblems of Egypt. The Midrash interprets it of Ser-Edom, and זיז שׂדי, according to Genesis 16:12, of the nomadic Arabs.

In Psalm 80:15 the prayer begins for the third time with threefold urgency, supplicating for the vine renewed divine providence, and a renewal of the care of divine grace. We have divided the verse differently from the accentuation, since שׁוּב־נא הבּט is to be understood according to Ges. 142. The junction by means of ו is at once opposed to the supposition that וכּנּה in Psalm 80:16 signifies a slip or plant, plantam (Targum, Syriac, Aben-Ezra, Kimchi, and others), and that consequently the whole of Psalm 80:16 is governed by וּפקד. Nor can it mean its (the vine's) stand or base, כּן (Bttcher), since one does not plant a "stand." The lxx renders וכנה: καὶ κατάρτισαι, which is imper. aor. 1. med., therefore in the sense of כּוננה.

(Note: Perhaps the Caph majusculum is the result of an erasure that required to be made, vid., Geiger, Urschrift, S. 295. Accordingly the Ajin suspensum might also be the result of a later inserted correction, for there is a Phoenician inscription that has יר (wood, forest); vid., Levy, Phnizisches Wrterbuch, S. 22.)

But the alternation of על (cf. Proverbs 2:11, and Arab. jn ‛lâ, to cover over) with the accusative of the object makes it more natural to derive כנה, not from כּנן equals כּוּן, but from כּנן Arab. kanna equals גּנן, to cover, conceal, protect (whence Arab. kinn, a covering, shelter, hiding-place): and protect him whom...or: protect what Thy right hand has planted. The pointing certainly seems to take כנה as the feminine of כּן (lxx, Daniel 11:7, φυτόν); for an imperat. paragog. Kal of the form כּנּה does not occur elsewhere, although it might have been regarded by the punctuists as possible from the form גּל, volve, Psalm 119:22. If it is regarded as impossible, then one might read כנּה. At any rate the word is imperative, as the following אשׁר, eum quem, also shows, instead of which, if כנה were a substantive, one would expect to find a relative clause without אשׁר, as in Psalm 80:16. Moreover Psalm 80:16 requires this, since פּקד על can only be used of visiting with punishment. And who then would the slip (branch) and the son of man be in distinction from the vine? If we take בנה as imperative, then, as one might expect, the vine and the son of man are both the people of God. The Targum renders Psalm 80:16 thus: "and upon the King Messiah, whom Thou hast established for Thyself," after Psalm 2:1-12 and Daniel 7:13; but, as in the latter passage, it is not the Christ Himself, but the nation out of which He is to proceed, that is meant. אמּץ has the sense of firm appropriation, as in Isaiah 44:14, inasmuch as the notion of making fast passes over into that of laying firm hold of, of seizure. Rosenmller well renders it: quem adoptatum tot nexibus tibi adstrinxisti.

The figure of the vine, which rules all the language here, is also still continued in Psalm 80:17; for the partt. fem. refer to גּפן ot refer, - the verb, however, may take the plural form, because those of Israel are this "vine," which combusta igne, succisa (as in Isaiah 33:12; Aramaic, be cut off, tear off, in Psalm 80:13 the Targum word for ארה; Arabic, ksḥ, to clear away, peel off), is just perishing, or hangs in danger of destruction (יאבדוּ) before the threatening of the wrathful countenance of God. The absence of anything to denote the subject, and the form of expression, which still keeps within the circle of the figure of the vine, forbid us to understand this Psalm 80:17 of the extirpation of the foes. According to the sense תּהי־ידך על

(Note: The תהי has Gaja, like שׂאו־זמרה (Psalm 81:3), בני־נכר (Psalm 144:7), and the like. This Gaja beside the Sheb (instead of beside the following vowel) belongs to the peculiarities of the metrical books, which in general, on account of their more melodious mode of delivery, have many such a Gaja beside Sheb, which does not occur in the prose books. Thus, e.g., יהוה and אלהים always have Gaja beside the Sheb when they have Rebia magnum without a conjunctive, probably because Rebia and Dech had such a fulness of tone that a first stroke fell even upon the Sheb-letters.)

coincides with the supplicatory כנה על. It is Israel that is called בּן in Psalm 80:16, as being the son whom Jahve has called into being in Egypt, and then called out of Egypt to Himself and solemnly declared to be His son on Sinai (Exodus 4:22; Hosea 11:1), and who is now, with a play upon the name of Benjamin in Psalm 80:3 (cf. Psalm 80:16), called אישׁ ימינך, as being the people which Jahve has preferred before others, and has placed at His right hand

(Note: Pinsker punctuates thus: Let Thy hand be upon the man, Thy right hand upon the son of man, whom, etc.; but the impression that ימינך and אמצתה לך coincide is so strong, that no one of the old interpreters (from the lxx and Targum onwards) has been able to free himself from it.)


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