Psalm 80:3
Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.
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(3) Turn us againi.e., “restore us,” not necessarily with reference to the Captivity, but generally, restore us to our pristine prosperity.

Cause thy face to shine.—The desert encampment and march is still in the poet’s thought. As in Psalm 67:1 (see Note) we have here a reminiscence of the priestly benediction.

Saved.—Or, helped. This verse constitutes the refrain.

Psalm 80:3. Turn us again — He means, either to our former quiet and flourishing state; or, to thyself, from whom Ephraim and Manasseh, with the rest of the ten tribes, have apostatized. See a similar prayer of Elijah for them, 1 Kings 18:37. Instead of, Turn us, Mudge reads, Restore us, which is equally agreeable to the original word, השׁיבנו, hashibenu. “There are evidently four parts in this Psalm; all of which conclude with this verse, or with one varying very little from it. In the first, the psalmist entreats God to assist them, as he formerly did their forefathers. In the second, he beseeches him to have compassion upon their miserable condition. In the third, not to forsake those now for whom he had already done so much; and in the fourth, concludes with a prayer for their king, and a promise of future obedience, as a grateful return for God’s favours.” — Dodd.

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.Turn us again - This phrase in our translation would seem to mean, "Turn us again from our sins," or, "Bring us back to our duty, and to thy love;" and this idea is commonly attached to the phrase probably by the readers of the Bible. But this, though in itself an appropriate prayer, is not the idea here. It is simply, Bring us back; cause us to return; restore us. The idea thus suggested would be either

(a) restore us to our former state of prosperity; that is, Cause these desolations to cease; or

(b) bring us back, as from captivity, to our own land; restore us to our country and our homes, from which we have been driven out.

Thus understood, it would be properly the language of those who were in captivity or exile, praying that they might be restored again to their own land.

And cause thy face to shine - Be favorable or propitious to us. Let the frown on thy countenance disappear. See the notes at Psalm 4:6.

And we shall be saved - Saved from our dangers; saved from our troubles. It is also true that when God causes his face to shine upon us, we shall be saved from our sins; saved from ruin. It is only by his smile and favor that we can be saved in any sense, or from any danger.

3. Turn us—that is, from captivity.

thy face to shine—(Nu 6:25).

Turn us again; either,

l. To our former quiet and flourishing estate; or,

2. To thyself, from whom Ephraim and Manasseh with the rest of the ten tribes have apostatized. See the like prayer of Elijah for them, 1 Kings 18:37.

Turn us again, O God,.... From our captivity, as the Targum, into our own land; or return us backsliding sinners to thyself by repentance; turn us, and we shall be turned; for the prayer shows it was not in their power, but must be effected by the grace of God; or restore our souls, which have been wandering, and them to their former flourishing and comfortable condition:

and cause thy face to shine; grant thy gracious presence, lift up the light of thy countenance; favour with the manifestations of thyself, the enjoyment of thee, and communion with thee through Christ; indulge us with the discoveries of thy love, the joys of salvation, the comforts of the Spirit, and larger measures of grace:

and we shall be saved; be in a very happy and comfortable condition; see Psalm 4:6.

{c} Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.

(c) Join your whole people, and all your tribes together again.

3. Turn us again] Usually taken to mean bring us back from exile, or more generally, restore us: repair our broken fortunes. Cp. Psalm 60:1. But is it not rather an allusion to Ephraim’s prayer in Jeremiah 31:18, interpreted in Lamentations 5:21 in a spiritual sense? National repentance is the condition of national restoration; and it must be God’s own work. Make us return to Thee, and return to us (Psalm 80:14) with Thy favour as of old; then and not till then shall we be saved.

cause thy face to shine] Shew us Thy favour as of old: words borrowed from the great Aaronic benediction, Numbers 6:25. Cp. Psalm 4:6.

Verse 3. - Turn us again, O God; or, restore us - "bring us back" - i.e. bring those of us who are in exile (2 Kings 15:29) back to our country. And cause thy face to shine (comp. Numbers 6:25; Psalm 31:16; Psalm 67:1). The metaphor scarcely needs explanation. And we shall be saved. If thou lookest upon us with favour, our salvation is assured. Psalm 80:3The first strophe contains nothing but petition. First of all the nation is called Israel as springing from Jacob; then, as in Psalm 81:6, Joseph, which, where it is distinct from Jacob or Judah, is the name of the kingdom of the ten tribes (vid., Caspari on Obadiah 1:18), or at least of the northern tribes (Psalm 77:16; Psalm 78:67.). Psalm 80:3 shows that it is also these that are pre-eminently intended here. The fact that in the blessing of Joseph, Jacob calls God a Shepherd (רעה), Genesis 48:15; Genesis 49:24, perhaps has somewhat to do with the choice of the first two names. In the third, the sitting enthroned in the sanctuary here below and in the heaven above blend together; for the Old Testament is conscious of a mutual relationship between the earthly and the heavenly temple (היכל) until the one merges entirely in the other. The cher׫bim, which God enthrones, i.e., upon which He sits enthroned, are the bearers of the chariot (מרכבה) of the Ruler of the world (vid., Psalm 18:11). With הופיעה (from יפע, Arab. yf‛, eminere, emicare, as in the Asaph Psalm 50:2) the poet prays that He would appear in His splendour of light, i.e., in His fiery bright, judging, and rescuing doxa, whether as directly visible, or even as only recognisable by its operation. Both the comparison, "after the manner of a flock" and the verb נהג are Asaphic, Psalm 78:52, cf. Psalm 26:1-12. Just so also the names given to the nation. The designation of Israel after the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh attaches itself to the name Joseph; and the two take the brother after the flesh into their midst, of whom the beloved Rachel was the mother as well as of Joseph, the father of Ephraim and Manasseh. In Numbers 2 also, these three are not separated, but have their camp on the west side of the Tabernacle. May God again put into activity - which is the meaning of עורר (excitare) in distinction from חעיר (expergefacere) - His גבורה, the need for the energetic intervention of which now makes itself felt, before these three tribes, i.e., by becoming their victorious leader. לכה is a summoning imperative.

(Note: Not a pronoun: to Thee it belongs to be for salvation for us, as the Talmud, Midrash, and Masora (vid., Norzi) take it; wherefore in J. Succa 54c it is straightway written לך. Such a לכה equals לך is called in the language of the Masora, and even in the Midrash (Exod. Rabba, fol. 121), לכה ודאית (vid., Buxtorf, Tiberias, p. 245).)

Concerning ישׁעתה vid., on Psalm 3:3; the construction with Lamed says as little against the accusative adverbial rendering of the ah set forth there as does the Beth of בּחרשׁה (in the wood) in 1 Samuel 23:15, vid., Bttcher's Neue Aehrenlese, Nos. 221, 384, 449. It is not a bringing back out of the Exile that is prayed for by השׁתבנוּ, for, according to the whole impression conveyed by the Psalm, the people are still on the soil of their fatherland; but in their present feebleness they are no longer like themselves, they stand in need of divine intervention in order again to attain a condition that is in harmony with the promises, in order to become themselves again. May God then cause His long hidden countenance to brighten and shine upon them, then shall they be helped as they desire (ונוּשׁעה).

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