Psalm 80 

  • “Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
    You who lead Joseph like a flock;
    You who dwell between the cherubim, shine forth!
  • “Before Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh,
    Stir up Your strength,
    And come and save us!
  • “Restore us, O God;
    Cause Your face to shine,
    And we shall be saved!
  • “O Lord God of hosts,
    How long will You be angry
    Against the prayer of Your people?
  • “You have fed them with the bread of tears,
    And given them tears to drink in great measure.
  • “You have made us a strife to our neighbors,
    And our enemies laugh among themselves.
  • “Restore us, O God of hosts;
    Cause Your face to shine,
    And we shall be saved!
  • “You have brought a vine out of Egypt;
    You have cast out the nations, and planted it.
  • “You prepared room for it,
    And caused it to take deep root,
    And it filled the land.
  • “The hills were covered with its shadow,
    And the mighty cedars with its boughs.”
  • “ She sent out her boughs to the Sea,
    And her branches to the River.
  • “Why have You broken down her hedges,
    So that all who pass by the way pluck her fruit?
  • “The boar out of the woods uproots it,
    And the wild beast of the field devours it.
  • “Return, we beseech You, O God of hosts;
    Look down from heaven and see,
    And visit this vine
  • “And the vineyard which Your right hand has planted,
    And the branch that You made strong for Yourself.
  • “It is burned with fire, it is cut down;
    They perish at the rebuke of Your countenance.
  • “Let Your hand be upon the man of Your right hand,
    Upon the son of man whom You made strong for Yourself.
  • “Then we will not turn back from You;
    Revive us, and we will call upon Your name.
  • “Restore us, O Lord God of hosts;
    Cause Your face to shine,
    And we shall be saved!”
  • (Psalm 80).

This Messianic psalm stresses several important points about the person and work of Jesus Christ. Who is He? What can we learn from the summary of His mission provided by this psalm?:

Thy Face
Good Shepherd
The Vineyard
The Son of Man
Jesus the Messiah

Thy Face

In this psalm there is a thrice-repeated invocation for God to turn His face toward the believer:

"Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face [paniym] to shine; and we shall be saved." (Psalm 80:3)
"Turn us again, O God of hosts, and cause thy face [paniym] to shine; and we shall be saved." (Psalm 80:7).

"Turn us again, O LORD God of hosts, cause thy face [paniym] to shine; and we shall be saved." (Psalm 80:19).

What does it mean for God to turn His face toward us? He does not, strictly speaking, have a front side and a back side, as do we biological creatures; what is solicited, is His attention and care:

"and cause thy face to shine; grant thy gracious presence, lift up the light of thy countenance; favor 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:. . ." (John Gill, Exposition of the Entire Bible, Psalm 80:3).

Why is it said three times? Because God is triune. When the Old Testament was translated into Greek, this word 'face' was rendered as 'prosopon,' meaning face, aspect, or person.


  The First Time  
  What does it Mean?  
  Face to Face  
 The Father and the Son 
  The Holy Spirit  
  Express Image  
  To Each His Own  
  Men and Angels  
  Thrice Holy  
Who are the God-people?
  Separate or Distinct?  
  Bible Terminology  
  God is not a Man  

Good Shepherd

The God to whom the psalm is addressed is the "Shepherd of Israel:"

"Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth. " (Psalm 80:1).

This title is shared between God the Father and the Messiah, who is the Good Shepherd:


  • “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.
  • “But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them.
  • “The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. 
  • “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.
  • “As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.”
  • (John 10:11-15).

The Vineyard

The psalmist longs for the planter to visit His vineyard:

"Thou preparedst room before it, and didst cause it to take deep root, and it filled the land.
The hills were covered with the shadow of it, and the boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars.
She sent out her boughs unto the sea, and her branches unto the river.
Why hast thou then broken down her hedges, so that all they which pass by the way do pluck her?
The boar out of the wood doth waste it, and the wild beast of the field doth devour it.
Return, we beseech thee, O God of hosts: look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine;
And the vineyard which thy right hand hath planted, and the branch that thou madest strong for thyself." (Psalm 80:9-15).

This yearning for God's visitation to His plantation was realized, in the New Testament:

“Then He began to speak to them in parables: 'A man planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a place for the wine vat and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country. Now at vintage-time he sent a servant to the vinedressers, that he might receive some of the fruit of the vineyard from the vinedressers. And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed.” (Mark 12:1-3).

Unfortunately the vineyard-dwellers did not realize the time of their visitation:


Son of Man

A title that the Lord especially assigned to Himself was the 'Son of Man.' Secular Bible scholars realize how dangerous this title is to their enterprise, because the early church did not use this title in worship, and so it must go back to the Lord Himself. Here we find it in our psalm:

"Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself." (Psalm 80:17).

We might well ask, with the mob, "The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man?" (John 12:34).


Daniel's Vision I the Son of Man
Common Sense Rabbi Akiba
The Other Beloved Son
Psalm 80 Psalm 8

Ilya Repin, Christ Raising the Daughter of Jairus

Jesus the Messiah

This psalm is one of many putting the pieces together, already in the Old Testament, explaining who the Messiah is, what is His mission, and how His people are to expect events to unfold. The Targum, the Aramaic paraphrase of the Hebrew scriptures, agrees that the 'son of man' here is the Messiah: "Ps. lxxx. 17 (in the Hebrew 18). The Targum paraphrases the 'Son of Man' by 'king Messiah.'" (Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Appendix, Kindle location 27464):