Psalms 80, 120 – In My Distress I Called

Thought to have been written during the time of captivity, the community lament of Psalm 80 makes pleas to the “Shepherd of Israel” to come and save them.  Verse 2’s mention of Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh serves to include the whole of Israel.  Ephraim and Manasseh represent the northern kingdom, while the tribe of Benjamin remained with Judah after the division.  The phrase “let your face shine” in verses 3 and 7 remind of Aaron’s blessing in Numbers 6:24-25.   The psalm speaks of Israel as a vine, a metaphor that the Scriptures use often (Isaiah 5:1-3, Jeremiah 2:21, Jeremiah 12:10, Ezekiel 17:6).  Then in John 15:1-5, Jesus speaks of Himself as the true vine.

Ruins of the southern wall of the ancient Temple of Jerusalem which date from Herod's time.

Ruins of the southern wall of the ancient Temple of Jerusalem which date from Herod’s time.

Psalm 120 is the first of 15 psalms with the superscription “a song of ascents” (Psalms 120-134).  They are a widely varied collection of psalms, ranging from laments to thanksgiving psalms to royal psalms.  We are unsure what is the significance of the word, although many say that these were songs that were sung on “the steps,” which is one meaning for the word.

The best guess we have read is that they were songs that were sung during pilgrimage to the various feasts of the year, which would indicate the “ascent” to Jerusalem for worship.  Still, the most interesting view is the belief of some Jews that there are 15 of them because there were 15 steps from the “Court of the Women” to the “Court of the Men” in the Temple.

This one is an individual lament from someone who has been living among ungodly people who are hostile to him.  In verse 5, Meschech and Kedar are thought by most to represent places of barbarians.  Meshech was in Asia Minor near the Black Sea, and Kedar was in the Syrian desert to the south of Damascus.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.


8 comments on “Psalms 80, 120 – In My Distress I Called

  1. Pingback: Day 178: Psalms 120-131; The Songs of Ascent | Overisel Reformed Church

  2. Pingback: Psalm 117, 124 – If Not For the Lord | Bob's boy's Christianity blog

  3. Pingback: Psalm 126-127 – Unless the Lord Builds the House… | Bob's boy's Christianity blog

  4. Pingback: Psalm 128, 131 – Blessed Is Everyone Who Fears the Lord | Bob's boy's Christianity blog

  5. Pingback: Psalm 125, 129, 130 – The Lord Surrounds His People | Bob's boy's Christianity blog

  6. Pingback: Psalm 133, 134 – Come Bless The Lord | Bob's boy's Christianity blog

  7. Pingback: Psalm 132 – If Your Sons Keep My Covenant | Bob's boy's Christianity blog

  8. Pingback: Psalm 122 – A City Bound Firmly | Bob's boy's Christianity blog

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