Psalm 80:5
You feed them with the bread of tears; and give them tears to drink in great measure.
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(5) Bread of tears.—See Psalm 42:3.

In great measure.—Heb., shalîsh, i.e., a third part. (Comp. Isaiah 40:12, Margin.) Probably meaning a third part of an ephah. (See Exodus 16:36; Isaiah 5:10, LXX.) But here evidently used in a general way, as we say “a peck of troubles.”

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.Thou feedest them with the bread of tears - literally, "Thou causest them to eat the bread of tears," or of weeping. That is, their food was accompanied with tears; even when they ate, they wept. Their tears seemed to moisten their bread, they flowed so copiously. See the notes at Psalm 42:3.

And givest them tears to drink - So abundant were their tears that they might constitute their very drink.

In great measure - Or rather by measure; that is, abundantly. The word here rendered "great measure" - שׁלישׁ shâlı̂ysh - means properly a third, and is usually applied to a measure for grain - a third part of another measure - as, the third part of an ephah. See the notes at Isaiah 40:12. Then the word is used for any measure, perhaps because this was the most common measure in use. The idea seems to be, not so much that God gave tears to them in great measure, but that he measured them out to them, as one measures drink to others; that is, the cup, or cask, or bottle in which their drink was served to them was as if filled with tears only.

5. bread of tears—still an Eastern figure for affliction. With the bread of tears; either with tears instead of bread, which they either want, or cannot eat because their grief hath taken away their appetites; or with tears as frequent and constant as their eating it. See the like phrase Psalm 42:3. Thou feedest them with the bread of tears,.... With tears instead of bread, having none to eat; or their bread is mingled with their tears, "dipped" therein, as the Targum; such was their constant grief, and the occasion of it, that they could not cease from tears while they were eating their meals, and so ate them with them (n):

and givest them tears to drink in great measure; or the wine of tears "three fold", as the Targum. Jarchi interprets it of the captivity of Babylon, which was the third part of the two hundred and ten years of Israel's being in Egypt; which exposition, he says, he learned from R. Moses Hadarsan; but he observes, that some interpret it of the kingdom of Grecia, which was the third distress: and so Kimchi and Arama explain it of the third captivity; but Menachem, as Jarchi says, takes "shalish" to be the name of a drinking vessel, and so does Aben Ezra; the same it may be which the Latins call a "triental", the third part of a pint; unless the Hebrew measure, the "seah", which was the third part of an "ephah", is meant; it is translated a "measure" in Isaiah 40:12 and seems to design a large one, and so our version interprets it; compare with this Isaiah 30:20.

(n) "----lachrymisque suis jejunia pavit", Ovid. Metamorph. l. 4. Fab. 6.

Thou feedest them with the bread of tears; and givest them tears to drink in great measure.
5. Thou hast fed them with bread of tears,

And given them tears to drink in large measure.

i.e. made tears their daily portion: cp. Psalm 42:3; Psalm 102:9. In large measure, lit. by the tierce, or third part of some larger measure, probably the bath (= ephah, in dry measure), and if so containing nearly three gallons: a huge drinking goblet, though but a tiny measure for the dust of the earth, Isaiah 40:12, the only other place where the word occurs.

LXX, Syr., Jer., read us for them.Verse 5. - Thou feedest them with the bread of tears (comp. Psalm 42:2, "My tears have been my meat day and night"). And givest them tears to drink in great measure; or, and givest them to drink a copious draught of tears; literally, shalish is a measure of capacity, probably the third part of an ephah (see Isaiah 40:12). The victory of the world is indeed not God's aim; therefore His own honour does not suffer that the world of which He has made use in order to chasten His people should for ever haughtily triumph. שׁמך is repeated with emphasis at the end of the petition in Psalm 79:9, according to the figure epanaphora. על־דּבר equals למען, as in Psalm 45:5, cf. Psalm 7:1, is a usage even of the language of the Pentateuch. Also the motive, "wherefore shall they say?" occurs even in the Tפra (Exodus 32:12, cf. Numbers 14:13-17; Deuteronomy 9:28). Here (cf. Psalm 115:2) it originates out of Joel 2:17. The wish expressed in Psalm 79:10 is based upon Deuteronomy 32:43. The poet wishes in company with his contemporaries, as eye-witnesses, to experience what God has promised in the early times, viz., that He will avenge the blood of His servants. The petition in Deuteronomy 32:11 runs like Psalm 102:21, cf. Psalm 18:7. אסיר individualizingly is those who are carried away captive and incarcerated; בּני תמוּתה are those who, if God does not preserve them by virtue of the greatness (גדל, cf. גּדל Exodus 15:16) of His arm, i.e., of His far-reaching omnipotence, succumb to the power of death as to a patria potestas.

(Note: The Arabic has just this notion in an active application, viz., benı̂ el-môt equals the heroes (destroyers) in the battle.)

That the petition in Psalm 79:12 recurs to the neighbouring peoples is explained by the fact, that these, who might most readily come to the knowledge of the God of Israel as the one living and true God, have the greatest degree of guilt on account of their reviling of God. The bosom is mentioned as that in which one takes up and holds that which is handed to him (Luke 6:38); חיק- (על) אל (שׁלּם) השׁיב, as in Isaiah 65:7, Isaiah 65:6; Jeremiah 32:18. A sevenfold requital (cf. Genesis 4:15, Genesis 4:24) is a requital that is fully carried out as a criminal sentence, for seven is the number of a completed process.

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