READ PSALM 80
God is a God of power. We saw this yesterday as we considered the great power of God in bringing Israel out of bondage, in causing them to flourish under His rule, and even in removing His protection from them when they rejected Him as King. God is powerful, and in this Psalm there is no mistaking that.
But God’s power is not the only attribute of God on display in this Psalm.
Read Psalm 80:14-19. This is the Psalmist’s final plea. What is the Psalmist asking God to do?
The Psalmist is continuing with the metaphor we looked at yesterday. Israel is a vine that God planted, caused to grow, and is now ravaged by the nations around it. Here, the request of the psalm might seem similar to the request of the previous verse: God, show your power and save us. But there’s a slight change of tone in this final plea. Seemingly reaching behind God’s ability to save Israel, the Psalmist is inquiring of God’s eagerness to do so; these verses move past the actual request and get to God’s impetus, or His “why,” in doing so. The Psalmist is asking God to be compassionate.
Like we did yesterday, let’s consider each phrase of this request. Make note of any historic context that you’re aware of that might be referenced below:
Turn again, O God of hosts!
Look down from heaven, and see;
have regard for this vine,
the stock that your right hand planted,
and for the son whom you made strong for yourself.
They have burned it with fire; they have cut it down;
may they perish at the rebuke of your face!
But let your hand be on the man of your right hand,
the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself!
Then we shall not turn back from you;
give us life, and we will call upon your name!
Restore us, O Lord God of hosts!
Let your face shine, that we may be saved!
The psalmist is asking God to show compassion to the nation. He recognizes that God is able, and now he seems to recognize that God is not obligated. So, the psalmist pleads with God to show them compassion and save them because they are His own. The Psalmist reminds God that Israel was established by Him, that causing them to be planted among the nations was His idea, and that it was He that caused Israel to be strong. In fact, Israel is God’s firstborn among the nations, and the Psalmist cries out to God to remember that they are His children. Next, the writer paints the painful picture for God: the temple has been destroyed. The entire capital city of their nation has been burned with fire. This isn’t just an affront to the nation, but to their God! The writer seems to be calling upon God’s promise to Abraham: “the one who blesses you I will bless, and he who curses you, I will curse” (Genesis 12). The writer wants God to place His hand back on the nation, a sign of His presence and blessing and power.
And finally, the Psalmist makes this promise: then, we will not turn back from you. Embedded in this short line are two confessions: we have fallen away, and we promise to remain faithful. You and I both know Israel’s story because it is so similar to our own. Of course they will fall away again. In fact, time and time again they will fail to keep God’s Law and abide in His word. Even if God saves them, they will fail Him again.
Does this plant/tree metaphor remind you of another Psalm we have studied?
Read Psalm 1. What similarities do you see between Psalm one and Psalm 80?
You’ll recall that Psalm one outlines the ideal life of faith, and Psalm 80 fleshes that out for us. Those who live under God’s rule and blessing flourish; their life is full and they are fruitful. Israel remembers what it looks like to live a life that follows God’s Law, using His Word as their guide for worship and life. But we’ll also remember that there was only One who could ever fulfill this in full: the True Israelite, Jesus. Yes, if God saves Israel, she will fail again just like you and me. But Jesus fulfilled the Word of God, becoming to you and me the Savior we cannot live with out, Jesus.
PRAY & REFLECT
Supplication: Ask God to restore areas of your life in which you are not living a life of flourishing faith. Where are the walls of your life broken down? Where do you lack protection? Where has sin ravaged your life and left you with shame and shambles?
Submission: Confess to God that Christ alone is your Savior. Recite to God the glory of your salvation in Christ alone. Thank Him for sending His Son to fulfill the Law on your behalf.