Monday, May 3

Reader: “Turn us again to yourself, O God.”

Response: “Make your face shine down upon us. Only then will we be saved.”

Scripture:  Psalm 80       

Please listen, O Shepherd of Israel,

    you who lead Joseph’s descendants like a flock.

O God, enthroned above the cherubim,

    display your radiant glory

    to Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh.

Show us your mighty power.

    Come to rescue us!

Turn us again to yourself, O God.

    Make your face shine down upon us.

    Only then will we be saved.

O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies,

    how long will you be angry with our prayers?

You have fed us with sorrow

    and made us drink tears by the bucketful.

You have made us the scorn of neighboring nations.

    Our enemies treat us as a joke.

Turn us again to yourself, O God of Heaven’s Armies.

    Make your face shine down upon us.

    Only then will we be saved.

You brought us from Egypt like a grapevine;

    you drove away the pagan nations and transplanted us into your land.

You cleared the ground for us,

    and we took root and filled the land.

Our shade covered the mountains;

    our branches covered the mighty cedars.

We spread our branches west to the Mediterranean Sea;

    our shoots spread east to the Euphrates River.

But now, why have you broken down our walls

    so that all who pass by may steal our fruit?

The wild boar from the forest devours it,

    and the wild animals feed on it.

Come back, we beg you, O God of Heaven’s Armies.

    Look down from heaven and see our plight.

Take care of this grapevine

    that you yourself have planted,

    this son you have raised for yourself.

For we are chopped up and burned by our enemies.

    May they perish at the sight of your frown.

Strengthen the man you love,

    the son of your choice.

Then we will never abandon you again.

    Revive us so we can call on your name once more.

Turn us again to yourself, O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies.

    Make your face shine down upon us.

    Only then will we be saved.

Reader: “The word of the Lord.”

Response: “Thanks be to God.”

Some thoughts:  

One of the themes we’ve mentioned often is the great continuity between the two Testaments. Sometimes we may be inclined to think of the First Testament as being unnecessary since Christ came and fulfilled all the prophecies. Nothing could be further from the truth. Afterall, all of Scripture is the inspired, infallible word of God. Also, have you noticed how often Jesus quotes the Hebrew Bible? Yesterday, we looked at John 15, Jesus’ teaching on the vine and the branches. If you missed yesterday, go back and read it and it will make today’s passage even more significant. The whole basis for Jesus’ discussion on the vine and the branches comes directly out of today’s Psalm 80. The people listening to Jesus would know this centuries old Psalm which made Jesus’ words even more powerful. 

This psalm of lament is a sung prayer. The Shepherd of Israel is a reference to God. Israel had just experienced another crushing loss in battle. The reference to Ephraim and Manasseh probably indicates a northern kingdom defeat. In the psalmist’s longing, there is a thrice repeated plea for God to turn his face and shine on his people and rescue them. These appear in bold toward the beginning, then again in the middle, and at the close of today’s passage. 

The lament in this first part focuses on God’s anger toward the people. In the middle portion we have the reference to Israel being a grapevine transplanted from Egypt into Canaan, the Promised Land. God, the gardener, drove out the pagan nations, prepared the soil, and planted his grapevine in the land. The transplanted vine grew with the branches covering the mountains and stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to the Euphrates River. The vine was flourishing! The people forgot the source of their blessing and God worked for their defeat. Now, a wild boar (pagan nations) devours them. Then comes the plea again, “Come back God of Heaven’s Armies and take care of your grapevine that you yourself have planted, this son (Israel) you have raised for yourself.” The psalm concludes with Israel once again pledging to be loyal to God and to not turn away. This psalm describes a major pruning and the “pruning lament!” You can see why Jesus makes so very clear the necessity of remaining attached to the vine. Can you begin to see the surprise and shocking impact of Jesus’ metaphor with his disciples in John 15?

Believers, we the church are branches of the true vine. Your job today? Abide.

Music:  “Psalm 80: The Vineyard of the Lord”   The Orchard Enterprises


Turn us again to yourself, O God. Make your face shine down upon us. Only then will we be saved. Lord, we are an arrogant and proud people. Though made in your image, we have sought to reshape our image after our own fashion. There is an unrepentant part of us that always seeks rebellion against you and your word. We have rejected you with pride and bear the consequences of our foolishness. We tell ourselves nothing bad will happen when we act selfishly. The difficult stories in the Bible are what happened to those disobedient people, but will not happen to us. The truth is, you love and care for your people and at times bring judgment upon those you love. Forgive us as a people, Lord. Forgive me, Lord, for the many times I have rejected you when I knew perfectly well what was right. Grant that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit who indwell me may so shape me through discipline and love, that I may conform more and more to one who is being made in your image, and as a result bring glory and honor to you, my Creator and Redeemer. This I pray through Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.      ―Daniel Sharp