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Read Psalm 80

For the director of music. To the tune of “The Lilies of the Covenant.” Of Asaph. A psalm.

Hear us, Shepherd of Israel,
    you who lead Joseph like a flock.
You who sit enthroned between the cherubim,
    shine forth

 before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh.
Awaken your might;
    come and save us.

Restore us, O God;
    make your face shine on us,
    that we may be saved.

How long, Lord God Almighty,
    will your anger smolder
    against the prayers of your people?

You have fed them with the bread of tears;
    you have made them drink tears by the bowlful.

You have made us an object of derision to our neighbors,
    and our enemies mock us.

Restore us, God Almighty;
    make your face shine on us,
    that we may be saved.

You transplanted a vine from Egypt;
    you drove out the nations and planted it.

You cleared the ground for it,
    and it took root and filled the land.

10 The mountains were covered with its shade,
    the mighty cedars with its branches.

11 Its branches reached as far as the Sea,
    its shoots as far as the River.

12 Why have you broken down its walls
    so that all who pass by pick its grapes?

13 Boars from the forest ravage it,
    and insects from the fields feed on it.

14 Return to us, God Almighty!
    Look down from heaven and see!
Watch over this vine,

15     the root your right hand has planted,
    the son you have raised up for yourself.

16 Your vine is cut down, it is burned with fire;
    at your rebuke your people perish.

17 Let your hand rest on the man at your right hand,
    the son of man you have raised up for yourself.

18 Then we will not turn away from you;
    revive us, and we will call on your name.

19 Restore us, Lord God Almighty;
    make your face shine on us,
    that we may be saved.

Go Deeper

Psalm 80 is a prayer on behalf of God’s people, likely around the time of the Babylonian exile. As modern day readers of this psalm, we can relate to the plight of the nation of Israel like we would the pain, suffering, and disorientation of God’s people or the Church today. It’s important to note that this prayer is offered up for the collective, for the sin and the suffering of God’s people as a whole, and for their restoration, return to God, and healing as a community of faith. 

Surely many of us can relate, as we look around at the disarray, division, and idolatry in the Church in our community, culture, and nation. We may feel complete and utter despair for the suffering and brokenness in our society that has resulted from our faithlessness and straying from God and His ways.

We can all relate to feeling overwhelmed with pain and sorrow at the way things are, so keenly aware that things aren’t as they should be, and feeling powerless to affect change. This psalmist shows us what to do with all of that:   

  • He remembers that as sheep, we need to be tended to and gathered by the shepherd. 
  • He acknowledges the sin of God’s people, that it is us who have chosen to turn away and how grave of a mistake it was to do so.
  • He proclaims God’s track record of generous mercy, how He rescued His people from Egypt and tenderly nurtured the flourishing and fruitfulness of His people. 

Finally, he draws our attention to three things we can continually be in prayer for: 

  • An outpouring of mercy. We understand that it is only by God’s grace that we are able to return to Him. 
  • The hearts of God’s people, that they would be fertile soil for God’s grace.  
  • The leadership of the Church in our community and in our nation. Strong, faithful and courageous leadership is required to lead the Church back into faithfulness to God.

While verses 17-19 are prayers for the literal king of Israel, they are also a foreshadowing pointing Israel and us toward Jesus Christ. Under the leadership of the Messiah, the Church will be restored and once again know the shining radiance of God’s face. Jesus Christ is the fulfilment of this prayer, and through Him alone are we reconciled to God.

Questions

  1. What are some of the things happening in our community that are breaking your heart? What are things that are happening that are less than God’s perfect will for the Church and the world?
  2. How does our collective sin, faithlessness and idolatry create, contribute to, or exacerbate the suffering in our community?
  3. Write out your own prayer following the structure of the psalmist of Psalm 80. (Appeal to the mercy of God, repent of the sin of God’s people, acknowledge God’s past faithfulness and mercy. Pray for mercy, the hearts of God’s people, the leadership of God’s people and thank God for Jesus, the head of the Church). Pray it over our church, and the Church in our nation and the world. 

Listen Here

Listen to the song “Jesus at the Center” by Israel Houghton.

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3 thoughts on “Psalm 80”

  1. My prayer today:
    We acknowledge you as our Shepherd and that we like sheep are prone to wander and get lost. We have missed the mark and strayed away. We repent of being self-seeking, divisive, prideful, & complacent and desperately need Your forgiveness. Only through the sacrifice of your Son are we cleansed from all unrighteousness. You, alone, blot our transgressions as far as the east is from the west, remembering them no more. We turn our faces back to you confident that in your mercy you will restore us. Break our hearts for what breaks yours. We choose to raise up a holy standard in our homes, workplaces, & churches, knowing we bear the name of Christ and are your representatives in a world that desperately needs to know you. Fill us with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Empower us by your Spirit to walk blameless and bold in this time & place in history. Use us to restore the brokenness in this world to usher in your kingdom.

    1. Amen and Amen!!
      Always remembering to put you first Lord God. As Ella said, “break our hearts for what breaks yours.”

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