Psalm 80 and A Cry for Salvation

reaching-hand1When we find ourselves seemingly cast out from whatever we thought was good and right in the world, we cry out for someone to help us. The ancient Israelites were no different in this respect. After they had been sent into exile, they cried out to God to restore them. Psalm 80 is one such cry:

Shepherd of Israel, listen!
    You, the one who leads Joseph as if he were a sheep.
    You, who are enthroned upon the winged heavenly creatures.
Show yourself before Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh!
    Wake up your power!
    Come to save us!
Restore us, God!
    Make your face shine so that we can be saved!

Lord God of heavenly forces,
    how long will you fume against your people’s prayer?
You’ve fed them bread made of tears;
    you’ve given them tears to drink three times over!
You’ve put us at odds with our neighbors;
    our enemies make fun of us.
Restore us, God of heavenly forces!
    Make your face shine so that we can be saved!

You brought a vine out of Egypt.
    You drove out the nations and planted it.
You cleared the ground for it;
    then it planted its roots deep, filling the land.
10 The mountains were covered by its shade;
    the mighty cedars were covered by its branches.
11 It sent its branches all the way to the sea;
    its shoots went all the way to the Euphrates River.
12 So why have you now torn down its walls
    so that all who come along can pluck its fruit,
13     so that any boar from the forest can tear it up,
    so that the bugs can feed on it?

14 Please come back, God of heavenly forces!
    Look down from heaven and perceive it!
Attend to this vine,
15     this root that you planted with your strong hand,
    this son whom you secured as your very own.
16 It is burned with fire. It is chopped down.
    They die at the rebuke coming from you.
17 Let your hand be with the one on your right side—
    with the one whom you secured as your own—
18     then we will not turn away from you!
Revive us so that we can call on your name.
19     Restore us, Lord God of heavenly forces!
    Make your face shine so that we can be saved!

Notice that the cry is based upon remembering God’s mighty deeds in the past. The psalmist knows that God has acted in the past and desperately needs God to act in the present. It is on the basis of those past actions that this author cries out to God, knowing that God can do what is being asked.

When we find ourselves in a position where we need to cry out, remember what God has done in the past, and make your request on the basis of those past actions. God has proven over and over again in history, both in the history of Israel and the Church and in individual’s histories, that God will act on behalf of his people. Sometimes it may take some time–Israel cried out for seventy years in exile–but God will answer.

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2 thoughts on “Psalm 80 and A Cry for Salvation

    • If we know the author, it will usually say right above where that particular psalm begins. Many of them are written by King David. One is by Solomon. One is by Moses. There are quite a few done by Asaph, which was a group of essentially worship leaders for the Temple. Some authors are known only to God.

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