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Psalm 80

June 4, 2009

The theme of this psalm is found in verses 3, 7, and 19. Verse 14 could also be included. The wording is different but the meaning is the same. This psalm is a prayer asking that the Lord restore Israel, that God would bless them once again, and save them as a nation unto God.

God is acknowledged as Israel’s Shepherd. The children of Jacob and Rachel are given special mention. The reason for this is not clear but it could have something to do with the fact that Jacob’s first love was Rachel and thus favored Joseph and Benjamin over his other children or it could mean this prayer came out of the calamity of the northern kingdom which was dominated by Joseph’s sons in inheritance [Ephraim and Manasseh]. There are no clear indications of penitence in this psalm so perhaps this hints of jealousy between Joseph in the north and Judah in the south. But one thing is clear; Israel is unable to save itself from destruction. They need God. They need a Savior.

I believe this psalm was written by a Levite of the family of Asaph, a Godly man, who lived in the territory assigned to one of Joseph’s sons. Israel, the northern kingdom, has turned away form God and God has turned away from them causing their neighbors to war against them and to laugh at them. Israel has lost respect with the nations around her. Only the Lord can save Israel.

Verses 8-14 recalls God’s hand in their conquering of the Promised Land using the metaphor of a vine being planted in the ground.

Verses 15 and 17 mention The Savior, the son of man, God’s Son, who is strong enough to redeem them. It takes the Lord, someone of great strength, because they have been cut down and are perishing as a nation. Perhaps this is being written as the Assyrians are conquering, exiling, and scattering the northern kingdom. The psalmist promises they will worship, honor, and obey God once again if the Lord will restore them. Only God is able to save this vine.

We too are sinners fallen from God’s grace. I said earlier that this psalm doesn’t appear penitent and yet there is penitence within the repeated verses. We can not save ourselves. We need a Savior. The Lord will indeed save us if we humbly come before His throne and ask. The Lord loves us and is gracious and merciful. He wants us to be a strong living vine bearing fruit in honor of Him. Acknowledge Him as your Lord and Savior. He will bless you with His countenance enabling you to grow in faith and bear fruit. Acknowledge Him and Live!

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