Psalms for Troubled Times – Psalm 80

Restore, Shine, Save

This is a delightful Psalm, entitled ‘Testimony of Lilies’, and is a three-fold prayer of confidence in a gracious and glorious God that He would restore us, shine upon us, and save us.

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‘Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth … come and save us. Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.’

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There is One who loves and cares for you. He is the Good Shepherd (John10). When we think of shepherds, we are reminded of their lowly status in this world, indeed they were despised in Egypt. 

You see, the world generally does not value those who sacrificially care for others. The world would tell you to think of yourself, but I want to remind you today that God values care-givers, for He is the greatest care-giver, willing to humble Himself for you and come to earth to ‘give His life for the sheep’. (John 10:11)

So, in this opening statement, we learn that the Lord God is humble and gracious

But then the Psalmist juxtaposes this gentle earthly picture of grace, with another of a heavenly hue, and we see the Lord God, the Good Shepherd, seated upon the throne, ‘between the cherubim’, a place that is both holy and glorious.

This is our God! Both humble and holy. Both gracious and glorious.

We must confess that we often take the love and care of God for granted. We think little of His holy and glorious character, for we want to live our lives in our own unholy way. Indeed, just as shepherding is despised in our world, so also is saintliness. We, too often, revel in our sin.

The Psalmist knows this, and so pleads with the Lord God to ‘turn us again’ – ‘restore us back to yourself’. This has the idea of repentance in it, and when we repent, we are ‘reconciled to God by the death of His Son’ (Roms 5:10). Our sins our gone, His glorious face is able to shine upon us, and we are saved. Praise the Lord. 

The Psalmist does not pray this prayer once, but three times throughout the Psalm he repeats these words. 

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‘O LORD God of hosts, how long wilt thou be angry against the prayer of thy people? … Turn us again, O God of hosts, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.’

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Just as in our day of Coronavirus, judgement was upon the people because of their sin, and so the Psalmist prayed. This is further emphasised in the last section, as the Psalmist pens a parable of God’s vineyard, concluding with his plea for a third time.

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‘Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it. Thou preparedst room before it, and didst cause it to take deep root, and it filled the land … 

… Return, we beseech thee, O God of hosts: look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine; And the vineyard which thy right hand hath planted, and the branch that thou madest strong for thyself. It is burned with fire, it is cut down …

… Turn us again, O LORD God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.

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