August 04 2023
Today, Friday August 04
“Come and Save Us”
“Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, You who lead Joseph like a flock; You who dwell between the cherubim, shine forth! Before Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh, Stir up Your strength, And come and save us! Restore us, O God; Cause Your face to shine, And we shall be saved!
O LORD God of hosts, How long will You be angry Against the prayer of Your people? You have fed them with the bread of tears, And given them tears to drink in great measure. You have made us a strife to our neighbors, And our enemies laugh among themselves. Restore us, O God of hosts; Cause Your face to shine, And we shall be saved!”
First, let me thank you for all your prayers yesterday for my grandson Luke and his parents Kimberly and Chris. His surgery went well, and the surgeon was able to correct the shunt and catheter that is inserted in his brain to drain the bleed. Last night, he was recovering and was able to respond with a smile to Nana and myself when we were on a video call with him and his parents. Thank you very much! Your prayers mean the world to us!
It is possible that Psalm 80 is a prayer of Asaph pleading with the LORD to save and restore Israel during the time of Isaiah and King Hezekiah and the Assyrian invasion. Some believe it could have been written even later when the Babylonian army had surrounded Jerusalem and was about to destroy it. There are some others who think it is possible that it was written after the Babylonian captivity of 70 years and Asaph is praying for the restoration and reunification of Israel as they return to the land.
But whenever it was written, it is recorded in God’s Holy History Book to be a reminder to Israel, and even to all of us today, that in the midst of our trials and troubles we can pray and ask for God’s mercy and help, and to save us! The refrain "Restore us" (vv. 3, 7, 19) marks out the three requests Asaph made to the Lord for both kingdoms.
In verses 1-3, Asaph prays for the “Shepherd of Israel to stir up His strength and come and save us”. Both in the Old Testament and the New, the flock is a familiar image of the people of God (Psalm23:1; 28:9, John 10; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Heb. 13:20-21). The request here is that the Lord might lead His people through this crisis as He led them safely through the wilderness. He led the way by the ark (the throne of God; Num. 10:33; 99:1; 1 Sam. 4:4 and 6:2) and the cloud (the shining forth of the glory of God; Num. 14:14; see 50:2, 94:1, Deut. 33:2).
Asaph asked the Lord to "stir up His strength" (7:6; 78:65) and bring salvation to His people. This reminds us of the words of Moses whenever the camp set out, "Rise up, O Lord! May your enemies be scattered" (Num. 10:35). The "shining of His face" of the refrain reminds us of the priestly benediction in Numbers 6:22-27, “And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: "Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, 'This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them: "The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace." ' "So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them."
When God hides His face, there is trouble (Psalms 13:1; 27:9; 30:7; 44:24; 69:17; 88:14). "Restore us" means "help us return to our former state of blessing and fellowship with the Lord." (Ps. 85:4; 126:1, 4; Lam. 5:21.)
In verses 4-7, Asaph asks the Lord to have pity on His people. The shepherd image blends in with the image of Israel as God's people: "We are his people and the sheep of his pasture" (Psalm 100:3). But the Lord was now angry with His people, and His anger smoldered like a fire about to erupt and consume them. (Psalms 74:1, 79:5; Deut. 29:20; Isa. 65:5.) He was even angry at their prayers, or "in spite of" their prayers.
During Israel's wilderness wanderings, God provided bread from heaven and water from the rock (Ex. 16-17; Num. 20), but now His people had only tears as both their food and drink. (Psalms 42:3; 102:9; Isa. 30:20.) To make matters worse, the neighboring peoples were laughing at God's people (Psalms 44:13-16; 79:4). Again we read the plaintive refrain (v. 7), but note that the "O God" of verse 3 now becomes "O God of hosts”. Jehovah is the Lord of the armies of heaven and earth, but His people no longer marched in victory.
Despite the terrible conditions that the nation was experiencing, Asaph still prayed and believed that if God would shine His face on His people they would be saved! And today, Romans 10:13 assures us, “For whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved." My friend, that includes you and me and anyone else for that matter!