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Bible Reading: Psalm 80

Psalm 80

Oh, give ear, Shepherd of Israel, You who lead Joseph like a flock; You who are enthroned above the cherubim, shine forth! 2 Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh, stir up Your power And come to save us! 3 O God, restore us And cause Your face to shine upon us, and we will be saved. 4 O Lord God of hosts, How long will You be angry with the prayer of Your people? 5 You have fed them with the bread of tears, And You have made them to drink tears in large measure. 6 You make us an object of contention to our neighbors, And our enemies laugh among themselves. 7 O God of hosts, restore us And cause Your face to shine upon us, [g]and we will be saved. 8 You removed a vine from Egypt; You drove out the nations and planted it. 9 You cleared the ground before it, And it took deep root and filled the land. 10 The mountains were covered with its shadow, And the cedars of God with its boughs. 11 It was sending out its branches to the sea And its shoots to the River. 12 Why have You broken down its hedges, So that all who pass that way pick its fruit? 13 A boar from the forest eats it away And whatever moves in the field feeds on it.  14 O God of hosts, turn again now, we beseech You; Look down from heaven and see, and take care of this vine, 15 Even the shoot which Your right hand has planted, And on the son whom You have strengthened for Yourself. 16 It is burned with fire, it is cut down; They perish at the rebuke of Your countenance. 17 Let Your hand be upon the man of Your right hand, Upon the son of man whom You made strong for Yourself. 18 Then we shall not turn back from You; Revive us, and we will call upon Your name. 19 O Lord God of hosts, restore us; Cause Your face to shine upon us, and we will be saved.

Shepherds are not something we see often, but we get the idea of what they do.  They lead, feed and protect sheep.  Here in this Psalm Asaph cries out to God calling Him the “Shepherd” of Israel.  Israel is God’s flock of sheep.  The New Testament calls the church God’s sheep and Jesus the good shepherd.  As sheep we need led, fed and protected.  Jesus truly is that for us.

In the near East, a common title for a king was shepherd and so Asaph calls on God as his Shepherd King who is King of Heaven and Earth and as One who has the power to rescue and save.  Israel’s circumstances were tough as most likely they were going through captivity at the hands of the Assyrians at the time of Asaph’s prayer.  They wanted their circumstances to change and their calamities to be relieved by their Shepherd King.

Three times Asaph, prays for “God’s face to shine upon the people”.  Asaph knew the only way they could be rescued was by God’s gracious and favorable power.  So, they prayed restore us and revive us.  I love how the late great Charles Spurgeon sees their prayer.  He sees this as them as a people in need of turning and repenting.  They need their character to be turned and changed not just their circumstances.

God feeds us tearful times and struggles to cause us to change and it might not be the gracious of Him changing necessarily the circumstances, but instead the grace of changing us.  Not necessarily what I usually want, but what is truly best for me.

Weekly Memory Verse: Vindicate the weak and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and destitute.  Psalm 82.3