Monday, December 16, 2013

Psalm 80 and Restoration

Psalm 80

Read this week's psalm here.

It is very hard to believe that we are here at the fourth week of Advent.  Psalm 80 is one of those psalms that remind us of what Advent is all about--Jesus, and the restoration that comes from Jesus.  Remember, Martin Luther says that at the heart of every psalm is the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Looking at it from an historical perspective, that is sometimes difficult to see, but with psalm 80, I think we can see Jesus clearly.

If you haven't had the chance, read it by clicking the link above.

What pops out to you?

How do you see the coming Messiah in this text?

Psalm 80 speaks with sharp clarity about desolation.  It looks for  restoration, and specifically those who first sang this psalm looked for restoration in the coming of the Messiah.  Imagine for yourself the vine that is discussed in verses 8-13.  This vine is the people of God.  It begins recounting the positive nature of their exodus from Egypt, their growth as a people and then it implies their separation in the diaspora and exile.  When will we be the people we once were?  When will we be built as a city unified in itself?  Verse 14 implores God to have regard for this once thriving vine.  This vine (again, the people of God) has been through "the ringer" of destruction and desolation.  But God has anointed one to bring consolation to his people.  He will not feed them the bread of tears forever.  This is the promise of verse 17.  Through the ambiguous shades of imagery, we see Jesus peering at us joyfully bringing hope to a hopeless world.

Then what?  Verse 18, we will never turn away from God... But won't we?  Yes, we will.  But look at the second part of the verse 18 prayer, "give us life, and we will call on your name."  This is the prayer of the Church that turns away from God.  This is the prayer of we who are momentarily distracted and turn our face to another god.

The Psalter as an anthology (all 150 psalms) is useful to every incarnation of the people of God in every time.  As the people of Israel remember and recount God's work in psalm 80, so too can we remember and recount God's work in the church.  So too can we call, and should we call on God to restore us to him in his grace through Jesus.  Psalm 80 is about restoration, returning and reclaiming of our hope in God through Jesus.  "Give us life, and we will call on your name."  May that be the prayer of our hearts as we close in on our Advent journey and celebrate the hope of Jesus, God's anointed, God made flesh and dwelling among us.

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