Tuesday, February 21, 2023

2023.02.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 80

Read Psalm 80

Questions from the Scripture text: Into whose hands was this Psalm committed (superscript)? With what instructions? Who penned it? What does he ask God to do (Psalm 80:1a)? What does he call Him? How does He lead Joseph? What else does he call Him (verse 1b)? What else does he ask Him to do? Before whom (Psalm 80:2a) do they ask Him to do what (verse 2c) by doing what (verse 2b)? What else do they ask Him to do (Psalm 80:3a, c) by doing what (verse 3b)? What does he call God in Psalm 80:4a? Why is this such a problem (verse 4b)? With what, specifically, is He angry (verse 4c)? How does Psalm 80:5 describe the constancy and completeness of the chastening? What effect has this had (Psalm 80:6)? What request is repeated in Psalm 80:7 (cf. Psalm 80:3)? As what do Psalm 80:8-13 describe Israel? From where did He bring them (Psalm 80:8a)? Where did He put them (verse 8b)? What did He do for them (Psalm 80:9)? How much did they grow (Psalm 80:10-11)? But what has God done now (Psalm 80:12-13)? What does the psalmist ask Him to do now (Psalm 80:14, cf. Psalm 80:3Psalm 80:7)? What is his strongest argument (Psalm 80:15)? Who has ultimately done this (Psalm 80:16)? What does the psalmist ask Him to do instead now (Psalm 80:17)? What effect will this son of man have (Psalm 80:18)? What is the ultimate request of the Psalm (Psalm 80:19, cf. Psalm 80:3Psalm 80:7Psalm 80:14)?

What hope can there be for those who have sinned against grace? Psalm 80 looks forward to the opening portion of morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these nineteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the only hope for those who have sinned against grace is… more grace, in the son of man. 

Grace to begin with, Psalm 80:8–11. What is the difference between Egypt, the nations, and Israel? The Lord decided to save Israel. Egypt and the Canaanites deserved what they received. But Psalm 80:4 reminds us that the same is true of Israel. Choosing them and saving them was sheer grace. The Lord did it simply for the love in which He decided to take Israel for Himself (Psalm 80:15) as His own covenant people (Psalm 80:4c).

Sin against gracePsalm 80:5-6Psalm 80:12-13Psalm 80:16. Clearly, it is the Lord Who has been angry with them (Psalm 80:4), punished them (Psalm 80:5), humbled them (Psalm 80:6), exposed them (Psalm 80:12-13), and rebuked them (Psalm 80:16). He is not a fickle God; clearly they have sinned greatly against Him. The problem, in all of their sin, is that it has been a “turning back from” God (Psalm 80:18a).

Grace that prayer can still lay hold ofPsalm 80:1-3Psalm 80:7Psalm 80:14Psalm 80:19. The refrain in Psalm 80:3Psalm 80:7Psalm 80:19 is identical, and it draws its hope from the very place from which the Lord has made His presence most known to Israel: “dwelling upon the cherubim” (Psalm 80:1b). It is this “shining forth” that gives rise to the repeated plea, “Cause Your face to shine.” The shining of His face, of course, is the smile of His countenance, the glorious blessing that He pronounced upon His people through the mouth of the priest (cf. Numbers 6:22–27). It is exactly counter to their current experience of the rebuke of His countenance (cf. Psalm 80:16). 

Despite all that the Lord has taken from this psalmist, and those singing with him and the choirmaster, He has maintained to them one glorious thing: the sense and the knowledge that even in chastening, God is still listening. That He Who planted and made them strong for Himself (Psalm 80:15) isn’t done with them yet. O that the Lord would always maintain to us this reflex and recourse: to turn to the Lion Who has wounded us, but Who is our only hope of healing (cf. Hosea 5:13–6:3)!

Grace that still lays hold of usPsalm 80:17-18. The secret of prayer is not that it strongly lays hold of God, but that it lays hold of God Who is strong. It’s not so much our laying hold of grace, but grace laying hold of us. The only way that we can stop turning back from God (Psalm 80:18a) is by God’s laying His hand upon us in Christ (Psalm 80:17a) to make us strong for Himself in Christ (verse17b). 

In the end, Jesus describes Himself as the true Vine (cp. John 15:1–11) and the ultimate Son of Man (cp. Daniel 7:13, Matthew 26:64, Luke 21:27). He is Israel as she ought to have been, the suffering servant from latter Isaiah, Who atones for and succeeds in the place of the failed servant-vine from early Isaiah (cp. Isaiah 5:1–7). 

And it is in Jesus that God lays hold of us to give us forgiveness and repentance. Indeed, when we consider the end of Psalm 80:18, we conclude that God is already answering the prayer of this psalm. For, it is only by God’s grace that they would genuinely call upon Him to begin with! Dear believer, when you pray from your weakness, do you not see that what is moving you to pray is not so much your weakness as it is God’s strength?

In what ways might you be turning from God to your own ways or to lesser things? In what ways might your family? In what ways might your church? What has been your experience of the reflex to call upon His Name? Where does that come from? If you haven’t been, where can it come from?

Sample prayer:  Lord, hear us, as we pray and sing and read and hear and look to You for Your grace! Truly, only by the Son of Man Whom You made strong for Yourself can we even pray in the first place. Shine forth from Your throne above the cherubim, strengthen us in Christ, and give us life to call upon Your Name. Shine Your face on us by Your Spirit, so that we will see the light of the knowledge of Your glory in the face of Jesus Christ, through Whom we ask it, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP80 “Hear, O Hear Us” or TPH80B “Great Shepherd, Who Leadest”

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