Monday, August 1, 2016
Praying For His Country
To the chief Musician upon Shoshannimeduth, A Psalm of Asaph.
Tradition lists this as a Psalm intended to be accompanied by trumpets.
“Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth. Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh stir up thy strength, and come and save us. Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.” (Psalm 80:1-3)
The Psalmist asks that God would show his power and deliver Israel in front of the tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh and Benjamin. This leads logically tot eh conclusion that it is Judah which is under attack. This would imply that the Psalm was written during the seven years while David and Ishbosheth struggled for power. Later, when the Kingdom split, Benjamin Joined Judah. The request here is on behalf of the nation, rather than the individual.
“O LORD God of hosts, how long wilt thou be angry against the prayer of thy people? Thou feedest them with the bread of tears; and givest them tears to drink in great measure. Thou makest us a strife unto our neighbours: and our enemies laugh among themselves. “ (Psalm 80:4-6)
The divided Israel looked like an easy target to the surrounding countries. Both sides were suffering because of the constant fighting between David and Ishbosheth’s forces, while raiding parties took the opportunity to attack outlying villages. Both groups wanted the conflict settled.
“Turn us again, O God of hosts, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved. 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. The hills were covered with the shadow of it, and the boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars. She sent out her boughs unto the sea, and her branches unto the river. Why hast thou then broken down her hedges, so that all they which pass by the way do pluck her? The boar out of the wood doth waste it, and the wild beast of the field doth devour it.
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: they perish at the rebuke of thy countenance.” (Psalm 80:7-16)
God had delivered Israel out of Egypt and driven out the Canaanites before them, enabling them to firmly establish themselves in the land. They had grown like a grape vine, spreading everywhere and producing a lot of fruit, but now it was like God had taken away the fences that protected them and wild pigs were getting into the vineyard and destroying the vine, along with other animals. The Psalmist why the fences have been torn down and prays that God would again show interest in his vineyard.
The very survival of Israel was at stake. If God did not return and bless them, their enemies would ultimately destroy her completely. He doesn’t believe God is willing to throw away all he has done for Israel by letting it happen.
“Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself. So will not we go back from thee: quicken us, and we will call upon thy name. Turn us again, O LORD God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.” (Psalm 80:17-19)
God had chosen David to be King and lead Israel. The Psalmist is asking that David be allowed to assume the throne and take leadership. He is afraid that if he doesn’t, the people will turn away from God, further weakening the nation. If he blesses the people will be reunited, and turn to God more completely, saving the nation.