“Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, You who lead Joseph like a flock!” During the days of the Old Testament, God was enthroned above the ark of the covenant in the holy of holies. The Lord of the universe condescended to dwell between the images of angels that the Lord had told Moses to make as a covering for the ark. He called this space His mercy seat, and the psalmist who is identified with the ancient name of Asaph asked the Lord to reign from that most sacred space for the salvation of His nation.
Three times in Psalm 80, Asaph writes this earnest petition: “Restore us, O God; let Your face shine, that we may be saved!” People who ask to be restored have suffered some fall. Asaph knew that God was sovereign over the story of His people. If they had suffered, God was very aware of their troubles. They had been weeping before the Lord, but their enemies were laughing at them. Would the Almighty not shine His face on them and change their sorrow into joy?
Jehovah was the God of Israel. He had taken them out of bondage in Egypt and had led them into the Promised Land. They were His vine. He had replanted them in a new territory. His vine had grown, and had covered the land that God had given to them. But now the walls of the vineyard had been broken down by a powerful adversary. Asaph knew that the same God who had delivered them from slavery in Egypt was ultimately the One who had broken down their walls. Gentiles were feeding off of God’s precious vine like wild boars from the forest. This could only take place if God had ordained it. What was His holy purpose in this wrenching act of discipline?
With their great need for salvation came a very intense desire for God to help them. God was the Lord over their armies. If He would again regard His precious vine, they would be fruitful. If He would again be the Captain of their salvation, the people of Israel would defeat all their foes.
The day would eventually come when the only-begotten Son of God would come to earth to do battle against the worst of foes. He would defeat sin and death, not with the weapons of this world, but with the power of a holy life. His victory would not come by killing others, but by being killed. This Son of Man, Jesus, is the warrior that God has chosen for the ultimate battle of the ages. His coming was the perfect answer to the longing of God’s people for many centuries. We shall call upon His Name forever, and He will hear us and be near to us in love. He has restored us. In Him, the face of God will shine on us forever. We have been saved.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Lord God, You are mighty. Look upon Your church in our day of great need. You have done so much for us already. Surely You will keep all of Your great promises. Have regard for us. You have chosen Your Son to be our King. This great Son of Man is our sure hope.