Psalm 80 is a cry for restoration. Are you seeking to be restored? Restoration is always available in God.
Psalm 80 divides into three sections:
- Prayer for Restoration, Parts 1 & 2
- The Vine
- Prayer for Restoration, Part 3
The image of the vine as Israel is also found in Isaiah 5 and Ezekiel 15. Jesus refers to himself as the true vine in John 15:1-8.
Another interesting aspect of this psalm is the repeating refrain. The refrain divides the first prayer for restoration into two parts. It returns again to end the second prayer for restoration. Of special note is the way the refrain changes the name of God each time it occurs. Notice the gradually increasing size of God's name:
- Restore us, O God (Elohim) Psalm 80:3
- Restore us, O God of Hosts (Elohim Tsaba') Psalm 80:7
- Restore us, O LORD God of Hosts (Yahwey Elohim Tsaba') Psalm 80:19
It is as if the psalmist is gradually increasing the intensity of his cry for restoration.
The first section about the vine (Psalm 80:8-11) is the most positive part of the psalm and is the meaningful center of the psalm. By placing this passage at the center of the psalm, Asaph has made hope the central theme in an otherwise mournful psalm.
Asaph begins his psalm by begging God to listen. Sometimes in our anguish it can feel like God has stopped listening but, like Asaph, we need to continue to seek His face.
This cry appears to be an appeal to God based upon Jacob's blessings for Joseph and Benjamin in Genesis 49:22-27. Notice the reference to the vine (Genesis 49:22), God as Shepherd (Genesis 49:24) and victory (Genesis 49:27). All of these themes are repeated in this psalm.
Just like Asaph, we can point to God's promises as we pray to God for help. God has promised to never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6).
This section ends with the first refrain.
Restore us, O God;
let your face shine, that we may be saved! (Psalm 80:3b)
Just like in Psalm 79, Asaph asks, "How long?" When you feel like God is not listening, remember that this feeling is common and even expressed in scripture. You are not alone or sinful for feeling this way.
Throughout this section Asaph calls upon Yahwey, the God of Hosts. In other words, the God of the angelic armies of heaven. His desire is that God would come with his forces and rescue Israel.
This second section of the prayer for rescue ends with the refrain, but now calling upon the God of Hosts.
Restore us, O God of hosts;
let your face shine, that we may be saved! (Psalm 80:7)
The Flourishing Vine
Now we come to the meaningful center of the psalm: the image of the vine.
This image of a vine is used in the Old Testament as a picture of Israel both in Ezekiel 15 and Isaiah 5. It is also part of the blessing of Joseph by Jacob in Genesis 49:22.
In the New Testament it is used as a picture of Jesus and all believers. In John 15:1-8 Jesus says that He is the vine and we must remain in Him.
The Ravaged Vine
Now the image of the vine changes from prosperity to destruction. God has allowed the vine to be ravaged by both animals and people.
The picture of the vine being ravaged is also found in Ezekiel 15 and Isaiah 5:1-7. In these passages we learn that God has allowed his vine to be destroyed because the vine has produced bad fruit and is only useful for kindling.
We need to ask ourselves, "What kind of fruit am I producing?" In Isaiah 5:2-4 God looks for sweet grapes but finds sour ones instead. Am I producing the fruit that God wants? How do I measure up when I compare my fruit to the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23?
This section ends Asaph asking God to remember the "son you made strong for yourself". The psalmist is probably referring to Israel's king, but Jesus declares that He is the true vine (John 15:1) and also the Son (John 8:28). And just like in the psalm, Jesus, the vine and the Son, must first be ravaged.
Asaph returns to his prayer for restoration.
But let your hand be on the man of your right hand,
the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself! (Psalm 80:17)
But now the focus is on the "son". Jesus, the Son, was ravaged for us. But, thank God, the story does not end there. Jesus was made strong again!
The resurrection of Jesus has given us life so that we can call upon God's name.
Then we shall not turn back from you;
give us life, and we will call upon your name! (Psalm 80:18)
Psalm 80 ends with the refrain and an extended name of God adding His covenant name Yahweh to the "God of hosts".
Restore us, O Lord [Yahweh] God of hosts!
Let your face shine, that we may be saved! (Psalm 80:19)
Are you feeling like God has allowed your life to fall apart and be ravaged by those around you?
Cry out to Him with the psalmist and ask for restoration. Remember, restoration is always available in Jesus, the Son, the True Vine, the Restorer.