Psalm 80:1-3 (NRSV) Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock! You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh. Stir up your might, and come to save us! Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved.
By Chuck Griffin
What we now call the Old Testament is full of oscillation, the relationship between God and his chosen people moving in and out of harmony.
God’s abundant love and astonishing holiness never change, of course. It is people, then and now, who draw near to God in works of mercy and piety or run away from God as they sin. Sometimes we run so far that God seems to have slumbered or even poured out wrath.
For the fallen—and we all have been among the fallen—that plea, “Restore us, O God,” is an excellent starting point. Of course, we cannot say “restore us” as we continue to run away. We have to at least turn toward God, like the prodigal son climbing out of the pig sty and taking his first step on the walk home. We have to repent.
While sin deeply offends God’s holiness, God’s love keeps our creator alert to our return. Through his chosen people, he has even made the return easy, ready to embrace us with outstretched arms. He came among us while we were deep in sin, living among us and ultimately paying for those sins on the cross.
“Stir up your might, and come to save us!” the people prayed in Psalm 80. And God did, in ways with far greater global impact than they likely imagined.
Can we lift up the same cry, in our own lives and on behalf of our own people, whomever they may be?
Lord, let us see a turning toward you, moving us into a time when your grace abundantly flows, bringing healing and salvation to all. Amen.