TO CHEW ON: "Return, we beseech You, O God of hosts;
Look down from heaven and see,
And visit this vine." Psalm 80:14
From the vantage point of hindsight we know the "vine's" story—the ups and downs of Israel's history. It's easy for us gloss over generations of slavery in Egypt, the back-and-forth between oppression and freedom of the judges' period, the waves of invaders that led to the exile of the Jews in at the end of the Old Testament. Our Bible reading takes us through millennia in mere hours. We readily forget how horrible it must have been to live in any one of those dark times.
This psalm, however, seems like a cry from the middle of one of them:
"O Lord God of hosts,
How long will You be angry
Against the prayer of Your people?
You have fed them with the bread of tears,
And given them tears to drink in great measure" - Psalm 80:4,5 (emphasis added).
One of the powerful things about the psalms is how they express the experience and emotion we all go through, no matter when we live. Can't you just hear the Christians of Syria, hounded and killed by ISIS terrorists weeping these verses, or the family in Africa devastated by the Ebola virus, or the family in North America cut apart by cancer, or…?
In this psalm there is only one resolution to whatever tragedy the pray-er is experiencing. It is God.
Our prayers can echo the psalmist's as we cry from whatever dark place we're in:
"Restore us ... Restore us ... Return we beseech You...
Restore us, O Lord God of hosts,
Cause Your face to shine,
And we shall be saved" - Psalm 80:3,7,14,19.
PRAYER: Dear God, please restore and return to those with their bellies full of tears who call on You today. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.