In Psalm 80, throughout this testimony, Asaph appeals to the God of hosts, the Shepherd of Israel, the one who looks down from heaven, the one who lives as the object of our prayers in our time of need. When we read Psalm 80, we learn a few things about God and what he is like.
God is enthroned upon the cheribim
When we think of cheribim, perhaps we think of arc of the covenant, with its two wings spread out over the mercy seat. Asaph begins this testimony with a very significant presupposition about the God to whom he begins his appeal: God is the one who not only extends mercy, but has the actual mercy we need when we are needy. Asaph’s testimony reveals his basic heart posture before God. He knows he is in need of being saved; that only God can save and only God can restore. Asaph’s testimony is all our testimony of the people of God: We need mercy because cannot save ourselves.
God is sovereign
God maintains sovereign control over our troubles and even leads us into various kinds of troubles: “you make us an object of contention…why have you broken down its walls.” (vs 6 & 12). Yet, despite this, Asaph testifies to the fact that God has not actually abandoned Israel, and that not only is God still worthy of worship, but Asaph knows that God still endears himself to the Israel people: “you brought out a vine of Egypt…you cleared ground for it…give us life as we will call upon your name!” (vs 7, 9, 18). Asaph holds the two together: God loves him, loves his people Israel, yet will also bring difficulty and hardship in their lives. God will not always necessarily give Israel (or his people) that which is “easy” or the straight path. Asaph’s faith in his appeal to God encourages us in our appeal, to seek restoration and to give us life no matter what happens us.
God provides restoration for his people
As we go through hardship, this is a typical refrain of our prayers: “Turn again, O God of hosts! Look down from heaven and see…” or some variation of this. We pray that God changes our situation both externally and internally. We notice near the end of Asaph’s testimony, a man for whom he also prays, a son “whom you made strong for yourself. (vs 15)” On one hand we see this as the king of Israel who is called and known as the “man of God’s right hand.” “Both Jewish and Christian interpreters apply this to the Messiah.” We know Jesus is referred to as the Son of Man, so we make the connection: Jesus is our restoration. If we know Jesus the way is he intended to be known, we are restored. Jesus is both the object and source of our salvation. For the children of God, this is our hope when we pray with Asaph “Restore us O Lord God of hosts! Let your face shine, that we may be saved” (Vs 19).
A couple questions and some counsel:
- Where do you go when God seems far away and his face doesn’t seem to be turned toward you? My counsel to you: You can look to Jesus and ensure your restoration and salvation. (Read Colossians 1)
- God maintains control over your life in ways we never will, doing things we often do not understand. My counsel to you: When you see your friend again, share a testimony of a time when you learned anew that God could be trusted even when life was hard and you needed assurance that your prayers were being heard.
Citations: They are provided and/or embedded as hyperlinks. My main commentary was Matthew Henry’s commentary on Psalm 80 .
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