August 1st Psalm 79
A Psalm of Asaph
1: O God, the heathen are come into thine inheritance; thy holy temple have they defiled; they have laid Jerusalem on heaps. 2: The dead bodies of thy servants have they given to be meat unto the fowls of the heaven, the flesh of thy saints unto the beasts of the earth. 3: Their blood have they shed like water round about Jerusalem; and there was none to bury them. 4: We are become a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and derision to them that are round about us. 5: How long, LORD? wilt thou be angry for ever? shall thy jealousy burn like fire? 6: Pour out thy wrath upon the heathen that have not known thee, and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon thy name. 7: For they have devoured Jacob, and laid waste his dwelling place. 8: O remember not against us former iniquities: let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us: for we are brought very low. 9: Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name's sake. 10: Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is their God? let him be known among the heathen in our sight by the revenging of the blood of thy servants which is shed. 11: Let the sighing of the prisoner come before thee; according to the greatness of thy power preserve thou those that are appointed to die; 12: And render unto our neighbours sevenfold into their bosom their reproach, wherewith they have reproached thee, O Lord. 13: So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever: we will shew forth thy praise to all generations.
To the chief musician upon Shoshannim-Eduth
A Psalm of David
1: Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth. 2: Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh stir up thy strength, and come and save us. 3: Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved. 4: O LORD God of hosts, how long wilt thou be angry against the prayer of thy people? 5: Thou feedest them with the bread of tears; and givest them tears to drink in great measure. 6: Thou makest us a strife unto our neighbours: and our enemies laugh among themselves. 7: Turn us again, O God of hosts, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved. 8: Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it. 9: Thou preparedst room before it, and didst cause it to take deep root, and it filled the land. 10: The hills were covered with the shadow of it, and the boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars. 11: She sent out her boughs unto the sea, and her branches unto the river. 12: Why hast thou then broken down her hedges, so that all they which pass by the way do pluck her? 13: The boar out of the wood doth waste it, and the wild beast of the field doth devour it. 14: Return, we beseech thee, O God of hosts: look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine; 15: And the vineyard which thy right hand hath planted, and the branch that thou madest strong for thyself. 16: It is burned with fire, it is cut down: they perish at the rebuke of thy countenance. 17: Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself. 18: So will not we go back from thee: quicken us, and we will call upon thy name. 19: Turn us again, O LORD God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.
To the chief musician upon Gittith
Today we have been reading Psalm 79 and 80. In Psalm 79 Asaph begins with a Complaint and ends with Praise. After his beginning and before his ending he speaks about his neighbours and each time he reproaches them. Then in the centre he has two verses in both of which he prays against the nations and prays for Israel among the nations. He begins complaining to the Lord saying O God the heathen have invaded the land, they have defiled the holy temple and they have knocked down a great deal of the city of Jerusalem leaving it in heaps of rubble. The dead lie in the streets as food for carrion. And wild beasts eat the bodies of the holy ones of Israel. Blood has flown like water and there is no-one left to bury the dead. The children of Israel have become an object of fun and laughter to the nations. How long, O Lord, will you be angry with your people? Will your jealousy burn forever to your people? Asaph says LORD, pour out your wrath on the heathen who do not know you and the kingdoms that do not know your name. Because they have devoured Israel and turned the city into waste land. He says, do not remember out sins which we committed in days gone by. Help us, O Lord according to your kind mercy – we have been greatly humbled. Help us, O God - the God who saves us. Do it to bring glory to your name and deliver us and take away all our sins for the sake of your holy name. Why should the heathen say, Where is your God? Let him be known among us by avenging the blood which they have shed. Lord may the sighing of the prisoners be heard by you and come in great power to preserve those who are under sentence of death. Bring seven times the judgment on those who have treated us with total contempt. So that we, the sheep that you look after, will give you thanksgiving forever. And we will praise your name throughout all our generations. This Psalm was addressed to the Choirmaster at the time of the remembrance of the second Passover. Psalm 80 is a Psalm of Asaph in which he prays four times that the Lord will turn the children of Israel back to the Lord and in between the Prayers three times he makes three representations to the Lord concerning ‘The People’ and ‘The Vine’. Asaph begins saying Listen to me O Shepherd of Israel. You who leads the flock and you that dwells between the cherubim on the mercy seat - shine forth. Come and save us and turn us again to you O God. Shine your face on us again and we will be saved. Both this and the previous Psalm were uttered in times of national distress and on both occasions the call is to a national repentance. Asaph asks the Lord how long will he be angry with the people? They are full of tears and they are at war with their neighbouring nations, who laugh at their misfortune. He calls as he did in the previous Psalm that the Lord would change and turn again to his people and save them. Those who say that God does not change in his dealings with men have not read these Psalms. Asaph uses the analogy of the Vine to describe Israel’s unique position in relation to the Lord. They were taken out of Egypt and planted in the land after all the weeds were removed and they were planted to bear fruit to the glory of God. There Israel - the vine of the Lord stands exposed to the sun bearing fruit that brings joy to the heart of men. In John’s Gospel, John records Christ’s use of the same image in which he says that Christ said I AM the TRUE VINE and if any branch in me does not bear fruit it is cut off and thrown into the fire. This could not be said of the smallest christian. But it can be said of Israel because not all in Israel fear the Lord or bear fruit to Gods glory. Asaph describes the glory of Israel saying that her branches spread as far as the Mediterranean sea and the Nile and all the hills come under its shadow. Israel is like a huge cedar. So says Asaph why have you broken down the hedges –the borders of the land, so that the enemy come in and break her branches. The wild pigs trample on it and the wild beast eat it. So return O Lord God and look down from heaven and come and visit the vine that you planted. The vine is burnt by fire and the vine is cut down and dies at the rebuke of your presence. Lord he says be with your leader the son of man that you made strong. We will not turn away from you. Bring us to life so that we will pray to you. Cause us to repent and shine your face on us again so that we will be saved from our enemies. This Psalm was sent to the Choirmaster at the time of vine pressing.