Psalm 80 — Bold and Humble Prayer — Reading the Psalms


For the Chief Musician; set to Shoshannim Eduth. A Psalm of Asaph.

1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
Thou that leadest Joseph like a flock;
Thou that sittest upon the cherubim, shine forth.
2 Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh, stir up thy might,
And come to 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 hast fed them with the bread of tears,
And given them tears to drink in large 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 broughtest a vine out of Egypt:
Thou didst drive out the nations, and plantedst it.
9 Thou preparedst room before it,
And it took deep root, and filled the land.
10 The mountains were covered with the shadow of it,
And the boughs thereof were like cedars of God.
11 She sent out her branches unto the sea,
And her shoots unto the River.
12 Why hast thou broken down her fences,
So that all they which pass by the way do pluck her?
13 The boar out of the wood doth ravage it,
And the wild beasts of the field feed on it.
14 Turn again, we beseech thee, O God of hosts:
Look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine,
15 And the stock 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 shall we not go back from thee:
Quicken thou 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.

Can you hear the humility in Asaph? Jesus speaks, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Who would think that Asaph, so full of fire and vinegar, would be able to plead with such lowliness and humility?

Asaph is not weak or pathetic; he is not destroyed. He still speaks from his own heart, but it is a heart that grew. Look at the cry – it’s almost a demand – for God to act and save: vs. 2-3 “stir up thy might and come to save us. Turn us. again, O God, and cause thy face to shine and we shall be saved.” “Turn us again” becomes Asaph’s refrain. Look also at vs. 4-7, where Asaph describes God giving his people tears to eat and drink. Though he clearly speaks from the place of humility, with boldness he calls on God to act. The connection between humility and boldness is fascinating and beautiful.

I love seeing these changes in Asaph. It gives me hope that I too can grow and mature. Surely the great care God gave to Israel, planting her to be a beautiful vine in a beautiful place, is the very same care God offers to me. If I find my edges ragged or ravaged by surrounding enemies, I can look to the heart and words of Asaph. He leaned on God for help and support and grew to great heights. If we lean on the Lord, we will reach great heights, too.


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