Ep.181: Psalm 80: God of Gardens, God of Armies.

Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray with Me”.

Today we look at Psalm 80, a lament for the overthrow of Israel, and a plea for God to make a U-turn, to stop delivering the country to destruction and to begin restoring it. 

The psalm is marked by several striking pictures of God. It opens,
    Hear us, shepherd of Israel,
        you who lead Joseph like a flock.
    You who sit enthroned between the cherubim. . .
      Awaken your might;
      come and save us (v. 1-2).

In these two verses, the poet addresses God as shepherd of Israel, as king whose throne is in the temple, and as a mighty saviour who ought to rescue his people. 

Then follows a refrain that occurs three times in the psalm (vv. 3, 7, 19). The poet says,
    Restore us, God of Armies,
      make your face shine on us
      that we may be saved (vv. 3, 7, 19).

Do you find it odd asking God, the commander of armies, to smile at you? President Trump is the commander-in-chief of the U.S. army, but he isn’t famous for his smile.

As the poem continues, it describes God as a gardener who transplanted his vine, Israel, from Egypt into the Promised Land.There, he carefully tilled the ground and planted the vine, tenderly caring for it until it covered the whole Promised Land from the Euphrates to the Mediterranean. But now, God has let the wall around his vineyard crumble. Wild boars trample the vines, insects infest them, and passers-by help themselves to the grapes. “Why have you let this happen?” asks the poet. “After all the trouble you took transplanting and tending the vine, have you suddenly quit caring about it?” 

Let’s pray the pictures of God from this psalm. 

Our father, God of Armies, the nations of our world look for strongman leaders. 

  • Leaders who project decisiveness and strength in the face of racial and economic and social conflict. 
  • Leaders who express sympathy for the troubles and prejudices of common people. 
  • Leaders who do not care about political correctness or moral values. 
  • Leaders with simple solutions to complex problems. 

God of Armies, it is your strength we need, for the time is coming when the strength of human leaders will fail, when their power will be revealed as weakness, and their wisdom as foolishness.

Our father, shepherd your people in these times. Lead us to wisdom. It is simple to believe in you, but not easy. In much of your church we see rigid theological opinions, strange political affiliations, unscriptural belief in individual freedom, and little understanding of community. Bring us out of our worldly values into the fellowship of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Expose our illusions of self-sufficiency and lead us into community.

You who sit enthroned in your holy temple, help us live as holy people, as members of your family, as people set apart to serve you. Anxiety disorders increase during COVID-19, government support for the unemployed draws to an end, the count of sick and dead surges. O God, repair the wall around your garden, care for your vineyard again, look in mercy on all you have created, for the sake of your son Jesus Christ, who shared our human condition.


I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.