The psalmist refers to God as Shepherd but also acknowledges God’s majesty and power on the throne. As in our reading from Isaiah, Israel is likened to a flourishing vine that God brought out of Egypt and planted in Israel. The Israelites spread out from Lebanon in the north to the mountains in the south, from the Mediterranean Sea in the west to the Euphrates in the east. They exerted great influence in the area. But now the psalmist cries out to God to save the people. God has removed divine protection, which leads to vulnerability. The people understand that God is angry, and they express concern for their safety. They want God back in their lives.
God’s absence is painful. The psalmist acknowledges that there is no hope of life without God. He implores God to “turn,” to “restore” the people. Despite the many instances of unfaithfulness, the psalmist pledges that the people will “not turn away” (niv) from God.
I wondered if the people would turn back to God if God granted their request and once again blessed them with divine presence. Or would they run back to God with delight because God moved back into their lives, just as children do when they receive a gift for which they yearn? Would they worship God because of compliance or because they loved God?
The complaining is over. The psalmist acknowledges God as Lord of all. When God’s face shines, the psalmist knows that all is well. And the people know that they are saved, back where they belong—in God’s hands.
Father, may I worship you because you first loved me. Amen.
Isaiah 5:1-7 and Psalm 80:8-19 employ simi- lar images to represent the people of God—a vine or a vineyard. The image clearly communicates the careful commitment of God to God’s people. Unfortunately, the people do not respond in kind, so God must destroy the vineyard. The people plead for restoration, and their future life will depend not on their repen- tance but on God’s repentance! Jesus issues a radical call for human repentance in Luke. God will bear the burden of human disobedience, and God’s gracious turning to humankind makes life possible. Hebrews shows that the story of God’s people does contain outstanding episodes and exemplars of faith and sug- gests that God never gives up on calling us to follow, to run the dif cult race that leads to life.
• Read Isaiah 5:1-7. What fruit are you growing—wild grapes or sweet ones? How can God redeem you?
• Read Psalm 80:1-2, 8-19. How do you recognize God’s love and presence?
• Read Hebrews 11:29–12:2. Think of a cirumstance when your faith in God was all you could rely on.
• Read Luke 12:49-56. Where do you recognize the urgency of the kingdom of God? How does this awareness affect your daily actions?
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