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Psalm 80:1-7

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
    you who lead Joseph like a flock!
You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth
    before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh.
Stir up your might,
    and come to save us!
Restore us, O God;
    let your face shine, that we may be saved.
O Lord God of hosts,
    how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?
You have fed them with the bread of tears,
    and given them tears to drink in full measure.
You make us the scorn[a] of our neighbors;
    our enemies laugh among themselves.
Restore us, O God of hosts;
    let your face shine, that we may be saved.


Psalm 80 is one of the Psalms of Asaph who was King David’s music director, if you will. Asaphians were those who led music in the temple in Jerusalem. This is a song therefore, but one that is a plea for help. 
Psalm 80 is a call by the people is Israel for God to “restore them.” There is a definite theme of desperation in these first seven verses. Hebrews viewed the relationship with God as relatively simple. If they obey God they are blessed, if they do not then they are punished. That “either/or” view is why they assume in their suffering that God is punishing them and they have done wrong.
“How long will you be angry with your people’s prayers” and “you have fed them with the bread of tears and given them tears to drink” are not refrains that give us the sense that Israel is feeling very good about their standing at this moment.
This is like a review of their greatest sufferings, but now they want restoration. Psalm 80 is awash in metaphors that are carried throughout the Bible, but brought to true meaning when Jesus arrives on the scene. From the start, God is referred to as Shepherd, an image that Christ will perpetuate numerous times in his ministry and he likens himself to the lamb. Bread and drink are central items throughout the Bible and certainly Christ will use them to their greatest significance at the Last Supper.
What gives this reading an Advent feel is the final verse (7) “Restore us, O God of hosts: let your face shine, that we may be saved.” Restoration is what the birth of Jesus brings, and yes indeed, through God being fully man and fully God in Christ, we have been saved. While the people of Israel carried their baggage with them (their laments about sufferings), what the birth of Christ will make incredibly clear is that we can put those bags aside forever simply by turning our lives over to Jesus. That is true restoration.
Mark Schumacher


Heavenly Father, it is easy for us to get caught up in the baggage of our lives, those times when things did not go well and we have suffered. Too often that focus keeps our eyes off of you and the restoration Jesus promised through the gift of grace. Although your Son was born more than 2000 years ago, and so much time has passed, what has not changed is the promise found in his birth. He is the Savior, the Messiah with restorative powers for each of us. May this devotion remind us of the restorative power of Christ’s birth and how it is there for us to embrace. “Restore us, O God of hosts: let your face shine, that we may be saved.”

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