Today: [Psalm 79-80] The Jealousy and Mercy of God. In these two psalms we see a plea for deliverance by a Joseph company under the oppression of the enemy. There will be times in your life you will find yourself in circumstances familiar to Joseph’s life’s experience. These passages speak of God as the shepherd of a Joseph generation. Just as Joseph went down into the pit to be sold by his brethren – even so Jesus was betrayed and went down into hell to affect our salvation.
[Psa 79:1-13 KJV] 1 [[A Psalm of Asaph.]] 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.
Several of Asaph’s psalms are prophetic in nature and this one is no exception. Scholars believe that this psalm was not written by Asaph in David and Solomon’s time because it describes events that took place much later – after the captivity. The rejection of the proposed timeline is not based on archaeology but upon a presumptive rejection of anything that looks like accurate prophetic prognostication.
Asaph describes the city of Jerusalem and the temple in ruins. He asks a question regarding the jealousy of God relating to this. The acknowledgement in this reference is that the people will be brought into captivity because they pursued after other god and put their attention and worship toward them instead of toward Jehovah. Idolatry is an egregious sin that provokes the heart of God but do we know what idolatry really is? In writing to the “elect lady” the apostle John concludes his first letter with the admonition to the church in this lady’s house:
[1Jo 5:21 KJV] 21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.
Does this mean that the Christians John is addressing are bowing down to images and statues of false gods? This could hardly be the case considering the glowing affirmation John extends to them as an example of a godly congregation of believers. What does idolatry constitute? Remember the words of Jesus in the gospel of Luke:
[Luk 17:21 KJV] 21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
Idolatry proposes the dwelling place of God to be somewhere other than the human heart. Idolatry constitutes an outward dependence upon anything of than inward reliance on who God is on the inside of you. Again the words of Asaph regarding God’s jealousy. My father makes a statement “what you allow to come between you and God – God will remove…” I have seen this first hand in one of the churches my father pastored. He was greatly beloved and highly thought of – to a point that the dependence of the people was more upon him than upon God himself.
I remember he warned the people in a sermon about looking to man rather than looking to God. The people amened him but clearly sensed they weren’t really listening. Within two weeks God moved my father out of that city and the people had to figure out where their dependencies lay. That group of people became their first congregation I ever pastored. God is a jealous God. He expects and desires that our fidelity and expectation be focused upon who He is on the inside of us and not any outward resource or dependency. The goal of every true ministry is not to foster dependency upon them or upon religious infrastructure or religious culture. The goal is preach to every man, to warn every man and to instruct every man as Paul the apostle declared in Col. 1:26,27 that it is Christ in you who is the hope of Glory and not any outward person, place or thing.
[Psa 80:1-19 KJV] 1 [[To the chief Musician upon Shoshannimeduth, A Psalm of Asaph.]] 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.
Psalm 80 is a psalm of deferred deliverance. It speaks of God as the shepherd of Israel that leads JOSEPH like a flock. The prophets for years have spoken of God raising up a Joseph generation. What does that look like? Remember that Joseph spent most of his life in captivity. He was forgotten and neglected in prison. He was delivered to slavery by his brothers. He had a clear vision and dream given by God regarding his future but for decades it seemed that exactly the opposite was his fate and destiny.
In verse 3 the writer of the psalm cries out as Joseph surely did for God to once again cause His face to shine upon the people. The face of God or any face mentioned in scripture is a metaphor for the Spirit of God. God is the light that lights every man that comes into the world. Jesus declared that He was the light of the world. John the beloved wrote that God was the light in whom there was no variableness nor shadow of turning. When God causes His face to shine upon us our captivity is ended and His favor becomes our portion even in the midst of our enemies. Verse 7 again calls for God as the God of Hosts (or armies) to cause His face to shine upon the people that they might be saved from their current distress.
Verse 8 describes Israel as a vine cast out of Egypt and transplanted in Canaan. It is a reminder of the original purpose of God. There are times we get distracted by the pressures of life and forget the original vision that guides our lives. In those seasons of distraction we bring ourselves back into alignment with what God has promised us in His word and through the prophets that have spoken into our lives. Verses 9-14 speak of the testimony of God’s goodness and a plea of intercession for the deliverance once visited upon the people to come again to save them from their present distress. There will be times that your life looks like anything but what God has promised. This psalm is again an example of putting God in remembrance and crying out for His promise to be made real in our lives in the midst of great contradiction.
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.
Verse 14 is messianic in nature when it speaks of the vine that has been wasted. Jesus declared in John 15:1 that He was the vine and that we are the many branches. What that means is that out anchor in God is our relationship with Christ. When verse 16 speaks of the vine being burned with fire and cut down it is a reference of Christ going to cross to pay for our sin and disobedience. He suffers for us that we might be recovered from the snare of the wicked one to diminish and destroy us.
Verse 17 is a call propheticly for Jesus as the “son of man” to be redeemed from the grave by the hand of God. When Jesus is referred to as the “son of man” it speaks of who He is in His humanity. He was not just raised as the son of God – He was raised as the son of man. At the right hand of majesty on High we find not an angel or some ephemeral being. On the contrary we see Jesus in His humanity, with nail prints on his hands and on his feet ruling and reigning at the right hand of God. The scripture tells us that Jesus was the only begotten of the Father (by the virgin Mary) and the firstborn from the dead. Therefore even as Jesus said we must be born again even so He was twice born. He was born once by the Holy Spirit coming upon Mary and born again when He came out of the grave, the first born of many brethren. What that tells us is that Jesus in His humanity as a born again man sits at the right hand of the Father. What man must walk in because of disobedience Jesus experienced through yieldedness to the Father’s will. We let Him be God but have we let Him be man that we might truly understand the depth of what He did for us in His death, burial and resurrection?
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