Although Asaph begins Psalm 80 by picturing God's church as a flock of sheep that He leads and protects, he changes the figure at verse 8 and now calls the church the vine God brought out of Egypt, placed in the promised land, and later afflicted grievously because the ten tribes had turned from Him. He speaks of the vine having its branches broken down, being wasted by the boar of the woods, burned with fire, and cut down. And in our versification it is presented thus:
The branch of Thy planting is burned and cut down,
Brought nigh to destruction because of Thy frown;
The man of Thy right hand with wisdom endue,
The son of man strengthen Thy pleasure to do.
We do well to remember Asaph's words which for the third time he writes in Psalm 80:19, namely, "Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts, cause Thy face to shine; and we shall be saved."
That frown on God's face, which in verse 16 is called "the rebuke of Thy countenance," and the urgent necessity that we be turned again, both reveal that we deserve God's curse upon us, and are sinners who earned having awful punishment meted out to us.
Let us likewise not overlook the fact that Asaph repeats, "Cause Thy face to shine on us; and we shall be saved." We cannot turn God's wrath away; and our conversion is not a work that earns salvation for us. Our conversion is God's work whereby He turned us, and it is the evidence that He turned us, because He looks down upon us as those whose sins His Son has blotted out by His blood.
What a brilliant light in the darkness of the night it was when Jesus was born, and the glory of God shone down upon the shepherds! How bright the night became when Moses and Elijah appeared to Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration! God's face was shining on His church; and by the Spirit of His Son He turns us so that we can see and enjoy that salvation. We are saved by grace. God turns us because in Christ His face shines upon us.
Quote for Reflection:
"Each man's sin is the instrument of his punishment, and his iniquity is turned into his torment." -- Augustine
- Date: 27-April