God’s Word for You
Psalm 80:13-15 A boar of the forest
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, April 25, 2019
13 A boar of the forest tears at it,
and whatever moves in the field feeds on it.
Here Asaph continues his metaphor of the vine being ravaged. Previously, the walls that protected the vine were broken, and passers-by picked at the fruit. Now wild animals have entered the vineyard and are tearing at the vine as well.
In Psalm 22, bulls, lions and dogs are depicted as the Lord’s enemies at the cross, perhaps prophetic references to the priests and nobles of Israel (bulls and lions) and the Roman soldiers (dogs) who were “the bands of evil men encircling me” (Psalm 22:16). Snarling dogs also appear as David’s enemies in the refrain of Psalm 59 (59:6,14).
Here in verse 13, it is more than one wild boar tearing at the vine. It’s “whatever moves in the field.” The word ziz is only used here, in Psalm 50:11 (“the creature” of the field) and in a plural form in Psalm 124:5, where it is “raging waters.” It seems as if “moving things” is the way we should understand the root word. These are the hoards in our Psalm who come along when our defenses are down, perhaps something like the seven demons Jesus warns about in Luke 11:26. They left a man when he repented, but then when he returned to a sin without remaining with God, the original demon brought along seven more, worse than itself.
14 Return to us, O God of Armies!
Look down from heaven, and see;
Watch over this vine,
15 the root which your right hand planted,
the son you raised up for yourself.
These verses stand as a kind of refrain in just about the place where we would expect one. It is different from the previous two and the final refrain, but it contains all the same elements in expanded form. Therefore it is not so much a defective refrain as it is an expanded one.
In place of “Restore us, O God” (vs. 3), Asaph cries out, “Return to us!” The one cannot happen without the other. No restoration is possible without God himself being present. The Hebrew words “Restore us” and “return to us” are two forms of the same verb. Shuv “turn” is spoken in the causative hifil stem, heshiv, in verses 3, 7 and 19. Here in verse 14, it is the ordinary (qal or light stem) “return.”
“Let your face shine” is presented from God’s point of view: “Look down from heaven and see.” In fact, this is the main difference between this expanded refrain and the other three. The others are spoken from man’s point of view, and in this one Asaph tries to place himself in God’s point of view. If God will only “watch over this vine” and “raise up his son,” we will be saved. This is the whole of the gospel of forgiveness and the resurrection of the dead. Because Christ is raised, all with faith in him will be raised as well. This is the testimony of the Scriptures, “For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him” (2 Corinthians 13:4). Christ lives, and through him we will live. This is God’s face shining on us now and always.
Pastor Timothy Smith