God’s Word for You
Psalm 80:14-19 Raise us to life
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, April 26, 2019
16 They have burned it with fire, they have cut it down;
They will perish from your rebuking look.
The Psalm seems to veer from one part of the Passion of Jesus to another. He is “cut down,” already crucified and dead, and yet Asaph leaps ahead to Judgment Day when those who have rejected him will wither just to see his gaze. It’s tempting to also see Peter’s horror in this verse as he runs out to weep bitterly, but that might be reading too much into the verse.
17 But let your hand rest on the man of your right hand,
the son of man you have raised up for yourself.
The man at God’s right hand is the one to whom God has given his authority and honor. As he died, Stephen was given a vision and said: “Look, I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56). At his trial, Jesus was asked whether or not he was the Christ, the Messiah. “I am,” he said, “and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Mark 14:62). Paul explains what this means for we who believe in him: “Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us” (Romans 8:34). The son of man in the Psalm can be a reference on the one hand to King David, but ultimately is also a reference to the Savior, Jesus Christ. This kind of prophecy which has an intermediate fulfillment before being ultimately fulfilled by Christ is not understood by some Christians. The application is that while the Psalm’s words might point (in the near future) to David or to Solomon or another King of Judah, in the grander scheme, the words point also to Christ. Here, Asaph is, I believe, pointing to David, asking God to bless the king he has anointed and to end the rebellion of the northern tribes under Ish-Bosheth, but the same words can be easily seen as fulfilled in the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday.
18 Then we will never turn away from you.
Raise us to life, and we will proclaim your name.
The tribe of Judah wants to follow David as their king. But even more, the true Judah, the Holy Christian Church, wants to follow Christ our King. Raised to spiritual life through baptism and the preaching of the gospel, we display the fruits of faith by praising and proclaiming Jesus’ name and works. But raised to physical and eternal life on the Last Day, we will also proclaim his holy name in all eternity, worshiping and glorifying Jesus forevermore.
19 Restore us, O LORD God of Armies.
Let your face shine on us, so that we will be saved!
The Psalm ends with yet another refrain, a plea for restoration either from the oppression of rebels in the kingdom or from the bondage of sin and death. Now the name of God is expanded once again, from “O God” (vs. 3) to “O God of Armies (vs. 7,14) to “O LORD God of Armies!” The name “LORD” is introduced in a fitting way, since this is the name God uses to make covenants (testimonies, as in “A Testimony of Asaph”). What God has promised to do (in this case, establish David as king), God will accomplish in his own way. To David’s credit, when men conspired against Ish-Bosheth and murdered him, even though this was politically in David’s favor, he held them accountable for Ish-Bosheth’s blood (2 Samuel 4:9-12). Murder is murder, and David was the king. It was his place to condemn them for acting as if the law didn’t apply to them.
For the many and countless ways in which we have acted as if God’s law didn’t apply to us, covering ourselves again and again with the filth of our sins, we plead for God’s mercy. “Let your face shine on us, O Lord, so that we will be saved!”
This is our plea, and we proclaim the comfort that we receive through Jesus alone. From the very beginning, “It is [and has been] taught among us that we cannot obtain forgiveness of sin and righteousness before God by our own merits, works, or satisfactions, but that we receive forgiveness of sin and become righteous before God by grace, for Christ’s sake, through faith, when we believe that Christ suffered for us and that for his sake our sin is forgiven and righteousness and eternal life are given to us. For God will regard and reckon (credit) this faith as righteousness, as Paul says in Romans 3:21-26 and 4:5” (Augsburg Confession, Article IV, “Justification”).
Pastor Timothy Smith