God’s Word for You
Psalm 80:8-12 a vine out of Egypt
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, April 24, 2019
8 You brought a vine out of Egypt,
you drove out the nations and planted it.
The greatest saving act of the Old Testament was the rescue of enslaved Israel from bondage in Egypt. After a magnificent display of divine authority in the Ten Plagues, God convinced the Pharaoh to send the Israelites away. The Lord accompanied them in the visible form of the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire, and he gave victory to Israel’s armies throughout the conquest of Canaan. But was this the vine that was brought out of Egypt and planted? Jesus Christ said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener” (John 15:1). Moreover, he promised all who believe in him: “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches” (John 15:4-5). Jesus showed that the care he gave to Israel was simply a preparation for the care he was going to show to all mankind through Christ. The deliverance promised again and again to Israel through the prophets is no mere display of divine power on behalf of one tiny nation no bigger than the state of Minnesota. Through the true vine, Jesus Christ, all nations of the world would be, and have been, blessed.
9 You worked and worked at the soil for it,
it put down its roots and filled the land.
10 The mountains were covered with its shade,
the mighty cedars with its branches.
11 It stretched out its branches to the sea,
and its young shoots towards the River. ¹
¹ 80:11 That is, the Euphrates.
Although Solomon “ruled over all the kingdoms from the River to the land of the Philistines, as far as the border of Egypt” (1 Kings 4:21), it was David who fought his way all the way to the Euphrates: “David fought Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah, when he went to establish his control along the Euphrates River” (2 Samuel 8:3; 1 Chronicles 18:3). It would be appropriate to say that in David’s time, especially in his early reign, there were merely “young shoots” stretching out “towards the River.” The Hebrew preposition el- only indicates motion toward a thing and not necessarily possession or control of the thing.
God cared dearly for his vine who is truly the Lord Jesus Christ. He sent his prophets to preach repentance and faith again and again, and this is reflected in the (repetitive) piel verb I have translated “you worked and worked” in verse 9. The love of Christ and the gospel of the forgiveness of sins was proclaimed all through Galilee and Judea, in Tyre and Sidon (Matthew 15:21-28) and toward the River in the villages around Caesarea Philippi (Mark 8:27) and perhaps further north (Mark 9:2). The comforting shade of the gospel was preached and offered all throughout Israel.
12 Why then have you broken down its walls,
so that all who pass along the way pluck its fruit?
Why does the Almighty Lord allow terrible things to happen to his people? In the Bible, this was often because of their sins. “I will forsake my house, abandon my inheritance; I will give the one I love into the hands of her enemies. My inheritance has become to me like a lion in the forest. She roars at me; therefore I hate her” (Jeremiah 12:7-8). When people walk in a sin and abandon with will of God, when they embrace their own wicked desires and no longer turn to God in repentance, he lets sin have its full reign; he lets go of the bit and watches the wild horses of sin, death and the devil run wild, pulling the wagon madly off the road until it overturns in a ditch.
Keeping with the illustration of the vine, Asaph asks why the walls around the vineyard have been broken? Isaiah would use the same illustration later on (Isaiah 5:5-6). The broken walls meant that anyone and everyone who walked by (“all who pass along the way”) could pluck its fruit for themselves. Israel without faith is a nation of “autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead” (Jude 12). Israel condemned for its sins is what God meant when he said about Nebuchadnezzar: “Cut down the tree and trim off its branches; strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the animals flee from under it and the birds from its branches” (Daniel 4:14). Could this be a reference to Ish-Bosheth stealing part of the Lord’s kingdom meant for David? Whether it is that, or a reference to foreign nations sneaking in to make inroads into Israel (such as the Edomites, Moabites, Ammonites, Philistines, Amalekites and the King of Zobah, 2 Samuel 8:12), the prayer is simple: O Lord, come to help your people.
“With God,” David prayed, “we will gain the victory” (Psalm 60:12). Apart from God there is no help, no victory, no forgiveness, and no salvation. With God alone come all of these things, and everlasting life.
Pastor Timothy Smith