A Confidence that Grows with Memory

Reading with the Pastor
Luke 5  and  Psalm 79-80

Massorete

In the Masoretic Text (MT), the Hebrew text of the Old Testament, the middle letter in the Psalter is the middle letter in the Hebrew word translated as “forest” in Psalm 80:13. In the MT it is raised slightly above the line to show off its position. The Masoretes were meticulous in their copying of the text to ensure that there would be no errors in the sacred manuscript as it was passed from one generation to another.

That meticulous attention to detail makes the refrain of Psalm 80 very interesting. Verse 4, 7 and 19 are the refrain of the song, with a variable first line followed by an identical second line. 

Restore us, O God;
.      let your face shine, that we may be saved!

Restore us, O God of hosts;
.      let your face shine, that we may be saved!

Restore us, O LORD God of hosts!
.      let your face shine, that we may be saved!

It builds. It grows. Its confidence is shallow at first but grows in ardor until in the last verse of the psalm, it becomes a desperately confident prayer for God’s deliverance.

At first, the psalmist prays to God (vs 4), and then addresses God as the leader of the “hosts” of heaven (vs. 7) and finally in verse 19 “the LORD God of hosts,” using the divine name that is holy to all those who follow the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

He is pleading but he is pleading in confidence.

Immediately after the first chorus (vs 4), the psalmist talks about God being angry with His people’s prayers. As he moves forward with some of the evidence that God is angry with Israel, the intensity of the chorus grows in verse 7. 

And then the pivot comes.

His intensity gives birth to a memory—the memory of God’s dealings with Israel, of God’s protection, of God’s deliverance of the people of God when they finally got desperate enough to cry out to Him (cf. vs 8-11).

In the end, that memory is what fuels the cry of verse 18. When God turns His face to Israel, just like in the past . . .

Then we shall not turn back from You;
.     Revive us, and we will call upon Your name.

So finally, in confidence, the psalmist sings . . .

O LORD God of hosts, restore us;
.     Cause Your face to shine upon us,
.          and we will be saved!

 


 

A benediction

May your confidence grow as you too remember, like the psalmist, the Lord’s mighty deeds of salvation. He brought Israel out of Egpyt that Israel might bless the world with a Messiah. He preserved Israel through all of her tribulations and persecutions. He stayed faithful to Israel even as Israel was unfaithful to Him. The Messiah came, in fulfillment of prophecy to provide redemption for Israel, for Gentiles for all of creation. He rose from the dead and ascended to heaven. One day, He will come again to judge the living and the dead and receive all the redeemed. He will come to set up His forever Kingdom. Rejoice in that day as you pray for revival today.

 


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