Sin is inevitable for fallen humans. The question isn’t if we’ll sin, but when. Thus the most important question a believer must answer is “What will I do when I’ve sinned.” Psalm 80 is an example of what we ought to do when we sin. Israel had sinned and God was angry, so angry that He had brought them to tears and made them the laughing stock of their enemies.
The psalmist uses the metaphor of a vine in v8-13 to illustrate God’s work within Israel. He had removed Israel from Egypt then cleared the land of Canaan in order to transplant His people. The vine took root, grew, and flourished. It grew to cover the mountains and trees even branching out to the sea and the river. But there was a problem that isn’t made readily apparent in Psalm 80. In fact the psalmist asks in v12 “Why have You broken does its hedges?” Isaiah 5 uses a similar metaphor and it speaks of God’s expectation that the vine would produce good grapes, but the vine produced worthless ones. This is especially egregious since the vine was so vigorous. If I might take the metaphor a bit farther, it seems that the vine was interested only its appearance not in its purpose. So God removed the protection that He’d built for it, and as both Psalm 80 and Isaiah 5 say, what fruit it had was consumed. This is the result of sin and rebellion. So the psalmist prays three times (v3, v7, and v19) for God to cause them to turn them back or restore them.
“O God of hosts, restore usAnd cause Your face to shine upon us, and we will be saved.”Psalm 80:7
But I want you to notice that the prayer for restoration comes not because the people deserve restoration, but it’s based on God’s character, mainly His faithfulness. v1 implores God as the Shepherd of Israel and the sovereign Ruler. Along the lines of the sovereign Ruler God is addressed as God of hosts four times in the psalm (v4, v7, v14, v19). And he emphasizes God’s power to restore them in v15-17 when he speaks of God’s right hand upon them strengthening them. Only then v18 says will they turn back to Him and call on His name. God must give them life. v18 hearkens to the new covenant promises of Jeremiah 31 that God will give all of Israel a new heart. This is similar to another psalm under consideration this week, Psalm 130. There the psalmist recognizes that no one can stand if the Lord kept track of iniquities, so he waits on the Lord and hopes in the Lord to redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
So let’s return to our original question: what does this have to do with our response to sin? It’s an example to us in a few ways: First, if you’re living in sin and feel abandoned by God, that’s normal. You shouldn’t feel close to God if you’re living in sin; if you do, you’re deluding yourself or serving a different god. Humble yourself and cry out to God for restoration. Second, our restoration is not dependent on our goodness; it’s not something we can manufacture on our own. We are dependent on God to restore us; we must hope in Him, or to put it another way, we must trust in Him. So when we sin, the right response is not to try to make up for it by doing enough good; nor is it to try to justify ourselves; rather, the right response is to hope in God’s faithfulness to His promises to restore those who trust Him. In 2 Corinthians 13:9, Paul prays for the restoration of the church in Corinth; perhaps we also should be praying for the restoration of ourselves and our church. –Pastor RoryPhoto by Egor Vikhrev on Unsplash