“Restore Us, O God”
Bible Reading: Psalm 80
If you were to google, “What is advent?” you would receive two definitions. The first says, “the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.” The second says, “The first season of the Christian church year, leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays.” For Christians, Christmas is the greatest advent there is: the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. He is the most notable person in history, and His birth is one of the most notable events in history. The Church celebrates Advent every year by focusing on the story of our dear Savior’s birth. It is worth noticing that God’s people have always looked forward to this event, even hundreds of years before it happened. We can see this when we read through and reflect on Psalm 80.
“Hear us, Shepherd of Israel…Awaken your might; come and save us.” God’s people often found themselves in trouble, and it was always due to their faithlessness and sin. They would turn their backs on God, and their sin would cause them to fall into the hands of their enemies. In Psalm 80, Asaph is crying out to God as the Shepherd of Israel; the Good Shepherd who leads and care for His flock, Israel. He pleads for God to take notice of Israel and save them from their turmoil. They have fallen away from the state of glory and power God gave bestowed upon them. They were fallen and dirty, and no longer shined brightly into the world; they no longer stood apart from the rest as the people of God. Knowing this, the psalmist prays, “Restore us, O God; male your face shine on us, that we may be saved.”
As he prays for God to restore and save Israel, Asaph recalls all that God had done in the beginning to establish them. He had transplanted them from Egypt into a new land, a promised land that flowed with milk and honey. God was able to do establish His people once, and He can do it again! Because of their sin, God has turned His face away from Israel. Instead of blessing them, God has cursed them and allowed their enemies to conquer them. In faith, Psalm 80 is a prayer of repentance and asking God for His mercy. Asaph remembers the promises of God, and knows God is faithful. He calls out to the LORD God Almighty to once again look on His people, have mercy, forgive them of their sin, and restore them once again to be His people in this world.
Of course, God is able to remove an earthly enemy and establish a kingdom once again, but this would be a temporary fix. The desire of our hearts should not be for temporary peace, but for eternal peace. “Return to us, God Almighty! Look down from haven and see! Watch over this vine, the root your hand has planted, the son you have raised up for yourself.” The world is fallen and corrupted by sin, and there will be trouble on earth until God establishes His eternal kingdom. So, God’s people cried out for rescuing, and God heard the cries of His people! How did He answer? By sending His Son to be born to save His people from sin.
Call to Action: As we approach Christmas and the celebration of Jesus’ birth, there should be joy that fills our hearts. There should also be a humility that fills our hearts as well. We were separated from God because of our sins, and we needed to be saved. We would be crying out with Asaph, “Restore us, O God,” and “Come and save us,” but in His grace and mercy He has sent Jesus to save us. We are three weeks out from the celebration of Christ’s birth. Take some time to think about the great need for salvation you had, and then how God graciously fulfilled that need. Have joy in your heart that you have been saved from your sin, and have humility that God mercifully saved us from our well-deserved destruction. With humble joy, worship our Savior this Christmas season. Merry Christmas.