“Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved!” (Psalm 80:3).
“Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved!” (Psalm 80:7).
“Restore us, O LORD God of hosts! let your face shine, that we may be saved!” (Psalm 80:19).
So much awesomeness in this psalm. Someday I’ll get to really teach/preach it. In such a context, I would mention things like the fact that the pope’s initial letters about Martin Luther and his stand against the church referred to this psalm, calling Luther the “boar” who ravages the vine (80:8-13).
But I digress…
The line that stands out in this psalm is the one that repeats three times in it. The psalmist is writing in the aftermath of some form of divine judgment, most likely in the form of foreign invaders (80:12).
In light of their dire circumstance, he asks three times that God restore them. Each time he does, he refers to God in a more specific way. The first time, it’s just “God” (80:3). The second time, it’s “God of hosts” (80:7), referring to the fact that God has thousands upon thousands of heavenly forces—a “host” of angels—at his command.
The last time, it is “LORD God of hosts” (80:19). That all caps “LORD” is the English way of writing God’s covenant name, YHWH, the name he revealed to Moses at the burning bush: “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And he said, ‘Say this to the people of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you”‘” (Exodus 3:14).
The psalmist’s prayer goes from a cry to God (80:3), to a cry to the God who is powerful enough to save (80:7), to a cry to the God who is the LORD, the God who has saved them before and who will save them again because of what he has promised his people (80:19).
The psalmist could pray with confidence for salvation to YHWH, because the LORD had saved Israel from Egypt, and would save Israel again by sending his Son to deliver us from sin and death. The psalmist’s cry for restoration is fulfilled in Christ, not because God is especially concerned that Jewish people live in Palestine or not. That restoration started in Christ when he rose from the dead, and continues in Christ until the New Jerusalem will descend from heaven.
The cry for restoration is a cry for grace (cf. Num. 6:25). It’s a cry that has been answered in Christ. And because we’ve seen that God is gracious, we can have confidence in his deliverance, not our own.
We can’t save ourselves. Only God can. We have nothing to hide, nothing to prove.
God is gracious. We don’t have to prove ourselves worthy of Christ. We aren’t. We have merely to cry out to him.
And because God has saved us before, we can have confidence that, in Christ, he will save us again. He will restore us.