“Summaries, Psalms 79-81”Categories: Bulletin Articles
Psalm 79 laments the destruction of Jerusalem. The psalmist begins by enumerating several woes: the temple has been defiled, the city has been ruined, its inhabitants have been slaughtered, and the survivors are being mocked by their neighbors. He asks God to reveal how long this horrible state will continue and encourages Him instead to punish the heathen kingdoms that are responsible for Jerusalem’s destruction.
The psalmist then implores God to forget their sins and rescue them for three reasons: because of the magnitude of their suffering, for the glory of His name, and to rebut the nations who doubt His power. He encourages God to hear the cries of the captives and punish Judah’s enemies instead so that they can glorify Him.
Psalm 80 expresses similar sentiments. It opens with an appeal to God to save His people. V. 3 contains a refrain that is repeated in vs. 7 and 19. In the second “verse”, the psalmist observes that God has made His people suffer, figuratively feeding them their tears.
The third “verse” (which is considerably longer than the others) begins by contrasting God’s past behavior to current conditions. He established Israel in Canaan like a vine in a vineyard, but now the vineyard wall has been broken down and Israel’s enemies are ravaging it. Then, the psalmist appeals to God to have compassion for His vine, and particularly for “the son of man”, who is probably the king. If God will rescue His people, they will praise Him.
Psalm 81 is a contrasting psalm of praise. It encourages God’s people to praise Him with various instruments during a feast day. Then, the psalmist looks back to the historical origins of that feast day. It stretches all the way back to God’s deliverance of His people from Egypt.
After this, the psalmist considers God’s words to His people at Meribah. In exchange for their rejection of idolatry, He promises to bless them. However, they ignored Him. God then laments their decision, because if they were to listen to Him, He would defend them from their enemies and feed them with the best food.