The Psalms Show Us Christ Our Brother Who Restores Us - Midweek Lent 2
Rev. Charles Westby, Pastor
Psalms 80:17
March 03, 2021

We turn our hearts and minds to Psalm 80 to draw our attention to thinking of Jesus as the Son of Man.

There was a lot of trouble in Israel. The King of Assyria was permitted by God to attack and destroy the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The tribe of Judah, those dwelling in Jerusalem, saw it and trembled. They cried out to God: “Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, . . . You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth” (Psalm 80:1).

Enthroned upon the cherubim refers to the mercy seat above the figures of the cherubim sitting on top of the ark of the covenant. The ark was in the most holy place of the temple in Jerusalem.

What had happened to Israel? Let’s go back to land of Egypt. Israel was in bondage there. But God remembered His promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; Jacob, whose name God changed to Israel. He sent Moses to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, to say to Pharaoh, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Israel is my firstborn son.’ ‘Let my son go that he may serve me. If you refuse to let him go, behold, I will kill your firstborn son.’” (Exodus 4:22-23).

Pharaoh did not listen to what the Lord had commanded Moses to say to him. So God did what He warned Pharaoh He would do. He brought the plague of the slaying of the firstborn son upon Egypt. Only then did Pharaoh yield, and let Israel go.

But even then Pharaoh hardened his heart and regretted letting Israel go. He chased Israel to the Red Sea with his mighty chariots. I have Israel trapped against the Sea now, Pharaoh thought. But then the Lord opened the Red Sea, making it a wall on the right hand and on the left. Israel passed through the Sea on dry ground. They made it to the other side.

Pharaoh’s chariots went into the Sea after them. When Israel was safely on the other side, the Lord caused the waters of the Sea to collapse upon the Egyptian forces. The horse and the rider were drowned in the Sea.

Then Moses sang this song: “Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power, your right hand, O Lord, shatters the enemy” (Exodus 15:6 ESV). Eventually God led Israel to the promised land and led them into it to conquer it by the Lord’s strength and power.

And so the Psalmist reminds God of His glorious deeds saying: “You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it. You cleared the ground for it; it took deep root and filled the land. The mountains were covered with its shade, the mighty cedars with its branches. It sent out its branches to the sea [that is, the Mediterranean,] and its shoots to the River [that is, the Euphrates]” (Psalm 80:8-11 ESV). Here the Psalmist describes poetically the glorious extent of King David’s kingdom at the height of Israel’s power. God had done this for Israel, His firstborn son.

Psalm 80 refers to the sonship of Israel when it says at verses 14-15: “Turn again, O God of hosts! Look down from heaven, and see; have regard for this vine, the stock that your right had planted, for the son whom you made strong for yourself” (Psalm 80: 14-15 ESV). Israel was this son, whom God had made strong for Himself.

But now the son has become weak and fallen in unrepentant sin. So God has allowed its walls to be broken down. God has allowed the boar from the forest to ravage His vineyard, Israel. He has allowed them to burn it with fire and to cut it down (Psalm 80:13, 16). This speaks poetically and in great sorrow about the invasion of the northern kingdom by the Assyrians. The northern kingdom was overrun and destroyed, never to rise again.

Why did it happen? Hosea, the prophet, tells us: “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.” But then the Lord goes on to say: “The more they were called, the more they went away; they kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning offerings to idols. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk; I took them up by their arms, but they did not know that I healed them. . . . They shall not return to the land of Egypt, but Assyria shall be their king, because they have refused to return to me. The sword shall rage against their cities, consume the bars of their gates, and devour them because of their own counsels. My people are bent on turning away from me. . . .”(Hosea 11:1-7a ESV).

And yet the psalmist in Psalm 80 pleads with the Lord: “Turn again, O God of hosts! Look down from heaven, and see; have regard for this vine, the stock that your right hand planted” (Psalm 80:14 ESV). “Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved!” (Psalm 80:7).

How is restoration and salvation going to happen? The Spirit of the Lord teaches the singer of the Psalm to pray: [L]et your hand be on the man of your right hand, the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself!” (Psalm 80:17 ESV).

The Son of Man whom the Lord has made strong for Himself will bring the restoration. In Him it can be possible for Israel to turn back to God. In Him, it will be possible for Israel to have life and call upon the name of the Lord (Psalm 80:18). But in Him the Lord will also be doing a new thing, causing the singing of a new song (Isaiah 43:18-19).

Some scholars think that the Son of Man in Psalm 80 verse 17, is just another reference to Israel, like we find in Psalm 80 verse 15. Verse 15 refers to the son whom the Lord had made strong for Himself, the stock that the Lord’s right hand had planted. As we pointed out, this refers to Exodus 4 where the Lord called Israel His son. But we have seen how God’s son abandoned God to serve the Baals and idols and turn away from the mighty deeds, and commandments, and counsels of the Lord to pursue to the wisdom, counsels, and desires of their own hearts. And so the Lord brought Assyria. And then later the Lord also brought Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon against Judah to destroy it and take Judah captive. For Judah did the same thing as his brothers of the northern kingdom.

Yet, it is the Son of Man of verse 17 that brings the restoration and salvation. How then can the Son of Man to whom the Psalmist looks for God’s redemption of Israel also be Israel who has fallen away and needs redemption? That does not work. The son of verse 15, who is Israel, is to be redeemed by the Son of Man of verse 17, who is the man at God’s right hand. This is the Christ, in whom the restoration and life would be accomplished.

But this Son of Man will not be just for Israel as Isaiah says: For “now the Lord says, he who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob [that is, Israel], back to him;” The “me” of this verse is not Isaiah but the servant of which Isaiah speaks who will bring Jacob back to God. Isaiah continues speaking about this servant: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth” (Isaiah 49:5-6 ESV).

And salvation reaching the end of earth is appropriate, for all mankind is in need of redemption. God is the father of the whole human race, as Adam was God’s son (Luke 3:38). So the Son of Man is for all. The phrase Son of Man in Psalm 80:17 could also just as well be translated Son of Adam in the Hebrew. Every human being is a Son of Adam. So Jesus as the Son of Adam represents the entire human race and stands-in for all before God. For as God’s sons and daughters we have become weak and fallen in sin and rebellion and have merited God’s sending disaster upon us.

And so Jesus is speaking to Nicodemas, a teacher in Israel. And Jesus says: “No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man” (John 3:13). And how did this Son of Man descend from heaven? Because He was at the right hand of God as Psalm 80 says: “The man of your right hand” (Psalm 80:17).

And then Jesus says to Nicodemus that this Son of Man must be lifted up, like Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness (John 3:14). Elsewhere in John Jesus said that when He was lifted up from the earth, He would draw all people to Himself (John 12:32). Jesus is speaking about His crucifixion; of the cross. For there, as Son of Man, saving the son who was Israel, there the Son of Man as the Son of Adam, our brother, would make intercession for us; we, whom He is not ashamed to call brother and sister because He shares with us our flesh and blood (Hebrews 2:11, 14). And on that cross, He would win for us an eternal redemption, by the shedding of His own blood in atoning sacrifice for the sins of the people (Hebrews 2:17).

Thus, He wins for us the power of repentance: “Then we shall not turn back from you” (Psalm 80:18 ESV). He wins the fulfillment of pleading prayer of the Psalmist: “[G]ive us life, and we will call upon your Name” (Psalm 80:18 ESV). He will be the One who is the answer to the prayer: “Restore us, O Lord God of hosts! Let your face shine, that we may be saved!” (Psalm 80:19 ESV).

So let us reject our sins before God in this Son of Man and ever hold fast to Him, Christ Jesus our Lord. For in Him we have the restoration for which we long, reconciliation with God and eternal life. Amen.


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