Psalm 80

Hear us, Shepherd of Israel,
you who lead Joseph like a flock.
You who sit enthroned between the cherubim,
shine forth before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh.
Awaken your might;
come and save us.
Restore us, O God;
make your face shine on us,
that we may be saved.
How long, LORD God Almighty,
will your anger smolder
against the prayers of your people?
You have fed them with the bread of tears;
you have made them drink tears by the bowlful.
You have made us an object of derision to our neighbors,
and our enemies mock us.
Restore us, God Almighty;
make your face shine on us,
that we may be saved.
You transplanted a vine from Egypt;
you drove out the nations and planted it.
You cleared the ground for it,
and it took root and filled the land.
The mountains were covered with its shade,
the mighty cedars with its branches.
Its branches reached as far as the Sea,
its shoots as far as the River.
Why have you broken down its walls
so that all who pass by pick its grapes?
Boars from the forest ravage it,
and insects from the fields feed on it.
Return to us, God Almighty!
Look down from heaven and see!
Watch over this vine,
the root your right hand has planted,
the son you have raised up for yourself.
Your vine is cut down, it is burned with fire;
at your rebuke your people perish.
Let your hand rest on the man at your right hand,
the son of man you have raised up for yourself.
Then we will not turn away from you;
revive us, and we will call on your name.
Restore us, LORD God Almighty;
make your face shine on us,
that we may be saved.

The psalmist Asaph uses the metaphor of a vine in this psalm. He compares the nation of Israel to a vine that God had brought out of Egypt and planted in the land, symbolizing God's care and nurturing of his people. However, the psalmist laments the current state of Israel, saying, "You have broken down its walls, so that all who pass by plunder it; the boar from the forest ravages it, and all that move in the field feed on it" (Psalm 80:12-13). He paints a picture of destruction and vulnerability, expressing a longing for God's intervention and restoration.

Jesus has used the metaphor of the vine on quite a few occasions. Once he told a parable of a landowner who planted a vineyard and leased it to tenants. When the landowner sent servants to collect the fruit, the tenants mistreated and killed them. Finally, the landowner sends his son, hoping the tenants will respect him. But they plot against the son, ultimately killing him. Jesus concludes the parable by pronouncing judgment on the wicked tenants and declaring that the vineyard will be given to others who will produce fruit (see Matthew 21:33-43).

Although there are variations in the theme, both the Psalmist and Jesus use the vineyard as a metaphor for God's people and their responsibility to bear fruit. The psalmist focuses on the restoration and God's favor upon the vineyard, while Jesus uses the parable to address the religious leaders and their failure to fulfill their role as faithful stewards of God's people.

Both highlight the theme of God's expectation for his people to produce fruit, which, as Jesus said, we can produce only through him. "I am the vine; you are the branches," he says. "If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples" (John 15:5-8).

If any of us want to bear the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control in our lives —and I know we long to do so— here is the secret. We simply need to remain in Jesus. How? By cultivating a deep and intimate relationship with him through prayer, reading his word, and allowing ourselves to be led by the Holy Spirit. If we do this, we will find ourselves bearing fruit "automatically" as a natural result of being united with Jesus.

God bless you.

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