Psalm 80:7-15 (NRSV)
7Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.
8You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it.
9You cleared the ground for it; it took deep root and filled the land.
10The mountains were covered with its shade, the mighty cedars with its branches;
11it sent out its branches to the sea, and its shoots to the River.
12Why then have you broken down its walls, so that all who pass along the way pluck its fruit?
13The boar from the forest ravages it, and all that move in the field feed on it.
14Turn again, O God of hosts; look down from heaven, and see; have regard for this vine,
15the stock that your right hand planted.
Today’s reading again describes God’s judgment with the metaphor of an untended vineyard. But while yesterday’s reading speaks from God’s perspective, our today’s psalm expresses the cry of those experiencing judgment.
Remarkably, though the speakers of this psalm feel God’s anger in the catastrophe surrounding them, they do not give up hope. They do not piously resign themselves to destruction, nor do they arrogantly insist that God’s wrath is unjust. Rather, they cry out to the very One whose wrath they are suffering, to the God who chose them, bringing them out of Egypt and planting them in the land. Their hope lies not in God’s justice, as though they could be exonerated, but rather in God’s mercy, God’s faithfulness to God’s promises.
As sinners living in a fallen creation, God’s wrath—though generally unrecognized—is part of our daily reality. But as people who have received God’s promises through scripture, sermon, and sacrament, we know that wrath gives way to mercy. Though it may presently be hidden in darkness, God’s merciful face will again shine upon us, and that is where our hope lies.
God of mercy, pierce through the darkness surrounding me, that I may again see your merciful face, through Jesus Christ. Amen.