Advent: December 1

Psalm: Psalm 80:1–7, 17–19

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
   you who lead Joseph like a flock.
You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth.
   Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh,
stir up your might
   and come to save us!

Restore us, O God;
   let your face shine, that we may be saved!

O Lord God of hosts,
   how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?
You have fed them with the bread of tears
   and given them tears to drink in full measure.
You make us an object of contention for our neighbors,
   and our enemies laugh among themselves.

Restore us, O God of hosts;
   let your face shine, that we may be saved!


But let your hand be on the man of your right hand,
   the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself!
Then we shall not turn back from you;
   give us life, and we will call upon your name!

Restore us, O Lord God of hosts!
   Let your face shine, that we may be saved! (ESV)

The journey of Advent is one that can help us to reorient our hearts to significant truths that we know and have experienced but sometimes grow slightly amnesic to. The eightieth Psalm can be that reminder for us today. We encounter language of communication. It begins with a petition to the Shepherd of Israel to hear the people who are desperate for their God to save and restore them. In some ways, it can remind us of the way little children sometimes clamber onto a parent and grab hold of their face to make sure they are paying attention so they can tell them something important. The Father does not need that type of attention reminder, but the tone from the people is one that desires God’s face to shine upon them once again.

If we reflect on this, we can overwhelmingly identify with the calling out to God to restore and save us. We have those moments where we may feel like “an object of contention for our neighbors.” Perhaps we need to reacquaint ourselves with our desperate need of God and his role to lead us as a shepherd. Sheep are not the brightest animals, and like them we may need all the help we can get. We need God’s direction and strength and his ability to rescue us. Through him, we can be made strong and discover the life he gives us so we may faithfully follow and “not turn back” from him.

The hope of Advent is that rescue is coming and has come. The Shepherd does let his face shine and we can be restored in the most important way possible.

Read through Psalm 80 again. Reflect on what you may need to call out to God to save you from and restore you to. In this Advent season and this period of the unprecedented, seek the Shepherd’s face to shine on you and encounter the God who is unparalleled!

Mike Anderson – Associate Pastor at Springside Baptist Church in Springside, Saskatchewan