Saturday: Psalm 79-80 & Hosea 2.1-13

From Mark Booker

Psalm 79: This psalm highlights the anguish of ongoing suffering for God's people. "How long, O LORD? Will you be angry forever?" The honest cries of the psalmist remind us to take all that we experience to God in prayer. He can handle it. 

The petition is for God to bring judgment on the nations (v6), thereby alleviating the suffering of his people, and to do that for the glory of God's own name before the watching nations (v10). The psalms often petition God to act on the basis of God's own reputation and this should encourage us to pray similarly. For example, "God lift up my heart from this malaise and grant me your joy. Why should people see me and conclude that you are not with me? Lift up my heart!" 

Psalm 80: This prayer for restoration comes from a similar situation as the petition in Psalm 79. Others have oppressed God's people (v16) and the cry is for God to act, to restore us. The repeated refrain (vv3, 7, and 19) notes that the key to restoration is for the God of hosts' (or armies) face to shine. Our only hope is God. We need God to step in, to show up, to give life (v18). And he has in Jesus. As Paul says, "For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of gGod in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Corinthians 4.6). 

Hosea 2.1-13: Hosea depicts God as a spurned lover who is angry over the unfaithfulness of his wife. Israel has broken the first and second commandments. Israel has forgotten (2.13; there are many similar themes between Deuteronomy and Hosea - this should remind us of Dt 6.10-12, and Dt 8.11-18) that Yahweh blessed her with her abundance, an abundance she went and spent on other gods. In return for her unfaithfulness, Israel will be opposed by Yahweh. When Israel takes up the ways of the nations around her, she will fall under the same judgment as those nations. That is the promise of Deuteronomy as well (see 8.19-20).

And yet, God's mercy - as in Deuteronomy (see 30.1-10) - will prevail. The rest of Hosea 2 (vv14-23) depict God's love as ultimately undeterred even by Israel infidelity. We see that determined, stubborn love of God, ultimately, in the coming of Jesus who, even while were were God's enemies, dies for us that we might be brought back to God. That's something to celebrate.