A Prayer for Restoration
80 1 Listen, Shepherd, Israel's Shepherd - get all your Joseph sheep together. Throw beams of light from your dazzling throne 2 So Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh can see where they're going. Get out of bed - you've slept long enough! Come on the run before it's too late. 3 God, come back! Smile your blessing smile: That will be our salvation. 4 God, God of the angel armies, how long will you smolder like a sleeping volcano while your people call for fire and brimstone? 5 You put us on a diet of tears, bucket after bucket of salty tears to drink. 6 You make us look ridiculous to our friends; our enemies poke fun day after day. 7 God of the angel armies, come back! Smile your blessing smile: That will be our salvation.
8 Remember how you brought a young vine from Egypt, cleared out the brambles and briers and planted your very own vineyard? 9 You prepared the good earth, you planted her roots deep; the vineyard filled the land. 10 Your vine soared high and shaded the mountains, even dwarfing the giant cedars. 11 Your vine ranged west to the Sea, east to the River. 12 So why do you no longer protect your vine? Trespassers pick its grapes at will; 13 Wild pigs crash through and crush it, and the mice nibble away at what's left. 14 God of the angel armies, turn our way! Take a good look at what's happened and attend to this vine. 15 Care for what you once tenderly planted - the vine you raised from a shoot. 16 And those who dared to set it on fire - give them a look that will kill! 17 Then take the hand of your once-favorite child, the child you raised to adulthood. 18 We will never turn our back on you; breathe life into our lungs so we can shout your name! 19 God, God of the angel armies, come back! Smile your blessing smile: That will be our salvation.
God's Goodness and Israel's Waywardness
81 1 A song to our strong God! a shout to the God of Jacob! 2 Anthems from the choir, music from the band, sweet sounds from lute and harp, 3 Trumpets and trombones and horns: it's festival day, a feast to God! 4 A day decreed by God, solemnly ordered by the God of Jacob. 5 He commanded Joseph to keep this day so we'd never forget what he did in Egypt. I hear this most gentle whisper from One I never guessed would speak to me: 6 "I took the world off your shoulders, freed you from a life of hard labor. 7 You called to me in your pain; I got you out of a bad place. I answered you from where the thunder hides, I proved you at Meribah Fountain.
8 "Listen, dear ones - get this straight; O Israel, don't take this lightly. 9 Don't take up with strange gods, don't worship the latest in gods. 10 I'm God, your God, the very God who rescued you from doom in Egypt, Then fed you all you could eat, filled your hungry stomachs. 11 "But my people didn't listen, Israel paid no attention; 12 So I let go of the reins and told them, 'Run! Do it your own way!' 13 "Oh, dear people, will you listen to me now? Israel, will you follow my map? 14 I'll make short work of your enemies, give your foes the back of my hand. 15 I'll send the God-haters cringing like dogs, never to be heard from again. 16 You'll feast on my fresh-baked bread spread with butter and rock-pure honey."
A Rebuke of Unjust Judgments
82 1 God calls the judges into his courtroom, he puts all the judges in the dock. 2 "Enough! You've corrupted justice long enough, you've let the wicked get away with murder. 3 You're here to defend the defenseless, to make sure that underdogs get a fair break; 4 Your job is to stand up for the powerless, and prosecute all those who exploit them." 5 Ignorant judges! Head-in-the-sand judges! They haven't a clue to what's going on. And now everything's falling apart, the world's coming unglued.
6 "I commissioned you judges, each one of you, deputies of the High God, 7 But you've betrayed your commission and now you're stripped of your rank, busted." 8 O God, give them their just deserts! You've got the whole world in your hands!
A Prayer for the Destruction of Israel's Enemies
83 1 God, don't shut me out; don't give me the silent treatment, O God. 2 Your enemies are out there whooping it up, the God-haters are living it up; 3 They're plotting to do your people in, conspiring to rob you of your precious ones. 4 "Let's wipe this nation from the face of the earth," they say; "scratch Israel's name off the books." 5 And now they're putting their heads together, making plans to get rid of you. 6 Edom and the Ishmaelites, Moab and the Hagrites, 7 Gebal and Ammon and Amalek, Philistia and the Tyrians, 8 And now Assyria has joined up, Giving muscle to the gang of Lot.
9 Do to them what you did to Midian, to Sisera and Jabin at Kishon Brook; 10 They came to a bad end at Endor, nothing but dung for the garden. 11 Cut down their leaders as you did Oreb and Zeeb, their princes to nothings like Zebah and Zalmunna, 12 With their empty brags, "We're grabbing it all, grabbing God's gardens for ourselves." 13 My God! I've had it with them! Blow them away! Tumbleweeds in the desert waste, 14 charred sticks in the burned-over ground. 15 Knock the breath right out of them, so they're gasping 16 for breath, gasping, "God." 17 Bring them to the end of their rope, and leave them there dangling, helpless. 18 Then they'll learn your name: "God," the one and only High God on earth.
Longing for God's House
84 1 What a beautiful home, God of the Angel Armies! I've always longed to live in a place like this, 2 Always dreamed of a room in your house, where I could sing for joy to God-alive! 3 Birds find nooks and crannies in your house, sparrows and swallows make nests there. They lay their eggs and raise their young, singing their songs in the place where we worship. God of the Angel Armies! King! God! 4 How blessed they are to live and sing there! 5 And how blessed all those in whom you live, whose lives become roads you travel; 6 They wind through lonesome valleys, come upon brooks, discover cool springs and pools brimming with rain! 7 God-traveled, these roads curve up the mountain, and at the last turn - Zion! God in full view!
8 God of the Angel Armies, listen: O God of Jacob, open your ears - I'm praying! 9 Look at our shields, glistening in the sun, our faces, shining with your gracious anointing. 10 One day spent in your house, this beautiful place of worship, beats thousands spent on Greek island beaches. I'd rather scrub floors in the house of my God than be honored as a guest in the palace of sin. 11 All sunshine and sovereign is God, generous in gifts and glory. He doesn't scrimp with his traveling companions. 12 It's smooth sailing all the way with God of the Angel Armies.
A Prayer for God's Mercy on Israel
85 1 God, you smiled on your good earth! You brought good times back to Jacob! 2 You lifted the cloud of guilt from your people, you put their sins far out of sight. 3 You took back your sin-provoked threats, you cooled your hot, righteous anger. 4 Help us again, God of our help; don't hold a grudge against us forever. 5 You aren't going to keep this up, are you? scowling and angry, year after year? 6 Why not help us make a fresh start - a resurrection life? Then your people will laugh and sing! 7 Show us how much you love us, God! Give us the salvation we need!
8 I can't wait to hear what he'll say. God's about to pronounce his people well, The holy people he loves so much, so they'll never again live like fools. 9 See how close his salvation is to those who fear him? Our country is home base for Glory! 10 Love and Truth meet in the street, Right Living and Whole Living embrace and kiss! 11 Truth sprouts green from the ground, Right Living pours down from the skies! 12 Oh yes! God gives Goodness and Beauty; our land responds with Bounty and Blessing. 13 Right Living strides out before him, and clears a path for his passage.