Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
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April 23 – A Prayer For Mercy And Salvation

“To the choirmaster: according to Lilies. A Testimony. Of Asaph, a Psalm. 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!” Psalm 80:1-3

Devotional Thought For The Day

We begin another psalm in this series of prayers to God following some national travesty, the two most likely events being the Assyrian conquest of the northern tribes, or the Babylonian conquest of the southern kingdom. Some presume the writing took place during the Babylonian captivity – in Babylon. Both of these tragic occurrences shook the faith of the children of Israel. It was unthinkable that God could allow such devastation and destruction of His church. It is hard for us to imagine just how difficult this was for these ancient people of faith to fathom. There had been punishments and discipline in the past – but these events threatened the continued existence of the church altogether. Such is God’s judgment upon unbelief and utter disregard of His Word.

The commentators wrestle with the significance of the mention of “Jospeh, Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh.” Not that it matters all that much but you can read their logic which usually concludes that these represent the whole people of Israel – as later reference to the Exodus implies. So the psalm is a prayer for all the children of Israel, all twelve tribes, regardless of their current circumstances, and thus should we also pray for all Christians, all who truly believe in Christ and belong to Him.

Reference to “the cherubim” seems to indicate the continued existence of the “Ark of the Covenant.” The mercy seat was between the cherubim – and this was the physical focal point of the temple worship, especially for the sacrifice of atonement, when the blood of atonement was sprinkled on the mercy seat [see Lev. 16]. Jesus Christ is identified both as the real “mercy seat” [hilasterion] and also the real “blood of atonement” [hilasmos] in the New Testament [see Rom. 3:25 and 1 John 2:2]. The psalm is all about “salvation” – and so we should properly think of Jesus, the Divine Son of God, as the principle recipient of these prayers. Likewise, He is the One to Whom we address our prayers for mercy, grace, forgiveness, and salvation today – praying in His Name.

There is much for us to lament regarding the dismal decline of the Christian church today. I’m sure this has always been the case – at least when looking at the church through the lens of Holy Scripture as those humble and repentant people who trust solely in the gracious Word of God and continue in the Word of Christ. However, the church has not faced such utter destruction as befell the people of Israel. Let us pray that it never be so! However, if the erosion of the church continues so that all that is left are the outward hulks of institutions, and the faddish hoopla of mimics and cults, we have these prayers in the psalms to teach us what to pray, and to buoy our hope and confidence in God our Savior.  So we pray with the psalmist: “Restore us, O God; let Your face shine, that we may be saved!”

Prayer For The Day

Dear Lord Jesus, throughout human history You have heard the cries of Your people for mercy, deliverance, forgiveness, and salvation. Hear our cries as well on behalf of all of Your dear people of faith. Have mercy on all and deliver us from our difficult circumstances. We pray all of this in Your strong Name. Amen.