Hear us, Shepherd of Israel (Psalm 80:1-3)

There are just so many sad stories in the world today, and of course, there are many happy stories too, but the negative prob are more. There is this cry from the hearts of the people of Israel , which can be translated as the people of God today as so relevant and truly a heart cry to God. I loved Psalmist first line “Hear us, Shepherd of Israel”, it’s a capital S for Shepherd, and it’s of Israel. God Yahweh has been revered and held an awe among the Israelites through the centuries, in their ups and downs.

Psalm 80
1 Hear us, Shepherd of Israel,
you who lead Joseph like a flock.

Here Israel cried out to God. Hear us, O God, Shepherd of Israel. They recognized God, they revered God and when they were in need, they cried out to the Shepherd. That’s what we do, we revere God, and we depend on God far more than normal times, when we hit our hardships. So the constant crying out to God can be and will be tiring to say the least.

The word Shepherd is in capital because he is no ordinary shepherd, but he is the Shepherd of the universe, of our souls. He is the God who parted the Red Sea, the God who saved our lives, saved our families, us for eternal life, our constant reference point to him must be strong, and cannot fade. We must connect with the Shepherd of our souls. If there is one person who can deliver us from our problems, it will be him.

Problem is in the world, when people are in trouble, they don’t know who they can call upon. Police? State? Community? Rich people? Political figures? Friends? Family? They may be able to help in some way, but really there is a lot of things they can’t help. They can only go so far. But with God, nothing is impossible, though he may not sometimes answer the way we asked him to. That’s his prerogatives, he always is sovereign, and big, and Romans 8 28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Though we will have to qualify that all things according to his purpose. Slightly nuanced.

Secondly, it’s our Shepherd, not our Doctor, Lawyer, Governor, Pastor, it’s not human! It’s actually someone divine, someone who walked through the wall when he appeared to the 12 apostles after his resurrection, and yet someone is designated as Shepherd. Shepherd’s job is to lead the sheep, looks after the sheep, and that’s us. There is an intimacy between Jesus as our Shepherd and his sheep (us)! John 10 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” You see that’s what we are talking about. We are not appealing to our Manager, Chairman, President! We are appealing to someone who even died for us, and who is also God! Jesus said he is the good shepherd, and the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. That’s exactly what he did, when he was crucified on the cross and died for our humanity sins, to redeem us. And the beautiful thing is he empathizes with our problems and our struggles. Hebrews 4: 15 “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Because Jesus has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. That’s the Shepherd we are calling upon. He completely understands our struggles and have great empathy for us who struggle, because he has been through all those himself, and even worse, to the point of dying and being unjustly killed for our sake! He’s gone far beyond the call of a Shepherd. God in his divinity will not be able to understand all our struggles in his divine form, but it took the Son of God to become man, to experience the hardship of humanity, being mocked, spit at, slapped on his face, whipped so much that he bled. And yet He is the One who is now seated on the throne of God in heaven, with all powers, dominion under his feet. We have a powerful strong shepherd and yet so relatable to us, intimate with us. We have to approach him more and more. In other words, we are calling upon our Shepherd, our God.

The context here is Israel knew exactly how God led them through the Red Sea, poured his wrath in 7 plagues that destroyed Egypt and killed all their first born, including the first born of Pharaoh. How God led them through the wilderness desert, and how God opened up the rocks to bring water to feed them to quench their thirst, and rained down birds for them to eat, and manna for them. They know what kind of Shepherd God is to them at that time. Powerful, Almighty, loving and a jealous God. And when psalmist wrote that hear us Oh Shepherd of Israel, they were looking to God to return to Israel and lead them like before. This is a story about how they have sinned against God, and many verses later cried out to God to return to Israel.

In many ways, we feel the same way. When our children or family do not walk with the Lord anymore, or any problems that we face, or our communities, our nation, our hearts cry to God as the Shepherd of our souls, return to us, and take our children and people back to himself. This cry must come before God as a passionate voice to our God, our Shepherd, the Shepherd of our souls. We have people who have gone before us and how they relied on God, walked with God and experienced most extraordinary miracles in the desert!

Psalm 80 1 You who sit enthroned between the cherubim,
shine forth 2 before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh.
Awaken your might; come and save us.

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