These two psalms seemed linked, so I’m putting them together. Both apparently happened after the fall of Jerusalem to Babylon, and are very similar in tone to Lamentations.
Psalm 79 opens with this lament:
O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple, they have reduced Jerusalem to rubble. They have left the dead bodies of your servants as food for the birds of the sky, the flesh of your own people for the animals of the wild. They have poured out blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there is no one to bury the dead. (1-3)
Then the psalmist cries out in verse 5,
How long, Lord? Will you be angry forever? How long will your jealousy burn like fire?
In Psalm 80, the cry is similar,
How much longer, LORD God Almighty, will you be angry with your people’s prayers? You have given us sorrow to eat, a large cup of tears to drink. (4-5)
In both psalms, we see the psalmist’s cry for God’s mercy upon the people.
Do not hold against us the sins of past generations; may your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need. Help us, God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake. (79:8-9)
Restore us, Lord God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved. (80:19)
And in both psalms, we see vows made.
Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will praise you forever; from generation to generation we will proclaim your praise. (79:13)
In Psalm 80, the psalmist prays,
Let your hand rest on the man at your right hand, the son of man you have raised up for yourself. Then we will not turn away from you; revive us, and we will call on your name. (17-18)
How much better though, would things have been if the people had been faithful to God all along? To not wait until things were at that state to finally turn to him?
God is a God of mercy. That is true. He will forgive. But there are consequences to our sin here on earth. So let us not wait until disaster strikes to turn our faces to God, as the Israelites did time and again. Let us turn our faces to him now, and seek him so that we may avoid the pain and hurt that comes because of our sin.