Psalm 80:7-19 – This week’s Psalm has as the key verse, verse 7. The vineyard of the Lord of hosts is Israel, and the men of Judah are the plant He cherished. “For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting; and he looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, an outcry! “ -Isaiah 5:7. After making a lament over the Lord’s severe punishment of His people the Psalmist looks to the Lord who will vindicate His own as He restores and makes His face shine upon them that they might be saved.
This coming week a major theme woven throughout the reading is the point that God’s people constitute a vineyard. The Gospel and Old Testament lessons complement each other in the use of a vineyard as a metaphor for God’s people. In both, the vineyard is at fault; in the Gospel, the tenants refuse to render fruit; in the Old Testament, the fruit is wild.
The image of God as gardener (vinedresser) and the people as the garden or vineyard is found in many places in the Bible, including two of the other lectionary texts for this coming Sunday. Isaiah 5:1-7 (often called “the song of the vineyard”) describes God’s relationship with Israel and Judah. This is reinterpreted in Matthew 21:36-46 (also Mark 12:1-12 and Luke 20:9-19) in the parable of the wicked tenants in the vineyard.
Repeatedly, the Psalmist calls on God to “restore” and “save” (verses 2, 3, 7, 19) to “turn again” (verse 14) and “give us life” (verse 18). The Psalm opens with a plea to God, the “Shepherd of Israel” (verses 1-3) to restore the people. It names God’s anger as the problem, resulting in the suffering of the people (verses 4-6). There follows a plea for restoration (verses 7).
Prayer for Psalm 80: Lord God, you so tend the vine you planted that now it extends its branches even to the farthest shore. Keep us in your Son as branches on the vine, that rooted firmly in your love, we may testify before the whole world to your great power working everywhere; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
 For All the Saints, A Prayer Book for and by the Church, © 1995 American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY