PSALMS 79 AND 80—RESTORATION BY EXALTING CHRIST
Psalms 79 and 80 tell us how the house and the city of God became desolate, but that the hope of recovery is in Christ, “the man of God’s right hand.” Verses 1 to 3 of Psalm 79 indicate the desolation of God’s house and city. “O God, the heathen are come into thine inheritance; thy holy temple have they defiled; they have laid Jerusalem on heaps” (v. 1). No doubt this refers to the destruction wrought by the Babylonians. But the hope of recovery is in Christ. “Return, we beseech thee, O God of hosts: look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine (the people of Israel); and the vineyard maintain which thy right hand hath planted, and the son that thou madest strong for thyself” (Psa. 80:14-15). The Psalmist here is crying to God, that God would maintain the vineyard which His right hand has planted. God had planted the children of Israel as a vine and the nation as a vineyard. The Psalmist prayed that God would maintain, protect, and preserve this vineyard. Notice in verse 15 that the word “branch” as in the King James version must be changed to “son,” “the son that thou madest strong for thyself.” Obviously, this Son must be Christ. We have indicated that many times in the Psalms, in the midst of the saints’ expression, the Spirit of Christ suddenly intervenes and utters something within their utterance. This is just such an occasion. The Spirit of Christ is here uttering something concerning Christ within the utterance of the crying saints. The meaning here is that God will protect His dwelling place for Christ. God will protect, God will preserve, and God will maintain His dwelling place for the sake of Christ. Christ is the Son that God has made strong for Himself.
Psalm 80:17-19: “Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself. So will not we go back from thee: quicken us, and we will call upon thy name. Restore us again, O Lord God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.” In this poetic utterance of the seeking saint, the Spirit of Christ is saying something concerning Christ. It is that the restoration of God’s dwelling place depends wholly upon Christ. We must give Christ the proper position; then the desolated house of God will be restored. By the Psalmist’s assertion that the restoration of God’s house depends upon the position given to Christ, we learn the reason for the desolation of the house of God. The house is desolate because the position of Christ has been lost among God’s people. If we would recover the house of God, we must afford Christ His proper position. His position is that of the Man whom God has made strong for Himself, the Man who is at the right hand of God. This indicates His pre-eminence, His first place. The right hand of God is the first and highest place in the entire universe, and God has put Christ there. God has given the pre-eminence of the whole universe to Christ. He must be in that position, but among the people of God He has not been exalted to that position. He has lost His pre-eminence; so the house of God has become desolate. Where is Christ in all the so-called Christian churches, in all the denominations? Christ has lost His pre-eminence; Christ is not in the first position; the people have put Christ aside. Hence, desolation has entered.
In these days we are so happy to speak well of the local churches. But remember, Christ must have the first place among us. If Christ does not have the pre-eminence, there can be no restoration of the house of God. Desolation has resulted from the loss of His proper position, and recovery will result from our rendering to Christ His due place. He is the Man who is made strong for God, and He is the Man at the right hand of God. We must give Him this position; we must recognize His pre-eminence in the whole universe. If so, we will see the house of God restored.
Suppose that two brothers of a local church in a certain city talk together in a critical way about the leading brothers of that church. Do you believe that they are giving the pre-eminence to Christ? Actually, they are putting themselves in the first place. They are exalting themselves, not Christ. In that place two horns will rise up on the head. When those brothers come together to speak about the situation of the church, instead of criticizing, they must say, “Lord, we give You the pre-eminence; we are under Your headship. We are nobody; You are the only One, Lord.”
(Christ and the Church Revealed and Typified in the Psalms, Chapter 13, by Witness Lee)