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!

O Lord God of hosts,
    how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?
You have fed them with the bread of tears
    and given them tears to drink in full measure.
You make us an object of contention for our neighbors,
    and our enemies laugh among themselves.

Restore us, O God of hosts;
    let your face shine, that we may be saved!

You brought a vine out of Egypt;
    you drove out the nations and planted it.
You cleared the ground for it;
    it took deep root and filled the land.
The mountains were covered with its shade,
    the mighty cedars with its branches.
It sent out its branches to the sea
    and its shoots to the River.
Why then have you broken down its walls,
    so that all who pass along the way pluck its fruit?
The boar from the forest ravages it,
    and all that move in the field feed on it.

Turn again, O God of hosts!
    Look down from heaven, and see;
have regard for this vine,
    the stock that your right hand planted,
    and for the son whom you made strong for yourself.
They have burned it with fire; they have cut it down;
    may they perish at the rebuke of your face!
But let your hand be on the man of your right hand,
    the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself!
Then we shall not turn back from you;
    give us life, and we will call upon your name!

Restore us, O Lord God of hosts!
    Let your face shine, that we may be saved!

This Psalm is marked by gloom and despair. The references to Joseph, Ephraim, Manasseh and Benjamin indicate that this Psalm belongs to the  period when Judah witnessed the destruction of her northern neighbor Israel at the hands of the Assyrians. Darkness had enveloped the land of the people of God. Israel, a nation that had its roots in the Kingdom of God had been uprooted and destroyed by His enemies and its people scattered. Yet the Lord still reigned in His holy tabernacle even though it appeared to the people of Judah that His will had been thwarted. The Psalmist pleaded with the Lord to shine His glory once again to dispel the sadness of the people of Judah.

This Psalm speak to our hearts today. Nationally and globally we in the 21st Century seem to be in a state of gloom and increasing darkness, the darkness of sin. All around us the world is filled with turmoil and terror. Innocent people are oppressed and slaughtered. Wickedness is tolerated, promoted and legalized. The wicked seem to get away with and sinful ways and all this is promoted by the leaders in our government and the media. The wicked are  not stopped by the Lord, they actually seem to prosper. Christians are assaulted and persecuted even in our land. The government protects the civil rights of sinners while the righteous who voice a different opinion are accused of bias and discrimination. 

Like the Psalmist we cry out for the glory of the Lord to shine. Yet at advent we are reminded that, although it seems as evil has the upper hand, God is still in control. We Christians must stand boldly for the truth of God’s word against the philosophies of the world for when the Lord returns the wicked will be separated from God for all eternity.