June 21, 2017


Psalm 80:1-11

You transplanted a vine from Egypt. . . . You cleared the ground for it, and it took root and filled the land.

—  Psalm 80:8-9

I love raspberry bushes and their sweet fruit. Before my parents moved out of their home, I dug up as many roots from my father’s garden as I could fit in the space I had carved out behind our new home. I transplanted and nurtured the roots until they became healthy plants. As I watched over these plants, they produced their pleasing fruit. The roots sent out shoots, and the patch grew.

Psalm 80 tells of a transplanted “vine from Egypt.” The Lord God transplanted this vine with tender, loving care. The Lord protected it with shade and walls, and “it took root and filled the land.” This vine is a picture of Israel, God’s people, flourishing.

I am a shoot from a transplant. My grandparents immigrated more than 100 years ago. For the first couple of generations my extended family remained planted in their faith and flourished. Over time, family ties and connections to the immigrant community loosened. In some ways this has been good. But connections with God and God’s people have weakened or been severed for some, and the family tree has weakened.

The words of our text in Psalm 80 are nestled in lament. Some­thing has gone wrong with the vine. God’s people are in anguish, struggling outside of his favor and needing to repent. Is that the case for us too?

Lord, thank you for bringing us to places and times of flourishing. Help us to be faithful, and call us to repentance when we wander. Hear and forgive us, O Lord. Amen.

About the author — Don Byker

Don Byker has been a pastor since 1984 in various churches and institutional settings. Don and his wife, Donna, are the parents of four adult children, two of whom are married. Donna and Don are also the glad grandparents of three granddaughters. Currently Don is serving in a rural church in Michigan full of gardeners.

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