Asaph writes both of these psalms, which include laments, a dirge, and prayers for Israel as it is besieged and destroyed by its enemies. In Psalm 79, he laments the destruction of the temple and the city of Jerusalem, and the dead bodies of the Jews. He goes on to ask the Lord how long He will be angry. He then proceeds to ask God to forgive and forget their former iniquities and give them mercy. He couches it in a plea to preserve His own name among the nations by avenging the blood of His people. He sums up his thoughts with this:
13 So we, Your people and sheep of Your pasture,
Will give You thanks forever;
We will show forth Your praise to all generations.
Psalm 80 is a prayer for Israel’s restoration. Asaph asks God to restore Israel, cause His face to shine so that Israel might be saved. Three times during this psalm he repeats this request. He again in this psalm asks how long God will be angry with His people. He then describes Israel in terms of a vine brought out of Egypt which was planted in Canaan, and took deep root. The writer asks why its hedges had been broken down and its fruit plucked. The wild boar uproots it and the wild beast of the field devours it. He asks that God would return, view this vine He planted, and restore it. Asaph then pledges that it God will restore, that Israel will respond:
17 Let Your hand be upon the man of Your right hand,
Upon the son of man whom You made strong for Yourself.
18 Then we will not turn back from You;
Revive us, and we will call upon Your name.
Two things seem to be important in this pair of psalms. First, when we disobey God, blessings are removed. Whether it be that walking outside of God’s covering takes us to a place where the blessings do not exist, or whether it is a punishment for disobedience, they simply do not follow us outside the will of God. Secondly, when we find ourselves in those situations, the only solution is repentance and prayer. We cannot just fight through it, will through it, or wait it out. We must repent and return to God’s will to see the blessings restored. It is similar to expecting groceries in your house when you do not walk into the grocery store (literal or online). The groceries will not magically appear if you spend all your time at a crack house. To have groceries, you need to spend time at the grocery store. It is the same with food for the spirit. You cannot expect His blessings if you never spend time with Him. Repent and return from your wicked ways and the Lord’s blessings will be poured out along the path of His will!