Psalm 80 is a reminder that while God’s people may at times seem like a city protected by an impenetrable dome that is the Lord’s presence – as in Psalm 76, it does not always seem that way. It certainly does not seem that way to the writer here – which is strange because both psalms were written by the same author!
At first we may be tempted to attribute the calamity of Psalm 80 to a judgment for sin, but notice that sin is not mentioned, nor is there a request for forgiveness.
I’m willing to believe that Israel’s suffering may be attributable to their sins, but I’ve lived long enough to know that not all misfortune is due to the hand of God. Sometimes, bad things just happen and one is left at a loss as to an explanation. In ancient Israel, it was always perceived as God’s fault (or at least His doing).
I choose to believe that a comparison of Psalms 76 and 80 show the uncertainty of life. Good days are often followed by equally bad days (or worse). Not matter what, Asaph teaches us to live our days in full acknowledgment of God. When they are good, we bring Him praise. When they are bad, we seek His deliverance.
It is a difficult lesson to put into practice. Perhaps that is why the writer is so urgent. In bad times, the temptation is strong to turn from God and Asaph knows it. He calls on God to rescue them before apostasy sets in that ultimately, they might be saved.