Psalm 85: Revival

Lord , you were favorable to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob. You forgave the iniquity of your people; you covered all their sin. Selah You withdrew all your wrath; you turned from your hot anger. Restore us again, O God of our salvation, and put away your indignation toward us! Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger to all generations? Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? Show us your steadfast love, O Lord , and grant us your salvation. Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly. Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land. Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs up from the ground, and righteousness looks down from the sky. Yes, the Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase. Righteousness will go before him and make his footsteps a way.

Psalms 85:1‭-‬13 ESV

It’s good to remember God’s goodness in times past. That fact spurs us on to pray for His goodness to be manifest in our lives in the present and into the future. If God forgave our past sins, we can confidently ask Him to forgive our sins that we’re still struggling with.

It might feel like God’s angry with us, and always will be. But we can cry out to Him to revive us so that we might rejoice in Him. We long to see His love and salvation.

God does have peace to give to those He’s set apart for Himself. But having been set apart for Him, we can’t go back to our old, sinful ways. We need to have a healthy respect for God and His righteousness, that our lands might be glorious in Him.

I love the description of love and faith meeting; of righteousness and peace kissing. They might seem incompatible, but in God they come together. It’s possible to be a person of faith and still to love the faithless. It’s possible to be righteous and still live at peace with the unrighteous.

God pours out His goodness upon us like rain. Our faith springs up in response like vegetation. The farmer doesn’t make the crops grow. The sun shines and the rain pours. The farmer plants, but God gives the increase ultimately.

God is the giver of good gifts. He can even bring good out of the bad stuff in our lives. He provides for our every need and provides the strength to endure every storm we face in life.

We follow in the footsteps of Jesus, the Righteous One, the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Him. All praise to His holy name!

“Righteous God, we praise You for Your goodness and faithfulness in times past. We pray that You would continue with us until the end of time and beyond. For Jesus’ sake, amen”

Psalm 84: Pilgrimage

How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord ; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Selah Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion. O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed! For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favour and honour. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!

Psalms 84:1‭-‬12 ESV

If we love Jesus, we long to gather with His people, and feel incomplete if we don’t. If for whatever reason we miss church, we should do whatever we can to get back there. If our hearts are set with our fellow pilgrims upon the heavenly city, we’re on the right track.

We might go through wilderness times in our lives, but if our hearts belong to Jesus, we will have the spiritual sustenance we need to keep us going. It’s not of ourselves however. It is the Lord who is our shield, who keeps us safe through life.

It’s better to spend a day with God and His people than to have a thousand days on a worldwide adventure. It’s better to be a welcomer to church than the richest businessman in the world. Money doesn’t bestow favour and honour- God does!

God doesn’t withhold good things from those who walk uprightly. This doesn’t necessarily mean He’ll give all His people private jets! It’s hard to walk uprightly when we’re lounging around in 1st class! But God does give us everything we need, if not everything we want!

“O Lord of the angel armies, thank You for being our God too and for calling us to Yourself, sustaining us on the way to Your heavenly home. In Jesus’ name, amen”

Psalm 83: Persecution

O God, do not keep silence; do not hold your peace or be still, O God! For behold, your enemies make an uproar; those who hate you have raised their heads. They lay crafty plans against your people; they consult together against your treasured ones. They say, “Come, let us wipe them out as a nation; let the name of Israel be remembered no more!” For they conspire with one accord; against you they make a covenant— the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, Moab and the Hagrites, Gebal and Ammon and Amalek, Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre; Asshur also has joined them; they are the strong arm of the children of Lot. Selah Do to them as you did to Midian, as to Sisera and Jabin at the river Kishon, who were destroyed at En-dor, who became dung for the ground. Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb, all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna, who said, “Let us take possession for ourselves of the pastures of God.” O my God, make them like whirling dust, like chaff before the wind. As fire consumes the forest, as the flame sets the mountains ablaze, so may you pursue them with your tempest and terrify them with your hurricane! Fill their faces with shame, that they may seek your name, O Lord . Let them be put to shame and dismayed forever; let them perish in disgrace, that they may know that you alone, whose name is the Lord , are the Most High over all the earth.

Psalms 83:1‭-‬18 ESV

Sometimes the silence of God seems deafening, drowned out by the clamour of His enemies who persecute His church to the death. If that’s how you feel, this Psalm is a good prayer to pray. If we feel overwhelmed by opposition, we are to cry out to God to deliver us.

If we feel like that, a great exercise is to remember what God has done in the past. Tyrants die; regimes topple; but the Lord shall reign forever and ever. He can snuff out our most powerful enemies in a moment. What is the Islamic State in comparison with the Kingdom of God? It’s nothing!

Here in the relatively peaceful West, maybe we find this prayer a little uncomfortable. Maybe we just want to love our enemies, and quite right too. But I can imagine Christians in places like northern Nigeria saying a hearty “amen” to this prayer, even as they pray for “Damascus Road conversions” for their persecutors!

“O our God, please vindicate us against our enemies we pray. Please sustain Your people in the midst of persecution, and grant justice against our oppressors. In Jesus’ name, amen”

Psalm 82: gods

God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment: “How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Selah Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. I said, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, like men you shall die, and fall like any prince.” Arise, O God, judge the earth; for you shall inherit all the nations!

Psalms 82:1‭-‬8 ESV

God delegates his powers. So insofar as people interpret God’s Word, they’re like little gods, passing judgement. Even secular authorities are put there by God to punish evildoers and to reward the righteous.

Sadly, many of the “gods” of this world are unjust and show partiality in their judgements. So in this Psalm, God judges the judges, He “outgods” the “gods”. He’s like a parent who lets his kid cook dinner but steps in when it goes wrong!

The Judge of all the earth wants the poor and needy to be favoured and the greedy, wicked oppressors to be cut down to size. The “gods” of this age are clueless. They will die and be judged like the rest of us, unless Christ returns first.

So many of the rich and powerful play God. They have Messiah complexes and think that everyone either does or should depend on them. In reality, the Lord Jesus is the only Saviour, through whom evildoers like us can be reconciled to a holy God.

“O One True God, all authority is from You and is answerable to You. May You uphold the oppressed and judge their oppressors, in Jesus’ name, amen”

Psalm 81: Listen

Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob! Raise a song; sound the tambourine, the sweet lyre with the harp. Blow the trumpet at the new moon, at the full moon, on our feast day. For it is a statute for Israel, a rule of the God of Jacob. He made it a decree in Joseph when he went out over the land of Egypt. I hear a language I had not known: “I relieved your shoulder of the burden; your hands were freed from the basket. In distress you called, and I delivered you; I answered you in the secret place of thunder; I tested you at the waters of Meribah. Selah Hear, O my people, while I admonish you! O Israel, if you would but listen to me! There shall be no strange god among you; you shall not bow down to a foreign god. I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it. “But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels. Oh, that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways! I would soon subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes. Those who hate the Lord would cringe toward him, and their fate would last forever. But he would feed you with the finest of the wheat, and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”

Psalms 81:1‭-‬16 ESV

We should be at least as enthusiastic about God our strength as we are about our favourite sports teams! Our worship of Him should involve singing, shouting, and music. God’s delivered us from slavery to sin, so His command to wholeheartedly worship Him should be wholeheartedly obeyed.

God answers prayer, He delivers us from slavery to sin. Our favourite sports teams can’t do that! He should be the only One we worship.

The way of obedience is the best way for us. As Christians, we acknowledge our disobedience and our need to trust in Christ. But it still remains true that to live life to the full involves loving God wholeheartedly, and loving others as we love ourselves.

As Christians, we’re just as stubborn and disobedient of God as ancient Israel. But thankfully Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. He’s just as merciful and gracious as He’s always been.

“O God our Lord, we ask Your forgiveness for our disobedience and stubbornness. Please help us to wholeheartedly worship You. For the honour of Your name, amen”

Psalm 80: Restoration

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!

Psalms 80:1‭-‬19 ESV

We want God to hear us, to lead and to shine upon us. We long for His restoration to full and complete communion with Him, as we were created for. We want God to save us, if we know what’s good for us.

Often it seems like God’s angry with us, that He feeds us tears for our food. We might feel like objects of scorn to our enemies. We need restoration, the sunshine of God’s favour and salvation.

We can appeal to what God has done for us in the past. Jesus is the vine, we are the branches, Father God is the gardener. We might feel like we need some tender loving care!

We want those who would harm the vineyard of God’s people to get their comeuppance. As for us, we desire restoration. We call upon the Lord to have regard for us and to save us.

“O Lord, please regard us and restore us, for the sake of Your name. To the praise of Your glory, amen”

Psalm 79: Revenge

O God, the nations have come into your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple; they have laid Jerusalem in ruins. They have given the bodies of your servants to the birds of the heavens for food, the flesh of your faithful to the beasts of the earth. They have poured out their blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there was no one to bury them. We have become a taunt to our neighbors, mocked and derided by those around us. How long, O Lord ? Will you be angry forever? Will your jealousy burn like fire? Pour out your anger on the nations that do not know you, and on the kingdoms that do not call upon your name! For they have devoured Jacob and laid waste his habitation. Do not remember against us our former iniquities; let your compassion come speedily to meet us, for we are brought very low. Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins, for your name’s sake! Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” Let the avenging of the outpoured blood of your servants be known among the nations before our eyes! Let the groans of the prisoners come before you; according to your great power, preserve those doomed to die! Return sevenfold into the lap of our neighbors the taunts with which they have taunted you, O Lord! But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.

Psalms 79:1‭-‬13 ESV

When God’s people are trampled upon, we are made a mockery of. When we rebel against God, He gets angry with us and allows persecution. But those persecuting us are often even worse than us ourselves!

So although Jesus said we’re blessed when we’re persecuted, it’s okay to pray for deliverance from persecution. We want a bit of justice. We might not deserve freedom from persecution, but our persecutors themselves deserve God’s judgement.

We long for God to forget the stain of our sins. We long for Him to have compassion upon us. We need His help and deliverance.

We need God to atone for our sins, to cover them in Christ’s blood. It’s not for our sake that we want this so much as for God’s name sake. We want all eyes to see God’s salvation of His people.

We’re not to take revenge, because our vengeance is never proportionate. But the justice of God’s vengeance is perfect, so we can cry out to Him to avenge us of the injustices we suffer. Ultimately He will, on the day of judgement.

But we the people of God, the sheep of His pasture, are forever thankful to Him for gathering us into His flock. Once we were straying into a lost eternity. But now we’re eternally safe in Him.

“Good shepherd, we’re eternally grateful for Your salvation. Please vindicate us against our persecutors, and bless us in the midst of persecution we pray, in Jesus’ name, amen”