Friday, January 27, 2006

Psalm 85: Revive Us Again

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.

1 You, LORD, showed favor to your land;
you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
2 You forgave the iniquity of your people
and covered all their sins.
3 You set aside all your wrath
and turned from your fierce anger.

4 Restore us again, God our Savior,
and put away your displeasure toward us.
5 Will you be angry with us forever?
Will you prolong your anger through all generations?
6 Will you not revive us again,
that your people may rejoice in you?
7 Show us your unfailing love, LORD,
and grant us your salvation.

8 I will listen to what God the LORD says;
he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants—
but let them not turn to folly.
9 Surely his salvation is near those who fear him,
that his glory may dwell in our land.

10 Love and faithfulness meet together;
righteousness and peace kiss each other.
11 Faithfulness springs forth from the earth,
and righteousness looks down from heaven.
12 The LORD will indeed give what is good,
and our land will yield its harvest.
13 Righteousness goes before him
and prepares the way for his steps.


This is "a communal prayer for the renewal of God's mercies to his people at a time when they are once more suffering distress....The psalm has two main divisions of seven (Hebrew) lines each: (1) the prayer (vv. 1-7); (2) a reassuring word (vv. 8-13)...vv. 4-7 voice the prayer, and vv. 10-13 offer the blessed reassurance that the prayer will be heard." (The NIV Study Bible)

Verses 1-3 recount YHWH's great favor towards Israel in forgiving their sins and removing his wrath from them. The psalmist then appeals to God in prayer that he would do the same now (vv 4-7).

Verse 6 is perhaps the heart of this prayer: "Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?" (see Marvin E. Tate, Word Biblical Commentary: Psalms 51-100, pp 372, 373)

In verses 8 and 9 the psalmist listens for and receives God's answer. It is affirmative for "his people, his faithful servants...those who fear him". It is stated in conditional terms and not to be taken for granted ("but let them not turn to folly"). The answer is "peace" (shalom), salvation and God's "glory" dwelling "in our land."

Verses 10-13 are the finale of God's answer to prayer. Love and faithfulness, righteousness and peace (shalom) come together in this blessing. They are blessed in the land. "Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps." Righteousness in the Old Testament refers to God's acts of salvation and judgment in delivering his people, as well as his judgments. (Tate, p 372)

Over and over again we find the need for revival. We are those who are in process, and part of our growth is an increasing awareness of and sensitivity to sin in our lives. But this is good. Then we can confess the sin to God and see his forgiveness and cleansing and blessing. We are also often aware of the deadness, or dead parts that we find in our lives. And paradoxically these can be times of the greatest blessing, as we pursue God and his reviving and transforming work in our hearts and lives.

Father, Bless us in your Son. That we may be a blessing. Amen.

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