"Restore us again, O God of our salvation...Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you." Psalm 85:4-6
My Missional Community has recently begun praying for revival, starting in our own hearts and sweeping as far as the Holy Spirit wills to spread His restoration and revival. Psalm 85 is a prayer by the sons of Korah with the same request.
We don't know the historical setting of this psalm, but many have suggested the period after the Israelites returned from captivity in Babylon. This prayer is fitting for their circumstances. The people had returned home with great anticipation and expectation. The temple, destroyed by the Babylonians, was rebuilt but it was not comparable to Solomon's with little else being accomplished. Nehemiah 1:3 (NLT) describes the situation like this, "Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire."
As is proper for any prayer, Psalm 85 begins with acknowledgment and thankfulness for what God has done for the people. The LORD has blessed the promised land by restoring the fortunes of the Israelites. He has forgiven their iniquity by covering all their sins. God has also turned from His anger and withdrawn all His wrath. Notice "all their sin" and "all your wrath" in verses two and three. Covering all sin is atonement and withdrawing all wrath is propitiation, exactly what Jesus accomplished for man and toward the Father on the cross. For believers, a grateful remembrance of what Jesus finished on the cross must include both.
Have you ever or do you now feel the need for your walk with Jesus to be restored and revived? John Wesley expressed that attitude as "Where is the joy I knew when I first saw the LORD?" Is your desire "Show us your steadfast love, O LORD, and grant us your salvation!" That is the request of the psalmist, O God of our salvation restore and revive us so that we may rejoice in you.
In verse 8, the psalmist describes the actions he will take following this request of God. First, he will wait to hear from the LORD, who speaks peace to his people. He is also determined not to be a fool again. Deuteronomy 29:18-19 (NLT) may well address that foolishness, "I am making this covenant with you so that no one...who hears the warnings of this curse should not congratulate themselves, thinking, 'I am safe, even though I am following the desires of my own stubborn heart.'" That is the definition of foolishness. The word "safe" in Hebrew is shalom, which means peace. The psalmist knows it is impossible for the LORD to speak peace to someone with a stubborn heart.
In verses 10-13, notice the repetition of the word righteousness. Without righteousness peace with God is impossible. Ephesians 2:13-14 describes how disciples of Jesus have both righteousness and peace: "In Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace."
If it is your desire for the LORD your God to restore and revive you to your first love for Him, Psalm 85:10-11 is a great place to start. At the cross of Jesus Christ, all the attributes of a good and wise God meet. His steadfast love, faithfulness, righteousness, and peace are displayed in Jesus as He gave His life for yours. What would be your response? Verse eleven says faithfulness springs from the earth (from you) as the righteousness of God looks approvingly from heaven.
Our LORD and God, please restore and revive our first love for You. Forgive us for foolishly walking with a stubborn heart, acting as if that was okay with You. Teach us to pursue the righteousness Jesus provided with a passion. Jesus, You are our peace and righteousness. Holy Spirit, please apply this prayer to my heart. I want to rejoice in the God of my salvation.