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Bible: What Does Psalms 79-85 Teach Us About Repentance, Restoration, and Revival?
Psams 79-85: God's People Need Repentance, Restoration, and Revival
Asaph laments the Gentile destruction of Jerusalem and its people (vv. 1-4), and calls upon Yahweh to judge these pagan nations for their cruel deeds (vv. 5-7).
In order to counteract the enemy’s taunting cry— “Where is their God?”—he also pleads for the LORD to deliver them and provide atonement for His sake (vv. 8-10).
If the LORD should preserve Israelite prisoners and punish Gentile enemies, Asaph vows that God's people will render thanks and praise to Him (vv. 11-13).
[Recognizing the unworthiness of His people, Asaph makes it plain that God should deliver His people to preserve the integrity of His reputation].
Christ Saves His Sheep
Painting glowing word descriptions of God’s majestic shekinah, Asaph calls upon the LORD, Israel’s shepherd and the One who dwells “between the cherubim,” to shine forth and to save the faithful tribes of Israel (vv. 1-3).
The refrains in vv. 3, 7 and 19 pointedly indicate that God must take the initiative if any man should be saved.
The poet laments the divine chastening that Israel has had to endure (vv. 4-6).
Using the figure of the vine to symbolize the nation, he briefly reviews the history of God's gracious dealing with the people—how He both saved and prospered Israel in the land (vv. 8-11).
Now he complains about its destruction (vv. 12-13), and beseeches Him to visit His vineyard with revival (vv. 14-18).
[As a godly example, Asaph looked to Yahweh as the right source of salvation, restoration and revival].
Asaph issues a command for the people to praise God with musical instruments on their solemn feast days (vv. 1-5).
Having both delivered Israel from Egypt and tested them in the wilderness, the LORD appeals to them to listen to His instruction (vv. 6-7).
After a short rehearsal of the first "word," God invites them to let Him feed them with “satisfying food” (vv. 8-10).
One can read sorrow in the LORD's decision to allow Israel to go their own way (vv. 11-12; cf. Rom. 1: 24), as well as His intense longing for their obedience, for He desires to work on their behalf (vv. 13-16).
[God truly wanted to restore and greatly bless Israel, yet He allowed their stubborn ways to thwart His intentions].
Is Repentance Necessary for Salvation?
Asaph informs Israel's judges, whom he designates “gods,” that God will judge them for their injustices, and especially for those mistreatments which they forced upon the poor (vv. 1-4).
These men, who stood in God's place among the people, are spiritually ignorant and blind, and will die in dishonor (vv. 5-7).
[Jesus rebuked the leaders in Israel who accused Him of blasphemy by quoting verse six to them (see John 10:34).
He contended that His works spoke clearly of His relationship to the Father, and that they should not, therefore, oppose Him for identifying Himself with God].
Asaph prays that God would finally take action and destroy the enemies who have conspired against the nation (“Your sheltered ones”) and against Him (vv. 1-4).
He lists many of Israel's ancient and current foes (vv. 5-8)—Edom, Ishmaelites, Moab, Hagrites, Gebal, Ammon, Amalek, Philistia, Tyre, Assyria—, and also those who had fallen during the period of the Judges (vv. 9-12).
The psalmist desires their demise—notice the figurative language Asaph uses to describe the defeated enemy: they become “like the whirling dust,” and “like the chaff” (v. 13), and to depict the LORD’s destructive power: “fire,” “flame,” “tempest,” “storm”—so that they might acknowledge Yahweh as the universal sovereign (vv. 13-18).
[Those who seek the downfall of God's elect will have the LORD to answer to at the end].
Emphasizing the blessedness of the one who dwells in God's lovely dwelling places, the one whose strength is in the LORD and who trusts in Him, the psalmist(s)—the sons of Korah—express(es) his/their intense longing to be with the LORD (vv. 4, 5, 12).
Verses 10-11 show that he/they valued his/their relationship to God far above all things; he/they did not fear wanting anything.
[The psalmists regarded both the acquisition and continual maintenance of a spiritual, eternal perspective toward life as supreme values for them].
After acknowledging God's past favor toward Israel and her land (forgiveness, atonement, and the propitiation of His wrath) [vv. 1-3], the psalmist returns to the present situation in which God's anger against the nation persists, and asks that He again restore His people (vv. 4-7).
He assures himself that the LORD will, in fact, perform this mercy, and righteousness and peace will once again reign in the land (vv. 8-13).
[The psalmist trusts in the character of his God; he is certain that He will again speak peace to His people].
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