Psalm 85 - Overcomer - Prayer for Revival of God's People

I think this is the most beautiful of all the psalms.

These are dark days, but you can bring on a spiritual summertime if you know how to pray. - Charles Spurgeon

Verses 1-3 recall the past.revivals
Verses 4-7 are prayer requests for revival
Verse 8 is listening to God
Verses 9-12 are the glorious and beautiful result of revival
Verse 13 prophesy of Christ's revival-enabling incarnation

The church's problems are:
- captivity v1
- sin vv 2-3
- suffering vv3-5

The church needs:
- life v6
- rejoicing in the Lord v6
- appreciative seeing of the Lord's mercy v7
- the Lord's speaking v8
- peace - v8, 10
- self-examination - v8
- fear of the Lord
- glory - v9
- mercy to others - v10
- truth - v10-11
- righteousness - v10-11, 13
- fruitfulness-  v12
- following the Lord's footsteps - v13
 
v1 -"turned Jacob's captivity" indicates that this psalm was written after the return from Babylon.

The first part of this prayer for revival of God's people is to recall the past. Lord, You've been favorable to Your land in the past, why not now? Did You bring Your people back from captivity for no purpose?
In the past You had John Wesley's preaching, the Welsh revival and Billy Graham's preaching. Why is there nothing today?

The church can fall into captivity of something other than Christ. Examples are teachings and leadership that are not allowed to be questioned. The church in Ephesus left her 1st love (Rev 2:4). The church in Laodicea was unable to receive constructive criticism (Rev 3:15-20).

Revival begins by Christians getting right first and then that spills over into the world. - Charles Spurgeon
 
v2 - This is to admit that God's people have sinned. But Lord, You bore our iniquity and covered all Your people's sin in the past. Why should our sin today stop You from reviving us as You did in the past?

This verse is followed by the only Selah in the psalm.  We need to reflect a lot on this matter that the Lord has borne and God covered our sins. It is easy to say that God does not bless His church because of our sins. We need to go further than that to pray for revival. We need verses 1-2 as a foundation for the rest of this psalm.

ref. Isa 53 etc; Ps 32:1; Pro 10:12 etc; Pro 28:13
 
v3 - The Lord's fury and fierce anger is eventually experienced by us as suffering that we cannot be joyful about. Many sufferings, such as Fanny Crosby's blindness, can be borne joyfully with the Lord's presence, and are not related to the Lord's anger at all. Others, such as losing our children or church members to the world and sin are sufferings that we cannot be joyful about.
Lord, You were furious with Your people in the past, but You got over it. Why not now, Lord?
 
v4 - lit. Cease from Your indignation with us
 "deliverance" could also be translated as "salvation" throughout (vv4, 7, 9). I chose "deliverance" because the psalm is talking about salvation from temporal suffering and fruitlessness rather than eternal salvation.

Verses 1-3 were not requests, but recounting the past. Now verses 4-7 are requests based on what God has done in the past.

The 1st request is for God to turn us so that He can be what He is, the God of our deliverance. "Turn us" acknowledges that we need a change of heart and thinking, but it does not say what that needed change might be. This request needs further development, which comes in verses 6-7.

The 2nd request is for God to cease from His indignation based on vv1-3. Today the church is suffering things such as rebellious children, divorce and Christians giving up the assembling of themselves together and partaking of the Lord's table together that may be due to God's indignation or displeasure with us.
 
v5 - This continues the 2nd request from the end of v4 more specifically. Lord, I can understand Your being angry but for how long? Hasn't this suffering been long enough? What would be the purpose of Your anger to last any longer?
 
v6 - I titled this psalm from the 1st part of this verse.
This is the 3rd request, and is a further development of the 1st request in v4 for God to turn us. Revive us again. Turn us from death to life, from indifference to care, from selfishness to selflessness, from coldness to love.
The result of this request is that Your people will rejoice in You. We cannot make ourselves or be stirred up by others to rejoice in the Lord. It comes from genuine revival. Once I am enjoying the Lord I want to keep that enjoyment and am conscious of when I have strayed off the path and lose enjoyment. It is easy to stray off the path and to justify it in my reasoning, but the joy does not go along.
 
v7 - This 4th request further develops the 1st request in v4 for God to turn us. Cause us to see Your mercy. This can happen in 2 ways: By us seeing the Lord's mercies in our current sufferings and by the Lord showing us new mercies. In order to see the Lord's new mercies, we need to see His current ones.The children of Israel suffering in the wilderness did not notice the miracle that their shoes and clothes did not wear out over 40 years (Deut 8:4;).

This 5th request for God to deliver us is built upon the 1st request for the God of our deliverance to turn us. The result of the God of our deliverance turning us should be that we are in position to be delivered from our suffering and barrenness.

In summary of vv 4-7, there are 5 requests:
1. turn us v4
2. cease from your indignation v4
3. revive us v6
4. cause us to see Your mercy v7
5. give us deliverance v7
 
v8 - lit. What will the LORD God speak?
lit. for He will speak peace to His people and to His saints

God's answer is peace corporately and individually. The suffering may not go away, but there is peace in it. You may not get what you want to happen, but you get peace, which is what you need.
God is speaking the same in the New Testament. For revival there needs to be peace among God's people and in our lives individually.

God speaks peace and also warns not to fall back into folly. We need to be aware of the mistakes we and the church have made so that we don't fall into them again.
 
v9 - lit. to them that fear Him
Speaking evil of other people lightly, especially of Christians, indicates that we do not fear the Lord.

The result of our deliverance should be glory in the church. This should be the result that we have in view for our prayer requests (Eph 3:21).
 
v10 - lit. mercy and truth met together
These verses describe what glory in the church is like.
Mercy, truth and righteousness are added to the peace in v8.
When Godís mercies are coming, their footfalls are our desires to pray. - Charles Spurgeon

Mercy and truth are met together', and if I can think of mercy only at the expense of truth and law, it is not true mercy, it is a false understanding of the term. - Martyn Lloyd-Jones
 
v11 - My favorite verse in this psalm.
The Lord wants to see truth in human beings. Honesty with mercy is what human beings long for also.  This will cause the church to attract people.
For truth to spring up from the earth, we have to live the truth (1John 3:18-19).
There is so little truth in the world. Political correctness supresses truthfulness in public.
Honesty is necessary to bear fruit to maturity (Luke 8:15). The Father is still seeking people who will worship Him in spirit and truthfulness (John 4:23-24).  
It is wrong to redefine "truth" as something apart from honesty and genuineness or authenticity. "Truth" without the defininite article always includes the meaning of honesty and authenticity.
"The truth" with the definite article means the truth of the Bible (1Tim 3:15). There are not "high truths" and comparatively "lower truths" in the Bible. "The truth" is always singular in the Bible. It is one unit as a whole.
 
v12 - lit. Also the LORD gives what's good.
I think the "also" as conjunction rather than the usual preceeding "and's", means "over and above" the previous, hence I added the words "to crown".

Our land yeilding it's increase is for the church to be fruitful.
This goes back to Your land in v1. The Lord's land is also our land. This would be a good ending to the psalm, but a further crowning word is given in the next verse. Without the next verse there is no way for verses 9-12 to become reality.
 
v13 - This is a prophecy that the Son of God would become a man making His footsteps on earth a pathway for us to follow.
This is what makes the blessings in vv9-12 possible.

-copyright Steve Miller 10/31/2014