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  • Writer's picturePastor Mike

August 17 2023

Today, Thursday August 17

Thankful and Prayerful

Psalm 85:1-7

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the sons of Korah.

“Lord, You have been favorable to Your land; You have brought back the captivity of Jacob. You have forgiven the iniquity of Your people; You have covered all their sin. Selah

You have taken away all Your wrath; You have turned from the fierceness of Your anger. Restore us, O God of our salvation, And cause Your anger toward us to cease. 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 mercy, LORD, And grant us Your salvation.”

We believe Psalm 85 was written by one of the sons of Korah after the captivity of Israel in Babylon. It should have been no surprise to the people of Judah that the Babylonians would invade their land, destroy their city and temple, and take them captive. After all, they knew the terms of the covenant that you find very clearly spelled out in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28-30. It was a “conditional” covenant that started with an “if”.

“'If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, and perform them, then I will give you rain in its season, the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.” (Leviticus 26:3-4).

First God promised in this covenant to bless them if they obey. But He also warned them if they disobeyed, He would punish them. “But if you do not obey Me, and do not observe all these commandments, and if you despise My statutes, or if your soul abhors My judgments, so that you do not perform all My commandments, but break My covenant, I also will do this to you: I will even appoint terror over you, wasting disease and fever which shall consume the eyes and cause sorrow of heart. And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. I will set My face against you, and you shall be defeated by your enemies. Those who hate you shall reign over you, and you shall flee when no one pursues you. 'And after all this, if you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. I will break the pride of your power; I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze” (Leviticus 26:14-19).

I feel like this is exactly what the Lord is doing to America today! Terror and disease were the first two indications of God’s chastening hand against a nation! Time after time, the Lord had sent His prophets to warn them, but they would not listen (2 Chron. 36:15-21). Jeremiah had told the people that their captivity would last seventy years and then the Lord would restore a remnant to the land (Jer. 29). God protected the people as they made the long journey home. He forgave their sins and gave them a new beginning, and for this they thanked the Lord (Isa. 40:1-2). When we turn back to God, repent, and confess our sins, He turns back to us and restores us. And we should be thankful!

Then in verses 4-7, the psalmist asks the Lord for renewed Life. It is one thing for the nation collectively to have a new birth of freedom, but there must also be changes in individuals. The praise that began in verses 1-3, possibly by a choir, now becomes a prayer from the hearts of the people. Notice that the word “us” is used six times in this passage, for it is the people who are praying, not the choir or worship leader. "Turn (restore) us" is the burden of their prayer. It has well been said that a change in geography will never overcome a flaw in character. The return of the people to the land was no guarantee that all of them had returned to the Lord.

Not only were they concerned that God's chastening would end in their own lives, but they did not want it to be passed on to their children and grandchildren. The word "revive" simply means "to live again, to be renewed in life." Establishing the nation, rebuilding the temple, and restoring the liturgy would not guarantee God's blessing on His people. They desperately needed His life at work within them. While in Babylon, maybe they had heard or read Ezekiel's message about the dry bones (Ezek. 37), and now they longed for the wind of the Spirit to blow upon their own lives and homes. New life is not something that we manufacture ourselves; new life can come only from the Holy Spirit of God. God gave a special message about this to Haggai (Hag. 2:1-9), and also to Zechariah (Zech. 4:6).

Today, this is a prayer we should be praying for ourselves and for our nation! We should be both thankful and prayerful!

God bless!

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