DUNCAN/Revive us again

DUNCAN/Revive us again


If you have your Bibles, I’d invite you to turn with me to Psalm 85. This Psalm seeks to answer the question: What does a Christian do when he or she feels the judgment of God visit? What do we do in the circumstances of our life when we’ve known the forgiveness of God, we’ve known the blessing of God, and then we’ve come into a valley and we’re confused in that valley? How do we respond? This Psalm is telling us what to do and it marks three stages of response.

First, I want you to notice in verses 1 – 3, they remember. Secondly, in verses 4 – 7, they resort. And then, finally, in verses 8 – 13, they resolve. 

I. Remember 

In verses 1 – 3, notice how the psalmist states that he is remembering the greatness of God’s saving favor and forgiveness to them in bringing them out of the exile: “O Lord, You showed favor to Your land; You restored the captivity of Jacob.” He’s looking back and he is remembering what the Lord had done in bringing them out of captivity, and he is actively, deliberately, remembering the favor that God has shown upon him.

Now, remembering is a very important thing, and I want to say that remembering here is not just like, “Oh, I remember that phone call that I need to make.” No, this is remembering of a higher order. This is remembrance that anchors the believer in the reality of what God has done, and in this case, there is a remembrance of how God restored the children of Israel from exile.

And you see the gladness in the heart of this Old Testament believer as he remembers what God has done, because sin is serious, and that exile was deserved; and yet, God in His mercy has taken that sin away, has forgiven them, has restored them to the land. The believer, the Christian, looks back in the same way to the finished work of Jesus Christ and rejoices that God has done this. And it means that we live in a deep, real gratitude for an undeserved rescue.

It also means that we are always going to take our sin and God’s salvation seriously. The believer looks back upon the work of Jesus Christ and he takes his sin seriously because he sees the Son of God on the cross, and he says, “He had to die for my sins to be forgiven? How great my sins must be! How great must the Father’s love be! How great must the Son’s love be!” The believer never stops rejoicing in the greatness of that redemption from sin. He never gets tired of hearing the gospel. It’s the starting point of everything. And you see, this Psalm is pointing us to that. And so the psalmist says take sin seriously, and rejoices in redemption. It starts with remembering this redemption, this great saving forgiveness of God.

II. Resort 

And then, secondly, notice in verses 4 – 7 how the psalmist resorts to God. Where does he go? He’s part of the people who have been brought out of the exile, but now he feels the punishment of God because of the unfaithfulness of God’s people. God’s wrath is being visited. What does he do? He resorts to God as the only hope of salvation. He takes refuge in God’s character and actions. In this passage, we see what God is going to do to remedy these circumstances. Notice verse 4: “Restore us…” then verse 6: “Revive us…” then verse 7: “Show us Your lovingkindness.” In other words, the psalmist is pointing us to God and God alone, because of His character and His promises. He is saying, “Take refuge in God in this time of indignation and punishment. Run to God for your refuge. Resort to God as the only hope of salvation. Look to God alone because of who He is.” 

One of the commentators on this passage reminds us that this Psalm makes it clear that what God delights in is this glorious creative work where He brings blessing out of cursing, where He showers forgiveness where it’s not deserved, where He brings restoration where there’s been fracture. That’s what God delights in. That’s the center of His heart. And God, from His heart, has made promises to His people. You see how the language itself goes back to Abraham? “Will You prolong Your anger to all generations?” It goes back to Abraham, back to Moses. Remember how God is spoken of in the days of Abraham and Moses? “You are the Lord. You will not visit Your wrath and indignation forever, but You will shower Your grace and favor on our children to a thousand generations.”

That’s God. That’s who He is. That’s the promise He’s made, and the psalmist resorts to this God as the only hope of salvation. Notice that the psalmist doesn’t resort to his own goodness. He doesn’t resort to his own promise, “I’ll do better.” He doesn’t resort to some technique…if you only do this…if you take your faith up to a higher notch. No, everything’s on God. He resorts to God. And so he remembers the greatness of God’s forgiveness, and he resorts to God as the only hope of salvation. He looks to God alone.

III. Resolve 

Don’t you love what he says in verses 8 – 13? “I will hear what God the Lord will say; For He will speak peace to His people.” Bumper sticker theology almost always gets it wrong, but there is one bumper sticker that I’ve seen that absolutely gets it right— it says “No Jesus? No peace.” In other words, if you don’t know Jesus, you can’t have the peace of God. And then right under it, what does it say? “Know Jesus? Know Peace.” In other words, if you know Jesus, you know the peace of God. And that bumper sticker gets it exactly right. In fact, it could be a commentary on this passage! And the psalmist is saying, “I’m standing to wait because I have as a sinner cast myself on the mercy of God, and I know that He will speak His benediction on His people.” Because when you know Jesus, you know peace.

Samuel Rutherford, the great Scottish minister and theologian, went through times where he felt the wrath and indignation of God so much that it almost undid him. And he said of that one time, “I hang by a thread, but it is of Christ’s spinning.” In other words, that thread that I’m hanging by was spun by Christ. And that’s all he needs. And this psalmist says, “Lord, we’re under Your condemnation. We’re under Your just condemnation, but I’ve resorted to You and now I’m just going to wait until Your blessing comes, because that’s the kind of God you are: a God that delights to forgive people that don’t deserve it.”

Powered by Creative Circle Media Solutions