Revive Us Again – Psalm 85

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I began preaching in Alabama and Tennessee. The landscape was dotted with memorials to past revivals. The hills told dramatic stories of thousands turning to the Lord. The pastures remembered evangelistic sermons delivered by men illuminated by lanterns. Rivers diverted their flow to create pools for mass baptisms. Church buildings spoke of being built by the hands of those who worshipped in them.

I listened to the stories and dreamed of it happening again!

An even more intense reaction happens when I read of the spiritual revivals that took place at Jerusalem’s Water Gate (Neh. 8), Mount Carmel’s peak (1 Kings 18), Antioch’s streets (Acts 11:19-26), and on Pentecost’s morning (Acts 2). Biblical history teems with examples of spiritual renewal.

I listen, dream, and pray, “God do it again!”

Pulling the revivals of the past into the present is the desire of the Sons of Korah in Psalm 85. Like us, their golden age of spiritual life is not reported in the daily news, but in their history books. But they will not give in to despair! They will not settle for dusting the house of God while their world crumbles. No! They cry out, “Revive us again!” (Ps. 85:4,6). Let us tune our hearts to join their song.

After all, history is full of examples of people turning to the Lord who has turned to them.

1 Lord, you were favorable to your land;
 you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
2 You forgave the iniquity of your people;
you covered all their sin. (Psalm 85:1–2)

The Sons of Korah found themselves in spiritual barrenness. They just returned from Babylonian captivity. Life was hard. Faith was week. But this is no barrier to God. By his sacrificial grace and the power of his word he causes life to spring out of death. Look, it is there in history. Look, it is there in your history! God turned from his just wrath to abundant grace (Ps. 85:3).

At this point the history lesson becomes a prayer. The Sons of Korah plead,

4 Restore us again, O God our Savior,
and put away your displeasure toward us.

6 Will you not revive us again,
that your people may rejoice in you? (Psalm 85:4,6)

Will you stop and pray such a prayer? Your family needs it. Your church needs it. Your nation needs it. Even your own dry faith needs to cry out, “O God, our Savior turn us back to you, until we find our highest joy in you!”

When you pray to a God of such amazing grace you can lift your eyes to a hopeful future.

8 I will listen to what God the Lord will say;
he promises peace to his people, his saints—
but let them not return to folly.
9 Surely his salvation is near those who fear him,
that his glory may dwell in our land. (Psalm 85:8–9)

The future must be different from the past, or the same spiritual rot will devour our life again. So, we must make a fresh commitment to listen to our Lord with reverent fear, to ruthlessly turn from sinful and foolish desires, and live each day to display God’s glory. There it is! It is your mission statement for spiritual revival! Because revival is more than a prayer; it must be your passion.

Are we really happy to settle for the chaos and conflict within us and around us? May we shout, “No!” God made us for something better.

He made us to live in fruitfulness and peace. Therefore, Psalm 85 closes with the harmonious pictures of the Garden of Eden (Ps. 85:10-13). God, humanity, and creation coexist in beautiful unity. Love and faithfulness meet as long-lost friends. Righteousness and peace share the warm kiss of fellowship. Heaven and earth embrace.

Friends, that is a future worth living for. Do not settle for the way things are. Cry out, “Revive us again, O God!” and turn to him who has turned to you.

Tim Jennings

“Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Cor. 16:14).

Extra Bits:

Outline of Psalm 85

Past Experience of Restoration (:1-4)
Present Need for Restoration (:5-7)
Present Decisions for Restoration (:8-9)
Future Experience of Restoration (:10-13)

When you read a Psalm, it is often helpful to ask, “What Time Is It?”  Many Psalms will shift from the past, present and future in an orderly fashion. There is a lesson in this progression. God asks us to trust Him in the future, based on his faithfulness in the past, and this gives us confidence in the present.  Or, to put it another way, the past shows us a powerful God; the present a personal God; therefore, we can trust the future to Him.

A Turn for the Better!

The concept of “turning” binds the Psalm together. First, God graciously turns from his righteous judgment. Secondly, God returns life to His people. Thirdly, God’s people must not turn again to folly.

God returned the fortunes of Jacob (:1)
By turning from his righteous wrath (:3)

So, God is asked to turn His people back to himself (:4)
To return their spiritual life (:6)

The people must not return to folly (:8)

Q: In the gospel how does God turn from his righteous judgement? (Rom. 5:9; 1 John 4:10)
Q: In the gospel how does God give life to his people? (John 8:12; Rom. 6:3-4, 23)
Q: In the gospel how are forgiven people to live? (1 Peter 1:13-21; Rom. 6:11)

A Word Exercise

Underline the words for “anger” and “wrath” etc. in Psalm 85.

Underline the words for “peace” “love” “faithfulness” etc. in Psalm 85.

Q: What observations can you make by where the words are found in the Psalm?

Something to Put into Practice

Psalm 85:8-9 present a mission statement for spiritual revival. Four decisions must be made for revival to occur.

A Fresh Hunger for God’s Word“I will listen to what God the Lord will say” (:8)

A New Reverence for God“Surely his salvation is near those who fear him.” (:9)

A Comprehensive Pursuit of Holiness“Let them not return to folly” (:8)

A Goal to Live for God’s Glory“that his glory may dwell in our land” (:9)

List practical ways to make these decisions in your life!


Sing the Psalm

Revive Us Again

William P. Mackay

We praise Thee, O God!
For the Son of Thy love,
For Jesus who died,
And is now gone above.

We praise Thee, O God!
For Thy Spirit of light,
Who has shown us our Savior,
And scattered our night.

All glory and praise
To the Lamb that was slain,
Who has borne all our sins,
And has cleansed every stain.

All glory and praise
To the God of all grace,
Who has brought us, and sought us,
And guided our ways.

Revive us again;
Fill each heart with Thy love;
May each soul be rekindled
With fire from above.

Hallelujah! Thine the glory.
Hallelujah! Amen.
Hallelujah! Thine the glory.
Revive us again.