Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Divine rehabilitation

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Psalm 80:1-19

TO CHEW ON:"...Revive us, and we will call upon Your name.
Restore us, O Lord God of hosts,
Cause Your face to shine
And we shall be saved." Psalm 80:18b,19

The psalm writer Asaph here expresses the misery of Israel away from God.
  • They feel that God has abandoned them (Psalm 80:2).
  • He seems angry and indifferent (Psalm 80:4).
  • There is lots of crying (Psalm 80:5).
  • They are the butt of their neighbours' and enemies' jokes (Psalm 80:6).
Then Asaph uses vine imagery. He describes how the hedges protecting the vine (Israel) are broken down so that passersby can help themselves to her. Wild animals trample, root out and devour her. She is eventually cut down and burned (Psalm 80: 12-13,16).

Does your heart resonate with Asaph's description of Israel's misery?
  • Does God seem absent ("Come and save us...")?
  • Angry ("How long will You be angry / against the prayer of Your people?")?
  • Are you grief-filled ("You have fed them with the bread of tears, / And given them tears to drink in great measure")?
  • Do you feel vulnerable ("You have broken down her hedges...")?
Such low times come to us for a variety of reasons. Sometimes we're in a Job-like spot—suffering for reasons only God knows. At others we're to blame. Like the prodigal son, we're experiencing the consequences of our own folly.

Whatever the reason we're in this spot, we can continue to pray along with Asaph to the climax of his prayer. We can present ourselves to God in repentance and submission as we petition Him to do His part in our rehabilitation, in whatever way we need it: physically, mentally, emotionally, and especially spiritually: "Let Your hand be upon the man of Your right hand .... Revive us .... Restore us..."

PRAYER: Dear God, when I am in distress because of something I have done, help me to find my way back to you. When I am in distress for reasons I don't understand, help me to trust Your wisdom. I can come back to You but I can't revive myself. I need You to revive and restore me. Amen

MORE: Heart plague

This psalm is cross-referenced in my Bible's footnotes to King Solomon's prayer at the dedication of the temple (1 Kings 8). There he petitions that his subjects will find God's help as they pray from that place—the temple— at various times:

- "When anyone sins against his neighbour..." (1 Kings 8:31).

- "When Your people Israel are defeated before an enemy..." (1 Kings 8:33).

- "When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain..." (1 Kings 8:35).

- "When there is famine in the land, pestilence or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers..." (1 Kings 8:37).

And then he slips in this little prayer so applicable to us today:
"When each one knows the plague of his own heart and spreads out his hands toward this temple, then hear in heaven, Your dwelling place, and forgive and act, and give to everyone according to all his ways whose heart you know (for You alone know the hearts of all the sons of men)" - 1 Kings 8:38-39.

Let's pray that God will lay the groundwork of revival and restoration in us by helping us recognize the plagues within our own hearts.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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