The Need for Revival (5)
Help us, O God of our salvation,
For the glory of Your name;
And deliver us, and provide atonement for our sins,
For Your name’s sake!
Why should the nations say,
“Where is their God?” Psalm 79.9, 10
Desolation and reproach
The psalms of Asaph seem to go from bad to worse. But they’re only reflecting his view of the spiritual state of the nation in his day, and Asaph’s increasing sense of urgency for God to revive and renew His people. Israel in Asaph’s day seemed to be doing just fine, thank you. The nation was at peace, prosperity abounded, and everyone seemed to be having a good time.
But Asaph, as a prophet of God, was looking below the surface of things to the soul of the nation. He saw in his own soul, in the compromises made by King Solomon, and in the flaunting of riches and pleasures by the people of Jerusalem, a separation from God that was growing (cf. Pss. 73, 50; 1 Kings 11.1-11). While the people regarded themselves as full and living the good life, God saw them as spiritually dead, and an increasing stench to their neighbors. They were diligent in worship, but God regarded their worship as empty and hypocritical. Asaph saw the nation as becoming desolate, and a reproach to the surrounding peoples (Ps. 79.1-4).
And he knew that this situation would reflect poorly on God. He cried out, “How long, LORD?” (v. 5) How long would God allow this situation to continue, this condition to worsen? Was He not jealous for His own honor? Would He not move to rid His people of the compromises that had leached their distinctiveness, drained their vitality, compromised their witness, and emptied them of true life in God (vv. 5-9)?
Asaph called down the judgment of God against those who had defiled His worship, forsaken His covenant, and rebelled against the knowledge of the Lord. But he knew that all these iniquities were only partially the fault of the surrounding nations; the people of God had opened their hearts to these compromises, and they were the object of God’s anger and just retribution.
Israel had been brought low, but most people didn’t seem to realize what was happening. In his psalms – such as Psalm 79 – Asaph determined to confront the people of his day with their drift from the Lord, and to call them to seek the Lord for revival and renewal.
Repentance and mercy
Asaph understood that the way out of God’s wrath and back into His favor is through repentance. He insisted that Israel needed to face up to her sins and seek the mercy of God for repentance (v. 8). Only God could forgive their sins and set them back on a proper course with Him (v. 9). Only God could remove the reproach they had brought upon themselves (v. 10), and restore them to true covenant faithfulness and life.
Israel had become captive to unacknowledged sins of materialism, sensuality, narcissism, and pragmatism (v. 11). Only God could break these chains and bonds and lead His rebellious people back into the cords and fetters of love which He had given them in His Law (Ps. 2.3; cf. Hos. 11.1-4).
Asaph understood that Israel’s failure to remain faithful to the Lord, and their compromised condition, had brought reproach to the Name of the Lord (v. 12). He called upon God to act in tender mercy for the restoration of His people and the glory of His Name (vv. 8, 9). Only God could atone for and blot out the sins of His people (v. 9). But the people of God, who were prisoners in a dungeon of their own making, would have to cry out in groaning to the Lord, before the great reviving power of God would deliver them from their desolation (v. 11). Asaph was determined to lead them in seeking the Lord for revival.
Praying Psalm 79 for revival
When we’re praying the psalms, and whenever we’re reading Scripture, we have to keep in mind that God knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows the true condition of our souls. We need to listen to Him, speaking in His Word, and consider carefully how what He says there applies to us.
So in praying Psalm 79, we must begin by asking the Lord to reveal any hidden transgressions, secret compromises, and flagging loyalty to Him that may be festering in our soul. Revival, we recall, begins individually, as we pray daily, “Lord, revive me!” God is able to bring to our attention any thoughts, inclinations of the heart, or unexamined priorities and practices that may be draining us of spiritual vitality and causing us to drift from our great salvation. Whatever God shows us about the depths of our soul, we must be quick to confess and repent of, charting realistic courses to return to the Lord and overcome evil with good (Ps. 119.59, 60; Rom. 12.21).
Let us give thanks to God in advance for how He will deliver us, and our churches, from our captivity to worldly ways, and resume His place as our Good Shepherd (Ps. 79.13). We will praise Him in advance for bringing the greatness of His power (v. 11) to come to our aid and rescue; and we will pray that He will do so for all His captive people, wherever they are.
And we will give glory to God by praising Him and by charting a new course for our lives. We are called to live for God’s glory in everything we do (1 Cor. 10.31); let us be diligent to seek His ways, and to rest in the power of His Spirit, to help us bring glory to Him as He revives and renews us day by day.
We should also pray that God will intervene to deliver us from whatever enemies have caused us to turn from Him. Spiritual forces of wickedness reach out to us continually. We need God to fight for us against such foes, so let us turn to Him continually for protection, lest the ways of the flesh and world establish new beachheads in our soul, or we knowingly compromise with the enemies of the Lord.
To the extent that we have become captive to our own foes, rather than to Christ, we need revival to restore our fellowship with God. Only He can bring this glorious restoration, but we must seek it diligently in prayer.
1. Who are the enemies trying to keep you from a more powerful and more fruitful walk with the Lord? How do these enemies seek to divert you from the Lord?
2. How can we tell when our church is beginning to lose its spiritual vitality, and to become a desolation before the Lord?
3. Can we expect God to revive us if we refuse to seek Him in prayer? Why not?
Next Steps – Transformation: Begin praying Psalm 79 as part of your daily regimen of seeking the Lord for revival.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
For Your Glory: Psalm 79
- T.M. Moore
- March 30, 2020
We need revival to restore the honor of God.
The Need for Revival (5)