ReVision

Through You: Psalm 44

Revival can happen because it is God's work.

The Promise of Revival (1)

You are my King, O God;
Command victories for Jacob.
Through You we will push down our enemies;
Through Your name we will trample those who rise up against us.
For I will not trust in my bow,
Nor shall my sword save me.
But You have saved us from our enemies,
And have put to shame those who hated us.
In God we boast all day long,
And praise Your name forever.
Psalm 44.4-8

A sense of the past
The people of ancient Israel understood the importance of keeping the past alive. After all, God had done some pretty remarkable things in the past – creation, deliverance from Egypt, giving the Law, the conquest of Canaan, and more. These were events worth remembering, because they spoke to faithful Israelites in every generation of the greatness of God, the unfailing nature of His love for them, and His always-at-the-ready power to rescue and restore them, when they called upon Him to do so.

The composers of Psalm 44 had a very large request to make of God. For some reason, the nation in their day had fallen on hard times. Their enemies were getting the upper hand on them (vv. 9, 10), and were beginning to take as spoil all the precious resources of the land (v. 11), and to send the people into foreign captivity (vv. 11, 12). No neighboring nations were coming to their aid; instead, the nations around them laughed and derided Israel in her time of trouble (vv. 13-16).

But the psalmists were hopeful. Whatever sin may have been the cause of this season of reversal was no longer an issue (vv. 17, 18). Either they had repented of their sin, or there simply was no particular sin they could identify as the cause of their malaise. They had not forgotten the Lord, and so were stretching out their hands in prayer to Him (v. 20). They had confidence that their hearts were right before the Lord (v. 21); and even though they were in danger of being delivered to enemies like sheep for the slaughter (v. 22), they knew God had the power to deliver them, just as He had done in the past (vv. 1-8).

In our day, believers don’t much care about their history. In fact, we have tossed out a good bit of the rich heritage of liturgy, culture, theology, and example that has accrued to us from past generations. We are content, it seems, to define the nature of faith, and to make up its demands, according to our needs in the present, without any reference to the past.

And in ignoring our past, we fail to see what great works of revival God has done – which He stands ready to do in our day as well.

Wide-awake God
God is always wide awake to the needs of His people, especially when they seek Him, depend on Him, declare His grace and truth, and live within His laws and by His power. Over the two millennia that Christianity has graced the earth, great seasons of revival have occurred in which, against all probability, God seemed to have awoken from His slumber and come to His people’s aid once again.

In their time of need, the sons of Korah looked back to the conquest of Canaan, and called upon God to deliver them from their enemies as He had done then. In our time of declining interest in Christian faith, a lack of the reality of faith on the part of church goers, and a practice of Christianity that has been taken captive to forms and philosophies more of worldly than of Biblical origin, we need to call on the Lord to wake up from His slumber – and wake us up from ours! – and revive His people once again.

We can look back to great seasons of revival when widespread repentance rose from believers and their churches, believers were emboldened to live for Christ and bear witness to Him, unbelievers opened their hearts to the Gospel by the multitude, churches filled and new churches were built, and cultures and societies were transformed to reflect the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. They who have an eye for the past know what God did in those first three centuries of the Christian movement. They remember how Irish Christians led a wave of revival that “saved civilization”, in the words of Thomas Cahill. They saw how the Catholic and Protestant Reformations breathed new life into the Body of Christ; how the first Great Awakening spread the fire of revival throughout the American colonies; the Second Great Awakening spawned the end of slavery and gave birth to institutions of mercy, mission, and education; and how other seasons of revival throughout the years have seen the mighty God doing well-nigh unbelievable works of renewal and awakening in times when it seemed like the world was getting darker by the day.

If we could but remember that God is always awake to hear our pleas and cries for revival, and He will not hesitate to rise up on our behalf, when we recognize our affliction and confess our sin and need; then we would give ourselves more diligently to crying out to the Lord, saying, “Through You, O Lord, we will be revived again!”

Praying Psalm 44 for revival
As you pray the first eight verses of this psalm, thank God for all the times in Scripture He came to the rescue of His people. Remember His promises concerning revival: 2 Chronicles 7.14, Jeremiah 33.3, Jeremiah 29.11-14, and all those we have seen in the psalms we’ve studied in this series. Call on God to flex His mighty spiritual strength, and to move His people to seek Him for revival.

Remember that we are at all times engaged in a powerful spiritual struggle (Ps. 44.9-19), and in many ways, we seem to be losing ground. Call on God to rise up for us against our enemies, and to equip us with everything we need from His Word to resist the devil and press on in good works and consistent witness (Eph. 4.10-20; 2 Tim. 3.15-17; Matt. 5.13-16; Acts 1.8). Pray that God will go forth with you into your day, into your own Personal Mission Field, and use you to advance the Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit.

Call boldly on the Lord to bring revival and renewal to His people, and awakening to the lost world (vv. 23-26). Seek His face, reach out to Him in prayer, recommit yourself to His Word, and call on Him to arise and go forth with you and all His people, conquering and to conquer for revival (Rev. 6.1, 2).

Then go, in the confidence of God’s faithfulness and power, and sow the seeds of revival by your prayers, your works, and your witness in everything you do each day.

For Reflection
1. Why is it important that we remember the great works God has done in the past?

2. What are some indicators suggesting that we need God to do a great work of revival and awakening today?

3. How should we pray, and what should we be seeking, when we come to God and call on Him to “Wake up!” and revive us?

Next Steps – Transformation. Begin using Psalm 44 to pray for revival. Add it in rotation with the other psalms we have considered thus far in this series. Pray boldly, and encourage other believers to pray boldly, too.

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.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
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