The Promise of Revival (3)
We have thought, O God, on Your lovingkindness,
In the midst of Your temple.
According to Your name, O God,
So is Your praise to the ends of the earth;
Your right hand is full of righteousness.
Let Mount Zion rejoice,
Let the daughters of Judah be glad,
Because of Your judgments. Psalm 48.9-11
For beauty and joy
The sons of Korah, who composed this psalm, probably served during the reign of King Solomon. They may have been gatekeepers in the temple, and thus would daily have been exposed to the majesty, brilliance, and splendor of its ornamentation, and the sublimity and mystery of its rituals. They saw the nations of the world coming to Jerusalem to see the beauty of King Solomon’s capital and to share in the joy of his wealth, power, and favor. And they knew that all this was because of God – because God was great in the midst of His people, and greatly to be praised (cf. 1 Kgs. 10).
This understanding of the Church – the City of God – as beautiful in elevation and a source of joy for all the earth is shared by the Old Testament prophets (cf. Is. 2.1-4; Is. 62.6, 7; Mic. 4.1-8). This is what we might expect when He Who is all beauty and joy is greatin the midst of His people. God is great in the midst of His people when they praise Him greatly (v. 1), and when they see Him as their strong defense and refuge (vv. 12-14). God is great when His people take refuge in Him alone (v. 3), and when they rejoice and are glad because of His judgments – His Law and all His Word (v. 11).
The effects of this – of God’s Church being a primary source of beauty, holiness, and joy – is that the enemies of God slink away in shame, marveling at the greatness they see in the Body of Christ (vv. 4-7). They can neither gainsay nor oppose such holy spiritual majesty and greatness, and like the kings who brought gifts to Solomon’s court, they submit to the greatness of God, albeit deceitfully (Pss. 66.3; 81.15).
When the Church rejoices in the judgments of God, takes refuge in Him alone, extols His greatness in all they do, and serves as a source of beauty and joy for the world, God’s praise extends to the ends of the earth, and revival, renewal, and awakening spread to all peoples (vv. 9, 10).
The grandeur and splendor of Solomon’s reign could not last, because he and the people of his generation gave in to the desire for worldly pleasures and political power. Called to live all of life “under heaven”, they turned instead to follow the nations in living “under the sun”, as Solomon explained throughout Ecclesiastes.
But when the City of God looks to Him in His greatness, honors Him in all their ways, rejoices in His Word, praises Him at all times and in every situation, and seeks His Presence as their true refuge and glory, then the greatness of God spreads out from their midst to reach the nations of the world in revival, renewal, and awakening.
God’s Name and praise
We must not think of revival as we perhaps typically do – a week or so of special meetings aimed at pumping up the drooping spirits of church members. Revival means being renewed in the Word of God, through confession and repentance, in the great salvation He has given us, both as individuals and as churches. Real revival issues in renewal, as believers and their churches find their way back to the paths for personal and congregational growth that God has marked out in His Word. As congregations grow to see more of the greatness of God, and to discover the beauty and joy of holiness, what is happening in them overflows, like rivers of living water, to the people around them in their communities (Jn. 7.37-39). The result is that many hear the Gospel, and many of those who hear, believe, repent, are saved, and become swept up in the reviving and renewing grace of God.
As the praise of God increases, it spreads to other churches, throughout a community or a nation, and even to the ends of the earth. The more God’s people extol His Name, take that Name upon themselves, and proclaim the Name of Jesus to their neighbors, the more beauty and joy flow from the Church to reach lost and desperate souls, and to silence recalcitrant enemies. Worldwide awakening can occur when the praises of God fill not only our services of worship, but every aspect of every day of our lives.
Psalm 48 gives us a glimpse of this, and holds out the implicit promise that, if God’s people will look to Him and magnify His greatness in holiness, beauty, and joy, revival on a worldwide scale can come to pass.
Praying Psalm 48 for revival
Use this psalm to pray for yourself and your church, that God might make Himself great in you, and bring forth from you more of His beauty and joy to bless your neighbors and community.
Pray that He will keep the enemies of the faith at bay, and especially the arch-enemy of the souls of all men, who seeks to blind and deceive them, lest they should hear the Gospel and believe.
Ask God to give you a new love for His Word, and greater joy in reading, meditating, and studying it. Bring more prayer into your daily life, taking refuge in God and His strong “towers and bulwarks”, rejoicing in His greatness and calling on Him to embolden you to spread His praises to the people in your Personal Mission Field.
Pray for the churches in your community – and for all churches everywhere – that God might fill them with His greatness, raise them up in beauty and joy for their local communities, and from them send forth the message of His holiness and salvation in Jesus Christ.
And celebrate with exuberance the promise that He is with you always, “even to death”, and that He will guide your every step, as long as you continue looking to Him in faith (v. 14).
1. Do you think most churches see themselves as primary sources of beauty and joy in their communities? Why or why not?
2. What are some ways that the praises of God can be extended beyond the walls of our churches into the daily lives of believers? Into your daily life?
3. What does it mean to rejoice in the judgments of God, and why is this so important to our seeing revival, renewal, and awakening?
Next steps – Transformation: Use Psalm 48 to bring more praise of God to the ends of your Personal Mission Field every day.
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.