The language of the prayers of Psalm 80 sound good, earnest, heart-felt and are full of sorrow:
“Give ear, shine forth, stir up Your power come to saved us, restore us, make your face shine [upon us]”
So, why doesn’t God act in response to such prayers and sorrow? Because we repent of our losses and not of our sins.
- Asaph grieves over Israel’s broken family. So his prayer, in effect, is: “Shepherd of Israel, put the family back together again.”
- Asaph grieves over the loss of Israel’s reputation. So his prayer, in effect, is: “Lord God of hosts, restore our good name.”
- Asaph grieves over the loss of Israel’s prosperity. So his prayer, in effect, is: “O God of hosts, restore our prosperity.”
Are we not the same?
Do we not plead with God in our sorrow, in our loss, because we want Him to restore us to some former relationship, some former position, some former status, some former level of prosperity or to rescue us from some situation or condition. BUT WE DO NOT GIVE ONE WIT FOR GOD apart from the hope that He might restore our losses or favor us with some gain for which we are desperate.
Such prayers are not prayers of our repentance but prayers that God would repent, that God would change and turn away from His own holiness and justice; that God would agree to be less than Himself and that God would deny Himself as the One who is most excellent and most desirable. Such prayers ask that God turn and value the circumstances of our lives above the His eternal purposes.
The key of repentance that leads to restoration with God, to living in His presence, to being saved is a person – the ultimate man at God’s right hand, the One God has made strong for Himself.
In verse 17 Asaph is thinking about the Son of David to come, the true Shepherd of Israel, the true Vine. We know that Person to be our Lord Jesus Christ. If God does not act to save us through Jesus Christ, we have no hope of true repentance, no hope of restoration, fellowship and forgiveness.We cannot repent on our own, God must “revive” us. We cannot believe on our own: God must “revive” us.
Let us hope, and assume, that Asaph prays the refrain finally, with true repentance and faith:
Restore us – not to former glories, but to You
Make Your face shine – not for my prosperity, but for Your presence
And we shall be saved – to You alone do I look , do I call, for salvation– to have You is to have all I ever need and more than I could ever want.