Islington Baptist Church October 23, 2005
Psalm 80 Scripture reading: 2 Kings 17:1-23
Does God want to bless you or curse you?
Please help me out by filling in the blanks
Obedience to God brings ______________ Disobedience brings ____________
What do you think God’s desire is? To bless or to curse? I believe it’s to bless.
With these 2 principles in mind and the idea that God wants to bless people, please turn in your Bible to Psalm 80
Psalm 80 info (before reading text)
1. It is a prayer.
2. It’s a prayer for restoration, blessing, and salvation.
Three times it says “Restore us, O LORD God Almighty; make your face shine upon us, that we may be saved.” Verse 3,7,19
3. It was prayed by those who were being judged by God.
4. The background of this prayer relates to the events of 722 B.C.
When Israel came to what we call the land of Israel, there were 12 tribes. As a result of God’s favor they inhabited the land, driving out- for the most part, the evil residents of the land. During the time of David all 12 tribes came to be ruled by one man: David. After David came Solomon. After Solomon, came a son who “dropped the ball”. Because of this ones foolishness Israel was divided into 2. The North, called Israel-comprising 10 tribes, and the South called Judah.
In terms of devotion to God and faithfulness, the North did the worst. Israel, for the most part, completely abandoned God. In 2 Kings 17, which we read this morning, we are told of what they did: they worshipped other gods, they built all sorts of outdoor worship centers that became centers of superstition and idol worship, they turned their backs on God’s laws and regulations, they refused to listen to God’s messengers, they engaged in witchcraft and sorcery and divination, they imitated the evil practices of all those around them.
Because of their sin, God brought the nation of Assyria against them. As a result, in 722 B.C, the North was overrun and the land was settled with Syrian captives from other nations.
5. This Psalm employs some very special word pictures
a. God as a Shepherd who leads his people like a shepherd leads a flock of sheep v.1
b. God as a light whose glorious face brings blessing upon all those He turns to v.1
c. Israel as a choice vine, selected, planted, nurtured, cultivated, and at one time protected by God- Now exposed, violated, ravaged, unprotected, burned, stomped on, and cut down v.8-16
Each of these images is fulfilled in Jesus. In John 1 Jesus is spoken of as the light of the world. In John 10 Jesus speaks of himself as the Good Shepherd. In John 15 Jesus speaks of himself as being the true vine, meaning that he embodied everything that the people of Israel should have been.
6. The appeal of this Psalm for deliverance and blessing goes way back.
Note in the text how the writer goes back to the time of Joseph, then the Exodus- during which God led Israel out of Egypt like a flock of sheep (Psalm 77:20; 78:52), and then to King David and the promises God gave to him in 2 Samuel 7:1-17.
The reason the appeals of this Psalm go so far back is because the ones praying recognize that there is nothing about themselves to commend to God. Their appeal for restoration, blessing, and salvation thus stretches back to the promises and covenants that God made to their righteous ancestors.
The writer of Psalm 80 and those prayed this Psalm learned the hard way that disobedience to God brings judgment, sorrow, and hardship.
Big idea: God takes no delight in judging people, rather, God delights in blessing those who are right with Him.
To prove this point that God is disposed to blessing people, we need take a look at Numbers 6:22-27.
The interpretive key to understanding Psalm 80 is Numbers 6:22-27 which says…
The LORD said to Moses, "Tell Aaron and his sons, `This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: "The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace." ‘"So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them."
Some of you may recognize these verses because in some churches they are regularly used to close the Sunday service.
These verses are tremendously encouraging because they indicate that God is disposed firstly to bless people (in particular, those that love Him). (I say this because God is the one who comes up with the idea that the priests pray these words over the people)
LESSONS TO TAKE HOME
1. Don’t go out of your way to provoke God.
What are different ways in which people provoke God and stretch His patience?
2. Realize that if you disobey and rebel that you are going to get hurt and miss out on blessings that God wants to give you.
How many of you have ever missed out on a treat of some sort because of bad behavior or a sour attitude?
God disciplines those He loves (Hebrews 12:6) and is bound- because of His holiness and commitment to justice- to judge and punish those who persist in their lawbreaking and rebellious way. Do not delay. Seek God while He may be found. Humble yourself and turn from your sin.
2. If you know that you aren’t right with God cast yourself upon His mercy and seek His blessing
Psalm 80 is one long plea for restoration, blessing, and salvation.
If you are not right with God- meaning you have not yet turned to Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, or you have but you aren’t living as you ought as a follower of Jesus, then do what the writer of Psalm 80 did. Seek the Lord with all your heart.
4. Blessings are something that God is glad to give.
At this point I know that I’m being repetitive, but I think that this is a message that bears repeating.
God is eager to bless people. God takes pleasure in showering His blessings down on those who love Him. God enjoys drawing near to those who draw near to Him.
Contrary to popular opinion, God is not “gung ho” to judge people. He is patient. He doesn’t want any to perish but all to come to repentance and eternal life (2 Peter 3:9). God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked.
When a person genuinely prays “Bring me into right relationship with you God. Make your face shine upon me. Save me, deliver me, rescue me from my sin, help me also with the struggles that I am facing in life for I am depending on you and you alone.” you can be sure that God hears that prayer and is keen to answer it.
Parallel passage that drives point 4 home. Read Jeremiah 29:10-14 and note in particular v.11
In Jeremiah 29:11 God says. “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
This was said within the context of God declaring that Judah would go into captivity in Babylon for 70 years for there sins. Yet note this: God appears eager to bless. Hear also what God says in the verses immediately after verse 11 “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the Lord, "and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you," declares the Lord, "and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile."
What an awesome God we have!
1. Does God want to bless you or curse you?
2. God takes no delight in judging people, God delights in blessing those who are right with Him. The proof of this found in Numbers 6:22-27 which is the interpretive key to Psalm 80.
3. While it’s true that God loves to bless, don’t go out of your way to provoke God.
4. Realize that if you disobey and rebel that you are going to get hurt and miss out on blessings that God wants to give you.
5. If you know that you aren’t right with God cast yourself upon His mercy and seek His blessing.
6. Blessings are something that God is glad to give.
7. Qualify yourself for God’s blessings by turning to Him and by staying true to Him.