Summary: In a prayer to “Revive us Lord”, the Psalmist shows a 1) Remembrance of Past Revival (Psalm 85:1–3), 2) Request for Present Revival (Psalm 85:4–7), 3. Revelation for Future Revival (Psalm 85:8–13)
Monday, April 2, 1739, marked a signal event in the history of Christianity because it was on that day that John Wesley abandoned his reserve to preach outside the church building and, at Kingswood Bristol, took to open-air evangelism. Wesley’s decision brought him face to face with the common people and ignited a revival the likes of which England had never seen. Regarding that great day, Wesley wrote in his diary: “At four in the afternoon I submitted to be more vile, and proclaimed in the highways the glad tidings of salvation, speaking from a little eminence in a ground adjoining to the city, to about three thousand people. The Scripture on which I spoke (from Luke 4) was this … “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted; to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind; to set at liberty them that are bruised, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Wesley had chosen his text with brilliant premeditation because it was the same Scripture with which Jesus introduced his ministry to the people of Nazareth. Subsequent history records that John Wesley lived out that text, bringing the gospel to the disenfranchised and needy masses of England. The following years also reveal that Wesley likewise experienced something of the rejection and disgrace that descended upon our Lord when he first brought God’s message to his people. (Hughes, R. K. (1998). Luke: that you may know the truth (p. 139). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.)
Psalm 85 is a prayer for restoration that is rooted deeply in trust in God. The setting for the psalm appears to be the restoration of the people of God following a great catastrophe—perhaps the Babylonian captivity (About 50 years after Jerusalem’s fall in 586 B.C.,). With this psalm, the people prayed for a revival of their spirits and a renewal in their land. The ultimate fulfillment of their prayer would be in the coming glorious kingdom of the Savior Jesus (Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1997). The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version (Ps 85). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.).
Many of us live between memory and hope. We recall what God has done in the past with gratitude, and we hope that He will do it again. This makes present sorrow and discouragement bearable. Like losing a friend or loved one, we live with grief, sustained with a flood of memories from the past, which bring her joy. Although we must face living out the rest of our lives in this world, as believes we can know that the Lord will be there each step of the way and we can be sustained by hope of reunion beyond the grave. The day will come when depression will lift and the sun will break through the overcast again. But what can we do in the meantime? This is the issue before us in this psalm. (Williams, D., & Ogilvie, L. J. (1989). Vol. 14: The Preacher's Commentary Series, Volume 14 : Psalms 73-150. The Preacher's Commentary series (108–113). Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Inc.)