Summary: The 85th Psalm is often a resource for revival preaching. But often overlooked is the fact that, as a prayer song, it is patriotic in nature.
The individual believer, the church, and the nation, lives or dies by revival.
Since we are living in a fallen state, without a recovery process we would eventually erode.
We can be very grateful that God installed a process whereby we can be rejuvenated, given new hope and strength to go forward in spite of our failures. That process is termed "revival" in the Word of God.
The 85th Psalm is often used as a resource for revival preaching. But often overlooked is the fact that, as a prayer song, it is patriotic in nature.
Notice verse 1 - "LORD, thou hast been favorable unto thy land..."
And verse 12 - "Yea, the LORD shall give that which is good; and our land shall yield her increase."
But especially notice verse 9 - "Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him; that glory may dwell in our land."
The Psalmist is talking about his homeland.
He pleads for Divine favor and genuine revival, but the point that we must be careful not to miss is this: he was asking for revival for his land, for his country.
We often think of the 85th Psalm as applicable to individual or church revival, and it is, but only secondarily. Primarily it was written to express a desire for national revival.
This patriotic prayer song encompasses at least three precepts for national revival:
1. Thanksgiving - Verses 1-3
2. Turning - Verses 4-8
3. Truth - Verses 9-13
1. Today we pause to thank God for His blessings on America.
God is by and large the primary reason America is such a great nation, enjoying the tremendous liberties we value. Sure we’re thankful for the founding fathers and the thousands upon thousands of patriots who have sacrificed to make this land free and prosperous and second to none in liberty - but don’t forget the original instigator of liberty is the Lord Himself!
"Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." (2 Corinthians 3:17)
The patriot who wrote this Psalm (perhaps David) realized, "thou hast been favorable unto thy land". (verse one) Surely God has been favorable to America as well.
Its long been a personal habit of mine to read several books on American history this time of year so last week I read one on the transcontinental railroad and one on the space program. And you know what? Whether you are reading about the wide open spaces and resplendent natural resources of our land as the builders of the transcontinental railroad witnessed in 19th Century America, or the technological marvels of the 20th Century evidenced by the space program, you’ve got to agree that America has been singly blessed in the history of the world as a nation!
I’m not making that statement to encourage us to stick out our chests in pride, but rather to encourage us to lift up our hands in praise and adoration to the God who singly blessed us! We are not the only people blessed and used of God, but as Americans today we should not forget to thank the One who is mostly responsible for our nation’s greatness!
The holiday of Independence Day in the United States should be a time of thanksgiving to God. We have a national Thanksgiving holiday in November and that is appropriate. But we can’t thank God too much!
In verse 2 the Psalmist talks about forgiveness and sins covered. He highlights God withholding His wrath on his country in verse 3. These are wonderful blessings to be thankful for if you are somehow unable to think of others.
In the current issue of Christianity Today there is an article pointing out the law in Saudi Arabia that makes it illegal to share the gospel of Christ or listen to someone telling about Jesus. The crime is punishable by hanging. And when they hang those guilty of breaking this law they leave them hanging in public for three days.
When I read that I said to myself, "Thank God for a land like America where we have freedom of speech and freedom of religion!" These blessings of liberty are the result of God’s presence in our past and present and hopefully in our future.
America has been brought back time and again by Divine favor. Through wars, hot and cold, through growing pains and financial disasters, through acts of terror of internal and external origin - it has been the good grace of God that has kept us safe and solvent as a nation!
2. But the Psalmist does not stop with thanksgiving. His awareness that his nation’s blessings are a gift from God causes him to cry out in repentance - which is the second criteria for revival, personal or national.
"Turn us", he says in verse 4. The Hebrew word literally means "turn back". "Turn us back to you God", was the prayer of this patriotic penitent singer.