UNDERSTANDING the PATH of ‘TRUE REVIVAL’: "Restore us, O God of our salvation, and cause Your anger toward us to cease. Will You be angry with us forever? Will You prolong Your anger to all generations? Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?" (Psalms 85:4-6)
The above petition indicates that the occasion of this psalm was a time of national humiliation. The people are asking for God’s anger to cease, for national revival, and for a new display of His mercy. This psalm starts with a remembrance of God’s past favors (vv. 1–3) and ends with the psalmist’s certainty of obtaining deliverance from God (vv. 8–13). The first section of this psalm states that God’s anger has turned away from the people (v. 3). Yet until the restoration is complete, the people still feel the effects of God’s wrath. This suggests an understanding that the people’s troubles were due to their own sin disciplined by God!
It is logical therefore that since the people’s misfortunes came from their sin before God, the forgiveness of sins indicates that God’s wrath will be quenched due to God’s grace. When God restores, He first brings His people to repentance, then He forgives their sins, and then He terminates the punishment that resulted from His anger.
We lose joy when sin enters into our lives. When our fellowship is broken with God and other believers, then our song along with our joy and laughter is gone. That may be the reason the psalmist is asking this question: “Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?” When God restores His people it is a gracious demonstration of His mercy. New beginnings should lead to experiences of new life!
So, what is the outward sign of a true revival? This psalm indicates that revival is the restoration of joy in the hearts of the people of God. When revival happens, we are brought from the brink of apathy to a place where we are deeply sensitive about God’s workings in our lives. It starts from repentance (v.2) to restoration (v.4) that results in renewal and revival (v.6) and culminates in rejoicing over what God is doing in and through us (v.6). Can we seek God earnestly so that He revives us to rejoice in Him?