1 Lord, you were favourable to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
2 You forgave the iniquity of your people;
you pardoned all their sin. Selah
3 You withdrew all your wrath;
you turned from your hot anger.
4 Restore us again, O God of our salvation,
and put away your indignation towards us.
5 Will you be angry with us forever?
Will you prolong your anger to all generations?
6 Will you not revive us again,
so that your people may rejoice in you?
7 Show us your steadfast love, O Lord,
and grant us your salvation.
8 Let me hear what God the Lord will speak,
for he will speak peace to his people,
to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.*
9 Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him,
that his glory may dwell in our land.
10 Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;
righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
11 Faithfulness will spring up from the ground,
and righteousness will look down from the sky.
12 The Lord will give what is good,
and our land will yield its increase.
13 Righteousness will go before him,
and will make a path for his steps.
Summary—Have you ever reminded somebody of something good he did for you, before, in hopes that he’ll do it again? If your dad drives past the place where he stopped to buy you ice cream, once, you might say, “Hey dad, remember that time we got ice cream here? Yeah, that was good…” Or if a teacher is deciding whether to extend your due date for a project, you might say, “You gave me an extension last time!” Well, the writer of this psalm is doing something like that with God. In those first three verses, he “reminds” God that, in the past, He’s been favorable to them, restored their fortunes, and forgiven them. Then in verse four, he says, “Do it again!” In verses five and six, he sounds doubtful that God will be kind again—“Will you be angry with us forever?” But he never really doubts it: in verses eight through thirteen, he confidently states what he expects God to do for them, based on God’s track record: the psalmist knows that God will speak peace to His people, he knows that salvation is near at hand, he knows that God’s glory will come to their land, he knows that love and faithfulness—peace and righteousness—will come together again.
Insight—Can you pray like this psalmist prayed? Can you look back on God’s kindness to you like this psalmist looked back on God’s kindness to him? Can you be as confident as this psalmist was that God will do you good in the future? Yes. It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you’ve been, or where you think you’re going, I guarantee that you can be just as sure of these things. God has been kind to you. Don’t compare the way He’s been kind to you to the way He’s been kind to others—compare the way He’s been kind to you to what you deserve (hint: Hell). The phrase, “count your blessings” is used tritely, but it isn’t trite. Actually do it. Think of all the ways He’s been kind to you—all the good things you don’t deserve. And tell God that based on that track record, you’re confident that He’ll continue blessing you. Not that He’ll keep blessing you in the same way, or in obvious or easy ways—for all I know, He’ll bless you in ways that look like cursing in the short run; but, you can believe that those thing will work together for your good, and that one day you’ll be happier for them. So if you think you can’t pray like this psalmist prayed, keep thinking until you realize that you can.
Q: What will the LORD give?
A: What is good.
Discussion—What are some ways that God has been good to you?
Prayer—LORD, You have been favorable to us. You’ve forgiven our iniquities and pardoned all our sin. Restore us again, O God of our salvation. Revive us again, that we may rejoice in You. By both Your precedent and Your promises we know that You will speak peace to us and give what is good, through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.
Contributed by Scott Cline