PSALM 60 TALK: SPIRITUAL RESTORATION (Both Corporate and Personal) OR RESTORATION TO DELIVERANCE

PSALM 60 TALK: SPIRITUAL RESTORATION (Both Corporate and Personal)

                             OR RESTORATION TO DELIVERANCE

(A Psalm that explores how a believer can come back to faith or trust in God after they have fallen away from God for some reason or another)

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide”.

INTRODUCTION

In previous Psalm talks like Psalm 31 I haven spoke about the confidence we can have in God in that once we truly come to him God will never let us go. This is a teaching I learnt in the bible at a crucial stage of my Christian life. Some might think I believe the bible says we can never fall away from following God but this is not what the bible teaches about the assurance of our faith. True believers can and do fall away from God but the bible teaches that if they had truly come to God in the first place he will never let them go and therefore if they fall away he will bring them back eventually to himself. One of the key verses to come to terms with here is Jesus teaching in Matthew 24: 13,

 “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”

This verse appears in the middle or a passage where Jesus is teaching about what will happen in the last days which we are living in and which is sometimes called “The Gospel Age”. Jesus teaches that believers will be persecuted for their faith in the last days and many will turn away from their faith but Jesus makes it clear in verse 13 that there will be true believers who will be known because they are the ones who endure to the end.

I know you can fall away from the faith because in my mid teenage years after having come to faith three years before I fell right away from following Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour. At 16 I went from school to work and sadly got involved with a number of young people who did not believe in God and in fact mocked those who claimed they believed in him. I seemed lost for nearly three years but through the encouragement of a former church fellowship leader who was older than me I eventually came back to faith in Christ. This leader, who I will simply call Diane, did not give up on me even though I had seemingly given up on the faith I seemingly once trusted in.

One day my non Christian friends really let me down and showed me I had wasted my time hanging around with them. I remembered my former church friends and especially Diane who seemed so much different than my so called non Christian friends. I went along to a church Youth meeting and was greeted with much love and acceptance and it changed my life.

It took a lot of intensive Christian counselling and teaching from people like Diane and others to convince me that even though I had given up on God he had not given up on me and over a period of a year I experienced a wonderful spiritual restoration which led to a strong and sure faith in Christ as my Lord and Saviour. Key verses like John 10: 27 – 30 became the basis of my spiritual restoration,

 “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”

Within three years of my spiritual restoration I was so involved in my local church and other Christian ministry that I believed God had called me into full time Bible College training which led three years later to full time Christian Youth ministry.

I believe Psalm 60 is all about Spiritual Restoration and the Psalm starts with a call for this,

“You have rejected us, O God, and burst upon us; you have been angry – now restore us!”

We know the context of this Psalm because the Hebrew heading tells us. This heading reads,

“For the director of music, To the tune of “The Lily of the Covenant. A miktam of David. For teaching. When he fought Aram Naharaim and Aram Zobah, and when Joab returned and struck down twelve thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt”.

I looked closely at this context in my Psalm talk on Psalm 44 and I quote myself here to bring you up to speed on the historical context of these two Psalms,

“Psalm 60 verse 10 reads,

“Is it not you, God, you who have now rejected us and no longer go out with our armies”?

While Psalm 44 verse 9 reads,

But now you have rejected and humbled us; you no longer go out with our armies”.

I think that Psalm 60 David’s version of Psalm 44 written by the Sons of Korah. This means that the possible historical setting of both Psalms is David’s war with his northern Assyrian neighbors and Joab’s battles with his easterly Edomite neighbors.

The Edomite conflict of David’s time is very interesting because it is presented in two bible references and the second indicates that for a time Israel’s forces did not do so well. The first reference to this conflict is 2 Samuel 8: 13 :

“And David became famous after he returned from striking down eighteen thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt. He put garrisons throughout Edom, and all the Edomites became subject to David. The Lord gave David victory wherever he went”.

This sounds like David had a fairly straightforward victory over the Edomites but the second reference sheds a little light on how David’s victory played its way out. It is a reference to this conflict in David’s time by a conflict Solomon had with the Edomites in his time. It is found in 1Kings 11: 15,

“Earlier when David was fighting with Edom, Joab the commander of the army, who had gone up to bury the dead, had struck down all the men in Edom. Joab and all the Israelites stayed there for six months, until they had destroyed all the men in Edom”.

The reference to Joab going up to Edom to “bury the dead” indicates that at first forces from Israel had suffered a major defeat. Also note how it took Joab and his men six months to have total victory over the Edomites”.

Psalm 44 could have been written at the time when the news of Israel’s defeat reached Jerusalem and the horror of the Nation trusting in God being defeated by their enemies caused one of the sons of Korah to write his Psalm, Psalm 44. While Psalm 60 was written around the same time in the same historical context by David maybe when he was still off fighting his northern Assyrian neighbors.

The other interesting detail is that the victory over the soldiers from Edom in the Valley of Salt is attributed to David in the 2 Samuel passage and Joab in the 1 Kings passage and Psalm 60 Hebrew heading while it is attributed to Abishai in a 1 Chronicles 18: 12 verse. The answer to this is given by Leopold,

“David was the commander – in – chief in charge of all operations; Joab was very likely delegated to take care of the Edomite campaign; Abishai served under him”.

There is a discrepancy of the number killed in the Valley of salt with 12,000 in the Psalm 60 Hebrew heading and 18,000 in 2 Samuel 8 passage but this could be simply a minor manuscript copying mistake.

So with the theme of “Spiritual Restoration” and the above historical context in mind my breakdown of this Psalm is:

  1. A CALL FOR RESTORATION (1 – 4)
  1. GOD’S PROMISE OF RESTORATION (5 – 8)
  1. GOD’S PROMISE OF RESTORATION APPLIED (9 – 12)
  1. A CALL FOR RESTORATION (1 – 4)

I have broken this first section down into three parts:

  1. The call for restoration (vs. 1)
  2. How God made his people call for restoration (vs’s 2 – 3)
  3. The basis for calling for restoration from God (vs. 4)
  1. The Call for restoration (vs.1)

We are very familiar with the concept of restoration today with all the self help / reality programs on T.V that explore home restorations or renovations. Houses can need this restoration for a number of reasons. Maybe they have been abused by former tenants or owners or maybe they have just got old and have not been maintained by their former owners. My home is now thirty years old and we have been getting a number of maintenance jobs done over the last couple of years.

Something has gone wrong with David’s people back home for David to write in verse 1,

“You have rejected us, O God, and burst forth upon us; you have been angry – now restore us”.

We are not told in the Psalm or the historical bible texts what went wrong back home but for some reason Israel has fallen out of favour with God. Some commentators have suggested that maybe David’s campaign in the North against the Assyrians did not have God’s sanction but we cannot be sure of this. Just as if we take over a house that needs renovations or restoration we might not know who is to blame for the damage to the building, the owner or his last tenants. Even if we do not know what or who caused the damage what is clear to us is the damage that has been done.

David uses two words to indicate God’s displeasure with him and his people, “Rejected us” and “Angry” obviously with us as well. The bible yet again presents the story of God’s people with what many call, “Warts and all”, if the bible was made up as fiction dressed up as history its writers did a more than clever job writing there fiction as though it is factual history of people who are very human and often pronged to sin and failure. No other religious scriptures read like the bible.

Some might say God becoming angry with his special people does not sound like the actions of a loving God but the writer to the Hebrews explains God’s actions as loving Discipline as we read in Hebrews when he picks up teaching from Deuteronomy 5: 8 in Hebrews 12: 5 – 6,

“And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as children—

“My child, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, or lose heart when you are punished by him; for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves, and chastises every child whom he accepts”.

During my three years of falling away from God in my mid teenage years I to felt the discipline of the Lord and when I read the poetry I wrote during that time I can see I was not a happy person. My life was in a mess and it was only when I turned back to the Lord around the age of 19 that I again realised God’s blessings in my life. Many people who have so much pain and difficulty in their lives could be people under the discipline of God although this is not the only reason the bible gives for pain and difficulty in a person’s life.

In my last Psalm talk I made the point that the big difference between believers and non believers is that when life throws us pain or difficulties the believer has a powerful and loving God to turn to.

So this is what David did when he heard the news of the both the threat of the Edomites and the horrible defeat to them, so he prays,

“Restore us”

God both wants us to pray this and promises to answer this as we will see in the next two sections of this Psalm talk.

  1. How God made his people call for restoration (vs’s 2 – 3)

In verses 2 and 3 David spells out the horrible consequences of God becoming angry with his people when they had in some way turned away from following him. In verse 2 he uses the poetic image of an earthquake,

“You have shaken the land and torn it open; mend its fractures for it is quaking”.

I have never experienced an earthquake or seen live the results of an earthquake. I have seen T.V news footage of earthquakes and there consequences. Everything seems to get tossed around including human beings. The pictures of the earth splitting apart and objects like motorcars falling down through them is really frightening and unnerving. This is the picture David is presenting as what happened to his people when the news of one of its armies being defeat by the Edomites came through to them.

Sin can have awful and powerful consequences in the lives of people and the communities they live in. A bible story I find both interesting and disturbing is the story of the destruction of the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19. In Genesis 18: 20 – 21 we read this about these cities,

“Then the Lord said, “How great is the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah and how very grave their sin!  I must go down and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me; and if not, I will know.”

Then in the next chapter we read of the two angels from God going into the city of Sodom and Lot asks these special messengers from God as that is what the word “Angel” actually means to come into his house as he feared what the men of Sodom would do to them. Lot’s fears become real when we read in Genesis 19: 4 – 5,

“But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house; and they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, so that we may know them.”

The words, “that we may know them” actually mean have sex with them which means they wanted to rape them. This is a horrible picture of a whole community turning away from God in rebellion and for this we read in Genesis 19: 23 – 26 of their destruction and the destruction of Lots wife who disobeys God’s strict instructions of not looking back at Sodom when they fled the city,

The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar.

Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulphur and fire from the Lord out of heaven; and he overthrew those cities, and all the Plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt”.

Sin and rebellion to God can cause horrible consequences for people and the communities they live in and when God decides to judge a community for its many sins then it will feel like David described as though God had,

“Shaken the land”

The next verse, verse 3 makes it clear that Israel at the time of the Edomite assault and victory over one of its armies sent shock waves through the Nation and really knocked people off there once secure ground of God’s blessings. The verse reads,

“You have shown your people desperate times; you have given us wine that makes us stagger”.

The expression in the verse that says, you have given us wine that makes us stagger” is a vivid picture of a nation reeling with the effects of the Edomite invasion and Calvin explains its meaning with these words,

“It is evident that the Psalmist alludes to some kind of poisoned drink, which deprives a person of his senses, insinuating that the Jews were stupefied by their calamities”.

So God used the set back of the Edomite victory over Israel as a means of waking them up to their shortcomings and their need for restoration.

Often this is what happens to us today. We might become wayward or at least lacking in our commitment to the Lord and some kind of problem or even disaster wakes us up to turn to God in prayer and repentance. God can and does use problems and difficulties in our lives to give us wake up calls in our walk with him. Sometimes a time of difficulty in our lives can really sober us up to a better commitment and walk with the Lord.

This is why all the New Testament writers speak of how God uses suffering or difficulties in our lives for our good. Listen to how Peter puts it in 1 Peter 4: 12 and 13,

“ Dear friends, don’t be surprised by the terrible things happening to you. The trouble you are having has come to test you. So don’t feel as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be joyful that you are taking part in Christ’s sufferings. Then you will have even more joy when Christ returns in glory.”

Paul takes this idea a step further when he writes in Romans 8: 28,

“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him. He appointed them to be saved in keeping with his purpose”.

  1. The basis for calling for restoration from God (vs. 4)

So we have seen so far that David, on behalf of his people called for God’s restoration of his people because they faced, for some reason not declared, God’s anger against them in the form of an Edomite invasion.

Now he declares clearly in verse 4 why he believes he can call on God to restore his people, he writes,

“But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner to be unfurled against the bow”.

The first part of the verse is easy to understand because it speaks of those who fear God, those who truly believe in him to rally around or under a banner. In ancient battles armies fought under special banners or flags that provided a rally point for the army to go forward together,

The true believers of Israel are to band together and look to God their banner or focus as the people of God.

This verse is not clear on first reading because of the strange expression at the end of it, “against the bow”. Commentators like Leopold and Kinder believe that the Hebrew word translated “bow” should actually be translated “truth”. This gives the verse a very different meaning expressed well by Leopold who writes,

“This banner is to be displayed “because of the truth” which means, of course, the truth and fidelity of God. On God’s truth they are to bank until these calamities are overpowered”.

As Jews and now as Christians we are people of the book or as we call it the bible and it is because of the bible and what it teaches us about our God that we can confidently go to him for help and restoration in our daily lives.

Paul says this about the bible which he calls “Scripture” in 2 Timothy 3: 16 – 17,

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work”.

The God of the bible then is the “banner” or rallying point that all Christians come together and move ahead as one great people of God.

So far as what the bible says about falling away from God and finding the restoration or forgiveness we need then we need to look no further than the words of John in 1 John 1: 8 – 9,

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”.

I believe the entire Christian life then is a continual process of restoration or reformation as we look to God and his word for continued forgiveness and sanctification throughout the ups and downs of this life.

One day this process of restoration or reformation will be over and that is when we pass from this life to the next where we will be glorified in Christ Jesus our Lord. This is what Paul is speaking about in 2 Corinthians 3: 18,

“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit”.

  1. GOD’S PROMISE OF RESTORATION (5 – 8)

I have broken this second section into two parts:

  1. The Call again for restoration (vs. 5)
  2. God’s answer to this call for restoration (6 – 8)
  3. The call again for restoration (vs.5)

Now that David has reminded himself and his readers that they need to trust in the revealed God of the bible, which we believe is the explanation of the expression,

“You have raised a banner to be unfurled against the truth (not the bow)”

David again returns to his prayer or call for restoration and deliverance in these words,

“Save us and help us with your right hand            “.

This is a remarkable prayer of faith typical of David’s prayers in the book of Psalms many times in the first book of Psalms we read words like Psalm 30: 1 – 3,

“I will exalt you O Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. O Lord my God, I called to you for help and you healed me. O Lord, you brought me up from the grave, you spared me from going down into the pit”.

All of David’s prayers or calls to God for help come in the context of very difficult circumstances and I have made the point many times that this is because of what God told David would happen to him and his followers in Psalm 2: 2,

“The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and his anointed one”.

David I believe had to pray this prayer because when he was off fighting nations to the north taking a stand against them he was attacked from the east by the Nation of Edom. Not only that a later reference to this time and the words of the start of this Psalm indicate Israel because of some kind of sin had suffered a awful defeat at the hands of the Nation of Edom.

Now David calls for salvation and help from the right hand of God. In most ancient cultures the right hand was a symbol of a Kings power and authority and this comes from the fact that the right hand is usually the most powerful and important hand of the two we have. “Got questions? Org web site says this about the right hand of God,

“The term “God’s right hand” in prophecy refers to the Messiah to whom is given the power and authority to subdue his enemies”.

This idea of the right hand belonging to the coming of the Messiah is beautifully spoken about by Paul as having been for filled in Jesus Christ in Ephesians 1: 18 – 21,

“ I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come”.

The second half of verse five reads,

“That those you love may be delivered”.

Michael Wilcock aptly writes,

“Those God temporarily rejected (vs.1) are still those he loves (vs.5)”

As I said in the introduction we might desert or attempt to desert God but God will not desert us even if for a time he might discipline us for our sins by appearing to have deserted us.

This is what happened eventually to Israel when for 70 years they went into exile under the Babylonians. Even then God still was with his people and loved them as we see in scriptures like the Book of Daniel and Ezekiel. Ezekiel speaks of God’s restoration of the nation of Israel in Ezekiel 37: 21 – 23,

“This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God”.

So God always had a faithful remnant of true believers who David calls here in verse 5, “those you love” or “beloved of God”. The New Testament uses the term “Beloved” to describe God’s people and clearly teaches that we didn’t love God but rather God loved us and this comes out clearly in a passage like 1John 4: 7 – 12,

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us”.

So the beloved of God are the people God loves and they show they are loved of God by the way they respond to God with love. David knew God loved him and he responded with love for God.

Finally here the promise is that those who are loved by God will be delivered. The full quote from Michael Wilcock I started to quote at the beginning of this section actually says,

“Those God temporarily rejected (vs.1) are still those he loves (vs.5). To their words of prayer he responds with words of promise”.

These words of promise start at the end of verse 5 and fully blossom in the next three verses.

  1. God’s answer to this call for restoration (6 – 8)

The words of promise are again God breaking into the Psalm and speaking directly to us. We saw the first example of this in an earlier Psalm of David, Psalm 12: 5,

“Because of the oppression of the weak and the groaning of the needy, I will now arise, says the Lord, ‘I will protect them from those who malign them”.

The expression,

“God has spoken from his sanctuary”

Is a bit of a puzzle to understand but I like Derk Kinder’s explanation of what is possibly means,

“The scene of a festival such as in Deuteronomy 31: 10ff)”

The Deuteronomy passage Kidner quotes is called “The Feast of Tabernacles” which took place every seven years.

So maybe this revelation from God actually took place during one of these festival occasions. The sure fact is that the content of this revelation from God is nothing short of the original promise of God to Abraham about the land his descendents would inherit.

Psalm 60: 6 says,

“In triumph I will parcel out Shechem”

Genesis 12: 6 and 7 says,

“Abram travelled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. The Lord appeared to Abram and said, ‘to your offspring I will give this land. So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him”.

Later Jacob, Abrahams grandson journeys across this promise land from Succoth which is one side of the Jordon to Shechem which is on the other side it, which we read about in Genesis 33: 17 – 20,

“Jacob, however, went to Sukkoth, where he built a place for himself and made shelters for his livestock. That is why the place is called Sukkoth.

After Jacob came from Paddan Aram, he arrived safely at the city of Shechem in Canaan and camped within sight of the city. For a hundred pieces of silver, he bought from the sons of Hamor, the father of ShechemEl , the plot of ground where he pitched his tent. There he set up an altar and called it Elohe Israel.

Leupold sums up the significance of what God is saying here and in the next two verses as,

“This is a free adaptation of God’s promises to the nation which he made in various forms and ways throughout the whole of the Pentateuch (first five books of the bible)”.

Therefore God is saying to David and Israel that he gave them there land and he will help them keep it by his triumph over the people who live in it.

The next two verses make this clear as God spells out his Lordship over the people who live in the promised land and his triumph over those who are not his people.

Verse 7 mentions 4 tribes of Israel:

“Gilead is mine, and Manasseh is mine; Ephraim is my helmet, Judah my scepter

  1. Gilead – is simply called, “mine” which literally means God has dominion over it or over them. The tribes of Gad and Reuben inhabited the area known as Gilead.
  1. Manasseh – is also simply called “mine” – Like the previous verse indicated with Succoth and Shechem as places God had triumph over in that region. Now the tribes of Israel that are on both sides of the Jordon are spoken of and God says he has dominion over them.
  2. Ephraim is called “my helmet” – Gilead (where the tribes of Gad and Reuben dwell) and Manasseh which are tribes of Israel to the east of the Jordon while Ephraim and Judah are to the west but Ephraim is seen as strategically important with the term “helmet” being given them as it held the central position of the western side of the Jordan next to Judah. For this reason like a helmet protects the vital part of the body, the head, so Ephraim protected Judah and in doing so all of Israel.
  1. Judah – is simply called “My Scepter” – Which is simply a term for ruler or in this        context God’s ruling tribe. Some commentators believe “My Scepter” should be translated “My lawgiver” but this too simply means God’s tribe from which God’s rule or law is administered from.

While verse 8 mentions 3 Nations:

Moab is my washbasin, upon Edom I toss my sandal; over Philistia I shout in triumph”.

  1. Moab – is simply called “my washbasin” – The Pulpit commentary explains this term well with these words,

“ ‘My washbasin’, a term of extreme contempt. The subjugation of Moab was prophesied by Balaam (Numbers 24: 17), and effected by David (2 Samuel 8: 2)”

  1. Edom – is simply described by God as, “”I toss my sandal” – Ellicot in his commentary

explains the meaning of this term with these words,

“The most natural explanation of this figure is that Edom is disgraced to the character of the slave to whom the conqueror tosses his sandals that they may be cleaned”.

Remember it was Edom who had caused the original crisis for David’s cry for restoration. Now God says they are no more than slaves he tosses his dirty sandals at to be cleaned.

  1. Philistia – is simply described by God as, “I shout in triumph” – This term again is

Simply saying that God like the other nations will triumph over this nation. This

Prophecy of God triumphed over Philistia was for filled in David’s time through

David himself. We read of this in 2 Samuel 8: 1,

“In the course of time, David defeated the Philistines and subdued them, and he took Metheg Ammah from the control of the Philistines”.

So God’s special direct speaking in the previous three verses speak clearly of how he is the Sovereign Lord of the nations and this points us back to that central theme of both books one and two of the Psalms which is expressed clearly in Psalm 2: 2 – 6,

“The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.” The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.”

What then do the verses in both Psalm 60: 6 – 8 and the verses in Psalm 2: 2 – 6 have to say to us as Christians today?

I think we can draw three applications from these verses:

  1. We must realize that whenever we read in the Old Testament about God having dominion over another nation we are looking at the Sovereign rule of God over everything including the Nations of this world. Paul speaks of how Jesus is the Sovereign Lord of everything and how we must relate to this in Ephesians 1: 18 – 23,

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.

And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way”.

  1. We must also realize that we like David and his people are God’s chosen people who the world hates and opposes. We are according to Peter in 1 Peter 2: 11 are,

“Aliens and strangers in the world”

And therefore like Christ who is the one true great anointed king of God will be

opposed by the non believers of this world who are en- powered by Satan and

his evil forces. However even though we are caught up in this great and terrible

spiritual battle we need to look to God for the ability to fight victoriously in this

battle as Paul says in Ephesians 6: 10 – 11,

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes”.

  1. Finally even though the Old Testament spoke of victory over actual nations of this world the New Testament teaches that we are no longer involved in a battle of nation against nation but we are involved in a far greater spiritual battle as Paul

goes on to speak of in Ephesians 6: 12,

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”.

A big mistake some Christians made in the past was that they like the extreme Muslims today thought that God called them to a Holy War against un-believing people in this world. This is not in the bible and is a distortion of the Old testaments teaching without properly coming to terms with what the New Testament teaches about how God wants us to conduct ourselves in this Gospel age that started after the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ and the sending to all believers the Holy Spirit.

An interesting passage we have been looking at lately at the Church I attend sets up I believe the way God wants Christians to operate in the Gospel age we are also part of. It is the final words of Jesus to his disciples in Acts 1: 4 – 8,

“On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Just to make sure we do not miss understand what Jesus wants us to be involved in unto he comes again to end this Gospel age we have Matthews recollection of Jesus last commands to his disciples in Matthew 28: 18 – 20,

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

  1. GOD’S PROMISE OF RESTORATION APPLIED (9 – 12)

David now turns to a more positive message of hope and victory in third and final section of this Psalm. This is the pattern of many of David’s Psalms which are called laments. In my introduction to the Psalms which you can also read on my blog called, “Psalm Talks” I said this about laments:

Lament Psalms are prayers uttered by the author to God usually with a complaint against some kind of problem particularly an injustice the author has experienced. These psalms often start from a very low point but usually rise by the end of the Psalm with the promises of God ringing in the minds of the reader”.

I have broken this final section into three sections:

  1. Restored to be able to be delivered from our enemies (vs. 9)
  2. A reminder of what not trusting in God for deliverance leads to (vs. 10)
  3. Restoration relies on trusting in God alone (vs’s 11 – 12)
  1. Restored to be able to be delivered from our enemies (vs. 9)

The introduction puts this Psalm in the context of a conflict with the nation of Edom and verse 1 seems to suggest that this conflict initially was not going so well. Only a brief reference to this time some time later in the days of king Solomon gives us a clue to the initial failing of an army of Israel at this time at the hands of the Edomites. We read of this in 1Kings 11: 15,

“Earlier when David was fighting with Edom, Joab the commander of the army, who had gone up to bury the dead, had struck down all the men in Edom. Joab and all the Israelites stayed there for six months, until they had destroyed all the men in Edom”.

The fact that victory only came against Edom after Joab led what seems like a second army to the battle with Edom to bury the dead suggests that a major defeat had occurred there. Verse 9 of Psalm 60 is David’s direct prayer for restoration and help to fight the armies of Edom posed in the form of two questions which on has one answer,

“Who will bring me to the fortified city? Who will lead me to Edom?

This obvious answer is given in the next verse but before we deal with this let me say a few words about the ancient nation of Edom. Edom had caused problems and far back as the time of Jacob and Esau and Esau is described in Genesis 36: 40 as the father of the Edomites. “Got questions. org” says this about the history Edom and Israel,

Esau’s descendants eventually dominated the southern lands and made their living by agriculture and trade. One of the ancient trade routes, the King’s Highway (Numbers 20:17) passed through Edom, and when the Israelites requested permission to use the route on their exodus from Egypt, they were rejected by force.

“Because they were close relatives, the Israelites were forbidden to hate the Edomites (Deuteronomy 23:7). However, the Edomites regularly attacked Israel, and many wars were fought as a result. King Saul fought against the Edomites, and King David subjugated them, establishing military garrisons in Edom. With control over Edomite territory, Israel had access to the port of Ezion-Geber on the Red Sea, from which King Solomon sent out many expeditions.

After the reign of Solomon, the Edomites revolted and had some freedom until they were subdued by the Syrians under Tiglath-pileser”.

David mentions, “the fortified city” and interestingly archeologist discovered the ruins of this ancient city in 1812 and you can see pictures of this amazing fortress city cut into beautiful red rock. Wilcock makes this insightful comment about Petra and what David is saying about it in this verse with these words,

“This fortified city was well – nigh inaccessible place in the mountains where the amazing Nabatean capital of Petra would be cut out of the rock. David has been humbled, and knows that even he, the extraordinarily able man of war, cannot penetrate that fastness without the help of God”.

Edom was again a thorn in the side of Israel and after, what seems an unsuccessful attempt to push them back David prays to God for help to defeat them. Set backs are part of the Christian faith and even Paul on his missionary journeys faced problems and difficulties but God used these often to guide Paul in direction he wanted him to go as we see from these words in Acts 16: 6 – 10,

“Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them”.

So David has been praying for God’s restoration so that his people can be delivered from Israel’s enemies from Edom. Prayer too is the vital ingredient for our missionary endeavors as well and Paul regularly asked for prayer for this in his letters to the churches of his time. Paul speaks like this at the end of his letter to the Colossians, Colossians 4: 2 – 5,

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity”.

  1. A reminder of what not trusting in God for deliverance leads to (vs. 10)

David had to pray this prayer for help to defeat the Edomites because for some reason the first campaign against them was unsuccessful because of some kind of sin within his nation or in the army that fought them. Now in verse 10 David again speaks of how restoration to deliverance relies totally on God,

“Is it not you, O God, you who have rejected us and no longer go out with our armies?”

This is the answer to the two questions in the previous verse and it is a reminder of what not trusting in God for deliverance leads to namely defeat and despair. Derek Kidner points out that God’s restoration to deliverance is,

“Not taken for granted, the humbling lesson of God’s withdrawal is frankly faced”.

As Christians we too must not take God’s work of restoration in our lives for granted. Paul speaks strongly on this Philippians 3: 12 – 14,

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”.

Even this pressing on is a work of God in our lives as Paul speaks of in the previous chapter of Philippians, Philippians 2: 12 – 13,

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to full fill his good purpose”.

Notice how Paul speaks of God is at work in us as we are working on securing our salvation, which comes from him in the first place. Humanly speaking I cannot fully explain this but this is part of the mystery of God’s wonderful work of salvation in the lives of those being saved.

  1. Restoration relies on trusting in God alone (vs’s 11 – 12)

The total reliance on God to restore us to deliverance is the main theme of the last two verses of this Psalm. David goes from stating what happens to those who fail to trust in God to what happens if we do trust in God in verse 11,

“Give us aid against the enemy, for the help of man is worthless”.

David is recognizing here how much he and in doing so us need God’s help to be restored and delivered particularly from the powerful enemies we face in this life. David knew that when his first army came up against the forces of Edom they failed miserably and now in his prayer for restoration to deliverance he recognizes how he is totally dependant on God.

His army found out the hard way that “the help of man is worthless” and so he prays for God’s aid. The fact that there is little reference to this first defeat in the historical records and the record of the resounding defeat of the Edomites in three places in the bible reveals that in the long run the defeat of the first force alluded to in 1Kings 11: 15 was only a minor set back for Israel.

Obviously at the time of the writing of Psalm 44, by the Son of Korah and this Psalm, 60 by David this defeat by the Edomites at the time was very real and painful. However through the Psalm and particularly the counsel of King David the people must have turned to God for restoration and deliverance.

The result of a resounding defeat of the second army of Israel led by Joab and under him Abishai would have been a real boost to the faith of the people of that time and would have brought home to them the fact of David’s words that

the help of man is worthless”.

In the introduction to this Psalm I spoke of my own falling away from God in my mid teenage years and how I believed that so far as God was concerned I had blown it because I had walked away from God. However I made it clear that what I learnt from this is that my salvation did not depend on my obedience or anything else I could offer God but the fact is our contribution or efforts to save us is as David puts it “worthless”.

Paul makes this clear in a number of places and let me just give you two passages of scripture from the writings of Paul relating to this,

Romans 5: 6 – 8,

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”.

And

Ephesians 1: 4 – 10,

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfilment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ”.

So even though I left God he did not leave me and once I realised my salvation did not depend on my miserable contributions I realised the heart of the Gospel message, which is truly “Good News”. Note Paul’s words again in Ephesians 1: 6 and 7,

“To the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us”.

Notice Paul attributes our salvation as given to us, in fact lavished on us “in accordance with the riches of God’s grace”. We can do nothing but rest in, trust in God for our salvation as David said again in verse 11;

For the help of man is worthless”.

The final verse confirms that our spiritual restoration relies on trusting in God alone;

“With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies”.

In the time of David writing this Psalm, Israel was fighting desperate wars on two fronts, David in the North against the Assyrians and Joab in the South East against the Edomites and before Joab went to the Edomite conflict some kind of Israeli defeat had occurred in a battle against the Edomites. We saw that David prayed for a spiritual restoration in verse 1 and in his prayer for this God broke in to declare that he would defeat David’s enemies.

Now David prays for God’s help to defeat his enemies and in doing so declared his utter dependence on God for this spiritual restoration that would lead to this victory over his enemies.

David has the confidence in God that only true faith in God can bring when he declares,

“With God we will gain the victory”.

Spurgeon writes,

“From God all power proceeds, and all we do well is done by divine operation; but still we, as soldiers of the great king, are to fight, and to fight valiantly too. Divine working is not an argument for human inaction”.

I mentioned in the introduction of all the life style, self-help T.V programs on home restorations and how we all need from time to time for various reasons spiritual restorations. Well in the case of spiritual restorations we need to acknowledge that we cannot do it or experience it without God working in our lives by the work of the Holy Spirit.

We cannot restore our lives in God ourselves because we are weak and powerless but God can and does do this by the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. In some of Paul’s final instructions to Titus he says this about our Salvation in Christ and the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit to renew or restore us, Titus 3: 3 – 7,

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life”.

God alone saves us through Christ and God alone through the work of the Holy Spirit renews or restores us so that one day we will be glorified in Christ when we come into his presence in heaven which is what Paul is saying to Titus in the words,

“We might become heirs having the hope of eternal life”.

There is always a “we have” and “we will have” aspect to the true Christian faith and when Christians confuse the “will have” with the “we will have” then all kinds of foolish and often dangerous teaching begins.

I once visited a Christian lady many years ago on a pastoral visit who told me I was not living the “Victorious Christian life”, that I needed to see that not only had God forgiven my sins but he had made me perfect by faith as well. I referred her to Johns teaching in 1 John 1: 8 – 10,

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us”.

She counted these verses by saying this was directed to non – Christians and not true believers and then began to quote other verses that spoke of our future glorification claiming we can have that now by faith.

However I replied back to her that John was not writing to non believers but Christians in churches where people with teachings like she had had confused many Christians to believe they could in some way gain perfection in this life and not in the next when we go to be with Christ.

Listen to Paul again speaking of the process of sanctification by the work of the Holy Spirit in 2 Corinthians 4: 7 – 18,

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.  It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken. Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to him. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal”.

I have often quoted the story of a young Salvation Army girl who approached the Bishop of Durham, England, Dr. Wescott in the late 1800’s on a train and asked him are you saved?

His answer first in Greek then explained in English was,

“I am saved, I am being saved and I will be saved”

This is the correct biblical answer to that question.

We are saved by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ from the penalty of sin, which is death.

We are being saved by the process of sanctification, which is by the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives making us more like Christ.

We will be saved when either we die to be with Christ in heaven or are caught up in the ascension into heaven when Christ returns to judge this world and take his true followers home to God where we will be glorified in Christ forever.

So the Christian life is a life in which we battle against this world, sin and the devil and as we battle with these three great enemies of God we can take hold of David’s words in Psalm 60: 12 that say simply,

“With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies”.

However this battle never ceases in this life and we need to continually be restored

and empowered to fight our three great enemies. I will finish with the following words of John Calvin,

“All that David meant to assert is, that such confidence as are not derived from God are worthless and vain. And to confirm this position, he declares in the last verse of the psalm, that as, on the one hand we can do nothing without him, so, on the other, we can do all things by his help”.

And now my poem and my closing prayer:

RESTORE ME LORD AGAIN

Oh Lord I know that I have sinned

I’ve turned away again.

Restore me back to you Oh Lord

And give me power to win.

My world Oh lord seems upside down

I’m shaken at the core.

I seem to face such desperate times

Oh Lord I pray restore.

Chorus:

Restore, Restore

Restore Oh Lord

My weak and failing heart

Help me to have the power to win

Restore me Lord again.

But those who trust you Lord I know

Can raise your banner high

For you have given us your word

Oh hear my desperate cry.

Your word declares that we will win

Against your enemies

For Christ defeated sins dark curse

His paid all penalties.

Chorus:

Restore, Restore

Restore Oh Lord

My weak and failing heart

Help me to have the power to win

Restore me Lord again.

Who will give me victory?

Over sin and Satan’s power

Indeed it is Jesus Christ

Who helps me every hour.

Without God I’m powerless

I have no hope to win.

But Jesus gives me victory

Restore me Lord again.

Chorus:

Restore, Restore

Restore Oh Lord

My weak and failing heart

Help me to have the power to win

Restore me Lord again.

By: Jim Wenman

PRAYER:

Father in heaven I know I often fall to sin in this life forgive me Lord and restore me back to following you again. Help me to fight my three great enemies in this life, this world, Satan and his forces and my sinful heart with your Holy Spirits power. Help me Lord to grow bit by bit and become more like your Son as I wait for the day I will be glorified with him in heaven. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.

 

 

PSALM 60 TALK: SPIRITUAL RESTORATION (Both Corporate and Personal)

                             OR RESTORATION TO DELIVERANCE

(A Psalm that explores how a believer can come back to faith or trust in God after they have fallen away from God for some reason or another)

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide”.

INTRODUCTION

In previous Psalm talks like Psalm 31 I haven spoke about the confidence we can have in God in that once we truly come to him God will never let us go. This is a teaching I learnt in the bible at a crucial stage of my Christian life. Some might think I believe the bible says we can never fall away from following God but this is not what the bible teaches about the assurance of our faith. True believers can and do fall away from God but the bible teaches that if they had truly come to God in the first place he will never let them go and therefore if they fall away he will bring them back eventually to himself. One of the key verses to come to terms with here is Jesus teaching in Matthew 24: 13,

 “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”

This verse appears in the middle or a passage where Jesus is teaching about what will happen in the last days which we are living in and which is sometimes called “The Gospel Age”. Jesus teaches that believers will be persecuted for their faith in the last days and many will turn away from their faith but Jesus makes it clear in verse 13 that there will be true believers who will be known because they are the ones who endure to the end.

I know you can fall away from the faith because in my mid teenage years after having come to faith three years before I fell right away from following Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour. At 16 I went from school to work and sadly got involved with a number of young people who did not believe in God and in fact mocked those who claimed they believed in him. I seemed lost for nearly three years but through the encouragement of a former church fellowship leader who was older than me I eventually came back to faith in Christ. This leader, who I will simply call Diane, did not give up on me even though I had seemingly given up on the faith I seemingly once trusted in.

One day my non Christian friends really let me down and showed me I had wasted my time hanging around with them. I remembered my former church friends and especially Diane who seemed so much different than my so called non Christian friends. I went along to a church Youth meeting and was greeted with much love and acceptance and it changed my life.

It took a lot of intensive Christian counselling and teaching from people like Diane and others to convince me that even though I had given up on God he had not given up on me and over a period of a year I experienced a wonderful spiritual restoration which led to a strong and sure faith in Christ as my Lord and Saviour. Key verses like John 10: 27 – 30 became the basis of my spiritual restoration,

 “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”

Within three years of my spiritual restoration I was so involved in my local church and other Christian ministry that I believed God had called me into full time Bible College training which led three years later to full time Christian Youth ministry.

I believe Psalm 60 is all about Spiritual Restoration and the Psalm starts with a call for this,

“You have rejected us, O God, and burst upon us; you have been angry – now restore us!”

We know the context of this Psalm because the Hebrew heading tells us. This heading reads,

“For the director of music, To the tune of “The Lily of the Covenant. A miktam of David. For teaching. When he fought Aram Naharaim and Aram Zobah, and when Joab returned and struck down twelve thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt”.

I looked closely at this context in my Psalm talk on Psalm 44 and I quote myself here to bring you up to speed on the historical context of these two Psalms,

“Psalm 60 verse 10 reads,

“Is it not you, God, you who have now rejected us and no longer go out with our armies”?

While Psalm 44 verse 9 reads,

But now you have rejected and humbled us; you no longer go out with our armies”.

I think that Psalm 60 David’s version of Psalm 44 written by the Sons of Korah. This means that the possible historical setting of both Psalms is David’s war with his northern Assyrian neighbors and Joab’s battles with his easterly Edomite neighbors.

The Edomite conflict of David’s time is very interesting because it is presented in two bible references and the second indicates that for a time Israel’s forces did not do so well. The first reference to this conflict is 2 Samuel 8: 13 :

“And David became famous after he returned from striking down eighteen thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt. He put garrisons throughout Edom, and all the Edomites became subject to David. The Lord gave David victory wherever he went”.

This sounds like David had a fairly straightforward victory over the Edomites but the second reference sheds a little light on how David’s victory played its way out. It is a reference to this conflict in David’s time by a conflict Solomon had with the Edomites in his time. It is found in 1Kings 11: 15,

“Earlier when David was fighting with Edom, Joab the commander of the army, who had gone up to bury the dead, had struck down all the men in Edom. Joab and all the Israelites stayed there for six months, until they had destroyed all the men in Edom”.

The reference to Joab going up to Edom to “bury the dead” indicates that at first forces from Israel had suffered a major defeat. Also note how it took Joab and his men six months to have total victory over the Edomites”.

Psalm 44 could have been written at the time when the news of Israel’s defeat reached Jerusalem and the horror of the Nation trusting in God being defeated by their enemies caused one of the sons of Korah to write his Psalm, Psalm 44. While Psalm 60 was written around the same time in the same historical context by David maybe when he was still off fighting his northern Assyrian neighbors.

The other interesting detail is that the victory over the soldiers from Edom in the Valley of Salt is attributed to David in the 2 Samuel passage and Joab in the 1 Kings passage and Psalm 60 Hebrew heading while it is attributed to Abishai in a 1 Chronicles 18: 12 verse. The answer to this is given by Leopold,

“David was the commander – in – chief in charge of all operations; Joab was very likely delegated to take care of the Edomite campaign; Abishai served under him”.

There is a discrepancy of the number killed in the Valley of salt with 12,000 in the Psalm 60 Hebrew heading and 18,000 in 2 Samuel 8 passage but this could be simply a minor manuscript copying mistake.

So with the theme of “Spiritual Restoration” and the above historical context in mind my breakdown of this Psalm is:

  1. A CALL FOR RESTORATION (1 – 4)
  1. GOD’S PROMISE OF RESTORATION (5 – 8)
  1. GOD’S PROMISE OF RESTORATION APPLIED (9 – 12)
  1. A CALL FOR RESTORATION (1 – 4)

I have broken this first section down into three parts:

  1. The call for restoration (vs. 1)
  2. How God made his people call for restoration (vs’s 2 – 3)
  3. The basis for calling for restoration from God (vs. 4)

 

  1. The Call for restoration (vs.1)

We are very familiar with the concept of restoration today with all the self help / reality programs on T.V that explore home restorations or renovations. Houses can need this restoration for a number of reasons. Maybe they have been abused by former tenants or owners or maybe they have just got old and have not been maintained by their former owners. My home is now thirty years old and we have been getting a number of maintenance jobs done over the last couple of years.

Something has gone wrong with David’s people back home for David to write in verse 1,

“You have rejected us, O God, and burst forth upon us; you have been angry – now restore us”.

We are not told in the Psalm or the historical bible texts what went wrong back home but for some reason Israel has fallen out of favour with God. Some commentators have suggested that maybe David’s campaign in the North against the Assyrians did not have God’s sanction but we cannot be sure of this. Just as if we take over a house that needs renovations or restoration we might not know who is to blame for the damage to the building, the owner or his last tenants. Even if we do not know what or who caused the damage what is clear to us is the damage that has been done.

David uses two words to indicate God’s displeasure with him and his people, “Rejected us” and “Angry” obviously with us as well. The bible yet again presents the story of God’s people with what many call, “Warts and all”, if the bible was made up as fiction dressed up as history its writers did a more than clever job writing there fiction as though it is factual history of people who are very human and often pronged to sin and failure. No other religious scriptures read like the bible.

Some might say God becoming angry with his special people does not sound like the actions of a loving God but the writer to the Hebrews explains God’s actions as loving Discipline as we read in Hebrews when he picks up teaching from Deuteronomy 5: 8 in Hebrews 12: 5 – 6,

“And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as children—

“My child, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, or lose heart when you are punished by him; for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves, and chastises every child whom he accepts”.

During my three years of falling away from God in my mid teenage years I to felt the discipline of the Lord and when I read the poetry I wrote during that time I can see I was not a happy person. My life was in a mess and it was only when I turned back to the Lord around the age of 19 that I again realised God’s blessings in my life. Many people who have so much pain and difficulty in their lives could be people under the discipline of God although this is not the only reason the bible gives for pain and difficulty in a person’s life.

In my last Psalm talk I made the point that the big difference between believers and non believers is that when life throws us pain or difficulties the believer has a powerful and loving God to turn to.

So this is what David did when he heard the news of the both the threat of the Edomites and the horrible defeat to them, so he prays,

“Restore us”

God both wants us to pray this and promises to answer this as we will see in the next two sections of this Psalm talk.

  1. How God made his people call for restoration (vs’s 2 – 3)

In verses 2 and 3 David spells out the horrible consequences of God becoming angry with his people when they had in some way turned away from following him. In verse 2 he uses the poetic image of an earthquake,

“You have shaken the land and torn it open; mend its fractures for it is quaking”.

I have never experienced an earthquake or seen live the results of an earthquake. I have seen T.V news footage of earthquakes and there consequences. Everything seems to get tossed around including human beings. The pictures of the earth splitting apart and objects like motorcars falling down through them is really frightening and unnerving. This is the picture David is presenting as what happened to his people when the news of one of its armies being defeat by the Edomites came through to them.

Sin can have awful and powerful consequences in the lives of people and the communities they live in. A bible story I find both interesting and disturbing is the story of the destruction of the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19. In Genesis 18: 20 – 21 we read this about these cities,

“Then the Lord said, “How great is the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah and how very grave their sin!  I must go down and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me; and if not, I will know.”

Then in the next chapter we read of the two angels from God going into the city of Sodom and Lot asks these special messengers from God as that is what the word “Angel” actually means to come into his house as he feared what the men of Sodom would do to them. Lot’s fears become real when we read in Genesis 19: 4 – 5,

“But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house; and they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, so that we may know them.”

The words, “that we may know them” actually mean have sex with them which means they wanted to rape them. This is a horrible picture of a whole community turning away from God in rebellion and for this we read in Genesis 19: 23 – 26 of their destruction and the destruction of Lots wife who disobeys God’s strict instructions of not looking back at Sodom when they fled the city,

The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar.

Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulphur and fire from the Lord out of heaven; and he overthrew those cities, and all the Plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt”.

Sin and rebellion to God can cause horrible consequences for people and the communities they live in and when God decides to judge a community for its many sins then it will feel like David described as though God had,

“Shaken the land”

The next verse, verse 3 makes it clear that Israel at the time of the Edomite assault and victory over one of its armies sent shock waves through the Nation and really knocked people off there once secure ground of God’s blessings. The verse reads,

“You have shown your people desperate times; you have given us wine that makes us stagger”.

The expression in the verse that says, you have given us wine that makes us stagger” is a vivid picture of a nation reeling with the effects of the Edomite invasion and Calvin explains its meaning with these words,

“It is evident that the Psalmist alludes to some kind of poisoned drink, which deprives a person of his senses, insinuating that the Jews were stupefied by their calamities”.

So God used the set back of the Edomite victory over Israel as a means of waking them up to their shortcomings and their need for restoration.

Often this is what happens to us today. We might become wayward or at least lacking in our commitment to the Lord and some kind of problem or even disaster wakes us up to turn to God in prayer and repentance. God can and does use problems and difficulties in our lives to give us wake up calls in our walk with him. Sometimes a time of difficulty in our lives can really sober us up to a better commitment and walk with the Lord.

This is why all the New Testament writers speak of how God uses suffering or difficulties in our lives for our good. Listen to how Peter puts it in 1 Peter 4: 12 and 13,

“ Dear friends, don’t be surprised by the terrible things happening to you. The trouble you are having has come to test you. So don’t feel as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be joyful that you are taking part in Christ’s sufferings. Then you will have even more joy when Christ returns in glory.”

Paul takes this idea a step further when he writes in Romans 8: 28,

“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him. He appointed them to be saved in keeping with his purpose”.

  1. The basis for calling for restoration from God (vs. 4)

So we have seen so far that David, on behalf of his people called for God’s restoration of his people because they faced, for some reason not declared, God’s anger against them in the form of an Edomite invasion.

Now he declares clearly in verse 4 why he believes he can call on God to restore his people, he writes,

“But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner to be unfurled against the bow”.

The first part of the verse is easy to understand because it speaks of those who fear God, those who truly believe in him to rally around or under a banner. In ancient battles armies fought under special banners or flags that provided a rally point for the army to go forward together,

The true believers of Israel are to band together and look to God their banner or focus as the people of God.

This verse is not clear on first reading because of the strange expression at the end of it, “against the bow”. Commentators like Leopold and Kinder believe that the Hebrew word translated “bow” should actually be translated “truth”. This gives the verse a very different meaning expressed well by Leopold who writes,

“This banner is to be displayed “because of the truth” which means, of course, the truth and fidelity of God. On God’s truth they are to bank until these calamities are overpowered”.

As Jews and now as Christians we are people of the book or as we call it the bible and it is because of the bible and what it teaches us about our God that we can confidently go to him for help and restoration in our daily lives.

Paul says this about the bible which he calls “Scripture” in 2 Timothy 3: 16 – 17,

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work”.

The God of the bible then is the “banner” or rallying point that all Christians come together and move ahead as one great people of God.

So far as what the bible says about falling away from God and finding the restoration or forgiveness we need then we need to look no further than the words of John in 1 John 1: 8 – 9,

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”.

I believe the entire Christian life then is a continual process of restoration or reformation as we look to God and his word for continued forgiveness and sanctification throughout the ups and downs of this life.

One day this process of restoration or reformation will be over and that is when we pass from this life to the next where we will be glorified in Christ Jesus our Lord. This is what Paul is speaking about in 2 Corinthians 3: 18,

“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit”.

  1. GOD’S PROMISE OF RESTORATION (5 – 8)

I have broken this second section into two parts:

  1. The Call again for restoration (vs. 5)
  2. God’s answer to this call for restoration (6 – 8)
  3. The call again for restoration (vs.5)

Now that David has reminded himself and his readers that they need to trust in the revealed God of the bible, which we believe is the explanation of the expression,

“You have raised a banner to be unfurled against the truth (not the bow)”

David again returns to his prayer or call for restoration and deliverance in these words,

“Save us and help us with your right hand            “.

This is a remarkable prayer of faith typical of David’s prayers in the book of Psalms many times in the first book of Psalms we read words like Psalm 30: 1 – 3,

“I will exalt you O Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. O Lord my God, I called to you for help and you healed me. O Lord, you brought me up from the grave, you spared me from going down into the pit”.

All of David’s prayers or calls to God for help come in the context of very difficult circumstances and I have made the point many times that this is because of what God told David would happen to him and his followers in Psalm 2: 2,

“The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and his anointed one”.

David I believe had to pray this prayer because when he was off fighting nations to the north taking a stand against them he was attacked from the east by the Nation of Edom. Not only that a later reference to this time and the words of the start of this Psalm indicate Israel because of some kind of sin had suffered a awful defeat at the hands of the Nation of Edom.

Now David calls for salvation and help from the right hand of God. In most ancient cultures the right hand was a symbol of a Kings power and authority and this comes from the fact that the right hand is usually the most powerful and important hand of the two we have. “Got questions? Org web site says this about the right hand of God,

“The term “God’s right hand” in prophecy refers to the Messiah to whom is given the power and authority to subdue his enemies”.

This idea of the right hand belonging to the coming of the Messiah is beautifully spoken about by Paul as having been for filled in Jesus Christ in Ephesians 1: 18 – 21,

“ I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come”.

The second half of verse five reads,

“That those you love may be delivered”.

Michael Wilcock aptly writes,

“Those God temporarily rejected (vs.1) are still those he loves (vs.5)”

As I said in the introduction we might desert or attempt to desert God but God will not desert us even if for a time he might discipline us for our sins by appearing to have deserted us.

This is what happened eventually to Israel when for 70 years they went into exile under the Babylonians. Even then God still was with his people and loved them as we see in scriptures like the Book of Daniel and Ezekiel. Ezekiel speaks of God’s restoration of the nation of Israel in Ezekiel 37: 21 – 23,

“This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God”.

So God always had a faithful remnant of true believers who David calls here in verse 5, “those you love” or “beloved of God”. The New Testament uses the term “Beloved” to describe God’s people and clearly teaches that we didn’t love God but rather God loved us and this comes out clearly in a passage like 1John 4: 7 – 12,

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us”.

So the beloved of God are the people God loves and they show they are loved of God by the way they respond to God with love. David knew God loved him and he responded with love for God.

Finally here the promise is that those who are loved by God will be delivered. The full quote from Michael Wilcock I started to quote at the beginning of this section actually says,

“Those God temporarily rejected (vs.1) are still those he loves (vs.5). To their words of prayer he responds with words of promise”.

These words of promise start at the end of verse 5 and fully blossom in the next three verses.

  1. God’s answer to this call for restoration (6 – 8)

The words of promise are again God breaking into the Psalm and speaking directly to us. We saw the first example of this in an earlier Psalm of David, Psalm 12: 5,

“Because of the oppression of the weak and the groaning of the needy, I will now arise, says the Lord, ‘I will protect them from those who malign them”.

The expression,

“God has spoken from his sanctuary”

Is a bit of a puzzle to understand but I like Derk Kinder’s explanation of what is possibly means,

“The scene of a festival such as in Deuteronomy 31: 10ff)”

The Deuteronomy passage Kidner quotes is called “The Feast of Tabernacles” which took place every seven years.

So maybe this revelation from God actually took place during one of these festival occasions. The sure fact is that the content of this revelation from God is nothing short of the original promise of God to Abraham about the land his descendents would inherit.

Psalm 60: 6 says,

“In triumph I will parcel out Shechem”

Genesis 12: 6 and 7 says,

“Abram travelled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. The Lord appeared to Abram and said, ‘to your offspring I will give this land. So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him”.

Later Jacob, Abrahams grandson journeys across this promise land from Succoth which is one side of the Jordon to Shechem which is on the other side it, which we read about in Genesis 33: 17 – 20,

“Jacob, however, went to Sukkoth, where he built a place for himself and made shelters for his livestock. That is why the place is called Sukkoth.

After Jacob came from Paddan Aram, he arrived safely at the city of Shechem in Canaan and camped within sight of the city. For a hundred pieces of silver, he bought from the sons of Hamor, the father of ShechemEl , the plot of ground where he pitched his tent. There he set up an altar and called it Elohe Israel.

Leupold sums up the significance of what God is saying here and in the next two verses as,

“This is a free adaptation of God’s promises to the nation which he made in various forms and ways throughout the whole of the Pentateuch (first five books of the bible)”.

Therefore God is saying to David and Israel that he gave them there land and he will help them keep it by his triumph over the people who live in it.

The next two verses make this clear as God spells out his Lordship over the people who live in the promised land and his triumph over those who are not his people.

Verse 7 mentions 4 tribes of Israel:

“Gilead is mine, and Manasseh is mine; Ephraim is my helmet, Judah my scepter

  1. Gilead – is simply called, “mine” which literally means God has dominion over it or over them. The tribes of Gad and Reuben inhabited the area known as Gilead.
  1. Manasseh – is also simply called “mine” – Like the previous verse indicated with Succoth and Shechem as places God had triumph over in that region. Now the tribes of Israel that are on both sides of the Jordon are spoken of and God says he has dominion over them.
  2. Ephraim is called “my helmet” – Gilead (where the tribes of Gad and Reuben dwell) and Manasseh which are tribes of Israel to the east of the Jordon while Ephraim and Judah are to the west but Ephraim is seen as strategically important with the term “helmet” being given them as it held the central position of the western side of the Jordan next to Judah. For this reason like a helmet protects the vital part of the body, the head, so Ephraim protected Judah and in doing so all of Israel.
  1. Judah – is simply called “My Scepter” – Which is simply a term for ruler or in this        context God’s ruling tribe. Some commentators believe “My Scepter” should be translated “My lawgiver” but this too simply means God’s tribe from which God’s rule or law is administered from.

While verse 8 mentions 3 Nations:

Moab is my washbasin, upon Edom I toss my sandal; over Philistia I shout in triumph”.

  1. Moab – is simply called “my washbasin” – The Pulpit commentary explains this term well with these words,

“ ‘My washbasin’, a term of extreme contempt. The subjugation of Moab was prophesied by Balaam (Numbers 24: 17), and effected by David (2 Samuel 8: 2)”

  1. Edom – is simply described by God as, “”I toss my sandal” – Ellicot in his commentary

explains the meaning of this term with these words,

“The most natural explanation of this figure is that Edom is disgraced to the character of the slave to whom the conqueror tosses his sandals that they may be cleaned”.

Remember it was Edom who had caused the original crisis for David’s cry for restoration. Now God says they are no more than slaves he tosses his dirty sandals at to be cleaned.

  1. Philistia – is simply described by God as, “I shout in triumph” – This term again is

Simply saying that God like the other nations will triumph over this nation. This

Prophecy of God triumphed over Philistia was for filled in David’s time through

David himself. We read of this in 2 Samuel 8: 1,

“In the course of time, David defeated the Philistines and subdued them, and he took Metheg Ammah from the control of the Philistines”.

So God’s special direct speaking in the previous three verses speak clearly of how he is the Sovereign Lord of the nations and this points us back to that central theme of both books one and two of the Psalms which is expressed clearly in Psalm 2: 2 – 6,

“The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.” The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.”

 

What then do the verses in both Psalm 60: 6 – 8 and the verses in Psalm 2: 2 – 6 have to say to us as Christians today?

I think we can draw three applications from these verses:

  1. We must realize that whenever we read in the Old Testament about God having dominion over another nation we are looking at the Sovereign rule of God over everything including the Nations of this world. Paul speaks of how Jesus is the Sovereign Lord of everything and how we must relate to this in Ephesians 1: 18 – 23,

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.

And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way”.

 

  1. We must also realize that we like David and his people are God’s chosen people who the world hates and opposes. We are according to Peter in 1 Peter 2: 11 are,

“Aliens and strangers in the world”

 

And therefore like Christ who is the one true great anointed king of God will be

opposed by the non believers of this world who are en- powered by Satan and

his evil forces. However even though we are caught up in this great and terrible

spiritual battle we need to look to God for the ability to fight victoriously in this

battle as Paul says in Ephesians 6: 10 – 11,

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes”.

 

  1. Finally even though the Old Testament spoke of victory over actual nations of this world the New Testament teaches that we are no longer involved in a battle of nation against nation but we are involved in a far greater spiritual battle as Paul

goes on to speak of in Ephesians 6: 12,

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”.

 

A big mistake some Christians made in the past was that they like the extreme Muslims today thought that God called them to a Holy War against un-believing people in this world. This is not in the bible and is a distortion of the Old testaments teaching without properly coming to terms with what the New Testament teaches about how God wants us to conduct ourselves in this Gospel age that started after the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ and the sending to all believers the Holy Spirit.

An interesting passage we have been looking at lately at the Church I attend sets up I believe the way God wants Christians to operate in the Gospel age we are also part of. It is the final words of Jesus to his disciples in Acts 1: 4 – 8,

“On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

 

Just to make sure we do not miss understand what Jesus wants us to be involved in unto he comes again to end this Gospel age we have Matthews recollection of Jesus last commands to his disciples in Matthew 28: 18 – 20,

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

  1. GOD’S PROMISE OF RESTORATION APPLIED (9 – 12)

David now turns to a more positive message of hope and victory in third and final section of this Psalm. This is the pattern of many of David’s Psalms which are called laments. In my introduction to the Psalms which you can also read on my blog called, “Psalm Talks” I said this about laments:

Lament Psalms are prayers uttered by the author to God usually with a complaint against some kind of problem particularly an injustice the author has experienced. These psalms often start from a very low point but usually rise by the end of the Psalm with the promises of God ringing in the minds of the reader”.

 

I have broken this final section into three sections:

  1. Restored to be able to be delivered from our enemies (vs. 9)
  2. A reminder of what not trusting in God for deliverance leads to (vs. 10)
  3. Restoration relies on trusting in God alone (vs’s 11 – 12)

 

  1. Restored to be able to be delivered from our enemies (vs. 9)

 

The introduction puts this Psalm in the context of a conflict with the nation of Edom and verse 1 seems to suggest that this conflict initially was not going so well. Only a brief reference to this time some time later in the days of king Solomon gives us a clue to the initial failing of an army of Israel at this time at the hands of the Edomites. We read of this in 1Kings 11: 15,

“Earlier when David was fighting with Edom, Joab the commander of the army, who had gone up to bury the dead, had struck down all the men in Edom. Joab and all the Israelites stayed there for six months, until they had destroyed all the men in Edom”.

The fact that victory only came against Edom after Joab led what seems like a second army to the battle with Edom to bury the dead suggests that a major defeat had occurred there. Verse 9 of Psalm 60 is David’s direct prayer for restoration and help to fight the armies of Edom posed in the form of two questions which on has one answer,

“Who will bring me to the fortified city? Who will lead me to Edom?

This obvious answer is given in the next verse but before we deal with this let me say a few words about the ancient nation of Edom. Edom had caused problems and far back as the time of Jacob and Esau and Esau is described in Genesis 36: 40 as the father of the Edomites. “Got questions. org” says this about the history Edom and Israel,

Esau’s descendants eventually dominated the southern lands and made their living by agriculture and trade. One of the ancient trade routes, the King’s Highway (Numbers 20:17) passed through Edom, and when the Israelites requested permission to use the route on their exodus from Egypt, they were rejected by force.

 

“Because they were close relatives, the Israelites were forbidden to hate the Edomites (Deuteronomy 23:7). However, the Edomites regularly attacked Israel, and many wars were fought as a result. King Saul fought against the Edomites, and King David subjugated them, establishing military garrisons in Edom. With control over Edomite territory, Israel had access to the port of Ezion-Geber on the Red Sea, from which King Solomon sent out many expeditions.

After the reign of Solomon, the Edomites revolted and had some freedom until they were subdued by the Syrians under Tiglath-pileser”.

 

David mentions, “the fortified city” and interestingly archeologist discovered the ruins of this ancient city in 1812 and you can see pictures of this amazing fortress city cut into beautiful red rock. Wilcock makes this insightful comment about Petra and what David is saying about it in this verse with these words,

“This fortified city was well – nigh inaccessible place in the mountains where the amazing Nabatean capital of Petra would be cut out of the rock. David has been humbled, and knows that even he, the extraordinarily able man of war, cannot penetrate that fastness without the help of God”.

 

Edom was again a thorn in the side of Israel and after, what seems an unsuccessful attempt to push them back David prays to God for help to defeat them. Set backs are part of the Christian faith and even Paul on his missionary journeys faced problems and difficulties but God used these often to guide Paul in direction he wanted him to go as we see from these words in Acts 16: 6 – 10,

“Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them”.

So David has been praying for God’s restoration so that his people can be delivered from Israel’s enemies from Edom. Prayer too is the vital ingredient for our missionary endeavors as well and Paul regularly asked for prayer for this in his letters to the churches of his time. Paul speaks like this at the end of his letter to the Colossians, Colossians 4: 2 – 5,

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity”.

  1. A reminder of what not trusting in God for deliverance leads to (vs. 10)

 

David had to pray this prayer for help to defeat the Edomites because for some reason the first campaign against them was unsuccessful because of some kind of sin within his nation or in the army that fought them. Now in verse 10 David again speaks of how restoration to deliverance relies totally on God,

“Is it not you, O God, you who have rejected us and no longer go out with our armies?”

 

This is the answer to the two questions in the previous verse and it is a reminder of what not trusting in God for deliverance leads to namely defeat and despair. Derek Kidner points out that God’s restoration to deliverance is,

“Not taken for granted, the humbling lesson of God’s withdrawal is frankly faced”.

 

As Christians we too must not take God’s work of restoration in our lives for granted. Paul speaks strongly on this Philippians 3: 12 – 14,

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”.

Even this pressing on is a work of God in our lives as Paul speaks of in the previous chapter of Philippians, Philippians 2: 12 – 13,

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to full fill his good purpose”.

Notice how Paul speaks of God is at work in us as we are working on securing our salvation, which comes from him in the first place. Humanly speaking I cannot fully explain this but this is part of the mystery of God’s wonderful work of salvation in the lives of those being saved.

  1. Restoration relies on trusting in God alone (vs’s 11 – 12)

The total reliance on God to restore us to deliverance is the main theme of the last two verses of this Psalm. David goes from stating what happens to those who fail to trust in God to what happens if we do trust in God in verse 11,

“Give us aid against the enemy, for the help of man is worthless”.

 

David is recognizing here how much he and in doing so us need God’s help to be restored and delivered particularly from the powerful enemies we face in this life. David knew that when his first army came up against the forces of Edom they failed miserably and now in his prayer for restoration to deliverance he recognizes how he is totally dependant on God.

His army found out the hard way that “the help of man is worthless” and so he prays for God’s aid. The fact that there is little reference to this first defeat in the historical records and the record of the resounding defeat of the Edomites in three places in the bible reveals that in the long run the defeat of the first force alluded to in 1Kings 11: 15 was only a minor set back for Israel.

Obviously at the time of the writing of Psalm 44, by the Son of Korah and this Psalm, 60 by David this defeat by the Edomites at the time was very real and painful. However through the Psalm and particularly the counsel of King David the people must have turned to God for restoration and deliverance.

The result of a resounding defeat of the second army of Israel led by Joab and under him Abishai would have been a real boost to the faith of the people of that time and would have brought home to them the fact of David’s words that

the help of man is worthless”.

In the introduction to this Psalm I spoke of my own falling away from God in my mid teenage years and how I believed that so far as God was concerned I had blown it because I had walked away from God. However I made it clear that what I learnt from this is that my salvation did not depend on my obedience or anything else I could offer God but the fact is our contribution or efforts to save us is as David puts it “worthless”.

Paul makes this clear in a number of places and let me just give you two passages of scripture from the writings of Paul relating to this,

Romans 5: 6 – 8,

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”.

And

Ephesians 1: 4 – 10,

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfilment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ”.

So even though I left God he did not leave me and once I realised my salvation did not depend on my miserable contributions I realised the heart of the Gospel message, which is truly “Good News”. Note Paul’s words again in Ephesians 1: 6 and 7,

“To the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us”.

 

Notice Paul attributes our salvation as given to us, in fact lavished on us “in accordance with the riches of God’s grace”. We can do nothing but rest in, trust in God for our salvation as David said again in verse 11;

For the help of man is worthless”.

 

The final verse confirms that our spiritual restoration relies on trusting in God alone;

“With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies”.

 

In the time of David writing this Psalm, Israel was fighting desperate wars on two fronts, David in the North against the Assyrians and Joab in the South East against the Edomites and before Joab went to the Edomite conflict some kind of Israeli defeat had occurred in a battle against the Edomites. We saw that David prayed for a spiritual restoration in verse 1 and in his prayer for this God broke in to declare that he would defeat David’s enemies.

Now David prays for God’s help to defeat his enemies and in doing so declared his utter dependence on God for this spiritual restoration that would lead to this victory over his enemies.

David has the confidence in God that only true faith in God can bring when he declares,

“With God we will gain the victory”.

 

Spurgeon writes,

“From God all power proceeds, and all we do well is done by divine operation; but still we, as soldiers of the great king, are to fight, and to fight valiantly too. Divine working is not an argument for human inaction”.

 

I mentioned in the introduction of all the life style, self-help T.V programs on home restorations and how we all need from time to time for various reasons spiritual restorations. Well in the case of spiritual restorations we need to acknowledge that we cannot do it or experience it without God working in our lives by the work of the Holy Spirit.

We cannot restore our lives in God ourselves because we are weak and powerless but God can and does do this by the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. In some of Paul’s final instructions to Titus he says this about our Salvation in Christ and the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit to renew or restore us, Titus 3: 3 – 7,

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life”.

 

God alone saves us through Christ and God alone through the work of the Holy Spirit renews or restores us so that one day we will be glorified in Christ when we come into his presence in heaven which is what Paul is saying to Titus in the words,

“We might become heirs having the hope of eternal life”.

 

There is always a “we have” and “we will have” aspect to the true Christian faith and when Christians confuse the “will have” with the “we will have” then all kinds of foolish and often dangerous teaching begins.

I once visited a Christian lady many years ago on a pastoral visit who told me I was not living the “Victorious Christian life”, that I needed to see that not only had God forgiven my sins but he had made me perfect by faith as well. I referred her to Johns teaching in 1 John 1: 8 – 10,

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us”.

She counted these verses by saying this was directed to non – Christians and not true believers and then began to quote other verses that spoke of our future glorification claiming we can have that now by faith.

However I replied back to her that John was not writing to non believers but Christians in churches where people with teachings like she had had confused many Christians to believe they could in some way gain perfection in this life and not in the next when we go to be with Christ.

Listen to Paul again speaking of the process of sanctification by the work of the Holy Spirit in 2 Corinthians 4: 7 – 18,

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.  It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken. Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to him. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

 

 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal”.

 

I have often quoted the story of a young Salvation Army girl who approached the Bishop of Durham, England, Dr. Wescott in the late 1800’s on a train and asked him are you saved?

His answer first in Greek then explained in English was,

“I am saved, I am being saved and I will be saved”

 

This is the correct biblical answer to that question.

We are saved by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ from the penalty of sin, which is death.

We are being saved by the process of sanctification, which is by the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives making us more like Christ.

We will be saved when either we die to be with Christ in heaven or are caught up in the ascension into heaven when Christ returns to judge this world and take his true followers home to God where we will be glorified in Christ forever.

So the Christian life is a life in which we battle against this world, sin and the devil and as we battle with these three great enemies of God we can take hold of David’s words in Psalm 60: 12 that say simply,

“With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies”.

 

However this battle never ceases in this life and we need to continually be restored and empowered to fight our three great enemies. I will finish with the following words of John Calvin,

“All that David meant to assert is, that such confidence as are not derived from God are worthless and vain. And to confirm this position, he declares in the last verse of the psalm, that as, on the one hand we can do nothing without him, so, on the other, we can do all things by his help”.

 

And now my poem and my closing prayer:

RESTORE ME LORD AGAIN

Oh Lord I know that I have sinned

I’ve turned away again.

Restore me back to you Oh Lord

And give me power to win.

My world Oh lord seems upside down

I’m shaken at the core.

I seem to face such desperate times

Oh Lord I pray restore.

Chorus:

Restore, Restore

Restore Oh Lord

My weak and failing heart

Help me to have the power to win

Restore me Lord again.

But those who trust you Lord I know

Can raise your banner high

For you have given us your word

Oh hear my desperate cry.

Your word declares that we will win

Against your enemies

For Christ defeated sins dark curse

His paid all penalties.

Chorus:

Restore, Restore

Restore Oh Lord

My weak and failing heart

Help me to have the power to win

Restore me Lord again.

Who will give me victory?

Over sin and Satan’s power

Indeed it is Jesus Christ

Who helps me every hour.

Without God I’m powerless

I have no hope to win.

But Jesus gives me victory

Restore me Lord again.

Chorus:

Restore, Restore

Restore Oh Lord

My weak and failing heart

Help me to have the power to win

Restore me Lord again.

By: Jim Wenman

PRAYER:

 

Father in heaven I know I often fall to sin in this life forgive me Lord and restore me back to following you again. Help me to fight my three great enemies in this life, this world, Satan and his forces and my sinful heart with your Holy Spirits power. Help me Lord to grow bit by bit and become more like your Son as I wait for the day I will be glorified with him in heaven. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

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