Psalm 80 was written at a time of great difficulty for God’s people – almost certainly when Jerusalem was besieged by the Assyrians. The Assyrians had already overthrown Samaria and had conquered much of the land of Judah. Now they surrounded Jerusalem. Humanly speaking the situation was hopeless.
Today we are faced with global problems that seem insurmountable. We may well think that, humanly speaking, the situation is hopeless.
We may also be faced with personal issues such as difficult relationships, health problems, anxieties, and stress, and feel as if there’s no way out.
So, how should we pray? Well, this Psalm is very helpful. It includes a little refrain: ‘Restore us, make your face shine on us, that we may be saved’. ‘Restore us’ means more than just ‘make us better’, it also means ‘turn us round’. It includes an admission of looking the wrong way. You only see the light of God’s face shining on you when you turn round and begin to look at Him, instead of focussing all the time on the problems.
Verse 19 (quoted above) is the third time the refrain has come. Each time it’s slightly different. The first time it’s ‘Restore us, God’; the second time it’s ‘Restore us, God of Hosts’, and the third time it’s ‘Restore us, Yahweh, God of Hosts’. The Hebrew word for God (Elohim) comes in the very first verse of the bible. He is the Creator of the universe. The second time the refrain comes it is Elohim Shabaoth – God of heaven’s armies. Yes, there is a battle in the heavenly realms, but heaven’s armies always prevail in the end. And then, finally, he adds God’s true name, Yahweh – the God who has existed from all eternity, who is always there and who always will be.
While Jerusalem was under siege and the situation seemed hopeless, King Hezekiah ‘prayed to Yahweh’ (2 Kings 19:15). His prayer is full of declarations of the power and glory of God. Very soon after – perhaps that very night – 185,000 men of the besieging army died, and the rest withdrew. Jerusalem was liberated!
A hopeless situation? Well, I believe God would encourage us to look more at Him than at the problems, and to begin declaring the truths of who He is - Creator of the universe, Lord of the heavenly armies, God of gods and King of kings. He loves it when we pray like that. And praying like that always builds up our faith.
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