# 248 A journey through the Psalms. Psalm 80. Restore us, O God.

What a sad sight it was. I saw it one day as we drove past the house where it was parked. Later I wondered if this rather neglected, mouldy, rusty caravan with flat tyres could have potential for restoration. Could it look good again and even be useful in travelling around in? So, I asked the owner if he was interested in selling it, and he was. He had lost interest in it, for him it was a thing of the past, no longer useful for his purposes. So, he sold it cheaply, about a third of what it would have been worth if he had cared for it instead of leaving it out in the weather. It is now parked in our car port and the process of restoration has begun and it is looking better every day.

Restoration is one of a number of themes in this, yet another of the Asaph Psalms. Today we will consider this recurring theme which we read in verses 3, 7 and 19 where the psalmist prays:

   Restore us, O God;
    make your face shine on us,
    that we may be saved.

Maybe today you are feeling a little like our tired looking caravan, sensing the need for God’s work of restoration in your life. Maybe the words of Psalm 51:12 need to be your prayer: “O God… Restore to me the joy of your salvation.”  If so, this prayer psalm is for you.

The word “restore” has a few meanings including to return (someone or something) to a former condition, place, or position. It can also mean to give (something stolen, taken away, or lost) back to the original owner or recipient. Interestingly, our English word restaurant comes from the same Latin word restaurare, meaning to renew.  “According an often-repeated account that was first published in 1853, the first restaurant was opened in 1765 by a Parisian named Boulanger. Boulanger’s establishment on rue des Poulies, near the Louvre, served mostly bouillons restaurants—that is, “restorative broths.”             https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/the-history-of-restaurant

Hopefully Psalm 80 can act as a spiritual restorative broth in your life.

The first question we need to ask is, why does the psalmist sense the need of being restored by God? What has happened in his life and Israel’s life that has caused them to lose what was originally theirs? Well, let him explain as he cries out to the Lord, the One he calls Shepherd of Israel (v.1).

How long, Lord God Almighty,
    will your anger smoulder
    against the prayers of your people?
You have fed them with the bread of tears;
    you have made them drink tears by the bowlful.
You have made us an object of derisionto our neighbours,
    and our enemies mock us.

It is very obvious here that things are not good. The people are full of grief and to add fuel to the fire are being constantly mocked by their enemies. But there is more. Referring to Israel as a “Vine” planted by God, he then asks:

 12 Why have you broken down its walls
    so that all who pass by pick its grapes?
13 Boars from the forest ravage it,
    and insects from the fields feed on it.
14 Return to us, God Almighty!
    Look down from heaven and see!
Watch over this vine,
15     the root your right hand has planted,
    the son you have raised up for yourself.

16 Your vine is cut down, it is burned with fire;
    at your rebuke your people perish.

So, I think we get the idea!

According to some commentators, a possibility is that the situation referred to could be “the destruction of the northern tribes… (vv. 12-16)… the events of 722BC, when the northern kingdom [of Israel] was overrun and its capital Samaria fell to the invading Assyrians.” (# 5)

If so, this fits the dire description of their situation as described by the psalmist. Sadly, we know this tragedy was due to the sin of Israel when the people rebelled against him and worshiped idols. And, hence the desperate cry to God:  

Restore us, O God;
    make your face shine on us,
    that we may be saved.

The wonderful thing is that our God loves to restore us, his wayward people, back into a right relationship with himself. We read:

I have seen their ways, but I will heal them; I will guide them and restore comfort to Israel’s mourners.  (Isaiah 57:18)

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed.  (Psalm 126:1)

Then as we turn to the stories of Jesus, we read of him restoring the sight of the blind, hearing to the deaf, freedom for those possessed by evil spirits, healing for those paralysed and even some who had died being restored to their loved ones at His word.

So, no matter what your situation today, and whatever the reason, God is able to restore you. Maybe not everything back to exactly what it was before, but just maybe a more mature you, a stronger and better you. In the words of the Apostle Peter:

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.  (1 Peter 5:10)

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