Restore us, O God; let Your face shine, that we may be saved (Psalm 80:3).
Have you ever read through the Old Testament? There’s an evident cycle in it for Israel…and it continues for many of us today.
But let Your hand be upon the one at Your right hand, the one whom You made strong for Yourself. Then we will never turn back from You; give us life, and we will call on Your name. Restore us, O Lord God of hosts; let Your face shine, that we may be saved (Psalm 80:17-19).
Psalm 80 was likely written during the reign of Rehoboam, son of King Solomon, after Israel was divided into two kingdoms (Israel and Judah), because the Psalmist seems to be praying for restoration of Israel into a single kingdom. But God didn’t divide Israel in half–they did that to themselves. If you read First and Second Chronicles, you see that Israel had a cycle they often repeated:
- WE LOVE GOD! OUR LIVES ARE GREAT!
- Hey, what are those people doing over there?
- Wow, that’s a cool statue.
- Yes, O statue, we will do whatever you say…
- God sends a prophet to tell Israel to stop worshiping other gods.
- Israel is conquered, oppressed, nearly destroyed or placed in exile (occasionally they repent like the prophet says, but not always).
- Israel complains: “God, our lives suck, if You save us we’ll never turn from You again!”
- Eventually God saves Israel.
- WE LOVE GOD! LIFE IS GREAT AGAIN!
- Hey, what’s going on over there…?
People love to say that the Bible is not relevant for the times we live in, but think for a moment. Have you ever thought or said these words, or something similar?
“God, if you just get me out of this mess, I’ll never _______ again.”
If you’ve said that more than once, then you live out the same cycle Israel did thousands of years ago. I know that I do. I don’t mean that I use God like a “get out of jail free” card all the time, but sometimes there are situations so complicated, out of control or just hard to handle that bargaining with God seems like the only way out.
For me, sometimes it sounds more like this: “God, if you just answer this one prayer the way I want, I promise I’ll read my Bible every day and never complain about anything ever again.” For me, not complaining lasts about 15 minutes; as for reading my Bible every day, well, I try, but sometimes I’m tired or life gets busy. Sometimes I just put other things ahead of that time.
The problem with this kind of bargaining cycle is that God knows our hearts. He already knows if you’re going to follow through with the promises you make. He also knows whether or not you’re going to make the same mistakes again and call on Him to save you again. Think carefully before you bargain with God because it might not be in the best interest of yourself or others.
God expects us to call on Him when we are in trouble, but He also expects us to learn from our mistakes. God never makes promises He isn’t going to keep–His promises come from the heart. My philosophy is this: Don’t make a promise to God that isn’t from the heart; when you make a promise from your heart, you’re more likely to try and keep it.
Girls, do you ever go through the “bargaining cycle” like Israel did back in the day?
Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of Your name; deliver us, and forgive our sins, for Your name’s sake (Psalm 79:9).
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