Read Psalm 80
Focus on verse 7
Restoration is what follows genuine repentance. Genuine repentance follows the realization that one has been wrong about something. We have all been there… digging our heels in because our pride won’t let us admit what our heart already knows…that we are on the wrong end of the argument. It requires a healthy dose of humility to admit that we have been wrong.
Israel had risen to become the greatest empire in the Middle East under the reign of Solomon. When Solomon’s son Rehoboam succeeded his father as king, he treated the northern tribes rather poorly causing them to rebel and divide the kingdom. With each succeeding generation the people of Israel drifted further from the devotion and faithfulness toward God that they had known under the reign of David and Solomon. The Lord sent these kings messages through the words of prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah, who pleaded with these kings and their people to return to the worship of Yahweh, to practice the law of Moses and to keep the Sabbath, however, the people would not listen and continued to drift further from the Lord who had brought them out of Egypt. They offended Him by following after the false gods of the Canaanites and by sacrificing their children to the false gods Baal and Molech, so God allowed them to experience the consequences of their choices and allowed the Assyrians and the Babylonians to invade and plunder the land.
The psalm of today’s reading appears to be a prayer asking God to relent from His anger and to restore His people once again promising to be faithful if only He will restore their freedom and allow them to return to their homeland.
The Lord eventually does restore the people to the land, after seventy years in Babylon, Nehemiah and Ezra lead a group back to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall and the temple. It would be interesting to attempt to determine if Asaph, who wrote this psalm, lived long enough to be a part of that company.
God continues to be more interested in restoration than in punishment for his people. A few centuries after this psalm was written God sent Jesus to be born in the little town of Bethlehem. Thirty-three years later the Jewish leaders turned Him over to the Romans to be crucified just outside the city of Jerusalem, however, three days later God raised Him back to life, verifying that His death was sufficient to restore our relationship with God.
It really is all about restoration. God desires us to be restored to Him but He leaves the decision to us. We have to choose to humble ourselves by repenting of our sin, asking for His forgiveness, and choosing to believe that Jesus paid the penalty that we deserve so that we can be restored to God. Its not complicated, but it is a choice we must make. To refuse to choose is to refuse to believe.