Turn Us Again, Oh God

A quick note:  I have started a study in Ephesians on my Traveling with Paul blog.  I’d love to have you check it out.  Click Here If you’re interested

Psalm 80

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth.

Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh stir up thy strength, and come and save us.

Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.

The writer here turns to God and ask him to listen. In the past he has led Joseph like a flock and He dwelt in the Holy Place. We see three of the tribes mentioned and he asked God to stir up their strength and come and save them.  But it’s the third verse I really want to center on here. The writer asked God to turn them again and cause His face to shine upon them.

In what areas of your life do you need to be turned? I know that I need to be turned to God in my prayer life. I have gotten out of the prayer habit and I really desire to get back into it. It was always first thing in the morning that I would take out my prayer list and go down the list of names taking, 15 minutes to a half an hour, sometimes longer, to pray over those people that I said I would pray for. I had my family on there. I had government officials on there. I have friends on there.  I also had people on there that had asked for prayer. I really worked at it and it took time to get to that level. But I have slacked off greatly and I need God to turn me back to a heart of Prayer and cause his face to shine on me in that area.
In what areas of your life does God need to turn you around? In what areas of your life do you want His face shining on you and you don’t feel it there now? Yes it is the beginning of a new year and I’m not asking you to make a New Year’s resolution – but I am asking you to be resolved. If there’s an area of your life where you really want God to touch you, would you be willing to share it in the comments and make a commitment today? Join me in drawing closer to God this year.
 O Lord God of hosts, how long wilt thou be angry against the prayer of thy people?

Thou feedest them with the bread of tears; and givest them tears to drink in great measure.

Thou makest us a strife unto our neighbours: and our enemies laugh among themselves.

Turn us again, O God of hosts, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.

Here’s this question that we’ve seen over and over again in the Psalms. How long will you be angry God? This time he actually attributed it to being angry with the prayers of His people not just angry at the people. Then he mentions some of the same things again;;  that God is giving them tears to drink and eat, and that He makes them a strife to their neighbors, and their enemies laugh at them. How long could you take it if you were those people? You don’t feel like God is answering your prayers. You think He is angry with the fact that you’re even asking.
I have heard several preachers say you should be able to ask once in faith and God should answer you. And if you don’t get an answer on the first time then your faith isn’t strong enough and you shouldn’t ask again. I totally and completely disagree with that. Even Jesus would disagree with that. He gave a story about a woman who went before a magistrate and asked several times and finally the magistrate gave in because of her persistence (Luke 18:1-8).  Jesus taught that we should keep praying. I never studied Greek but my understanding is that when Jesus spoke the words”ask ” and “seek” and “knock” in Matt 7:7-8, it was in a tense that means “keep on asking, keep on seeking and keep on knocking. We must be persistent with God.
In fact, I believe it takes more faith to ask again then it does ask once. Because when you ask again you truly believe that God is going to answer you. If you have children, you know what I mean.  Do they stop asking after one time?  Well. maybe yours did but mine didn’t.  They knew if they kept asking, they had a chance to eventually wear me down and I’d grant their request, at least in part.   I am just an earthy father.  My heavenly Father knows much better then I how to give good gifts (Matt 7:11).  Besides that, asking once and expecting Him to answer is like turning God into a vending machine in my humble opinion.

Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it.

Thou preparedst room before it, and didst cause it to take deep root, and it filled the land.

10 The hills were covered with the shadow of it, and the boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars.

11 She sent out her boughs unto the sea, and her branches unto the river.

12 Why hast thou then broken down her hedges, so that all they which pass by the way do pluck her?

13 The boar out of the wood doth waste it, and the wild beast of the field doth devour it.

14 Return, we beseech thee, O God of hosts: look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine;

15 And the vineyard which thy right hand hath planted, and the branch that thou madest strong for thyself.

16 It is burned with fire, it is cut down: they perish at the rebuke of thy countenance.

Then he starts to talk of Israel as a vine. He planted and He prepared and it caused the vine to take root and it filled the land.  It became a fruitful grapevine and over grew the whole country. But then people came in and broke down the protective hedges and plundered the grapes.  They bore out the wood that held the vines up and wasted the grapevine so that the wild beasts of the field devoured it. It was like the husbandman had given up on the vine. He then asks God to come back and take care of the Vine and visit it once again.
I am reminded so much of Jesus teaching in John 15 where H e is the vine and we are the branches. The Father is a husbandman and, through Jesus, He will never leave us like the nation of Israel was left in the writer’s eyes. But we might think He has left us at times. But we are promised by Jesus that God is a good husbandman and that He has to prune the vine in order to strengthen the vine. I’m not going to get into a whole discourse on vine care. I have talked to vineyard owners in the past couple years and learned a lot about what it takes. And they tell me that without pruning, the vine would produce as many grapes. God has to work on us in order for us to grow and be fruitful.  He’s a good husbandman. When we feel He is not there, and is not hearing our prayers, it is simply a time of pruning in our lives.  When He is finished, we will come out stronger.  He is always working on the branches.

17 Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself.

18 So will not we go back from thee: quicken us, and we will call upon thy name.

19 Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.

He closes out this psalm by asking God to have his hand upon the man that he made strong for himself. He asks God to quicken them and then he will call upon his name. Once again I disagree with the writer here because I feel like we need to call upon his name under the most difficult circumstances just like the writer is doing here. Don’t wait until you’re in the middle of a trial to start praying and praising. Have a regular prayer life way before that. And I’m not talking about a prayer life that centered on you. I’m talking about a prayer life that is centered on intercession. As we pray for others our prayer life becomes stronger, and he makes us strong for himself.
A third time he says “Turn us again, oh Lord God of hosts; cause your face to shine on us, and we shall be saved.” This is a major emphasis  of this  psalm. It’s repeated 3 times and I think we need to take it to heart. Examine your life today, truly look inside yourself and ask God where you need to turn, and then make a commitment to turn in that area. I know I plan to do that after reading this psalm.  It has put the conviction of the Holy Spirit in my in my heart. I hope it has yours as well.
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