Psalm 80: A Once Mighty Nation

Read Psalm 80:1-19

Prayer For A Once Mighty Nation

Restore us, O LORD God Almighty;
make your face shine upon us,
that we may be saved.
(Psalm 80:19)

How do you pray for a once-godly nation that is now suffering the just punishment for rebellion? You do what the psalmist did: Boldly, persistently and unashamedly pray for restoration!

Three times the psalmist made the exact same appeal for the restoration of Israel—Psalm 80:3,7,19. Each appeal is more intense than the previous, building to this crescendo of importunity in the final verse. He even sneaks in another plea for revival in the penultimate verse—Psalm 80:18. This guy is bent on spiritual awakening and national renewal in Israel!

What is interesting about Psalm 80—which you would agree is especially applicable for America right now—is that this desperate cry for restoration came during a time when the Almighty had removed his blessing because of the nation’s persistent rebellion. It was most likely written at the tail end of the Northern Kingdom’s rebellious run as a nation, and they were suffering the harsh reality of life without the protective hand of God—deservedly so!

How like America! We, too, have strayed from our once declared dependence upon the Almighty’s protective hand. We have abandoned the collective sense of our national raison d’être: To serve God’s purposes in the earth. Our belief that American exceptionalism results only from Divine Sovereignty has been severely damaged, perhaps without remedy. We have traveled so far down the road of spiritual rebellion that God will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorah if he withholds punishment on this nation much longer. That is really what we deserve.

But in reality, isn’t what was true of Israel, and what is true of America, true of you and me, too? At the end of the day, aren’t we all undeserving of anything but God’s judgment? Yet what is even more interesting about Psalm 80 is that the appeal for restoration is not based on the worthiness of Israel, it is rather rooted in the immutable character of God—who is gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in love and delights to show mercy rather than send calamity! (Psalm 103:8-14, Joel 2:13, Micah 7:18)

God has been very clear that consequences will follow sin; the law of sowing and reaping is unmistakably clear in Scripture. Yet the psalmist, along with other Biblical writers, often placed their hope in the mercy of God—and prayed like crazy for a crop failure.

I think it’s okay to pray for a crop failure. In fact, I would even say it’s wise to pray that way. Why? God may just substitute his mercy for discipline. The Message translation says of God in Micah 7:18, “Mercy is your specialty.”

Since mercy and grace are what makes God, God, why not tap into them and pray for the restoration of a once mighty nation—and perhaps, a once blessed life!

“Free grace can go into the gutter, and bring up a jewel!”
—Charles Spurgeon

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2 thoughts on “Psalm 80: A Once Mighty Nation

  1. What America needs most is another great awakening! And that will only happen as believers act like believers and churches act like the church is supposed to act. That will only happen as we, both individually and corporately, humble ourselves in repentance and prayer (II Chronicles 7:14). As the great revivalist, Charles Finney said, “There can be no revival when Mr. Amen and Mr. Wet-Eyes are not found in the audience.” Renewal will only happen as we truly live out our faith in deed, not just in word. Renewal will only happen as believers begin to clean up their act. The next great spiritual awakening in America will only happen when Christians get serious about penetrating this society as salt and light.

    I had a dream . . . it aligns with your message . . . as a song goes, Make us a prayer, let our prayers be a cry, humble our hearts so that you may draw nigh, Cause us to Stand and Cry out for this Land, Cause us to be a People set free, We'll stand as a house of prayer. "God wants to work" – do you have a place in your church that will allow God's movement among your congregation, I just did not see this type of ministry where as a people we minister to the Lord?

    • Hopefully, we, the church, are a people who minister to the Lord, and to whom the Lord ministers. If we look to the church as a place or a program as the mechanism that enables ministry to the Lord, and don’t view church as first and foremost a living organism, then our efforts will, at best, fall short. May we be both–the people whom the Lord inhabits, and the place that offers a practical process that facilitates the presence of God.