As we rejoin our series looking at the Selahs in the Psalms, let me remind you of the definition of Selah: (a) a pause to reflect—or “pause, and calmly think of that,” as the Amplified Bible says; (b) notice the contrasts; or (c) get ready for a crescendo.
Psalm 85 is a longing for revival. Not only longing for it but giving us the path to revival.
Many Christians say they want revival, but I’m not so certain they have the biblical definition in mind. When most people define revival, they use descriptions about exuberant worship, manifestations of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the church reenergized for ministry, and non-believers flocking to see what’s happening and then accepting Jesus into their hearts as a result.
But those are actually the results of revival, not the revival itself.
Take a look at this overview of Psalm 85:
- a look back (vv. 1-3)
- a look around (vv. 4-6)
- a look ahead (vv. 8-13)
I am aware that I skipped verse 7 in that overview. That is the middle verse of this psalm, so it is presenting us with the main idea. It’s a longing to see the path forward, the path to revival. It’s not about “getting saved” again because verses 1-3 already thank God for His salvation.
But let’s notice the Selah. It seems to come mid-thought in the backward look. I think this is both a pause to consider deeply, and also a pause to look at the contrasts. It’s almost as if the sons of Korah, who wrote this psalm, have their breath taken away as they consider the immensity of God’s love that covers our sins!
That word “cover” means to cover our nakedness, conceal our shame, and hide us from our forgiven sins. The alternative is to live in fear of God’s righteous judgment on our unforgiven sin.
The sons of Korah long for this again. They long for a crescendo of righteousness, which is why in the “look around” section we see the phrases “restore us again” (v. 4) and “revive us again” (v. 6).
This Hebrew word for “restore” always means a turning:
- men turning back from God (apostasy)
- men turning away from God (backsliding)
- men turning away from evil (repentance)
- men turning back to God (revival)
The ball is in our court. God has remained faithful; we are the ones who have sinned and turned away from Him. God hasn’t gone anywhere; we have!
So revival begins with the recognition of our sin and profound repentance from that sin. Revival is a recognition that I have turned back from God, and now I need to turn away from evil and turn wholeheartedly back to God.
Immediately following that middle verse notice the personal, singular pronoun “I” in verse 8. Revival starts with my recognition of my sin and then my repentance of that sin quickly follows.
The “show us the way” prayer of verse 7 is answered in verse 13: “Righteousness will go before Him, and shall make His footsteps our pathway” (NKJV). God Himself shows us the way! His footsteps mark the path for us to walk!
Just as Jesus told us He was the way (John 14:6).
When we repent from following any other path, revival and restoration happen. The fruit of revival is then a life sustained, quickened, and equipped by God’s presence that will draw others to Him too!
Let us SELAH—pause and consider the forgiving love of God, the need for my repentance, and then let us enjoy the crescendo of living in daily revival!
If you have missed any of the other messages in our Selah series, you can find all of those messages by clicking here.
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