The Pruning Process Produces Restoration

Dr. Howard Hendricks tells the story of a young man who strayed from the Lord but was finally brought back by the help of a friend who really loved him. When there was full repentance and restoration, Dr. Hendricks asked this Christian how it felt to be away from the Lord. The yo … More

Restoration

This Psalm is a national prayer for restoration. The key word might be translated either “restore us” or “bring us back” (from captivity). The Palmist urges God to listen, wake up, and go to work to save His people (vv. 1-2). Three times is this chapter the writer calls on God to restore us “Turn us again"(vv. 3, 7, 19). The Israelites didn’t need a change of circumstances, but a change of character. They are praying for God to smile on them (v. 3). It was not that God’s back was toward them but their back was toward Him. They were the ones that needed to turn around, not God.

Repentance must come before restoration which means a turning from sin. Repentance involves humbling ourselves and turning to God to receive His forgiveness. As we turn to God, he helps us see ourselves, including our sin more clearly. Then as we see our sin we must repeat the process of repentance. The psalmist uses the metaphor of a vine for Israel (vv. 8-19). In ancient times the vineyards were often enclosed by stone fences (Isa. 5:5). The psalmist wonders why God has broken down those fences so that any passerby has the opportunity to pluck and ravage her grapes. On the earth today, the vine is His Church. Its prosperity depends on the Lord looking down from heaven and visiting the vine. He brings us to Himself by His pruning. The branches that bear no fruit are cut off. The farmer will tell you that in order to grow good grapes you have to prune the vine. The better they are pruned the stronger the vines grow and the more luscious the fruit is.

Application

If there is one thing I do not like in my spiritual experience, it is when God begins to prune me. However from that experience of loss there comes a fruitfulness which makes me glad. After the pruning there comes a new and luxurious restoration of life in which I can really enjoy God.

Psalms 80:1-19 (English Standard Version)

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock! You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth. Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh, stir up your might and come to save us! Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved! O LORD God of hosts, how long will you be angry with your people's prayers? You have fed them with the bread of tears and given them tears to drink in full measure. You make us an object of contention for our neighbors, and our enemies laugh among themselves. Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved! You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it. You cleared the ground for it; it took deep root and filled the land. The mountains were covered with its shade, the mighty cedars with its branches. It sent out its branches to the sea and its shoots to the River. Why then have you broken down its walls, so that all who pass along the way pluck its fruit? The boar from the forest ravages it, and all that move in the field feed on it. Turn again, O God of hosts! Look down from heaven, and see; have regard for this vine, the stock that your right hand planted, and for the son whom you made strong for yourself. They have burned it with fire; they have cut it down; may they perish at the rebuke of your face! But let your hand be on the man of your right hand, the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself! Then we shall not turn back from you; give us life, and we will call upon your name! Restore us, O LORD God of hosts! Let your face shine, that we may be saved!

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