This psalm implies that God worked powerfully in the past and can do so again today if we have the faith to believe it. The psalmist believed that revival was God’s face shining upon His people and longed to see Him move again. We too can believe it is possible, for Malachi 3:6 states, “I am the Lord, I change not”, which is confirmed by Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ the same, yesterday, to day, and forever.”
The Prayer (:1-3)
In these verses the psalmists addresses the Lord and prays for renewed favour upon His people. He regards the sorry condition of the nation as the direct result of God withdrawing His grace. Sometimes, like Israel, things come into our lives that should not be there and it causes God’s favour to be withdrawn, that is, He appears to hide His face from us.
The psalmist begins by asking God to listen to his prayer. Notice how he begins, “Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel”. This is a tender term selected on purpose because it fitted the situation so well. What a wonderful God we serve! He is not only Creator, Lord, and Judge, but He is our Shepherd too. One of the responsibilities of a shepherd is to listen for the bleatings and cries of the sheep. In other words he is saying, “Listen to my woes and cries.” God as the Shepherd of Israel, led His flock out of Egypt, through the wilderness, and into the Promised Land. He tended to each sheep individually and provided for their daily needs. What God did with Israel is a good picture of Jesus as the Good Shepherd in His redemptive work. In John 10:11 our Saviour says, “I am the Good Shepherd: the Good Shepherd giveth his life for the Sheep”.
In the New Testament there is a threefold application of the ‘Shepherd’ title:
1. As the “Good Shepherd” (John 10:11) – He gave His life for the sheep.
2. As the “Great Shepherd” (Hebrews 13:20) – He is our risen Lord.
3. As the “Chief Shepherd” (1 Peter 5:4) – He will reward His vice-shepherds who have tended His flock until He returns.
In the Old Testament the Shepherd of Israel is set forth in four ways:
1. In Genesis 49:24 He is the Strong Shepherd.
2. In Isaiah 40:11 He is the Serving Shepherd.
3. In Zechariah 13:7 He is the Smitten Shepherd.
4. In Psalm 80:1 He is the Shekinah Shepherd.
Notice that the dwelling place of our Shepherd is between the cheribiums above the Ark of the Covenant. The people of Israel could not approach God, but now there is a way made for us right into the Holy of Holies. Our Shepherd Jesus laid our iniquity on His shoulders and said “Follow Me” (Matthew 9:9). He leads us into the Presence and the Glory of God. He goes before us and so encounters all difficulties and dangers first. Whatever problem the sheep may encounter have already been endured by Him. He feeds, defends, cares for, guides and even carries the sheep in His arms when the way gets too rough. We ought to be glad that we have a Shepherd that will “give ear”!
The Problem (:4-6)
The problem in this situation was Israel’s national calamity. They were far away from God. They were in total rebellion and as a result the Lord was chastising theme or their sin. Our problem may not be one of national proportions, but may instead be a small, personal problem that may seem insignificant to others. It may be physical problem. It may be a family problem. It may be financial. It may be spiritual. No matter what the problem is, our Shepherd has the solution. He has the answer for every dilemma we might have. Every remedy is only a prayer away. If we can think of a problem too big for God to solve, then we really do not have faith in Him. “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26) … “If ye hath faith … nothing shall be impossible unto you” (Matthew 17:20).
The Promise (:7-19)
“Cause thy face to shine and we shall be saved”. The psalmist showed confidence and trust in God. He was saying “God if You will intervene everything will be alright”. This psalm is filled with an earnest and repeated prayer for deliverance, and the psalmist bases his appeal upon God’s dealings with Israel in the past. He is saying, “God did it before and I am sure He can do it again.” God has done great things in the past. He used men and women of our nation to spread the truth and bring revival around the world. Anything God has ever done He can still do today! Let us not put limitations on what we think God can and cannot do. “Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear” (Isaiah 59:1).
In this land today it seems that there is no hope and revival is only a dream. It appears that Satan and evil men have taken charge so that the saints of God are weak and helpless, but we must remember that our God is still on the throne. We should not get disheartened to the point that we feel we can do nothing about the situation. Even in the midst of the most terrible circumstances God’s face can shine and abundantly bless us. His face may never shine over this country like it once did, but we can let the Shekinah Glory of His presence shine in our hearts even if it shines nowhere else. That is where revival begins.
1. Lord “cause thy face to shine” and I shall be renewed.
2. Lord “cause thy face to shine” and our church will be revived.
3. Lord “cause thy face to shine” and our land shall be restored.
“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).