Peace, Joy, and Salvation (Psalm 80:7)

O LORD God of hosts, restore us;
Cause Your face to shine, and we will be saved.

Psalm 80:7

This verse jumped out at me on its own merit, but this thought is also repeated in this form twice (v7 and v19) and in a slightly modified form once (v3). Three repetitions and an independent jumping off the page are enough to make me stop and think.

This verse contains two actions asked of God and one consequence of those actions. Action one is to restore us. Actions two is for God to cause [His] face to shine. The consequence is that we will be saved.

Restore us. In the modern world, there are TV shows aplenty about restorations. Home improvement shows, restaurant rescue shows, weight loss shows, all sorts of things fill the airwaves about restoration. And it’s no wonder. We — human beings — are conscious that we are not what we ought to be. Something in us cries out to be more. The word that is translated restore could also mean “to cause to return, to bring back, allow to return, put back, draw back, give back, restore (something taken), relinquish, give in payment, to bring back (to a previous state), refresh, restore, to bring back (information), report to, answer, to bring back (a thing), make requital, pay (as recompense), turn toward, to bring back to mind.” With a list of potential meanings that long, it’s no wonder the translators went with restore. We need to be restored; brought back to a previous state. For the non-believer, the need is to be brought back to a state of peace with God. Humanity was created to be at peace with God, but sin interferes. We need to have that interference dealt with in order to be restored to peace with God. For the believer, we sometimes need to be restored to a previous state of devotion or fervor. Jesus dictates a letter to the fellowship in Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7) and tells them that they are in need of restoration. They need to return to their first love. Every believer is sometimes fellowshipping in Ephesus, regardless of our geographical location. We all need some restoration from time to time.

Cause Your face to shine. We actually have a phrase or two in English that parallel this thought, though the phrases are seldom used any more. We speak of a person “beaming” at another; the idea being that one’s face fairly glows. Why? Joy in the one beamed at. Many think that it is pride, as the phrase is most often used when one person is pleased with the actions of another. The trouble is that the person who performed the action is possibly proud, but the person who saw the action performed aright is pleased and enjoys the rightness of the thing done. It seems a subtle difference, but it is vital. If the two ideas — shining face and beaming at someone — are as parallel as I suspect, then the request here is that God see what the people are doing and take joy in it. For God to be able to take joy in my actions, my actions must be righteous. For my actions to be righteous, they must be guided by and empowered by God. For that to happen, there must be peace between God and me. These requests appear in this order, I think, because they must happen in this order. I must first be at peace with God. Then, and only then, can God look on me and take joy in what I do.

The consequence of these actions is that we will be saved. Another possible rendering of the word translated saved is victorious. Revelation contains several promises made to the one who is victorious (the one who overcomes, in some translations).

The application is this: There must be peace between God and me before God can be pleased with anything I do and before I can be victorious. To restore peace, I must ask God to forgive. Only the wronged party can forgive and fully restore peace. I must maintain that peace by walking in God’s ways; walking in such a way as allows Him to take joy in what I do. This is how I can be victorious. This is how I am saved.

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