While stationed in Germany in the army I purchased a brand-new 1969 Volkswagen Beetle. The car was a beauty! The dark green exterior complemented the brown leatherette interior. But as the years took their toll, stuff began to happen, including an accident that ruined the running board and destroyed one of the doors. With more imagination, I could have thought, “My classic car was a perfect candidate for restoration!” And with more money, I could have pulled it off. But that didn’t happen.
Thankfully the God of perfect vision and unlimited resources doesn’t give up so easily on battered and broken people. Psalm 85 describes people who were perfect candidates for restoration and the God who is able to restore. The setting is likely after the Israelites had returned from seventy years of exile (their punishment for rebellion against God). Looking back, they were able to see His favor—including His forgiveness (vv. 1–3). They were motivated to ask God for His help (vv. 4–7) and to expect good things from Him (vv. 8–13).
Who among us doesn’t occasionally feel battered, bruised, broken? And sometimes it’s because of something we’ve done to ourselves. But because the Lord is the God of restoration and forgiveness, those who humbly come to Him are never without hope. With open arms He welcomes those who turn to Him; and those who do, find safety in His arms.
Are there signs in your life that restoration is in order? What’s your response to the God of restoration?
Psalm 85 begins with a reference to Jacob (v. 1). Some translations say “Israel,” since the songwriter is referring not just to the nation’s ancestral father but to his descendants as well. The psalmist’s word choice of “Jacob” is worth noting. When God’s people realized that once again they were in need of mercy, they often referred to themselves as “the house of Jacob.” As humbling as it was, the family likeness was the point. It was common knowledge that Jacob seemed to be destined to be remembered as an incurable liar and schemer until God changed his heart and renamed him Israel.
From the beginning, God Himself had taught His people to think of Him as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Genesis 50:24; Exodus 3:15; Acts 7:32). This was a way of reminding them that—then and now—their only hope was in a God good enough to forgive and change them.