Turn Us Again

Psalm 80:3 – O God, restore us and cause Your face to shine upon us, and we will be saved.

Psalm 80:7 – O God of hosts, restore us and cause Your face to shine upon us, and we will be saved.

Psalm 80:19 – O Lord God of hosts, restore us; cause Your face to shine upon us, and we will be saved.

What does it mean for God to restore us?

The Hebrew word is šûḇ. It means to turn back, return, to turn about. The KJV translates these verses more accurately. Instead of “restore” the word is translated into the phrase turn us again.

Do you see the difference? If we are asking God to restore us, we are asking Him to do something for us, to provide something we lost, to give us something, or to divinely place us back into His favor.

Turn us again. The difference is slight but important. It indicates a change of direction, a return towards what one might have had and lost.

Picture this. A child of God walks away from the Father, whether by making intentional sinful choices and knowingly living, speaking, and acting in ways that displease God and transgress His commands, or by simply drifting into the culture around them, living for worldly desires and fleshly instincts instead of walking by the Spirit.

This child of God wakes up one day and recognizes their heart has grown cold toward spiritual things. They rarely read their Bibles and can’t remember when they last went to church. They realize their life is a bit of a mess. Their relationships are suffering; their work has become drudgery; and their soul and spirit are empty, unfulfilled, and joyless.  

They remember, however, how it used to be when they walked closely with God, perhaps in the early days after their salvation. The longing for what once was causes them to cry out to the Father, knowing that a return to His favor is the only thing that will save them now.

It would be presumptuous to ask God to simply give us back all we’ve given away as though it’s something we deserved or earned. Even though His heart is compassionate towards us, and He loves to restore His people, God cannot bless us when we are far away from Him in sin.

The right prayer, prayed by Asaph in Psalm 80, is to ask God to turn us again. When we find ourselves distant from the One who loves us best, we need to set our feet on a different path – a U-turn back towards God. The Bible calls this confession and repentance – a turning away from sin and a turning toward God. Then, and only then, we can run towards the glorious favor of God, and He will cause His face to shine on us, and we will be saved.

1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Acts 3:19 – Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.

This principle of returning to God begins when we hear the gospel – the good news that Jesus died for our sins, was buried and was raised for our justification (our being made righteous before God). God sets our feet on a new path that leads toward Him, into His favor, and we are restored back into fellowship – the same kind of fellowship that He had with Adam and Eve in the garden as He walked with them in the cool of the day before sin destroyed the relationship between God and His creation.

This returning, however, this need for God to “turn us again” also happens many times throughout our lives. We don’t need eternal salvation again (that happens once, and lasts forever), but we do need to be saved continually from our self – our human tendency to walk away from God’s favor and live shallow, empty, worldly, self-centered lives.

Have you found yourself far away from God, away from the warmth of the shining face of your Savior?

Have you never felt the favor of God at all, not yet surrendered to the gospel that will save your soul?

You need to be restored. Ask God to speak to your heart – to turn you again. Stop what you’re doing. Surrender to the kind and merciful grace that is calling you back. Turn around and run toward the Savior. God will cause His face to shine upon you, and you will be saved.

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