A blog by Josh Humbert
***Note: The series of posts here (“part 1, part 2,” etc) are from my category called Get In The Word. To read more like this, you can click the Get In The Word category from the drop-down menu on the right side of this page. Essentially, these posts are from my own sermon writing and preparation. My goal with this category is to help you see truth in Scripture, and to assist those who might be preparing their own sermon or study. I highly encourage each person to do their own reading, studying, and praying, but my goal is to provide a look into how I handled it and maybe spark some ideas in your work. May you benefit from this as you Get In The Word!***
Say The Prayer For His Help
“Restore us our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negev.”
We Need Help Again…..Again
Israel is in trouble again. Again. They need the saving that only God can do….. again. So the Psalmist here in verse 4 is saying the prayer and asking or the Lord’s help.
In verses 1-3, he was recalling times before where God had intervened in powerful ways. Now, he doesn’t stop at just remembering what God has done in the past; he’s now asking God to work in the present.
One pastor summarizes it like this:
“For the Psalmist, memory of the past could have become mere nostalgia. ‘Those were the days! Wonderful, but gone forever.’ In Psalm 126, the memory of those singing, laughter-filled days of the past becomes not nostalgia but the ground of a strong hope for even better days to come.”
The freedom they once enjoyed is now the foundation of their prayer. He is calling out, asking God to do a new work! And so should it be with us! Lets call out to Him. Let’s say the prayer for His help.
Now, the title of this series is The Sudden And Slow Work of God. Remember grilling steaks vs brisket, right (click here to read part one)? Here’s why that title fits: because Psalm 126 gives a prayer for both.
Let’s talk about the sudden work of God. Consider the words of the psalmist in verse 4, “Restore us our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negev.” This is a request for SUDDEN, immediate intervention by the Lord.
The original audience would have instantly seen the word picture from these lyrics. The “Negev” is a dry, arid region of land south of Beersheeba. In summertimes, it would be utterly dry and parched. However, in autumn, when the rains come….it could flood in an instant. The Negev is an area very susceptible to flash floods in it’s dry riverbeds. Even present day – I’ve read how local governments were cautious about building streets there because of the propensity for flooding. So, when the Psalmist is asking for God to “restore” like “streams in the Negev,” the audience would understand: he wants the flash flood of God’s help.
Flash floods are a sight to behold. You can go on youtube and get lost in an endless stream of videos of flash floods. Search “May 2015 Texas,” or just “Utah flash flood” and you’ll see how suddenly it all can happen. There’s little to no waterflowing then within minutes…a powerful onslaught of water just rushing down! In the Utah ones I viewed I saw trees and cars and power lines getting carried away where there was DRY parched land just moments before. Insane!
Now, we tend to think of the negative impacts of a FLASH FLOOD – but the Psalmist is asking for the positive side of it! He’s asking God to come RUSHING in, to bring a FLASH FLOOD of salvation. He is asking for the SUDDEN WORK of God. Like a flood of water to a dry, weary land – God can bring SUDDEN and Immediate change! He can SWEEP away the old stuff and bring new life, in just a moment.
There are times when God does work like that. God can change things that have been broken for years. God can immediately fix what’s gone wrong for decades. And – this is important! – it is ok to ask Him for that, just as we see here in verse 4. Say the prayer for His help.
One pastor, HB Charles Jr., says “The things you pray about are the things you trust God to handle. The things you neglect to pray about are the things you trust you can handle on your own.” Now that is a convicting call to pray!
There’s no guarantee God will immediately intervene and do His sudden work because you ask Him today. At the same time, if you don’t ask Him at all, then you are neglecting what might be possible. Pray for big things to happen because you are praying to a BIG GOD.
Questions To Consider
What are the adversities or trials I’m dealing with? What are the temptations or habitual sins I’m faced with?
Am I humbly bringing these before God, seeking His help? Or am I trusting myself to handle it?
Instead of praying for His help am I trying to prove my worth to God through religious works/living a good life? Am I ignoring the promise of rest and joy that Jesus offers through His finished work?
Thanks for reading. Your comments and insights are always welcomed. If you enjoyed this, please share it. Want more content? Check the archives or listen to me on the Cross-Cutting Culture Podcast on iTunes.