4 Restore us again, O God of our salvation,
and put away your indignation toward us!
5 Will you be angry with us forever?
Will you prolong your anger to all generations?
6 Will you not revive us again,
that your people may rejoice in you?
7 Show us your steadfast love, O LORD,
and grant us your salvation.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 85:4–7). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
Laments and Prayer for Restoration (85:4–7)
4–7 The situation has since changed. As long as God’s people are on earth, they will be subject to the vicissitudes of life. The psalmist laments the recent problems that have deprived God’s people from enjoying his favor. He interprets them as expressions of God’s “displeasure” (kaʿas, v. 4). Kaʿas may result from God’s anger (Eze 20:28) or be a part of the human situation (“vexations,” “grief”; cf. 1 Sa 1:7, 16; TWOT 1:451). It seems that their grief did not result from God’s displeasure, for the psalm contains no confession. Instead, God tests his people, and in this test they cry out to him. The prayer includes two sets of petitions and a set of questions:
A Prayer (v. 4)
B Questions (vv. 5–6)
A′ Prayer (v. 7)
The lamenting community prays that the Lord will “restore” (v. 4; cf. v. 1) them by extending the benefits of his love to all of life. They pray for renewed expressions of his “unfailing love” (ḥesed, GK 2876, v. 7). The renewal of ḥesed is synonymous with the enjoyment of God’s “salvation,” because “salvation” (yēšaʿ; see 27:1) extends the benefits of God to his people: victory, peace, and enjoyment of this life and the life to come. The repetition of “our salvation” (v. 4; NIV, “our Savior”) and “your salvation” (v. 7) forms an inclusio (see Reflections, p. 544, Yahweh Is My Redeemer).
Between the petitions the people lament the new problems by asking question upon question. The questions are antithetical, as the questions in v. 5 pertain to his anger, whereas those in v. 6 pertain to the effects of withholding divine favor. From the people’s vantage point, the Lord goes from anger to anger (v. 5). It seems as though they can do nothing to please him. Yet they confess that God’s restoration was the work of his hands, and they cast themselves on his mercy (v. 6). The personal pronoun “you” (v. 6) is emphatic: “Is it not you who can revive us again?” His favor will result in the change from grief to joy (cf. 104:29–30). They await the renewal of his love (ḥesed, v. 7; see Reflections, p. 271, The Perfections of Yahweh).
85:4 This former demonstration of God’s pardoning mercy is the basis for a plea that He repeat it. Faith is not satisfied with history; it wants to see God in current events. Although the psalmist does not engage in confession, it is implicit in the prayer, “Restore us.…” When God restores, He first brings His people to repentance, then He forgives their sins, and then He terminates the punishment that resulted from His indignation.
85:5 Any time spent away from the Lord seems like an eternity of misery. But the poignant plea of verse 5 takes on special meaning in the lips of the nation of Israel with its centuries of persecution and dispersion: “Will You be angry with us forever? Will You prolong Your anger to all generations?”
85:6 Spiritual declension results inevitably in a loss of joy. Broken fellowship means that the believer’s song is gone. Rejoicing cannot coexist with unconfessed sin. So here the prayer goes winging up to heaven. “Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?” The Spirit’s renewal sets the joy-bells ringing once again. Every great revival has been accompanied by song.
85:7 When God restores His people it is a gracious demonstration of His mercy. But no more than any of His other dealings with us. It is love that chastens us, that disciplines us, that corrects us, and that brings us back at last. And how steadfast is that love that bears with us in all our wanderings, our backslidings, and our disobedience. There is no love like the love of the Lord.
And revival is a granting of salvation from the Lord—here not salvation of the soul but deliverance from all the consequences of unfaithfulness—dispersion, captivity, affliction, powerlessness, and unhappiness.
4–7 Pleading: the end of wrath and the gift of salvation. Salvation means deliverance—in this case deliverance from God’s displeasure (‘vexation’, 4), anger (as personally felt, 5). Only in this way can there be revival/renewal with its consequent joy in God (6); and it can only come about through his changeless love and free gift (7). In the matter of revival/renewal we are dependent on his sovereign will. 4 Restore us again, ‘Turn back to us’—the heart of the matter (3, 5) is that he should be reconciled to us.
85:4–7 Restore and Forgive Us Again. The next section appeals to the benevolence God has claimed and shown, asking him to restore us again, i.e., put away your indignation toward us. For God to be angry with us forever would be contrary to this revealed character; therefore the people pray, show us your steadfast love (proclaimed in Ex. 34:6), and grant us your salvation. The specific “salvation” (see note on Ps. 3:2) is for God to turn away his anger, to forgive his people corporately (see notes on Num. 14:13–19; 14:20–35), and to revive them, i.e., to renew their genuine hold on the covenant and make the land fruitful.
 VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, pp. 639–640). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 679–680). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
 Motyer, J. A. (1994). The Psalms. In D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, & G. J. Wenham (Eds.), New Bible commentary: 21st century edition (4th ed., p. 541). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.
 Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1045). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.