WORD STUDY – REVIVE US – תחינו
Psalms 85:6: “Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?”
It is believed by many Biblical scholars that this Psalm was written about five hundred years before Jesus was born. This would be post exilic, that is it was written during the return of Israel from exile. This was a time when God should have poured his blessing out on the people. After seventy years in exile they should have learned their lesson, yet, they were still struggling to just survive. They grew crops but it was not enough to feed them. They built defenses but were still under attack by foreign invaders, they earned wages but it was like they had holes in their pockets and it all flowed away. The reason was that they did not follow God’s command to rebuild the temple.
This Psalm is a plea from the Sons of Korah. It is believed that these were descendents of Korah the man who revolted against Moses in Numbers 16:1-40. Korah and his followers were destroyed when God sent fire from heaven to destroy him and the 249 co-conspirators. Dathan and Abiram who were also part of the rebellion were swallowed up by an earthquake which also took their families as well. So the only survivors of this rebellion were those of the family of Korah and they were relegated to live a life as porters or janitors in the temple. They were never allowed to own land, or hold a position of honor or respect. The name Korah means baldness, or blank. I read something interesting in the Talmud Sanhedrin 109a this evening that this name Korah was given to account for the gap or blank which Korah made in his revolt and now, unlike his co-conspirators, his family was spared to be servants and live a life of servitude as a reminder of the gap that rebellion can create.
Yet, who was it that wrote this beautiful poem in Psalms 85 declaring submission to God and calling for God to bring revival. It was the descendants of the greatest rebel in Israel’s history. They were the one’s who saw the disobedience and went to the temple and encouraged the priest to arouse the people in faith and obedience to God.
You would think they would be bitter, feeling their fate was just unfair as they had nothing to do with the rebellion, but look at their plea in Psalms 85:6: “Will you not revive us again.” A people who had been scorned and looked down upon by their nation are pleading for revival. And why do they want revival? Not for themselves, but for their nation. They wanted the people, the ones who scorned them, forced them into servitude for a crime many many generations in the past committed by their ancestor, to be able to rejoice in the Lord.
Have you ever been part of a fellowship or church and for whatever reason you suddenly found yourself on the outside, rejected told you could not be a part of that fellowship or just simply shunned to the point where you just had to leave. Maybe it was a divorce, a pregnancy out of wedlock, a sexual orientation or some criminal conviction. Any number of things could cause the self righteous to turn on you or shun you. Maybe you did nothing wrong at all but were just the victim of slanderous gossip. Maybe was just something out of your heritage. Could you, like the descendants of Korah, pray and ask God to revive the people so that they, not necessarily you, might rejoice again?
Look at that word revive. It is the word techayenu from the root word chayah. I remember I was in a charismatic church where they believed that speaking in tongues was one way God would bring us a message. There was one old boy, a church elder, who week after week he kept bringing a message in tongues to the congregation only it was just one word tachayenu. Over and over week after week he would just repeat that one word before the congregation. If he wasn’t an elder who was one of the church’s biggest financial backers I am sure many people would have told him to keep quiet, especially the pastor. Every time old George stood up I could see this sick look come over the pastor’s face I am sure he was thinking: “Hoo boy here we go again, but he is an elder if I shut him up, well, I wonder if my real estate license is still good.” I overheard people snickering in the background. Some whispering to friends: “Poor old George, but let him go, if it makes him feel better.” “Poor George, but when one gets old like him I guess you do tend to lose it.” The more generous ones who really try to make it seem like he was speaking in tongues and would say; “It really sounds like native American, maybe Cherokee.” This went on for many weeks and I finally got tired of seeing people roll their eyes so I finally spoke up. At the time I prided myself as the non-believer, the one who kept his head and did go off on that craziness but I had to defend old George and maybe teach these cynical people who think they are tapped into these spiritual gifts a lesson.
I shouted out; “Dog gone it anyways, Didn’t anyone see Fiddler on the Roof? LaChaim – to life. He is speaking from Psalms 85:6, an old classical Hebrew word which comes from the Phoenician root chayim or chaim in Hebrew meaning life, only in this particular verbal form it means to restore life, bring life back, to revive or revival.
So now you know the origin of my pen name Chaim Bentorah. Bentorah literally means son of the law, but in light of Psalms 85 to me Chaim Bentorah means to find life in being a student of the Word of God. My mission is to encourage other believers to dig into the Word of God, to become a student of the Word of God and when you do, you discover chaim, life both physical and spiritual. I spend a minimum of three to four hours a day studying the Word of God in the Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic and every day the Word of God breathes new life into me, I am revived.
Two things happened that night. One the people fell to their knees, many repenting for not listening to God, for mocking their elder and many just repenting out of the sheer realization that God had been trying to speak to them and bring them revival for many weeks.
The other thing that happened that night was that I sacrificed my dignity and let the beans out of the bag (or cat out of the bag, I think you spell the beans) and admitted to some bias towards the gift of tongues.