“For the sake of Your name, O LORD, revive me. In Your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble”(Ps. 143:11)
The Psalmist asks God to spiritually revive him and restore his communion with God. He has fallen out of this communion with God by reason of his sin. He thus stands in need of this revival. This does not mean that he has lost his salvation, as this is impossible, since the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable, and regeneration is an infallible token of this irrevocable salvation, which cannot be nullified by even the most heinous sins. Nevertheless, we may call for revival when the comfortable presence of God has departed from us and we feel in our consciences that he is displeased and angry with us. Perhaps we even fear that he has become our enemy.
The Psalmist asks God to spiritually restore him for the sake of the glory of God’s name. This is one of the most potent arguments to present to God with the purpose of convincing him to alleviate our misery. God is the King and Sovereign of all creation, and as a king (indeed, the King) he deserves all homage and praise and worship. The Bible is clear that the creation of humanity, the salvation of the elect and the condemnation of the reprobate, all have as their purpose the glorification of God. Indeed, the glory of God is the end of all creation. One of the ways in which God is most glorified is when we are most satisfied in him, as John Piper has helpfully argued. This is the very basis of his “Christian hedonism.” While his particular doctrine is controversial, it is indisputable that the Christian life is meant to be one of spiritual thriving, even if it takes place within the midst of suffering. So Charles Spurgeon:
“Happy art thou, O Israel; who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord!” (Deuteronomy 33:29).
“He who affirms that Christianity makes men miserable, is himself an utter stranger to it. It were strange indeed, if it made us wretched, for see to what a position it exalts us! It makes us sons of God. Suppose you that God will give all the happiness to his enemies, and reserve all the mourning for his own family? Shall his foes have mirth and joy, and shall his home-born children inherit sorrow and wretchedness? Shall the sinner, who has no part in Christ, call himself rich in happiness, and shall we go mourning as if we were penniless beggars? No, we will rejoice in the Lord always, and glory in our inheritance, for we “have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but we have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” The rod of chastisement must rest upon us in our measure, but it worketh for us the comfortable fruits of righteousness; and therefore by the aid of the divine Comforter, we, the “people saved of the Lord,” will joy in the God of our salvation. We are married unto Christ; and shall our great Bridegroom permit his spouse to linger in constant grief? Our hearts are knit unto him: we are his members, and though for awhile we may suffer as our Head once suffered, yet we are even now blessed with heavenly blessings in him. We have the earnest of our inheritance in the comforts of the Spirit, which are neither few nor small. Inheritors of joy for ever, we have foretastes of our portion. There are streaks of the light of joy to herald our eternal sunrising. Our riches are beyond the sea; our city with firm foundations lies on the other side the river; gleams of glory from the spirit-world cheer our hearts, and urge us onward. Truly is it said of us, “Happy art thou, O Israel; who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord?””
It is quite embarrassing if the Christian is utterly miserable and without comfort. David writes in Psalm 42 that his enemies say to him “where is your God?” The Puritans are frequently caricatured as a brooding and miserable bunch, and they are sometimes adduced as examples of why Christianity is a miserable and worthless religion that leads to spiritual and psychological destruction and decay rather than to robust and invincible joy. Thus, we can petition God by asking him to glorify his own name, defending it against the attacks and ridicule of the enemy. The reputation of the Christian religion, and thus, the name and fame and glory of God, is put at risk when a Christian lives a life of uninterrupted misery. Tell God that you do not want his name abased and cursed on the grounds that his children are made miserable because of their relation to him. Paul says that he sought to make his Jewish brethren jealous, in Romans 11, in order to save them. No one would be jealous of the joy of the Christian if he is utterly bereft of it. Instead, they will regard it as they would a loathsome stench, and use us as living examples of its loathsomeness.
Yet the experiential blessedness of the Christian religion is neither the only nor even the primary reason for the Psalmist’s petition on behalf of God’s name. Instead, the Psalmist is concerned that God’s name not be defamed as though he were unfaithful to his unconditional covenant promises. Scripture teaches that it is for the sake of his own name that he restores Israel to communion with him. God’s enemies would consider God a liar if God were not faithful to these promises. Thus, our sin cannot nullify God’s promises. We can be sure that God will restore us to communion with him, not because of our own worth or value, but because of the value which God places upon his name; his glory is the most precious thing there is and he will not let it be defamed.