Take the Past as Promises


Text: Psalm 85

Title: Past Promises for Future Favor


Proposition: The the past as promises in present prayer for future favor.

Rhetorical: Do you claim the work of God in the past NOW in present prayer for His future favor?



Life is full of change:


1.) 20 years ago, you could buy a nice home for under £50,000. Now, the average house price in scotland could hit £250,000 by 2020.


2.) Education in the past was optional. You could go to work as a child and do ok for you and your family. Now days it is more difficult to get work without getting higher education.


3.) 120 years ago people rode horse everywhere - Now they ride them at birthday parties and special events.


4.) Men used to wear suits to do everything. Now they rarely wear suits to do anything.


5.) We used to have some strong Christian nations, but sadly that has changed as well.


LIFE IS CHANGING - We may like some change - but some changes are difficult.


I'm thankful this morning to remember with you - that although life changes GOD DOES NOT CHANGE.


Mal 3:6  For I am the LORD, I change not; 


Heb 13:8  Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.


Psa 119:89  For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.


The hymn - GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS - stands fast upon that truth that God does not change.


“Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,

There is no shadow of turning with Thee;

Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not

As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.


“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”

  Morning by morning new mercies I see;

All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—

    “Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!




This Psalm - 

1. Looks at what God has done in the past.

2. Takes that into present prayer.

3. And trusts in that for future favor.




(ill. William Carey's - An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens.)




question: Do you 

1) take what God has done in the past 

2) and use it in prayer 

3) believing God will answer favorably in the future?


I. Take the past as promises!

exp. The Psalms are wonderful in teaching us prayer. Often in a Psalm you will find the Psalmist encouraging himself with what God has done in the past as he goes to present prayer.

 ill. Every time we come to the Word of God - WE HAVE OUR FAITH STRENGTHENED BY GOD'S WORK IN THE PAST.

song: It is no Secret What God can do.

It is no secret, what God can do
what He's done for others, He'll do for you
with arms wide open, He'll pardon you
it is no secret what God can do.

ill. Paul used HOW GOD HAD CHANGED HIS LIFE - to teach others that GOD WILL CHANGE THEIR LIFE.

1Ti 1:16  Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.

app. Because GOD HAS DONE THIS - we know that GOD WILL DO THIS.

question: So, in our text, what does the Psalmist remember about God's working?

A. God worked because his people had a problem.

1  To the chief Musician, A Psalm for the sons of Korah. LORD, thou hast been favourable unto thy land: thou hast brought back the captivity of Jacob.

2  Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, thou hast covered all their sin. Selah.

3  Thou hast taken away all thy wrath: thou hast turned thyself from the fierceness of thine anger.

exp. We can relate with the past immediately as the Psalmist did. In the past he saw the sin of God's people. 

 note: One of the greatest ways we need God to work is with regard to our sin.

ill. Young man - pagan - "We all sin. Nobody does everything right." I said - "You are right and that is exactly what the Bible says."

Isa 64:6  But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

Psa 14:3  They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Rom 3:23  For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

 note: If you say you are not a sinner, you are either not living on this planet or you are wrong.

 ill. Woman - I'm a good person - started going through the law - Ok, ok, so I'm not a good person.

exp. Our sin is not just a problem before salvation, it is a problem until we die. 

ill. Paul said - Rom 7:21  I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.

 app. We have a big problem - sin and we need God to be interested in helping us with the problem of our sin. The psalmist is looking at the past to encourage himself. Has God shown an interest to help men with their sin in the past?

B. God worked because of His interests in his people.

exp. Notice the possessive pronounds which refer to God.

1  To the chief Musician, A Psalm for the sons of Korah. LORD, thou hast been favourable unto thy land: thou hast brought back the captivity of Jacob.

2  Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, thou hast covered all their sin. Selah.

3  Thou hast taken away all thy wrath: thou hast turned thyself from the fierceness of thine anger.

note: Man has a problem with sin - but these are GOD'S PEOPLE - it is HIS LAND that is marred by HIS WRATH and HIS ANGER.

ill. People often say, "If there is a God, why is the world like this?" God created a perfect world. Every day - "And God saw that it was good."

1.) God's people sinned.

2.) God's land was marred - thorns, thistle, sweat, death, separation from God.

3.) His JUSTICE demanded His wrath and anger.

exp. That justice and anger - led to our Lord having to die with a broken heart on a cross of shame.

question: Do you think today that God cares about this situation caused by our sin?

app. Praise the Lord - God cares and the Psalmist shows the solution from the past.

C. God worked in a way that delivered his people.

1  To the chief Musician, A Psalm for the sons of Korah. LORD, 

1. He gave grace.

thou hast been favourable unto thy land: 

exp. Grace is undeserved favor.

question: Has God ever been good to you when you didn't deserve it?

 ill. The prodigal son deserved to be shunned - but he was embraced and the household rejoiced with a party to celebrate his return.

app. God has given grace in the past.

2. He gave deliverance.

thou hast brought back the captivity of Jacob.

note: Sin is bondage.

ill. Man in Dundee - I smoke and drink because I like to smoke and drink. I said, "You don't do it because you want to - you do it because you have to."

II Timothy 2:25-26

25  In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;

26  And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

 app. God has set His people free in the past.

3. He gave forgiveness.

2  Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, 

def. iniquity - moral perversity, mishief.

 ill. Forgiveness is canceling a debt.

Mat 6:12  And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

app. God has said to His people in the past, "You don't owe me anything." We couldn't begin to afford to pay what we owed - but he paid it all for us at Calvary.

4. He gave atonement.

thou hast covered all their sin. Selah.

ill. Remember the shame of the nakedness of Adam and Eve after they had sinned. They were in hiding from God having tried to sow fig leaf clothes to cover themselve. GOD HAD TO KILL TO MAKE A GARMENT SUITABLE TO COVER THEIR SHAME.

 app. God has in the past made an atoment (covering - atone = to cover) for the sin of His people.

5. He gave mercy.

3  Thou hast taken away all thy wrath: thou hast turned thyself from the fierceness of thine anger.

exp. Notice the extent of the mercy of God - "Taken away ALL they wrath" "turned thyself (completely) from the fierceness of thine anger."

 ill. Remember that wicked city Ninevah. They killed God's people dismembered their bodies and put the body parts in piles around the city. But, when Jonah pronounced God's judgment, they repented and God AT THAT TIME spared the city.

 app. God has in the past given MERCY to His creation and to His people.



We have a problem - sin.

 God has an interest - his people, land, wrath, anger

God has solved the problem before - grace, deliverance, forgiveness, atonement, mercy.


(Why does it matter what God has done in the past? Take the past as promises!)


II. Use them in present prayer!

 exp. Based on the history that the Psalmist has rehearsed with the Lord he has boldness to go to God in believing prayer.

A. Turn us.

4  Turn us, O God of our salvation, and cause thine anger toward us to cease.

5  Wilt thou be angry with us for ever? wilt thou draw out thine anger to all generations?

exp. God wasn't angry forever in the past. God's people didn't continue in rebellion against Him in the past. And so the Psalmist asked God to bring them back to Himself. (Repentance)

 def. Repent - to turn.

ill. I had a dog that when I told her to come - she had a strong urge to run the other way. Once she ran she was unlikely to repent. But, repentance would be her turning to come to me as commanded.

Luke 13:3  I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

 app. We need God's help to turn us to Himself - LIKE HE HAS HELPED SO MANY OTHERS IN THE PAST.

B. Revive us.

6  Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?

def. quicken, recover, restore....bring back to vitality.

 ill. You don't revive a corpse. He isn't asking for life - he is asking for vital life.

app. If you are saved today - you have life. But, sin takes us out of the place of vital life. The Psalmist saw REVITALIZATION OF RELIGION in the past and he wanted it in the future. 

C. Show us.

7  Shew us thy mercy, O LORD, and grant us thy salvation.

exp. It is one thing to know because of education - it is another thing to know by experience.

 ill. Gideon - knew by education - but HE LONGED FOR THE EXPERIENCE.

Jdg 6:13  And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.

app. The psalmist appreciated the past - but he wanted the experience in the future - so he took the past to God in present prayer. (You've done it before - God do it again!)

D. Speak to us.

8  I will hear what God the LORD will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again to folly.

exp. He doesn't just want to hear - he wants to listen.

 ill. Jesus often said, "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." They all had ears (unless a deaf person had come to the Lord for healing.) He was saying, "If you are willing to apply this truth to your life, it will meet your need."

 app. The psalmist is ready to let God's Word change him - "Let them not turn again to folly." God's people had listened before to God and God had told them how to be delivered. 

E. Save us.

9  Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him; that glory may dwell in our land.

exp. The glory had departed from Israel. Some commentators believe that this had to do with the Philistine invasions of the land.

 ill. Remember - David and Goliath - remember Saul and his sons were killed by the Philistines.

 exp. Invaders who lived along the coast of the Mediteranean.

 exp. There had been glory days in the past where Israel destroyed 7 nations that were greater and mightier than them - but the glorious salvation needed to BE GIVEN AGAIN.

app. Are we living today in the glory days? In our personal walk with God, in our family, in our ministry, in our community, in our country? God do it again!


transition: The psalmist took THE PAST AS A PROMISE FOR PRESENT PRAYER....

Turn us, Revive us, Show us, Speak to us, Save us....


III. Trusting God for future favor!

 exp. The Psalmist believed because God had done it before - if he asked him to do it again THAT IT WAS AS GOOD AS DONE.

1Jn 5:15  And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

Heb 11:1  Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

exp. When's the last time you got off of your knees knowing that God HAD answered your prayers?

A. Mercy was given and truth was established.

10  Mercy and truth are met together; 

B. Righteousness was given and peace to be established.

righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

C. The land was restored for the blessing of God's people.

11  Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven.

12  Yea, the LORD shall give that which is good; and our land shall yield her increase.

D. The future blessing was as sure as the footsteps of God.

13  Righteousness shall go before him; and shall set us in the way of his steps.

Conclusion: The psalmist knew that how God worked in the past was how He would work in the future.


He took the past as promises in present prayer for future favor.


Are you?


There is a song which says, "It is no secret what God can do, what He's done for others, He'll do for you, with arms wide open He'll pardon you. It is no secret what God can do."