A devotion on Psalm 85
This psalm reads like a salvation message from beginning to end while smacking of affection and intimacy. Lean in!
1 You, Lord, showed favor to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
Restoration is mentioned first to what was visible to the human eye – the land. The Hebrew word for ‘land’ is erets. It could refer to the whole earth, a specific nation or region, or even a field or ground. The land is symbolic of a people’s capacity to proudly live in peace and be productive. If you own nothing, own the land you live on and you will never be poor. It is fascinating to me that God chooses to manifest his favor and blessings on physical dirt.
2 You forgave the iniquity of your people and covered all their sins.
“As in the physical, so in the spiritual.” 1 Corinthians 15:46. As he restored the land of Israel after protracted periods of iniquity and punishment, so he forgave the people.
Forgive ‘nasa’ means to lift, bear up, or carry; it is to take away or carry off; it is to help, to lift up, to exalt; it is to spare or pardon. It also bears an interesting concept of marrying.
Iniquity, ‘avon’ (from the word ‘avah’ meaning a bend, twist or distortion) means depravity, evil, or sin.
Covered, ‘kasah’, means to fill up hollows. One covers to conceal something for dignity, for protection, and for beautification.
Sin, ‘chattaah’ refers to an offense as well as to its penalty.
3 You set aside all your wrath and turned from your fierce anger.
God compiles and gathers what was an overflowing outburst of passion (‘ebrah’ – wrath; a feminine term) and anger. He transitions and repositions from the broiling, kindled anger that is driven by displeasure and jealousy. Anger ‘aph’ actually refers to a face or nostrils denoting rapid breathing fueled by passion. Imagine God in his broiling fury, calming himself and returning to a place of experiencing pleasure from his children.
4 Restore us again, God our Savior, and put away your displeasure toward us.
5 Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger through all generations?
6 Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?
So far, the writer has invoked what God did in the past. Based on that history, he now invokes God to do the same for the current situation. It is wise to know what God has done historically. One can then use that as in a court of law as a precedence for what we can hope for.
7 Show us your unfailing love, Lord, and grant us your salvation.
What a beautiful, all-purpose prayer! No matter what tribulation one is enduring, we can pray this for them and know that he will answer. And speaking of salvation (‘yesha’ – safety, deliverance, victory), find Christ in the section that follows.
8 I will listen to what God the Lord says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants—
but let them not turn to folly.
He will speak ‘shalom’ (completeness, safety, soundness, prosperity, quiet, contentment) to his people. As we keep our hearts focused on the Prince of Peace, we shall experience the rich list of components of shalom. And he reminds/warns us not to turn from that to foolishness or stupidity.
9 Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved,” Acts 4:12.
10 Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.
“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love… God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him,” 1 John 4:8, 16. At the end of the ages, our mighty warrior is named Faithful: “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war,” Revelation 19:11. Jehovah Tsidkenu refers to God our righteousness, ““The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: Jehovah Tsidkenu.”
11 Truth springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven.
Truth ‘emeth’ is a feminine noun meaning firm, faithful, sure, reliable, and stable. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” John 14:6.
12 The Lord will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest.
13 Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps.
This is a declaration of hope borne of trust in God and his capacity to do what is good. Because of his goodness, not because of our deserving, restoration and revival will come. And with it rejoicing and God’s pleasure.
“We are His portion and He is our prize
Drawn to redemption by the grace in his eyes
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking
So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest…”
“Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling.How He Loves Me, Jesus Culture.
Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him,” Psalm 2:11, 12.