From Psalms 80-85
Psalm 85 is a communal prayer written in a time of need. They plead with the LORD to lay aside his wrath toward his people and restore them. They interpret the crisis they are going through as a sign of the LORD’s anger. They look back to the past when the LORD forgave them. They ask he forgive them again. In faith they anticipate the LORD will respond and join together four of his qualities as covenant member and king. Steadfast love, faithfulness, righteousness and peace.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
The Psalmist begins reflecting on the way the LORD has treated his wayward people in the past.
1 LORD, you were favorable to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
2 You forgave the iniquity of your people; you covered all their sin. Selah
3 You withdrew all your wrath; you turned from your hot anger. (Ps 85.1-3)
He remembers how the LORD restored Jacob and forgave her sin.
Turning away from his wrath and hot anger. The instance could easily be applied to a number of instances, in particular the golden calf incident (Ex 32).
The Psalmist brings this to the fore because God’s people need forgiving again. They have lapsed into sin and are being punished by the LORD. They are probably being opposed by a foreign nation, an oppressive power which is an instrument of the LORD intended to discipline them.
The Psalmist is calling out for forgiveness. He knows the LORD may forgive them because he knows he has forgiven in the past.
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. (Ps 85.4-7)
‘Restore us again’. The plea is based on what the LORD has done before.
The LORD is ‘indignant’, he is ‘angry’. The Psalmist recognises the LORD is angry with them because of how they have sinned. But the Psalmist cries out for restoration, salvation and revival.
The LORD’s steadfast love is the reason why the Psalmist calls out for forgiveness. He knows the LORD is faithful to his covenant. Part of the covenant is the LORD forgives the sin and transgression of those who repent and ask him for forgiveness.
8 Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly.
9 Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land. (Ps 85.8-9)
The Psalmist waits for the LORD to speak. He is certain the LORD will speak. Probably through his prophets.
The LORD will ‘speak peace to his people’. Has the LORD spoken peace to you?
Give them an opportunity to repent and be restored. The LORD did this time and time again. He did not have to send the prophets. But he did because he gives his wayward people every opportunity he can.
If they repent. If they ‘turn from their folly’ and ‘fear him’ the LORD will return to them in glory. What will this look like?
11 Faithfulness springs up from the ground, and righteousness looks down from the sky.
12 Yes, the LORD will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase.
13 Righteousness will go before him and make his footsteps a way. (Ps 85.10-13)
The four attributes of the LORD: steadfast love, faithfulness, righteousness and peace are personified.
They ‘meet’, ‘kiss’, ‘spring up’ and ‘look down’. One scholar thinks of these personified attributes of the LORD as kings. The Psalmist puts all these together anticipating the LORD forgiving his people’s (‘those who fear him’) sins and restoring them.
His forgiveness extends to the land yielding once again its harvest. Providing food for the people. The LORD, the King will come again and walk in righteousness.
“This psalm reflects the postexilic Judaic community’s faith and hope that God’s loving presence could make a difference in their desperate situation. Prayers to God and faith in his “steadfast love” make it possible for them to survive the crisis.” (Prinsloo, W.S., 2003. The Psalms. In J. D. G. Dunn & J. W. Rogerson, eds. Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, p. 406.)
Psalm 85.6 ‘Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?’
Revival. This word has come to be often used for a season of extraordinary religious activity, attended by numerous conversions. But it properly means the quickening, strengthening, elevating, of life already possessed which is feeble, declining, and threatened with extinction.
It must be God’s work, by the power of his Spirit. “Will you not revive us again?” All life, natural and spiritual, is from God and in God. (Spence-Jones, H.D.M. ed., 1909. Psalms, London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.)
68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people
69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David,
70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71 that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us;
72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
74 that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
80 And the child [Jesus] grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel. (Lk 1:68–80)
The four attributes of the LORD: steadfast love, faithfulness, righteousness and peace are personified in Jesus Christ.
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2016. All Rights Reserved.