Read Psalm 85
For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.
1 You, Lord, showed favor to your land;
you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
2 You forgave the iniquity of your people
and covered all their sins.
3 You set aside all your wrath
and turned from your fierce anger.
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?
7 Show us your unfailing love, Lord,
and grant us your salvation.
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.
9 Surely his salvation is near those who fear him,
that his glory may dwell in our land.
10 Love and faithfulness meet together;
righteousness and peace kiss each other.
11 Faithfulness springs forth from the earth,
and righteousness looks down from heaven.
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.
The year is 594 BC, and the Jews were returning to Israel after 70 years of exile and captivity in Babylon. They longed for a renewed future in Israel, and this psalm of lament expressed their need for God to show His steadfast love and faithfulness by restoring and reviving and granting salvation once again. (v. 4, 6, 7). This is not before affirming what God had done in the past for the nation of Israel and their vast land of inheritance.
You, Lord, showed favor to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob. You forgave the iniquity of your people and covered all their sins. You set aside all your wrath and turned from your fierce anger (v. 1-3).
Don’t miss the active language the psalmist uses to describe the grace extended to the chosen people of God long before their exile. He showed favor, restored fortunes, forgave iniquity, covered sins, set aside wrath, and turned from His fierce anger. Now they are returning to their land, longing to experience the restorative love of God that they may rejoice once again in His unfailing love.
While we may not be in exile and captivity, we often find ourselves enslaved to our own self-imposed exile from God. It is marked by our fears, doubts, isolation, and unrepentant sin. At these moments, deliverance is found by clinging to the gospel which saved us. We can use these prophetic gospel words of the psalmist as they point us directly to the cross of Christ that restores us to God, covers our sins, and shelters us from His just and fierce wrath. In short, this gospel psalm reminds us that we are favored by God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And on the heels of this declaration, we find the joy of the exiles and experience the great love of our redemptive God.
Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land. Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven (v. 9-11).
Just as the psalmist used powerful language to describe salvation from sin, he now offers beautiful poetic words and imagery to display the intimate love of our heavenly Father. His attributes of love and faithfulness to His children and righteousness and peace for you and me are beautifully united. What a gift Psalm 85 is to us today! Read it again and delight in your salvation story that “His glory may dwell” in your life!
- Consider how a psalm written 600 years before the birth of Christ can reveal so much about salvation through His life. What elements of the gospel story can you see in Psalm 85?
- God’s faithfulness is one of His attributes that assures us of His promise-keeping nature. How have you seen His faithfulness displayed in your life? When have you gone into self-imposed exile yet still see God keep His promises?
- If you are reading this and not sure if you’ve been saved from the exile of your sin, then ask God to forgive you today and turn away His just wrath from your life. Tell him that you are trusting in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to take the penalty of your sin at the cross so that you can live free of condemnation and have the confidence of eternal life with God. Rejoice in the joy of your salvation by sharing your gospel story with a friend.
Did you Know?
The glory that dwells with God’s people is called the Shekinah which comes from the Hebrew word “shaken,” meaning “dwell.” According to the ESV Study Bible “glory is God’s special presence with his people… a gift to God’s people.” God’s desire is for our lives to be consumed by His Shekinah glory that we may walk in holiness and adoration of Him.
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