Past, present and future hope in Christ
by Quanah Spence
December 3, 2015
Psalm 85:1-13: 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.
- Past peace (vv. 1-3)
- Present need (vv. 4-7)
- Future peace (vv. 8-13)
In relation to this text the people of God have come out of exile and returned to the promised land. Although they have experienced God's grace in the past they are now struggling internally and longing for ongoing restoration. The psalmist essentially says, “We have seen you do great things for us in the past; can you do it again?” Do you find yourself in a similar spiritual state? Have you likewise pleaded to God and asked, “Will you not revive us again?” (v.6). I also think of Psalm 51 that says, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” I pray you long for ongoing restoration and desire for God to draw near to you.
Psalm 85, like the Advent season, serves as a reminder of God's work in the past and also offers hope for the future. Have you ever called out to God and pleaded for forgiveness (I hope so!)? This text reveals that we can end those prayers not in sorrow but in peace. This is good news, since we struggle with sin every day! Even in the midst of guilt and frustration we can expect God to remain faithful. How? The psalmist tells us. He anticipates a coming together of love and faithfulness and expects an intimate connection between righteousness and peace. He illustrates these attributes as meeting as friends and then kissing like lovers (v.10). Why is this significant? Because when sin entered the world it shattered and keeps on shattering peace on Earth (Gen. 3). As a result, we have been separated from God and must rely on His faithfulness and grace to enter His salvation.
In verses 1-3 the people of God remember how God showed them favor. They could praise God for their deliverance from Egypt and now from exile. They can remember many wondrous works of God, but we can do something they could not. We can look back at the pinnacle of God's work in human history. What was anticipated then can now be remembered. That is because this anticipation was satisfied at the birth of Jesus Christ and ultimately at the cross. The psalmist anticipated salvation drawing near, and of God's glory dwelling in our land (v.9). That is Christmas! Peace became a man so that peace could be given to all mankind. At the birth of Christ, Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kissed each other (v. 10). This is a fantastic description of the incarnation (birth) of Christ!
I close echoing Charles Spurgeon on this text; “Brethren, if you will pray this prayer, it will be better than my [blogging] from it! And my only motive in [blogging] from it is that you may pray it.”