Psalms for Troubled Times – Psalm 85

Salvation Expounded

1) It’s all of God’s GRACE.

V1,2 – ‘LORD, thou hast been favourable unto thy land: thou hast brought back the captivity of Jacob. Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, thou hast covered all their sin. Selah.

It is interesting that Jacob is mentioned here, for the first time this word ‘favour’ is used is in relation to Jacob meeting Esau (Gen33:10). Jacob had sinned in deceiving his father to steal the birthright from his older brother, now he feared revenge. But instead of getting what he was due, Esau acted in grace and favour towards Jacob. We might say he was pleased to see him.

This is how the psalmist feels, as do I. We have sinned against God, and deserve God’s judgment, but in grace, our sin has been forgiven. The LORD (Yahweh) has been favourable to us. He is indeed pleased to see us (Luke 15:20).

2) We must TURN to the Lord.

V3,4 – ‘Thou hast taken away all thy wrath: thou hast turned thyself from the fierceness of thine anger. Turn us, O God of our salvation, and cause thine anger toward us to cease.

Rightfully, the Lord God is angry with our sin. We are under His wrath, but in grace, He has already turned from that anger, to act in salvation towards us. 

In response, the Psalmist prays that the Lord would work in the hearts of the people to turn them from their wicked ways to the Lord. This turning is what we mean by ‘repentance’ (Acts 26:20). 

3) We must CALL upon the Lord.

V6,7 – “Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee? Shew us thy mercy, O LORD, and grant us thy salvation.”

The Psalmist understands that ‘the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life’ (Roms 6:23), and so he calls out to the Lord for life. He looks to God alone to work salvation.

This is no ‘turning over a new leaf’! This is a real change within: a reviving, a recreating, the old has become new!

Think of many who called out to the Lord Jesus in the Gospel record, who were made completely new. And so, as Paul writes Roms 6:23, he correctly adds ‘the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord’.

Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved’ (Roms 10:13)

4) Salvation brings PEACE and HOPE.

V8,9 – ‘I will hear what God the LORD will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints … Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him; that glory may dwell in our land.’

The joy of salvation is immediately seen here in two ways. There is a present peace with God, and a future hope of glory.

As Paul would put it:

Therefore being justified by faith, we havepeace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.’ (Roms 5:1,2)

5) It’s all because of Christ’s DEATH.

V10,11 – ‘Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven.

Salvation is only possible because of the mediator, ‘the man, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for us all’ (1Tim 2:5,6). He is the only One who can represent both heaven and earth, being the eternal Son of God, who ‘became flesh and dwelt among us’ (John 1:14).

And just as heaven and earth were brought together in Christ Jesus, so divine justice and mercy met at the cross. (Roms 3:22-26)

Without the cross, and the death of Christ, there can be no salvation.

I love the expression the psalmist uses: they’ve ‘kissed each other’. It reminds us of the deep love that brought Christ low. 

Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.’ (1 John 4:10)

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