Today’s Scripture Lesson: Psalm 85
I invite you to open your Bible or your Bible app and read this Psalm in its entirety, allowing the Holy Spirit to minister directly to you.
As I read this Psalm, I see one word jumping off the page, even though this particular word isn’t actually used in this Psalm. The word: grace. And, if I’m allowed a second word: mercy.
Let’s look at the first 4 verses.
The Lord is Rich in Grace and Mercy
O LORD, You showed favor to Your land;
You restored the captivity of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of Your people;
You covered all their sin.
You withdrew all Your fury;
You turned away from Your burning anger.
Restore us, O God of our salvation,
And cause Your indignation toward us to cease.
Do you see mercy and grace yet? What do mercy and grace look like in these verses? Take a few moments to pray over these words which are being pulled from each verse. O LORD…
- You showed favor
- You restored
- You forgave
- You covered
- You withdrew Your fury
- You turned away from Your burning anger
- Restore us
- God of our salvation
Let me offer a question which the Holy Spirit lays on my heart frequently as I’m reading Scripture. This question often brings conviction and reveals the disconnect between what I profess to believe and what I live out. It’s a simple four-word question that pierces my soul:
“Do you believe that?”
Read each one of these statements above with the words, “O LORD” at the start of each statement and after each statement ask yourself, “Do I believe that?”
While that exercise for some of you may be enough for today, let’s move on to verse 7.
Show us Your lovingkindness, O LORD,
And grant us Your salvation.
I love this word, “lovingkindness.” We learn in Romans 2:4 that God’s kindness leads to repentance. In Psalm 5:7, David tells us that we “enter His [God’s] house by His lovingkindness.” The Hebrew word for “lovingkindness” can also be translated as “mercy,” “loyalty,” “devotion,” “favor,” “faithfulness,” and “righteousness.”
So, looking at verse 7 we could just as easily say, “Show us your mercy, O LORD, “Show us your loyalty, O LORD,” “Show us your devotion, O LORD,” “Show us your favor, O LORD,” “Show us your faithfulness, O LORD,” or “Show us your righteousness, O LORD.” And through each of these, we understand that His kindness, mercy, loyalty, devotion, favor, faithfulness, and righteousness are all leading us to repentance, which is integrally tied into His sacrificial act of salvation upon the cross.
Come in a Little Closer
Moving forward to verses 8-9 we read:
I will hear what God the LORD will say;
For He will speak peace to His people, to His godly ones;
But let them not turn back to folly.
Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him,
That glory may dwell in our land.
Two words stick out to me as I view these verses. They stick out because they are remarkably contrasting and in our language and society they appear contradictory. “Peace” and “fear” just don’t seem to go together.
The reason they appear contradictory is that we lack an understanding of how “fear” is used in the Bible. Exodus 20:20 gives us a great picture of the different faces of fear:
“Moses said to the people, ‘Do not fear; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.’”
Let me get this straight – Don’t fear, but Moses wants the fear of God to remain?
Can you see the two kinds of fear at play here? 1) Fear that makes you run away, and 2) Fear that draws you closer. The second kind of fear is the one paired with peace in verses 8-9 above. This kind of fear draws us in because it is reverential, it is AWESOME, and it is deeply satisfying (peace-giving) as we enter the holy presence of our wonderful Creator.
Finally, let’s look at verses 11-12:
Truth springs from the earth,
And righteousness looks down from heaven.
Indeed, the LORD will give what is good,
And our land will yield its produce.
These two verses take me right back to verse 7. It all points back to God’s lovingkindness. The psalmist is looking toward the future with peace because of what God has done in the past. He walks in peace because of his understanding of God’s faithfulness, God’s mercy, God’s loyalty, God’s devotion, God’s righteousness, and God’s favor. He fully understands the continuing grace of God’s goodness and this truth brings him peace and the boldness to proclaim God’s goodness, forgiveness, restoration, and salvation.
So, What’s the Play Call?
It comes down to 2 things: Be and Do. Being precedes doing, so make the first thing be the first thing.
Be – in God’s Word and allow Him to reveal His lovingkindness, mercy, grace, righteousness, and salvation to you. Be – sinless, because He has covered all your sin, walking in freedom because of grace and your knowledge of Him.
Do – proclaim His lovingkindness, mercy, grace, righteousness, loyalty, and faithfulness to a world in desperate need of a Savior who loves them. For it is His kindness which leads us to godly repentance and a deeply satisfying peace as we are fearfully drawn into His holy presence.