The way back to God
1 For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.
You showed favour to your land, O LORD; you restored the fortunes of Jacob. 2 You forgave the iniquity of your people and covered all their sins. Selah 3 You set aside all your wrath and turned from your fierce anger.
4 Restore us again, O God our Saviour, and put away your displeasure towards us. 5 Will you be angry with us for ever? 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, O LORD, and grant us your salvation.
8 I will listen to what God the LORD will say; he promises peace to his people, his saints—but let them not return 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.
Psalm 85 – The way back to God
(Verses 1-3) There is an interesting parallel throughout this psalm between Israel and the individual Christian. Although thought by some Bible scholars to refer to Judah’s return from Babylonian captivity, it could also refer to various stages in the up and down history of God’s physical people. It reveals a principle seen in both the Old Testament about Israel, and in the New Testament about any sinner who turns to Christ. It starts with God’s blessing as He shows favour to restore, forgive and cover sins, and turn from the ‘fierce anger’ of His wrath. Israel, including Judah, knew this in their history often as they confessed their wrongs to God, turned from their sins, and trusted Him to forgive them. Similarly, today, a lost sinner—we all are or were lost—who turns from sin and trusts Jesus personally, benefits from God’s grace and favour. He is restored to fellowship with the Lord and is forgiven by Him. He is saved through whole-hearted personal faith in Jesus, who died for him, bore his sins on the cross, and took God’s penalty on those sins in that sinner’s place. The risen Lord, through the Holy Spirit, enters that person’s life, and then begins to change him from within. The same principle of repenting for sins and faith in Christ applies to a Christian’s daily life, but at no point has he ever become ‘unsaved’ again since trusting Christ.
(Verses 4-7) God’s Old Testament people ask God to restore them, cease His anger and displeasure, revive them, cause them to rejoice in Him, show them His unfailing love and save them. On a spiritual basis, that is how God still blesses any lost sinner who repents and trusts in Jesus Christ. It also foreshadows how a Christian should walk daily with his Lord (1 John 1:7 and 9).
(Verses 8-9) Israel then, lost sinners now, and those committed to Christ should learn to walk with God as described here. Listen to God’s word. Trust His promises. Refuse and reject sin. If you sin, confess it to God. Ask Him to forgive you and restore your fellowship with Him. Fear Him with a godly, loving fear. Seek His glory in all you are and in all you do. That should describe anyone committed to ‘the Lord Jesus, who gave Himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever’ (Galatians 1:4-5).
(Verses 10-13) The cross where Jesus died is where love met faithfulness, and where righteousness met peace. His goodness and righteousness also met our sin and judgment. When we believe that and yield to Jesus, we too will begin to harvest His blessing in our lives as He prepares our way to follow Him.