August 18 2023
Today, Friday August 18
Righteousness and Peace Have Kissed
“I will hear what God the LORD will speak, For He will speak peace To His people and to His saints; 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. Mercy and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed. Truth shall spring out of the earth, And righteousness shall look down from heaven. Yes, the LORD will give what is good; And our land will yield its increase. Righteousness will go before Him, And shall make His footsteps our pathway.
Psalm 85 was possibly written by one of the sons of Korah after the captivity of Israel in Babylon. The people of Israel were granted a new beginning back in the land. The LORD was gracious to forgive and cover their sin of idolatry. God had lifted His wrath and turned from His anger on them (vv. 1-3). Notice how many times the words “You or Yours” are repeated in these three verses speaking of the LORD and what He did for the people. The psalmist then asked for God to restore and revive them that they may rejoice in His righteousness as the LORD showed them His mercy and salvation (vv. 4-7). In these verses you can’t help but notice how many times the word “us” is repeated as the people have gather to pray for renewal!
Now in verses 8-13, the people are encouraged to listen to God’s message to them! "I will hear" (v. 8), suggests that the worship leader or a prophet stepped forward and said, in effect, "Now it is time to be silent before God and listen for His message to us for this hour." God and His people were now reconciled, and He was speaking peace to them. Jeremiah had given them this promise in Jeremiah 29:10-14: “For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.”
"Saints" means "people who are set apart for God." God was speaking peace but was at the same time was warning them not to turn back to foolish living. Israel had a long record of "turning to folly"! According to the book of Judges, seven different nations were sent by God to chastise Israel; they repented, but they always lapsed back into idolatry again. After Solomon died, his son Rehoboam was a fool not to listen to the wise men of the land, and this led to a division of the kingdom. Jeroboam, ruler of the northern kingdom, manufactured his own religion and led the nation astray. How foolish!
The task of God's people is to fear God and glorify Him (v. 9). The word "dwell" is the Hebrew word shechinah, and we speak of God's glory dwelling in the tabernacle (Ex. 40:34) and the temple (2 Chron. 7:1-3). Before the temple was destroyed, Ezekiel saw God's glory leave the structure (Ezek. 9:3; 10:1-4, 18-19; 11:22-23). When the Jewish remnant rebuilt the temple, the prophet Haggai promised that God's glory would return in an even greater way (Hag. 2:6-9).
In verses 10-13, the Lord announced future blessings that He would send if His people continued to walk with Him. Righteousness and peace—attributes of God—are personified and would "kiss" each other, for the warfare would be over. (See Isa. 32:17; Rom. 3:21-31 and 5:1-3.) Surely there is a glimpse here of the person and work of Jesus Christ on the cross. It was on the cross of Jesus that mercy and truth become friends. The truth is that we are sinners and deserve God’s wrath, but God’s grace and mercy through the death of Christ on the cross brings us reconciliation, peace with God, and salvation (Romans 5:1-2; 6:23).
“Truth shall spring out of the earth”! Jesus said, “I Am the way, the truth and the life…”. The psalmist described a world of holiness and harmony, a picture of the coming kingdom over which Christ shall reign. And what a harvest there will be, not only of food necessary for survival (Hag. 1:3-11) but of heaven-sent blessings that will bring joy to the land. As people walk through the land, God's righteousness will go before them, and their way will be prepared. God's will shall be done on earth just as it is now done in heaven. "Even so, come, Lord Jesus!" (Rev. 22:20).
Even today, our Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ “restores us and leads us in paths of righteousness”! (Psalm 23:1-3). Follow Him!