Bible Reading: Psalm 85
God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Our Lord never changes, and He is always faithful to be and do what He has claimed He will be and do. As we read Psalm 85, we see that this community prayer moves from past to present, and then looks to the future, and does all of this through the lens of God’s faithfulness. In 85:1-3, the people are looking back on what God did for them during a time when they had been sinful and wicked towards God. God forgave their iniquity and, “covered all their sin.” The sinfulness of Israel had brought about God’s righteous wrath and anger. God’s wrath is righteous because of what it accomplishes. When God displayed His wrath on sin, it brought the people to repentance. They pleaded with God to return to them, forgive them, and restore them to good standing with Him. God, being faithful to the promises He had made to Israel, did forgive them and cover all their sins. God is faithful and just to forgive the sins of His people when they seek Him with their whole heart. In light of God’s faithfulness and mercy, Israel continues their prayer.
In 85:4-7, they are repenting and seeking God for forgiveness and help. When I read and think on these verses, I think of how repentance should work. Whenever I have done something wrong and seek to apologize to another person, I often get scared. Why? Because they may not forgive me. When we cause pain on others, we have no guarantee they will be able to look past the hurt and restore our relationship. But when we repent to God, and seek forgiveness from the, “God of our salvation,” we can do this confidently. There should be confidence in prayer, not because of our prayers, but because of Who we pray to. God is always holy, loving, faithful; God has promised to never leave or forsake His people, and He will restore them when they truly seek Him. It is with the confidence of who God is that Israel prays, and it is with this same confidence we pray.
With this confidence, the psalm looks forward to the future. What do they see? They see God speaking peace to His people and teaching them His ways, thus turning away from sin. They see His salvation coming near, and His glory dwelling among them. They see steadfast love and faithfulness meeting, and righteousness and peace kissing. The anticipate God’s faithfulness springing up from the ground, and His righteousness raining down from the sky. They have faith that God will do what is good, and He will lead them in His ways; they believe with all their heart that God will bring peace.
Call to Action: We are reading Psalm 85 in light of the Advent season, and looking at God’s promises for peace. In history, God did return and restore Israel, but God’s plan was to restore all of His people in the entire world to Himself. How did He do this? By sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to be born to the virgin Mary, live a perfectly righteous life, suffer a sacrificial, atoning death, and gloriously resurrect. All of this was done for the salvation of all who would believe in Jesus. Truly, in Christ, God promises and gives peace. This year, take hold of this peace that God provides in and through Jesus. As we saw last week, the peace and salvation of God should be received with both joy and humility. Pray and seek God with confidence, because He has promised to hear the prayers of those who seek Him with their whole heart. Do not get swept up in gifts and feasts, but become consumed with the gift of God, which is Christ, and be filled to overflowing with the peace He provides. God has promised peace, and He is faithful to give it in abundance to His people.