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Friday, June 21st, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 85

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

Verses 1-3

The writer began by thanking God for delivering His people. The reference to restoration from captivity (Psalms 85:1) suggests that this psalm may date to the return from Babylonian exile. However, the psalmist may have been referring to a more modest captivity, perhaps at the hand of a neighbor nation. In any case, he viewed Israel’s former enslavement to be the result of her sin and thanked God for pardoning that.

"In Psalms 85:3 a sin is conceived as a burden of the conscience; in Psalms 85:3 b as a blood-stain." [Note: Delitzsch, 3:10.]

Verses 1-7

1. Thanksgiving and petition 85:1-7

Verses 1-13

Psalms 85

An anonymous psalmist thanked God for forgiving and restoring His sinning people. He prayed that God would remove His wrath from them and expressed confidence in the nation’s future. Perhaps the genre is a national lament.

Verses 4-7

Even though Israel was free, she still needed spiritual restoration and revival. Because of this condition the psalmist petitioned God to put away all of His anger against His sinning people (cf. Isaiah 28:21; Ezekiel 18:32). They needed his loyal love (Heb. hesed) and His deliverance. They would rejoice when He provided these benefits fully.

"The psalms often reflect on anger. This preoccupation may seem abnormal to us, but anger is a theological concern. The psalmists invite us to deal with anger rather than skirt negative human emotions. Hence the psalms invite us to pray through anger and thus to be cleansed of evil emotions and to be filled with hope in the full inauguration of God’s kingdom." [Note: VanGemeren, p. 551. This writer provided an extended discussion of anger in the psalms on pages 551-56.]

Verses 8-9

As the psalmist waited for God to respond, he was confident the Lord would send peace (Heb. shalom, the fullness of divine blessing). It was important, however, that in the meantime His people not return to their former sins.

"It is good to hear the word of God, but His people must also govern their lives thereby." [Note: C. B. Moll, "The Psalms," p. 468, in vol. 5 of Lange’s Commentary on the Holy Scriptures.]

The basis of his confidence was the Lord’s promised deliverance of those who fear Him. The idea behind glory dwelling in the land is that God would again manifest His presence there by blessing the Israelites.

Verses 8-13

2. Trust and confidence 85:8-13

Verses 10-13

Lovingkindness (i.e., loyal love) and righteousness are what God provides. Truth and peace are what the objects of His blessing experience. They unite when God’s people return to Him and He responds with blessing. Productive harvests are a blessing God promised His people if they walked in obedience to the Mosaic covenant (Deuteronomy 28:1-14; Deuteronomy 30:1-16).

This psalm is full of very important terms: righteousness, peace, loyal love, truth, fear, glory, and salvation-to name a few. When people get right with God in the fundamental areas of life, His choicest blessings are not far behind. However, we have to wait for Him to provide blessing after repentance, as God patiently waits before bringing judgment for sin.

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 85". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/psalms-85.html. 2012.
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