Lectionary Calendar
Monday, July 22nd, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 85

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-13

Psalms 85:1 . Brought back the captivity of Jacob. Part of this psalm at least appears to have been composed after the return from captivity, or it may have been adapted to that happy occasion, when the Lord revived the broken heart of his people.

Psalms 85:2 . Thou hast forgiven, or borne away the iniquity of thy people, as the ancient scapegoat carried away iniquity to the desert. Leviticus 16:20.

Psalms 85:11 . Truth shall spring out of the earth. We have a very remarkable comment here by the learned rabbi Jotten. “Truth shall not be born, but shall spring out of the earth, because the generation of the Messiah is not as with other creatures. He shall not be begotten with carnal coition: therefore no one has named his Father, who must be concealed till he himself shall declare him.” The same rabbi adds, “You have said we are orphans; such a one, saith the Lord, shall your Redeemer be, whom I will give you.” See Dr. Lightfoot, vol. 2. fol. p. 385. Morney de Verit. Christ. Rel. cap. 28. This very remarkable comment claims the particular attention of christians as well as jews.


This psalm contains a pious and grateful review of God’s instructive providence towards his people. It celebrates his peculiar goodness in forgiving, and in covering all their sins: and personal and national pardons are among the first of God’s blessings.

It prays the Lord to perfect the renovation of the people, that his anger might for ever cease, and that mercy from heaven, and obedience of heart might distinguish all their future years. Then the rising prosperity of David, and the glory of Solomon would be the heritage of their children.

We have the confidence and the waiting which followed prayer. I will hear what God the Lord will say. The prophet, feeling that his prayer found access, was confident that the Lord would speak peace to his people, according to the blessings of his covenant, and to his saints; or as the Septuagint reads, to them that turn to him with their heart. But he cautions them against relapse, for never was folly greater than when Israel forsook his God. While praying for the good of Israel, he kept his eye on the Messiah: surely his salvation is nigh to them that fear him, that glory may dwell in the land. Daniel had viewed this salvation in the vision of seventy weeks, and that time was wasting fast away. Hence when praying for ourselves and the church, let us always keep our eye and heart on the glorious things which are spoken of his coming and kingdom.

Both in Israel’s restoration, and man’s redemption, the perfections of God are harmonized. The sin of Israel made a schism in God’s economy; but he showed mercy. His truth was glorified in bringing upon them all the evils which Moses had foretold. Deuteronomy 28:0. Now also the righteous arm of God dropped its rod, and shook hands with peace. But the true and full application of this glorious text, as is obvious from the connection, is appropriate to our redemption by Jesus Christ. Sin, if we may so speak, set the attributes of God at variance, and produced discord in his kingdom. Justice frowned on man; truth required his punishment; but mercy, goodness, and love, pleaded in his behalf. Mercy here seemed to say, justice requires indeed a satisfaction, and truth has said that man shall surely die. Yet says mercy, there is a difference between fallen man and fallen angels: they fell by their own pride, but man was ruined by their malice. Here all was silence; all counsel failed. Then said the Son, I will go down and clothe myself with flesh, and sustain the punishment, magnify the law, and give man a better paradise than Adam lost. Here all the sister graces seem to have sprung into each other’s arms and embraced. Jesus Christ hath reconciled all things to himself on the cross. His oblation has made it honourable and safe for God to pardon the penitent. And if God spared not his own Son, what creature will dare to sin? And what creature can sin against so much love?

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 85". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/psalms-85.html. 1835.
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