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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Psalms 85

 

 

Verse 1

LORD, thou hast been favourable unto thy land: thou hast brought back the captivity of Jacob.

Psalms 85:1-12.-Israel's deliverance from sin and punishment anticipated by faith in God's promises (Psalms 85:1-3); prayer based upon this (Psalms 85:4-7); God's answer of peace to His people's prayer of faith (Psalms 85:8-13). The psalm is designed for times when by disobedience the people forfeited the 'peace' and abundance promised in Leviticus 26:3-13 (cf. Psalms 85:12 here). The resemblance of Psalms 85:4 to Psalms 80:3; Psalms 80:7; Psalms 80:19, inclines me to think that our psalm embodies the believing prayers of Judah, as yet in her land, anticipating the time when the captive Ten tribes shall be restored, and God's anger against the whole nation shall be removed. The fulfillment is mainly still future. The results anticipated to both the literal and the spiritual Israel are so vast (Psalms 85:10-13) as to apply in their fullness only to Messianic times.

Lord ... thou hast brought back the captivity of Jacob - rather, 'thou hast turned again the captivity of Jacob:' thou hast reversed his state of distress (cf. note, Job 42:10; Psalms 14:7). This verb [ shuwb (Hebrew #7725)] occurs at Psalms 85:3-4; Psalms 85:6; Psalms 85:8; and is characteristic of the psalm (cf. Psalms 80:3; Psalms 80:7; Psalms 80:19).


Verse 2

Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, thou hast covered all their sin. Selah.

Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, thou hast covered all their sin. "Cover" [ kaacaah (Hebrew #3680)] is the expression for "atone" - i:e., to hide out of God's view our sin by the reconciliation effected through the blood of Jesus (Psalms 32:1, note). The coats of skin used to cover Adam's nakedness after the fall, and provided by God, prefigures this atonement covering by Christ. They who will not have their sin covered by Messiah's blood shall in vain call to the mountains, "Cover us" (Hosea 10:8 - the same Hebrew verb; Revelation 6:16).


Verse 3

Thou hast taken away all thy wrath: thou hast turned thyself from the fierceness of thine anger.

Thou hast turned thyself from the fierceness of thine anger. The original passage on which this verse rests is Exodus 32:12.


Verse 4

Turn us, O God of our salvation, and cause thine anger toward us to cease.

Turn us, O God of our salvation, and cause thine anger toward us to cease. This prayer, "Turn us ... cause thine anger ... to cease," after the suppliants have just said, "Thou hast taken away all thy wrath; thou hast turned thyself from the fierceness of thine anger," may seem strange; but faith explains it. It is just because of faith's strong anticipation of the desired issue, as if it had already come to pass (so certain is it), that it is stirred up the more intensely to pray for that which the spirit of prophecy in the Psalmist reveals as an already accomplished fact.


Verse 5

Wilt thou be angry with us for ever? wilt thou draw out thine anger to all generations?

Wilt thou draw out thine anger to all generations? - whereas ordinarily "thine anger endureth but a moment" (Psalms 30:5; cf. Exodus 34:6-7).


Verse 6

Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?

Wilt thou not revive us again? - Hebrew (the same verb as in Psalms 85:4. "turn us"), 'Wilt thou not turn (and) revive us?' (Psalms 71:20; Psalms 80:18; Deuteronomy 32:39; Hosea 6:2). The "THOU" is emphatic, in the Hebrew "turn" is intransitive, 'return.' THOU must return if we are to be quickened. THY return is the indispensable condition of our vivification.

That thy people may rejoice in thee - (Psalms 5:11; Psalms 40:16.) Joy in the Lord is one of the first fruits of life in the Lord (Acts 2:46; Acts 8:39; Acts 16:34; Galatians 5:22; Romans 5:11). Holy joy is a source of "strength" (Nehemiah 8:10).


Verse 7

Shew us thy mercy, O LORD, and grant us thy salvation. No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 8

I will hear what God the LORD will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again to folly.

I will hear what God the Lord will speak. The Church here declares the joy with which she prepares to hear the answer to her prayer in Psalms 85:4. "God the Lord" - literally, 'the God-Yahweh' (cf. Psalms 68:20, "He that is OUR God (literally, the God to us) is the God of salvation").

For he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints. The Church in faith already anticipates the answer of peace from God. "Peace" spiritually has come "on earth" at Christ's first advent (Luke 2:14). 'Christ died sufficiently for all: efficiently for the elect' (Dr. Davenant, 'De morte Christi'), "His saints." Peace temporally and literally, as well as spiritually, is to come on earth at His second advent, to Israel in their own land, and to all nations (Zechariah 9:10).

But let them not turn again to folly. The redemption of Jesus is designed to "save men from their sins," not that they may continue in their sins (Matthew 1:21; Romans 6:1-2). They who turn again to folly, which all sin is, shall perish in their sinful folly, and "their latter end is worse with them than the beginning;" "the dog is turned to his own vomit again, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire" (2 Peter 2:20-22). In the case of the spiritual Israel, as well as the literal Israel of the last days, the "everlasting covenant" of God is such as to ensure, as well the complete 'covering' of "all their sin" (Psalms 85:2), as also "that they shall not depart from their God" anymore (Jeremiah 32:38-40; also 31:31-37). God's words, which effect their own command in the case of the elect, "But let them not turn again to folly." (Psalms 80:18) is parallel, the two psalms having a close relation. "So will not we go back from thee: quicken us, and we will call upon thy name."


Verse 9

Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him; that glory may dwell in our land.

Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him; that glory may dwell in our land - the answer to the prayer in Psalms 85:7, "grant us thy salvation." The bringing near His salvation (Isaiah 46:13) issues in "glory" dwelling in the land of Israel. As the cloud of glory dwelt on tabernacle, so "I, saith the Lord, will be the glory in the midst of her" (Zechariah 2:5). As Messiah is the "Light to lighten the Gentiles," so He is "the glory of His people Israel" (Luke 2:32). "The word made flesh" once "dwelt among" the Jews, and those who believed "beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). But then His glory was veiled under His humiliation, and was only to be discerned by faith; but hereafter His glory fully revealed shall dwell in Israel (Ezekiel 43:7). In the words, "that glory may dwell in our land," there is allusion to the Shechinah, which comes from a Hebrew root [ shaakan (Hebrew #7931)] to dwell, (Habakkuk 2:14; Isa allusion to the Shechinah, which comes from a Hebrew root [ shaakan (Hebrew #7931)] to dwell, (Habakkuk 2:14; Isaiah 11:10, margin.)


Verse 10

Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

Mercy and truth are met together. "Mercy" from God for the pardon of our sin is shown, in the redemption performed by Messiah for Israel literal and spiritual, to harmonize with the "truth" of God - i:e., with His faithfulness alike to His threatening against sin and to His promise of salvation notwithstanding to lost man. For Christ hath suffered the threatened penalty; therefore Christ's people receive the promised mercy.

Righteousness and peace have kissed each other. The demands of God's righteousness against man were met by the Saviour's meritorious death as man for man; so "peace" to man is reconciled with the unimpaired glory of God's righteousness. The meeting and the kissing of each other (Psalms 85:10-11) imply that there had been in appearance a separation of these attributes respectively, which now are showed to harmonize (Isaiah 42:21); so that every true Israelite can say, "In the Lord have I righteousness and strength ... in the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory" (Isaiah 45:24-25).


Verse 11

Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven.

Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven. Truth shall then spring spontaneously out of the earth, where heretofore all had been untruth - i:e., unfaithfulness to God. Righteousness shall look down from heaven, meeting Truth with approving smiles; and both shall take up their abode with men (Isaiah 45:8; Psalms 72:3).


Verse 12

Yea, the LORD shall give that which is good; and our land shall yield her increase.

Yea, the Lord shall give that which is good, and our land shall yield her increase. It is by the gift of the Lord's grace that the Holy Land, long desolate, shall once more "yield her increase" (Psalms 67:6.) "The earth" generally shall in a great measure be delivered from the effects of her fall; and this, in connection with His 'causing His face to shine upon' Israel first, and through her "upon all nations" - Messiah, the "Judge" and King "governing" the earth (Ps. 67:1-2,46 ; cf. Isaiah 55:13).


Verse 13

Righteousness shall go before him; and shall set us in the way of his steps.

Righteousness shall go before him and shall set (us) in the way of his steps - rather, 'and shall set in the (righteous) way His step' (Isaiah 11:3-5) etc.; or else, 'Righteousness shall go before Him, and set its steps in the way' (so the Chaldaic, Vulgate, Septuagint, and Arabic) - i:e., shall freely pursue its way. Contrast the opposite state (Isaiah 59:14).

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 85:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/psalms-85.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, October 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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