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Summary: When God’s people experience disaster, heartache, or disappointment, they can raise their voices to God and ask Him to intervene; their plea is based on three criteria.

A Community Lament

Psalm 85

1. I can remember a few times when America mourned as a nation. Three of the most solemn times where when John Kennedy was assassinated, September 11, 2001, and the Tsunami.

2. Israel had her times of trial and grief as well, and this Psalm of community lament is a cry to God during such a time.

3.Some suggest that this Psalm was written during a time of famine or economic decay.

4. Others suggest this refers to Israel’s return under Ezra and Nehemiah, when they humbly began trying to rebuild their destroyed city and to rebuild from scratch.

5. Although we cannot be certain of the exact circumstances, the word that describes them is "bleak," and the attitude introspective and repentant.

When God’s people experience disaster, heartache, or disappointment, they can raise their voices to God and ask Him to intervene; their plea is based on three criteria.

I. God’s Past WAYS Make It Reasonable to Ask for His Compassion (1-3)

Probably a recollection of Exodus 34:6-7, "And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation."

A. GRACE (1a)

B. RESTORATION (1b)

C. FORGIVENESS (2)

D. PROPITIATION (3)

Propitiation and expiation…

Knowing what God has done is a primary source of hope in life. Since God is the same, that means He is still capable of the same sorts of things.

What he’s done for others, he might not do for you; but he might and he certainly could. When we plead with God over heartaches or headaches, we need to learn to rehearse His past doings. Why does God respond to this? Perhaps because it glorifies him?

II. God’s HESED Is Strong (4-7)

Proverbs 20:6 records:

"Many a man claims to have hesed, but a faithful man, who can find?"

Not only is a person with hesed truthful, he is also faithful. The proverb indicates that many people may claim to have hesed for you, but only a very few will demonstrate it by actually remaining faithful. [source: http://www.theology.edu/theology/appen02.htm]

The folks at Radio Bible Class put it this way: " Hesed is difficult to translate because it stands for a cluster of ideas—love, mercy, grace, kindness. It wraps up in itself all the positive attributes of God. Hesed is one of the Lord’s most treasured characteristics.

Hesed is a quality that moves someone to act for the benefit of someone else without considering “what’s in it for me?”

It may be translated as “loyal love.” Sometimes the emphasis is on “loyal” and other times the emphasis is on “love.”

A. From DISPLEASURE to favor (4)

1. Does any sane person really want God displeased toward him?

2. Yet this is the status into which we are born

3. The people of our nation, however, are not concerned about displeasing God; with a push for Same-Sex Marriage, Abortion on Demand, and Co-Habitation, America is not the repentant position that the Hebrews of Psalm 85 found themselves.

4. WE can understand why this is so with lost people, but America’s churches cannot speak to the issue very strongly because our own homes and lives are not in order…

B. SOONER rather than later (5-6)

C. HESED in the present (7)

Illustration: A Kokomo council member, a few years ago, was in a small town in central Indiana, noted for an amazingly strict deputy. The councilman asked the deputy for directions, so the deputy gave him a ticket. When it took it to court, he was slapped with a contempt of court fine. Some of us think this is how God is. If we show up before his throne, he is waiting to scold us.

Because God’s love is faithful, I am motivated to ask in prayer. I know that if I ask him for bread, he will not give me a stone. I can shout Amen to Hebrews 13:5b

… because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."

III. God’s Justice and Love Can Be HARMONIZED (8-13)

A. God’s GRACE produces humility, not license (8-9)

In verse 8, the Psalmist goes from the plural to a singular. Remember, the Psalms are choral songs sung by a choir. Perhaps at this point we have a solo part?

In Romans, Paul clearly teaches salvation by grace. His teaching raised a question, "Shall we sin that grace may abound?" Paul’s answer is the same as the Pslamist’s, "no."

B. Love and FAITHFULNESS meet as friends (10-11)

C. Righteous Yahweh will KEEP His promises (12-13)

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