Summary: You've heard the old saying about the light at the end of the tunnel, but sometimes life is so difficult that there simply seems to be no light at all - no answer, no relief. What do you do in times like that?
Psalm 85 appears to have been written upon Israel’s return from the Babylonian captivity in 538 and 458 B.C. It’s a psalm calling for spiritual re-awakening. God had disciplined the children of Israel for their unfaithfulness in their marriage to Him. They had served other gods instead of Yahweh. So now, coming back to the land, they want a fresh start. Sometimes a fresh start is what we need too.
1 – 3
The psalmist here is rejoicing that they have been allowed back into Israel and that the guilt of their unfaithfulness has been covered.
4 – 7
These verses seem a little odd. If God already forgave them, why are they worried about God’s anger? It’s because for them, a return to disobedience would result once again in God’s discipline. In fact, there were several instances where they started down that road. In Ezra 9-10 some of the returning exiles were once again intermarrying with non-Jews—the very sort of behavior that got them into trouble the first time. Fortunately Ezra put a stop to it.
Should we worry about our mistakes making God angry? The anger of God is not mentioned in the New Testament until the book of the Revelation, when His wrath is poured out on those who reject Him. God poured out his anger against us on Jesus on the cross. Does that mean we can just do whatever we want? Of course not. Our goal is to let the Holy Spirit transform us into His image and character. When we fail, God is not angry, but He does discipline us.
The key to that process we find in the next verses:
8 – 9
It’s amazing to me how many people simply don’t listen to what God says in His Word. God has declared peace with us through Jesus Christ and does not let us go back to our old ways.
Rom. 5:1 Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
God does not allow us to go back to our foolish ways by bringing discipline into our lives. (Hebrews 12:7-11). This can take many forms but is designed to help, not hurt us.
Verse 9 is so true. For those who have awe, respect, and even fear of the Lord, coming to salvation is much easier. Paul echoed these words in Romans 13:11 when he talked about waking up from sleep. Pretty soon, Jesus will return for us and literally “save” us from this world. Can’t wait!
10 – 13
These verses contain some wonderful poetic pictures of God’s coming kingdom on earth.
Four qualities of God are mentioned here: faithful love, truth, righteousness, and peace. They are all seen here working together in perfect harmony. But in a sinful world you cannot have God’s love and peace without His righteousness and commitment to the truth of His Word. You see, they all meet in one person: Jesus. Jesus is the righteousness and the truth of God. But he also poured out love through His death in order to make us at peace with God in Jesus.
One day the world itself will have this blessing. What a glorious day that will be!
And remember, while the blessings God bestowed on Israel were material—crops and water, etc. The blessings He pours on us and that we should pray for are spiritual—His character poured into our lives and His joy!
Psalm 86 is the only Davidic psalm in Book III. It finds him in a familiar situation—hunted by enemies and crying out to God for help.
1 – 4
David wants three things in these first few verses: he wants God to protect his life, be gracious, and bring him joy. Why does David ask this? Because he is “faithful” in other words, he “trusts in” God. Finally because he “turns” to the Lord.
So David declares that he will not trust in himself or any others. He belongs to God and has put his lot in with Yahweh.
David had a lot of resources he could draw on—wealth, position, power, good looks, a witty tongue, and great physical strength and ability. Yet he throws it all on God. What a great lesson for us when faced with difficulty.
6 – 10
In these verses David extols the virtues of the Lord—answering the question: why call only on God?
Look at the attributes of God here: kind, fast to forgive, an active listener, unique among all the other possible solutions to his problem—and more than that, able to do “above and beyond whatever we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).
He finishes it off by saying “You alone are God.” There really only is one source that can provide actual help to us, and that is the Lord God.