Summary: Help is at hand: the glory of the Lord is about to be revealed in the face of Jesus Christ.
TRUTH AND MERCY MEET IN THE CROSS
“Mercy and truth are met together: righteousness and peace have kissed each other” (Psalm 85:10).
The Prayer begins, not with personal desires, but by recalling to mind God’s past favours (Psalm 85:1-3).
We must learn to “count our blessings, name them one by one”, as the hymn writer exhorts us, to raise up our “Ebenezers”, our “stones of help” as the word means, saying with Samuel of old, “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us” (1 Samuel 7:12). This will temper our prayers with gratitude, and also fuel our faith as we recognise that whatsoever we ask in accordance with His will, God is able and willing to perform: that He is able to do “exceeding abundantly above all” (how many superlatives are there in Ephesians 3:20?) “all that we ask or think.” How so? “According to the power that worketh in us.”
Then, having thus encouraged himself - God, after all needs no reminding - the Psalmist applies for God’s grace in the midst of his, and the Church’s, present troubles (Psalm 85:4-6).
Such Biblical phrases as, “Turn thou us, and we shall be turned”; “in wrath remember mercy” - and the like - are not inappropriate in our petitioning the Most High. Here the drift is that God would turn us to Him, recognising our inability to turn of our own accord: and that, in turn, He would turn away his anger.
Which comes first? Well whatever we may think, it is always God who makes the first move. “But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace ye are saved)…” (Ephesians 2:4-5).
Such considerations, even in the midst of his humble appeal, excite the Psalmist and should thus stir us up, to a holy fear and a godly hope that, as in Psalm 130:4 “There is forgiveness with thee [Lord], that thou mayest be feared.”
Often as we look at the contemporary Church scene, we are inclined to ask, “Can these bones live?” (Ezekiel 37:3). Well, yes: in the vision they stood up, and came together, and then, when the breath of God came upon them, they lived.
We need such reviving as only the Spirit of God can give, and so our appeal is ever toward the God of our salvation: “Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?” There is the motive for our prayer for revival - that God’s Name might be magnified and glorified!
But, when all is said and done, we must fall back with the Psalmist upon the simple appeal for mercy (Psalm 85:7).
The Answer is provided for those who “watch and pray”.
How soon Israel under Moses fell back upon her idolatry - the commandments were no sooner given than broken. And how soon the Church in Galatia, having begun in faith in the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, fell back upon empty forms, evidencing to the Apostle Paul that she had somehow been “bewitched” (Galatians 3:1)!
However, for those who do wait patiently and who do have a right evangelical fear (Psalm 85:9), help is at hand: the glory of the Lord is about to be revealed in the face of Jesus Christ.
Where do mercy and truth meet together (Psalm 85:10) but in the Cross, where God is both just and the Justifier: meting out just judgment upon sin whilst at the same time being merciful to us sinners! This is true to His own Word in Isaiah 53:4-6 where we see the substitutionary sufferings of the only saviour of sinners!
Where do righteousness and peace come into such union but in the Cross? There God’s justice is not violated, but rather His righteousness fulfilled; and there we are “justified by faith, and have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” sang the angels (Luke 2:14). Thus we see the joining of the interests of heaven and earth in the mission of our redemption.
God’s truth is personified in our great High Priest, who in the incarnation, as it were, “sprang out of the earth” (Psalm 85:11).
“The law of truth was in his mouth … he … did turn many away from iniquity” (Malachi 2:6).
God’s truth is found also in all those who are “in Christ”, and thus does God’s righteousness look upon those whom He has justified as being made righteous in Him; clothed not with our sins but with the righteousness of our Lord.