Do you want peace and restoration with God? Psalm 85 reminds us that we worship a God of salvation, peace and love.
Psalm 85 has two overlaping structures. First it can be divided into 2 equal sections based upon the direction of address. Section 1 is spoken to God and has a meaningful center at verse 4.
Restore us again, O God of our salvation,
and put away your indignation toward us! Psalm 85:4
Section 2 is spoken about God and has a meaningful center at verse 11.
Faithfulness springs up from the ground,
and righteousness looks down from the sky. Psalm 85:11
The meaningful center of the whole psalm is found at verse 8.
Let me hear what God the Lord will speak,
for he will speak peace
to his people, to his saints;
but let them not turn back to folly. Psalm 85:8
At the middle of this verse, in Hebrew, is the word "peace", surrounded on each side by seven words - the number of perfection. Clearly the author intended this to be the central word for this psalm both literally and figuratively.
Overlaping this two part structure is a menorah pattern: seven section in a 3-1-3 pattern.
You Restored Your People in the Past (verses 1-2)
Restore Us Again (verses 3-5)
Show Us Your Salvation (verses 6-7)
God Will Speak Peace (verse 8)
His Salvation Is Near (verse 9)
We Are Restored! (verses 10-11)
God Will Restore Us (verse 12-13)
You Restored Your People in the Past
The psalmist begins by proclaiming the good actions of God. Each line begins with a new act of God:
- You were favorable
- You restored
- You forgave
- You covered
But notice that each action is in the past tense. This is what God has done in the past, but as we will soon find out this is not what the psalmist is seeing today.
Restore Us Again
The psalmist continues to proclaim God past actions:
- You withdrew Your wrath
- You turned from Your anger
But verse 4 is the turning point in the first section and the meaningful center of this section. Suddenly the psalmist cries out: "Restore us again!"
Verse 5 continues the cry of pain: "Will you be angry forever?"
Clearly the psalmist is not experiencing God's favor at the moment. Over and over in the psalms we see people crying out to God because they feel forgotten. If you are in a time of trials, remember that these feelings are a common experience and God is not offended by your emotions. It is OK to honestly express your feelings to God.
Show Us Your Salvation
Section 1 ends by repeating the theme first stated in verse 4: "Revive us again!" Show us your love and salvation.
God Will Speak Peace
Now we come to the meaningful center of the psalm. Notice that it is highlighted by a change of address from talking to God to talking about God. The psalmist has made his request of God. Now we will hear God's response.
He will speak peace.
At the center of this psalm we find the peace we need. As we cry out for help, God responds by speaking peace into our souls.
But even in this reassuring meaningful center we have a warning: "let them not turn back to folly." God will speak peace, but we must be careful not to return to our foolish behavior or we will not be able to remain in His peace.
His Salvation Is Near
From here on the psalm mirrors itself. Each section is responding to a previous section in reverse order. Verse 9 is a response to verses 6-7 where the psalmist asked God to "grant us your salvation". Now we learn that His salvation is near to those who fear Him.
To draw near to God we need to reverence Him and even fear the consequences of rebelling against Him. There is a correct fear to have of God. When we decide to walk away from His ways, then we should fear the discipline that will follow. Our God is loving but that love includes discipline.
We Are Restored
This section is a response to verses 3-5 where the psalmist had asked for restoration. Verses 10-11 show us what restoration is like.
These verses give us four very intreguing images:
- steadfast love meets faithfulness
- righteousness and peace kiss
- faithfulness springs up from the ground
- righteousness looks down from the sky
In each of these statements it is unclear whether the psalmist is picturing a meeting between God and man, with one attritube representing God and the other representing man, or if he is picturing both attributes as being attributes of God. I think both views work.
God's steadfast love meets our faithfulness to Him. Our right actions then lead to peace with God and His righteousness granted to us.
But, notice also that Jesus fulfilled all of these images. Perfect in love and faithfulness, His righteousness gave us peace with God. His faithfulness on earth imputed God righteousness to all of us. He is the perfect fulfillment of these verses.
God Will Restore Us
These final verses are a response to verses 1-2. God restored us in the past and He will do it again. Once again we see a prophetic picture of Jesus: His righteousness goes before us to make a way for complete restoration with God.
Are you looking for resotration and peace? Then turn your eyes to Jesus. His steadfast love, faithfulness and righteousness has brought us peace with God.
Are you struggling because you don't see his restoration yet in your life? Then continue to trust in Jesus and live a life of faithfulness to God. His salvation is near to those who respect, even fear his discipline enough to not return to the folly of their old ways.
The good news is that you don't need to be perfect. Jesus has already earned your salvation for you. But you do need to faithfully seek God and His ways. If you continue in faithfulness you will find peace. He will speak peace into your heart.