Thursday, 11 June 2020
God’s Mercy & Steadfast Love
By: Hon Sir Neng
1 You, Lord, showed favor to your land;
you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
2 You forgave the iniquity of your people
and covered all their sins.[b]
3 You set aside all your wrath
and turned from your fierce anger.
4 Restore us again, God our Savior,
and put away your displeasure toward us.
5 Will you be angry with us forever?
Will you prolong your anger through all generations?
6 Will you not revive us again,
that your people may rejoice in you?
7 Show us your unfailing love, Lord,
and grant us your salvation.
8 I will listen to what God the Lord says;
he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants—
but let them not turn to folly.
9 Surely his salvation is near those who fear him,
that his glory may dwell in our land.
10 Love and faithfulness meet together;
righteousness and peace kiss each other.
11 Faithfulness springs forth from the earth,
and righteousness looks down from heaven.
12 The Lord will indeed give what is good,
and our land will yield its harvest.
13 Righteousness goes before him
and prepares the way for his steps.
How is it like to have offended someone precious in our life? Our usual response is to lament and we will plead for mercy. Psalm 85 is a psalm of lament and plea. It laments about Israel’s sinfulness and it is a pleads for God’s mercy. We will explore this psalm together and see what it teaches us about our walk with God, especially in light of our sinful nature.
The first 3 verses described God’s mercy. Despite Israel’s sinfulness, God forgave their iniquities and covered their sins (v2). He also withdrew His wrath and turned from His anger (v3). One of the signs of the Israelite’s favour before God is by looking at the whole nation. If the nation has been upright and obedient, the land will be prosperous, because this has been laid out in the Covenant between God and Israel (see Deuteronomy 28). Here, we see a display of God’s mercy towards His wayward and sinful people. Despite their sinfulness, God still showed His favour upon them.
Continuing from verses 4-7, we hear the psalmist lament about their sinfulness. In lamenting, he cried out to God’s mercy by asking God to restore them (v4) and to show them His steadfast love (v7). These 2 verses speak of God as the one Who gives salvation. In between verse 4 and 7, the psalmist pleads God in the form of a question, by asking about the duration of God’s anger (verse 5). He also asked God to revive them, by restoring the fortunes of the land, so that the people will rejoice in Him. This is a bold appeal before God, one that is of faith, trusting God for His mercy to forgive and trusting His steadfast love.
Verses 8-9 continues by describing the other aspect of His mercy. He will speak peace to His people, His saints. Peace is a result of God’s mercy! “BUT let them not turn back to folly.” As God shows us His mercy, we are called to respond in faith, which also entails us not to turn back to our folly, that is our sinfulness. Not in the sense where we make ourselves holy before we come to God. Rather, by not turning back to our folly is our proper response towards His mercy shown towards us as we trust in Him. Because verse 9 tells us that salvation is near to those who fear Him. For the Israelites, God’s glory will surely dwell in their land; God will not abandon them.
This psalm ends with a description of what it means to encounter God’s mercy. This is a display of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness, it comes together! God’s steadfast love is one that is eternal. By showing us His steadfast love and faithfulness, we will receive righteousness and peace together. God in His steadfast love and faithfulness will give what is good and yield increase in the land of Israel. This speaks about the unbreaking promises and favour that rest on His people. God’s righteousness will go before His people and guide them.
What does this psalm mean for us today as God’s people living in the 21st century? Firstly, we are being reminded of God’s mercy. Even in our sin, God forgives us as we continuously go before Him in faith and repentance. He will cover our sins, turn His anger away. Secondly, we are being reminded of God’s steadfast love. Just as God is faithful in keeping His promises to the Israelites by blessing their lands. God likewise keeps His promises and blesses us in Christ. In His faithfulness towards us, He will keep us and bring us to be with Him, the heavenly mount Zion (Heb. 12:22). Let us trust in Him, steadfast love. Lastly, may we not fall back to our folly (v8). Yes, we are sinful in our own right and we will fall. But may we be steadfast in our walk with God, asking Him for grace and strength to not turn back to our folly. IF we do fall, may we run to Him in repentance and faith (as the first point calls us to respond).
As you pray, ask God’s Spirit to convict you. If you are in need of forgiveness, ask God for forgiveness in faith and repentance. If you are doubtful of God’s faithfulness, ask God to help you see His steadfast love in this passage, which He displayed towards Israel. If you are in need of help to fight against your sin, ask God’s Spirit to sanctify and to change every way of your thought and disposition.
第8-9节继续描述了怜悯的另一方面。他必应许将平安赐给他的百姓－他的圣民。平安是上帝怜悯的结果！“他们却不可再转去妄行。” 当上帝向我们展示他的怜悯时，我们被召唤以信心回应。它要求我们不要转向愚蠢的方式，那就是我们的罪恶。并非在我们来到上帝之前就使自己成为圣洁的意义上。相反，当我们信任他时，我们对他的怜悯的正确反应就不会回到我们的愚蠢了。因为第9节告诉我们，救赎就在那些敬畏他的人相近。对于以色列人来说，上帝的荣耀必定住在他们的土地上。 上帝不会抛弃他们。