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Devotional

Psalm 85

Loving Care and Lavish Favor

In Psalm 85, we see that, in Jesus, God’s people would finally be faithful so that God could approach not in anger, but with loving care and lavish favor.

What’s Happening?

This psalm was likely written after Israel returned from exile in Babylon and began to restore and rebuild their homeland. The psalmist celebrates that ever since the founding of Israel, God’s people have experienced God’s loving care and lavish favor towards them (Psalm 85:1). Even when they rebelled against his laws, God instead set aside what justice demanded, carried away their sins, and chose to forgive them (Psalm 85:2-3). But, as is evident by their ruined surroundings, these past experiences have not removed their continued need for God’s forgiveness. A debt to God’s justice is still owed. 

The psalmist begs God to restore Israel to her former glory and put away his anger at their evil and rebellion (Psalm 85:4). When Israel first became a nation God said he was slow to anger and abounding in faithful love (Exodus 34:6-7). So the psalmist asks God to be the God he told them he was. He asks God to put away his anger and instead revive and save his people and nation once again (Psalm 85:5-7).

Praying on behalf of his people, the psalmist promises God that both he and Israel will listen and obey him once again. He’s confident that as Israel obeys, God will respond in loving care and lavish favor (Psalm 85:8-9). The psalmist imagines that as Israel renews her faithfulness to God’s commands, like a father proud of his son, God will stoop down and kiss Israel with peace, kindness, and favor once again (Psalm 85:10-12). Then, abruptly changing the metaphor, the psalmist prays that Israel's obedience and faithfulness would clear a path for God’s goodness and favor to walk in Israel once again (Psalm 85:13). The psalmist hopes that if Israel obeys, God will care for and favor his people once again.

Where is the Gospel?

Sadly, the psalmist’s prayer and hopes were not met. Once Israel returned from exile, the people did not obey God in a renewed or consistent way, which meant that God did not respond with his love, forgiveness, and favor. As a result Israel was once again invaded and eventually handed over to Rome. The disobedience of God’s people continued to prevent Israel from experiencing the fatherly kiss of God’s love and peace.

But despite Israel’s sins, God’s abounding, slow-to-anger, and faithful love sent his Son Jesus to be born an Israelite and to obey God’s laws on their behalf. In Jesus, God’s people would finally be faithful so that God could approach not in anger, but with loving care and lavish favor. Jesus’ obedience was seen throughout his life, but ultimately it was shown in his death (Philippians 2:8; Romans 5:18). And through his ultimate act of obedience Jesus secures God’s goodness, peace, and love for everyone who is a member of God’s people, despite the debt they owed to God’s justice.

The obedience God demands of his people is finally given in Jesus. In response, God, as a proud father, kisses his son, gives him life from the dead and an eternal life experiencing his love, peace, and goodness forever. And because Jesus did this for his people, God’s blessings towards us are not determined by our behavior, our sins, or our disobedience, but by Jesus’ obedience in our place. If you trust that Jesus is your representative, you can be confident that he has prepared a path for God’s goodness and favor to walk into your life. 

See For Yourself

I pray that the Holy Spirit will open your eyes to see the God who loves to be lavish towards his people. And may you see Jesus as the one who is obedient on our behalf, so that God can be faithful to us.

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