JONAH WAS RIGHT!
Lord, mercy belongs to You.
Read PSALM 85
For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.
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.
a Psalm 85:1 In Hebrew texts 85:1-13 is numbered 85:2-14.
b Psalm 85:2 The Hebrew has Selah (a word of uncertain meaning) here.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” (Rom 6:1,2, NASB).
This psalm begins with the declaration that was only implicit in Genesis 5: “You, LORD, showed favor to your land… you forgave the iniquity of your people and covered all their sins. You set aside all your wrath and turned from your fierce anger” (1–3). While the psalmist has Israel and the Israelites in mind, the same was true before Israel came into being, and it is true for us, too. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever: we have a God who is quick to forgive and to cover sin.
At the same time, as the psalmist goes on to testify, God does get angry, and He does punish. The psalm is a plea for the God of salvation to restore His people, who are under judgment. As we will soon see, our friend Jonah could have predicted that the outcome of the psalmist’s prayer would be positive because he knew that God is “one who relents concerning calamity” (Jonah 4:2, NASB). Indeed, the psalmist knows this, too, for he praises God for the anticipated deliverance (8–13).
At the same time, God’s lovingkindness and salvation must not betaken for granted. We know, of course, that we cannot do whatever we like because “the LORD will indeed give what is good” (12). Nevertheless, we can sometimes behave as if we did assume that God’s forgiveness is our right. It is not simply a matter of not presuming upon God’s grace, however, as the apostle Paul points out in the verses quoted above. The reason we should not sin willfully is that we have died to sin. We ourselves should now be emulating the kind of God in whose image we are created, demonstrating his qualities as expressed in Psalm 85: lovingkindness, truth, righteousness, and peace.
Thank You, Lord, that through Christ we have forgiveness; that our offenses have been swept away like a cloud and our sins like the morning mist.
Lord, Your people recognize that, although You may be angry with us at times, in the end Your loving kindness prevails.