Psalm 85 #85:0 Many Bible students think that Psalm 85 comes from about 520 BC. BC means ‘years Before Christ came to the earth.’ This was just after the Jews came back from their exile in Babylon. God was angry with his people. They had not obeyed him. So he let the King of Babylon beat them and take them to Babylon. He destroyed Jerusalem. After 70 years, the king of Persia beat the king of Babylon. Cyrus, the King of Persia, sent the Jews back to Jerusalem and the places near it. This is what verses 1-3 are about. But, a few years after they returned to Jerusalem, things were bad. They had not built God's house (the temple) again. There was not much rain so there was not much fruit in the fields. This meant that there was not much food. Also, some enemies attacked them. So they thought that God was still angry with them! They asked for his help to make things better, verses 4-7. Someone gave them God's answer, verses 8-13.
Turn Again (or The Kiss of Peace)
This is for the music leader.
It is a psalm of the sons of Korah. #85:0 ‘The sons of Korah’ was the name of a music group.
1 LORD, you were good to your land.
You turned the fortunes of Jacob. #85:1 In Psalm 85, there is one word that comes 5 times. It is ‘turn’ or ‘turned.’ Each time it means something a bit different. See verses 1, 3, 4, 6, and 8. ‘Turned the fortunes’, verse 1, is a Hebrew way to say ‘changed things from bad to good, or good to bad.’ In English, we would say ‘their luck changed.’ Christians do not believe in luck. Luck means ‘things just happen.’ Christians believe that God decides what happens, as in this verse: ‘You (God) turned the fortunes of Jacob.’ Jacob is a name for God's people.
2You forgave the sin of your people
and you pardoned the things that they did wrong. #85:2 ‘Forgave’ and ‘pardoned’ in verse 2. Maybe both words meant ‘excused’ in 520 BC, but to Christians ‘forgave’ is a very special word that means more than ‘excused.’ When God forgives us he gives our sin (all the bad things that we do) to Jesus. When he died, Jesus took our sin away. So we are not only excused; it is just as if we had never done those bad things! God punished Jesus for our sin!
3You were not angry with them any more
and you turned away from your fury. #85:3 ‘You turned away from your fury’, verse 3. This means that God was not furious (or very, very angry) with his people any more.
4But now turn us again, God.
You are the God that makes us safe.
Stop being so angry with us. #85:4 ‘Turn us, God’ in verse 4 is where the psalm makes its first change. They thought that God was angry again, so they ask God to turn them. Sometimes when people become Christians, we say that they become ‘converted.’ This is a word that means ‘turned.’ They turn from doing what they want to do and do what God wants them to do. That is what this verse means.
5Will you be angry with us for ever?
Will you always be furious with us?
6Will you not turn to us again and give us new life?
Then your people will be happy and praise you. #85:6 ‘Turn to us again’ in verse 6 is about God turning. God's people pray that God will stop looking away, and turn to look at them. This is another way to say ‘send us help.’
7Lord, show us your kind love!
Give to us the help that makes us safe!
8I will listen to what God the Lord is saying.
He will give peace to his people, to his saints.
But they must not turn back to become fools. #85:8 ‘They must not turn back’, in verse 8, means they must not go back and do bad things all the time. This is the second place where the psalm changes. Now it is about the good things that will happen if God's people will obey him.
9Certainly he will make safe those that obey him.
Then his glory will remain in our land.
10Kind love will meet loyalty.
Goodness and peace will kiss each other. #85:10 ‘Kind love’ in verse 10 is a special love that God has for people. It is a love that does not stop. People that accept this kind love become God's people. We could call them ‘kind-loved’ but this is not a word English people use. It is in the Hebrew of verse 8, where I have translated it ‘saints.’ ‘Loyalty’ in verse 10 is very like the ‘kind love’ in the same verse. It is being a friend, or a servant and not stopping whatever happens. In this verse, God gives the kind love, and his people give him their loyalty. He does not stop loving them and they do not stop being his friends and servants whatever happens. A better way to translate ‘goodness’ in verse 10 is by the word ‘righteousness.’ ‘Goodness’ means ‘being good’; but ‘righteousness’ means ‘being righteous.’ Now only God is really righteous, always doing what is right. God wants his people to be like him, righteous. ‘Peace’ in verse 10 means more than ‘not fighting’ or ‘no war.’ It translates the Hebrew word ‘shalom.’ It is a peace that only God can give. With this peace, you know that you are friends with God and it makes you very, very happy. Bible students think that when goodness kisses peace it means this: people that accept the peace of God become good (or righteous). They become like God.
11 Loyalty will grow like a plant in the ground
and goodness will look down from the heavens.
12Yes! The Lord will give what is good
and our land will give much fruit. #85:12 In verse 12, ‘much fruit’ means more than apples and things like that. It means all the plants that we grow for food. There had not been much of them, because there was not much rain. But now things would change! The last verse, verse 13, is very interesting. It tells us that God would walk on the earth! This happened when Jesus came, 520 years later. Many Bible students think that all the last part of the psalm is about Jesus. Because Jesus was the Messiah, they call verses 9-13 the messianic part of the psalm.
13Goodness will go before him
and make a way for his feet.