Lord, you were favorable to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people; you pardoned all their sin. Selah
You withdrew all your wrath; you turned from your hot anger.
Restore us again, O God of our salvation, and put away your indignation toward us.
An oil painting by Laurent de La Hyre belonging to the Cleveland Museum of Art captures the sentiment of psalm 85. It depicts a meeting of Peace (burning the weapons of war) and Justice (holding a sword and scales). The two figures embrace within a calm landscape.
Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger to all generations?
Will you not revive us again, so that your people may rejoice in you?
Show us your steadfast love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation.
Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.
The psalm presents a restorative God in relation to humanity and the created world. Human experience expressed by the psalmist shows empathy. In life trouble comes and people need a restorative touch. Looking back to the faithfulness of God’s past actions inspires hope for the future. Hard times will come and situations can improve. This psalm draws readers to imagine understanding ourselves, others, and God with greater depth. Pondering it allows us to see more clearly. It is possible to grasp what others are feeling and to understand what it is like to be in the shoes of someone else.
Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.
The author’s use of personification brings to life the characteristics of God. Such use of language conveys concepts in a relatable way. Writers use this literary device to give non-human things or ideas human qualities. Emotions and behaviors animate and the ways of God take on creative form. God’s attributes greet each other sincerely with a kiss. They spring up with promise out of the ground. They look with interest from above.
Is it possible to imagine these characteristics alive in our everyday life? Where do you see these vital qualities at work?
Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky.
Working as a hospital Chaplain it is possible to see goodness show up in hallways and within patient’s rooms. People greet each other kindly as needed services are offered. Environmental service workers sanitize rooms with more than mops. They see the tears of patients and pray or share words of encouragement and hope. Elderly volunteers transport patients back and forth while others park visitor’s cars as free valets. Skillful nursing assistants restore their patient’s dignity in the midst of the weakness and humiliation brought on by illness.
The grounds of places of care are ripe. Even facilities beyond their years of usefulness may contribute to holistic health. In North Carolina a former psychiatric hospital is being re-developed. The master plan is to create park spaces and programs that support wellness of visitors. Each July a portion of the property blooms displaying an impressive field of sunflowers.
The Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase.
Righteousness will go before him and will make a path for his steps.
Some align with a more Frank Costanza approach to life. The doctor prescribed a relaxation technique, so the Seinfeld character bellows, “SERENITY NOW!” to surrounding chaos. A comedic portrayal of struggling people may not be far off. Levity helps yet we need more than a relaxation technique. There is great potential in the space between us all.
How might you become more in touch with the renewing dynamic within your reach?