To the choirmaster. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.
1 Lord, you were favorable to your land;
you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
2 You forgave the iniquity of your people;
you covered all their sin. Selah
3 You withdrew all your wrath;
you turned from your hot anger.
Would You Pray With Us Today?
4 Restore us again, O God of our salvation,
and put away your indignation toward us!
5 Will you be angry with us forever?
Will you prolong your anger to all generations?
6 Will you not revive us again,
that your people may rejoice in you?
7 Show us your steadfast love, O Lord,
and grant us your salvation.
8 Let me hear what God the Lord will speak,
for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints;
but let them not turn back to folly.
9 Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him,
that glory may dwell in our land.
10 Steadfast love and faithfulness meet;
righteousness and peace kiss each other.
11 Faithfulness springs up from the ground,
and righteousness looks down from the sky.
12 Yes, the Lord will give what is good,
and our land will yield its increase.
13 Righteousness will go before him
and make his footsteps a way.
A Community Psalm
Psalm 85 is a psalm to be sung in community. God’s people, the Israelites, sang this to God after they returned from captivity. In the midst of countless difficult circumstances, it expressed their heartfelt anticipation of meeting with the Lord.
The psalm opens with a description of God’s salvation, and recounts his forgiving grace and salvation. (vv. 1-3) Although the Israelites had sinned against God and were punished by his righteous anger, in love and faithfulness he forgave them and brought them back from captivity.
Then, the psalmist stands in the midst of present hardships and prays to God to cease from wrath. He asks God to again forgive and save his people from their present misery, so they may see his love and salvation. (vv. 4-7) The psalmist is certain God will answer; he believes God will grant peace to and draw near to a repentant people, revealing his glory. (vv. 8-9)
Finally, the psalmist praises God. (vv. 10-13) He sings of the wonderful prospect of God’s communion with humanity as the Lord’s love and righteousness descend from heaven, and the earth is filled with peace and honesty. (vv. 10-11) God will bestow his grace on his people, and righteousness will be accomplished wherever he goes. (vv. 12-13)
Thanks Be To Jesus
Meditating on this psalm, my heart is greatly moved. In his mournful prayer. I deeply feel the psalmist’s desire to meet with God. In the psalmist’s praise, I feel God’s heart of delight in meeting with his people. God created us to have fellowship with him, to understand his heart, and to enjoy his goodness. However, because of the rebellion of our ancestors, we fell into iniquity and suffered the wrath of God’s justice. We are unable to have fellowship with him. Because of this, we became wanderers in this world. However, the loving Father did not want us to be separated from him forever, so he sent His only begotten Son to earth to be our Savior. Jesus Christ, who took on our sins, bore all of God’s wrath on the cross, and offered his life as a redeeming sacrifice. He opened the way for us to return to God.
Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” In the Old Testament, God’s people had fellowship with him through the blood of the lamb offered on the altar. Today we have fellowship with God forever through the blood of Jesus Christ. Fellowship with God is the deepest longing of our souls and the deepest joy of our lives!
When I think about this, gratitude rises up in my heart. Thanks be to Jesus Christ, who brought us to the throne of God’s grace with his life. Because of his name, we can give thanks, cry out, and express praise before God. What a grace and blessing! We are still weak, and we often offend God. We stray from his ways, and suffer his wrath and chastisement. However, when we are pressed by God to come to him in our sorrow and cry out to him in repentance, he comes near and appears to us.
Jeremiah sings in Lamentations, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.” God never rejects a heart that sincerely desires to see him. He delights to be gracious, to forgive, to give grace, and he delights in our walk with him!
Praise In Unison
Dear brothers and sisters, are you anxious in the face of the government’s crackdown on faith, the mandatory control of the pandemic, and soaring prices? Are you sad? Please follow the footsteps of the psalmist. Come to God to pray, listen to his voice, and enjoy fellowship with him. Peace and joy will come as expected. God’s love and justice will fill your heart, and you will see God walking in your life. The ultimate cause of our sorrow and grief is not our circumstances, but because we are far from God and have lost our fellowship with him. Jeremiah said, “The LORD is the true God, he is the living God and the everlasting King!” This true and living God, who reigns forever, delights in fellowship with us.
Let us come before God. Let thanksgiving fill your mouth, supplication fill your lips, and praise fill your voice. You will see his love and righteousness, and the LORD God will be your deepest peace and joy!
Let us come together before God, repent, cry out, and praise. God will grant us his goodness to enrich the church so she may witness for his glory!
Let us come together before God and praise in unison: for Christ, the King of kings, will walk in the land of China!
Hai Lin-en (a pseudonym) lives in Hunan Province, where she has been serving the church full-time for more than 20 years. She has one daughter, who is also a Christian.
Our heavenly Father, I praise and thank you. How great is your grace. You are full of grace, forgiveness, and salvation. No matter how much we have sinned against you, if we turn to you, you save us and come close to us.
Dear heavenly Father, I come to offer myself in prayer. In this desperate and scary time, turn my steps toward you. Take away my fearful and troubled heart so I may see your love, stand on the rock of Christ’s salvation, and receive your peace and joy. Grant that my heart may adore you as a deer pants for water.
Dear Heavenly Father, I come before you to offer up a prayer for the church in China. In the midst of the double hardship of persecution and isolation, protect our gatherings in your presence. Forgive us our sins: our apathy toward you, our lust for worldly benefits, our compromises with the world, even our pursuit of the values of this world. Withdraw your anger, so we may turn back to and worship you alone. In this hour of darkness, lead your church to gather before your throne of grace. May we cry out, praise, experience more deeply your love and faithfulness. Give us faith and courage to testify to this land about your righteousness and power. May the gospel of the salvation of the cross be preached in China. May Christ’s name be exalted in this land, and may Christ’s kingdom increase without ceasing in this land!
In the holy name of Christ we pray. Amen!