Psalm 85

“A pastor needs to be reading his Bible and the newspaper every day. Then in his preaching and teaching he will be able to bring the Word of God to bear on the events and philosophies of the day.” I remember hearing that when I was a seminary student, and maybe you do too.

The readings for the 3rd Sunday in Lent touch on historical events and current events. In the Gospel, Jesus brings up two current events and says, “But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” In the First Lesson, the LORD reveals his holy name to Moses and his plans to save. In the Second Lesson, the LORD says that the accounts recorded in the Bible are examples and warnings for us as we live in the age of fulfillment. Believers read God’s Word and are led continually to repent.

Psalm 85, with its three parts, fits in well with the lessons: 1. In the past, God turned from his anger and forgave his people (vv. 1-3); 2. Presently, God’s people pray that God would show mercy and give salvation (vv. 4-7); and 3. The Psalmist announces God’s peace and paints poetic pictures of God’s bountiful blessings (vv. 8-13).

You can sing Psalm 85 with its beautiful refrain here. “Lord, in your mercy hear my prayer; your goodness never fails.”

With the Psalmist we confess that God has reason to be angry with us. He knows our sins. If God were to send his anger towards us, we would have no hope. “Show us your unfailing love, LORD, and grant us your salvation.”

The Psalmist shifts to the first person: “I will listen to what the LORD says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants.” What happy news we tell God’s people! We proclaim God’s peace; salvation is near. His glory dwells with us and within us. Love and faithfulness are our companions, joyfully meeting in our presence. We have other honored guests: righteousness and peace greet each other with a kiss. We are blessed to have these visitors in our homes and churches—“friends” sent from the Father, in His Son, by their Spirit. Ponder for a moment, dear Brother, how precious each of these friends is!

In our Lenten worship, we also ponder the high price at which these friends were gained. Jesus bore our sins on the cross in view of the world and under the wrath of his heavenly Father. With the sacrifice of himself Jesus made atonement for those sins. He took them with him to the grave and rose to life without them. Now our sins are truly covered, buried in our Redeemer’s tomb. Instead of visiting us with his anger, the Father sends us love, faithfulness, righteousness, and peace. We have these friends because Jesus is our Brother. Because He lives, we live. Truly we have a blessed life, and the best is yet to come.

Recent events in the world show us how evil mankind is and how futile it is to set our hearts on earthly things. This world is perishing. Wars and rumors of war are sure signs that this world’s “one more year” is coming to an end and that we are getting closer and closer to our real home, the land flowing with milk and honey, the home of righteousness where Jesus has gone ahead of us.

The LORD bless your proclamation of his peace!