Meditation on Psalm 85

Praying the Psalms

I read five Psalms first thing every morning. That way, I can read through the entire book of Psalms every month. Each day, I try to pray through one of my daily Psalms, using a method Donald Whitney teaches in his book, Praying the Bible

God, let me find my way back to you. There are seasons in which I am consumed with sin, with darkness, with lust, with fear, with disobedience, with rebellion, with selfishness, with idolatry.

In those seasons, help me find my way back.

In Psalm 85, you teach me in the verb tenses.

In the first three verses, all the verbs are in the past tense. You have done all this before, so I have assurance that you can do all these things again:

85 Lord, you were favorable to your land;
    you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people;
    you covered all their sin. Selah
You withdrew all your wrath;
    you turned from your hot anger.

Verses 10-11 are in the present tense. I have prayed that you will do these things, and you show me that you are indeed doing them:

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.

In the last two verses, all the verbs are in the future tense. You are doing all these things, so I have the assurance that you will do these things again:

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.

In between the affirmations — what You have done, what You are doing, and what You will do– are the petitions. The imperatives. What You must do:

Restore us again, O God of our salvation,
    and put away your indignation toward us!
[Do not] be angry with us forever?
    [Do not] prolong your anger to all generations?
Will you not revive us again,
    that your people may rejoice in you?
Show us your steadfast love, O Lord,
    and grant us your salvation.

This, Lord, is where I am today. I am begging You to restore me. I am pleading with You not to be angry with me. Revive me! Show me Your love! Grant me your salvation!

Lord, You stand ready to do all this. You have told me time and time again that you will not always chide. You will not keep your anger forever. You are slow to anger. You are abounding in steadfast love (Psalm 103:8-9). You will do all these things.

But wait. There are still two more verses to this Psalm, and in those two verses lay all the difference.

The Psalmist has told God all the things God must do. Now God tells the Psalmist what the Psalmist must do:

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.
Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him,
    that glory may dwell in our land.

You will speak, but I must hear.

You will bring peace, but I must not return to folly.

Salvation is near, and your glory will dwell, but I must fear you.

Oh Lord, before I presume to beg, let me commit to change.



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