Throughout this second week of Advent 2017, we’ve been talking about restoration from Psalm 85. We’ve seen how God is at work to bring restoration and revival. We’ve also learned our responsibility to work alongside God. It can seem too hard sometimes when the restoration is going to require lots of sacrifice and effort. So we lament. We ask God to help.
And when we participate with God in the work in restoration and revival, a beautiful thing happens. The psalmist describes in his final section of Psalm 85, verses 10-13.
Verses 10-13 are some of the most amazing words in the whole Bible. Worth printing here for sure.
Love and faithfulness meet together;
righteousness and peace kiss each other.
Faithfulness springs forth from the earth,
and righteousness looks down from heaven.
The LORD will indeed give what is good,
and our land will yield its harvest.
Righteousness goes before him
and prepares the way for his steps.
These final verses point us to the future. They are an assurance that God will restore and revive.
Look at how the psalmist portrays the renewal of the land. He envisions the promised land that had become a waste land return once again into the promised land. And it is God who does it.
What we read in this section continues the psalmists flow of thought started in verse 9, where he describes the God’s glory dwelling in the land. A logical next question is, “What will happen when God is in the land?”
Normally I would look to the next verses, 10-11, to tells us what will happen when God is in the land, but they are a bit cryptic. Poetry is beautiful, but it can also be hard to decipher. Do you see all the figurative language there? It is delightful poetry, but it is not clear as to what it means. Love and faithfulness are made out to be like people who meet each other. Righteousness and peace as well, compared to lovers who kiss one another. What is the poet trying to say?
Perhaps he means all these qualities to be flowing from God, as his presence will be in the land when his people fear him. Maybe. But I think the psalmist is being a bit more creative than that. Follow me here.
I think that in the first line of verse 10, love represents God because in verse 7 he had already called for God to show the people His love.
Then I think, still in that first line of verse 10, that faithfulness represents people who fear God because in verse 8 the psalmist calls them faithful servants, and verse 11 faithfulness springs from the earth, the domain of people.
Now go to the next line, and I think the word righteousness represents God, because in verse 11 righteousness looks down from heaven. Then peace represents people because in verse 8 he promises peace to his people.
To summarize, if my poetic interpretation is correct, verses 10-13 describe what happens when God and his people are in right relationship. It is beautiful. There is restoration and revival of the land. In verse 12 this impact is beheld as the waste-land has been transformed and bears a harvest. The psalmist sees a time in the future when the land is restored and revived. Verse 13 once again depicts righteousness, once just looking down from heaven, now going before God, preparing a way for him.
And so in Psalm 85’s lament, we come full circle. Restoration in the past shows the psalmist his immense need to lament for continued restoration in the present, which, if it results in obedience and faithfulness, will lead to ultimate restoration between God and his people in the future.
Yes, lament is right and proper when things are so bad there is no where else to turn, when the bottom rots out.
But lament is also right and proper when God has begun to restore us, and there is much work to do to keep the restoration going.
Lament. Call for him to help. Follow his lead.
As you look at your life, do you see how God is at work restoring you? Maybe you see areas that still need a lot of work, areas that feel like they are too much, too difficult? If so, lament!
Cry out to God! Tell him how you feel. You can be brutally honest with him. Ask for his revival and restoration in your life, in your family, in our church, in our community, in our country and world. Always hold before you the beautiful vision of restoration that is possible when God and people are in right relationship.
Lament to God, ask his help for full restoration and revival, with a determination to obey him and to work hard for the restoration and revival.