The author of Psalm 85 was writing to a group of people who never thought that their nation would be defeated. However they faced the difficulty of being uprooted from their homes, farms and business, and eventually they were taken into exile. Tragedy transformed their world while they lived in despair. During these horrific events their hope was crushed.
Nebuchadnezzar came against Judea and her neighbors with two armies. One was sent against Tyre and Sidon, cities of Phoenicia, for their rebellion; the other attacked Jerusalem. The battle lasted for eighteen months, during which time the people of Jerusalem were starved. The prophet Jeremiah recounts the tragedy in Lamentations 4:8–9 as he paints a picture of the people during the attack.
Their appearance is blacker than soot,
They are not recognized in the streets;
Their skin is shriveled on their bones,
It is withered, it has become like wood.
Better are those slain with the sword
Than those slain with hunger;
For they pine away, being stricken
For lack of the fruits of the field.
Psalm 85 is thought to have been composed after the return of the Jews from their captivity in Babylon; while they were in some distress from their neighbors. These events took place during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. With a better understanding of their circumstances listen to the cry of the sons of Korah in Psalm 85:1-4
O Lord, You showed favor to Your land;
You restored the captivity of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of Your people;
You covered all their sin. Selah.
You withdrew all Your fury;
You turned away from Your burning anger.
Restore us, O God of our salvation,
And cause Your indignation toward us to cease.
Verses 5-7 of this chapter continues the prayer where the author presents God with a series of questions. The last section of Psalm 85 the people are reminded of God’s faithfulness. Here they are instructed to turn from their folly and look to the God of their salvation. Thankfully the people of God followed the instruction. They prayed for restoration and became obedient. Jerusalem was restored and the temple rebuilt. From this we can be assured of God love and faithfulness. Remember as you read God’s word it is an act of worship. You cannot read this psalm properly without worshipping the God of the Bible.
Today, as you read this psalm may you remember God’s promise to you, I pray you find yourself responding in worship!
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