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
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.
Steadfast love and faithfulness meet;
righteousness and peace kiss each other.
Faithfulness springs up from the ground,
and righteousness looks down from the sky.
Yes, the LORD will give what is good,
and our land will yield its increase.
Righteousness will go before him
and make his footsteps a way.
Psalm 85:1–2, 8–13
This psalm begins with a declaration of God’s forgiveness and favor extended to His chosen people after they had experienced, for a time, the consequences of their sin. Furthermore, God brought about restoration of what had been lost when His people turned away from Him. We see this pattern being replayed over and over again as we read the historical accounts recorded in the Bible.
In a few days, we will celebrate the birth of Jesus, Emmanuel — God with us. In Him, steadfast love, faithfulness, righteousness and peace dwell. Like the Israelites of old, even when we “turn back to folly” (v. 8) and do things our own way, we too can experience the forgiveness and restoration the psalmist proclaims when we humble ourselves before God and acknowledge that He knows better than we do.
But more than that, we can enjoy a deeper relationship with God because of the coming of Jesus. He came to reconcile mankind to God at a deeper level. Those who accept the offer of salvation Jesus brings are like the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament of the Bible: vessels in which God dwells through His Holy Spirit!
May this truth bring us to our knees in wonder and worship.
Almighty God, thank you for your gift of salvation through Jesus! Forgive us for all the times we turn away from you and grieve your heart. Help us to humble ourselves before you and live lives that glorify you. May your peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7) and your joy that is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10) fill our hearts this Christmas season and beyond. May we live from day to day with thankful hearts and look to the future with hope. We pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Dr. Omofolakunmi Olagbemi is an assistant professor of computer science at Hope College.
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.