Psalm 85:10

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 10. Mercy and truth are met together. In answer to prayer, the exulting psalmist sees the attributes of God confederating to bless the once afflicted nation. Mercy comes hand in hand with Truth to fulfil the faithful promise of their gracious God; the people recognise at once the grace and the veracity of Jehovah, he is to them neither a tyrant nor a deceiver.

Righteousness and peace have kissed each other. The Lord whose just severity inflicted the smart, now in pity sends peace to bind up the wound. The people being now made willing to forsake their sins, and to follow after righteousness, find peace granted to them at once. "The war drum throbbed no longer, and the battle flags were furled;" for idolatry was forsaken, and Jehovah was adored. This appears to be the immediate and primary meaning of these verses; but the inner sense is Christ Jesus, the reconciling Word. In him, the attributes of God unite in glad unanimity in the salvation of guilty men, they meet and embrace in such a manner as else were inconceivable either to our just fears or to our enlightened hopes. God is as true as if he had fulfilled every letter of his threatenings, as righteous as if he had never spoken peace to a sinner's conscience; his love in undiminished splendour shines forth, but no other of his ever blessed characteristics is eclipsed thereby. It is the custom of modern thinkers(?) to make sport of this representation of the result of our Lord's substitutionary atonement; but had they ever been themselves made to feel the weight of sin upon a spiritually awakened conscience, they would cease from their vain ridicule. Their doctrine of atonement has well been described by Dr. Duncan as the admission "that the Lord Jesus Christ did something or other, which somehow or other, was in some way or other connected with man's salvation." This is their substitute for substitution. Our facts are infinitely superior to their dreams, and yet they sneer. It is but natural that natural men should do so. We cannot expect animals to set much store by the discoveries of science, neither can we hope to see unspiritual men rightly estimate the solution of spiritual problems -- they are far above and out of their sight. Meanwhile it remains for those who rejoice in the great reconciliation to continue both to wonder and adore.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 10. Mercy and truth; righteousness and peace. Note, four virtues stand out prominently in the incarnation; namely, mercy, truth, righteousness and peace, or love producing peace. These were like four steps of the throne of Christ, or four princes standing near and accompanying Him.

  1. On the right hand, is mercy presenting the olive.
  2. On the left, truth holding the white lily.
  3. Before Him walks justice bearing the balance.
  4. Peace follows Him, having a cornucopiae full of flowers, and scattering the flowers around. Le Blanc.

Verse 10. Mercy and truth; righteousness and peace. These four divine attributes parted at the fall of Adam, and met again at the birth of Christ. Mercy was ever inclined to save man, and Peace could not be his enemy; but Truth extracted the performance of God's threat, -- "The soul that sinneth, it shall die;" and Righteousness could not but give to every one his due, Jehovah must be true in all his ways, and righteous in all his works. Now there is no religion on earth, except the Christian, which can satisfy the demands of all these claimants, and restore an union between them; which can show how God's word can be true, and his work just, and the sinner, notwithstanding, find mercy, and obtain peace. George Horne.

Verse 10. This is a remarkable text, and much has been said on it; but there is a beauty in it which, I think, has not been noticed. Mercy and peace are on one side; truth and righteousness on the other. Truth requires righteousness; mercy calls for peace. They meet together on the way; one going to make inquisition for sin, the other to plead for reconciliation. Having met, their differences on certain considerations, not here particularly mentioned, are adjusted; and their mutual claims blended together in one common interest; on which peace and righteousness immediately embrace. Thus, righteousness is given to truth, and peace is given to mercy. Now, where did these meet? In Christ Jesus. When were they reconciled? When he poured out his life on Calvary. Adam Clarke.

Verse 10. Mercy and truth are met together.

  1. They meet together in God; for all the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth, Psalms 25:9 ; mercy in making, and truth in keeping his promise to his people. Paul saith, Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision to the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers, and that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. Ro 15:8. God promised his Son unto the Jews, and he gave him in the fulness of time to be both a light to the Gentiles, and glory to his people Israel; herein shewing his mercy more principally to the Gentiles, his truth unto the Jews, and so his mercy and truth embraced each other so that he made both people but one, to wit, one flock, in one sheepfold, under one shepherd. If we take truth and righteousness for God's justice in punishing, mercy and peace for his graciousness in pardoning; yet as they meet together in all his ways unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies. For as the mercies of the wicked are full of cruelty, so the very judgments of God upon his servants are full of mercy. In his wrath he remembers pity; punishing a little, that he may pardon a great deal; destroying the flesh only to save the spirit, 1 Corinthians 5:5 . Misericordiae est aliquando subtrahere misericordiam. It was good for Joseph that he was a captive; good for Naaman that he was a leper; good for Bartimaeus that he was blind, and for David that he was in trouble. Bradford thanked God more of his prison, than of any parlour or pleasure. All things are for the best unto the faithful, and so God's mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other, his mercy being just, and his justice being merciful; but God in giving his only Son unto the world, more abundantly shewed his mercy and justice kissing one another. His justice that every soul that sins should die; but his mercy desires not the death of a sinner. Ezekiel 33:11 ...
  2. Righteousness and peace meet together in man; so Augustine expounds it: an unjust man is full of quarrels, like Ishmael, "every man's hand is against him, and his hand against every man;" but he who is righteous, and giveth every man his due, shall have peace, so much as is possible with all men, especially with his own self and soul. Righteousness and peace are so near, so dear, that thou canst not have the one without the other.
  3. Righteousness and peace meet in Christ, God's man; for by these two, some divines understand the Old Testament and the New. The Law doth exact justice, requiring of a malefactor "eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot;" but the Gospel is full of mercy and peace, saying unto the sinner, who truly repenteth him of his sins, and unfeignedly believes the word of promise, "Son, be of good comfort, thy sins are forgiven thee;" "Daughter be of good cheer, thy faith hath made thee whole;" "Go thy way, they belief hath saved thee;" "Behold, thou art now made whole, sin no more." These two testaments meet together in Christ, as in their proper centre, they kissed each other on this (Christmas) day, because the gospel performed what the law promised. John Boys.

Verse 10. When our Lord spake that parable of the prodigal son, and represented the Father as seeing his child afar off in his misery, and how he had compassion on him, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him, one cannot but feel what a touching and tender illustration he has given of this most exquisite passage of his own word: Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Barton Bouchier.

Verse 10-11. Mercy and Peace if they had met, or Truth and Righteousness, either of the two, it had not been strange. But for these that seem to be in opposition to do it, that makes this meeting marvellous in our eyes. Will you stay a little and take a view of the parties? Four they are. These four,

  1. Mercy, and
  2. Truth,
  3. Righteousness, and
  4. Peace. Which quaternion at the first sight divides itself into two and two. Mercy and Peace, they two pair well; they be collectanae, as Bernard saith of them in one place, `bed fellows,' sleep together; collectanae, as in another place, `sucked one milk, one breast' both. And as these two, so the other two; Truth and Righteousness seem to be of one complexion and disposition, and commonly take part together. Of these Mercy seems to favour us; and Peace no enemy to us or to any (seeing we must speak of them as of persons); mild and gentle persons both. For Righteousness I know not well what to say: gestat gladium, (bears the sword), and I fear non frustra (not in vain). Nor of Truth, who is vera and severa, `severe' too otherwhile. These I doubt are not like affected. The reason of my doubt. One of them, Righteousness, it is told here for great news, that she but "looked down hitherwards from heaven." Before then she would not have done that. A great sign it is of heart burning, when one will not do so much as look at another -- not endure his sight. We cannot promise ourselves much of her. No, nor of Truth. One was so bold in a place to say, omnis homo mendax ( Romans 3:4 ), and feared no challenge for it. By that it seems all stands not well with her neither. So then two for us, two against us. For their order. Mercy is first, and Peace last. With both ends we shall do well enough. God send us to do but so with the midst! Yet this is not amiss that they which favour us less are in the midst; hemmed in on both sides, closed about with those that wish us well; and they between us and them. On the one side, Mercy before; on the other, Peace behind another; that in this double meeting Mercy sorts not herself, goes not to Righteousness; nor Righteousness to her, but to Peace. A kind of cross meeting, as it were, there is -- the better hope of accord. Mercy and Righteousness have no symbolizing quality at all, no hope of them; but Truth with Mercy hath. There is truth as well in the promise of Mercy as in the threat of justice. Lancelot Andrewes.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 10.

  1. The attributes displayed in man's salvation.
    1. Mercy in the promise.
    2. Truth in its fulfilment.
    3. Righteousness in the manner of its fulfilment.
    4. Peace in its results.
    5. These attributes harmonized in man's salvation.
    6. How? Met together -- kissed each other.
    7. Why? Each on its own account. All on each others' account.
    8. Where? Met and kissed,
      1. In the covenant.
      2. At the incarnation.
      3. At the cross.
      4. At the conversion of every sinner.
      5. At the completion of the saints in heaven. G. R.

Verse 10. The Pulpit, vol. 28, 1836, contains a sermon by R. W. Sibthorpe, in which the preacher,

  1. Considers the harmony of the divine perfections in

    the redemption of a sinner.
  2. The wisdom of the divine dealings in the calling

    and guidance of the believer; so that mercy, truth,

    etc., each becomes in turn conspicuous in our

    experience.
  3. The completeness of the divine image in the

    sanctified soul, so that the perfected saint

    abounds in mercy and truth, is filled with peace, and

    is conformed to his righteous Lord.
Read Psalm 85:10