Prayers for the continuance of former mercies. (1-7) Trust in God's goodness. (8-13)
Verses 1-7 The sense of present afflictions should not do away the remembrance of former mercies. The favour of God is the fountain of happiness to nations, as well as to particular persons. When God forgives sin, he covers it; and when he covers the sin of his people, he covers it all. See what the pardon of sin is. In compassion to us, when Christ our Intercessor has stood before thee, thou hast turned away thine anger. When we are reconciled to God, then, and not till then, we may expect the comfort of his being reconciled to us. He shows mercy to those to whom he grants salvation; for salvation is of mere mercy. The Lord's people may expect sharp and tedious afflictions when they commit sin; but when they return to him with humble prayer, he will make them again to rejoice in him.
Verses 8-13 Sooner or later, God will speak peace to his people. If he do not command outward peace, yet he will suggest inward peace; speaking to their hearts by his Spirit. Peace is spoken only to those who turn from sin. All sin is folly, especially backsliding; it is the greatest folly to return to sin. Surely God's salvation is nigh, whatever our difficulties and distresses are. Also, his honour is secured, that glory may dwell in our land. And the truth of the promises is shown by the Divine mercy in sending the Redeemer. The Divine justice is now satisfied by the great atonement. Christ, the way, truth, and life, sprang out of the earth when he took our nature upon him, and Divine justice looked upon him well pleased and satisfied. For his sake all good things, especially his Holy Spirit, are given to those who ask him. Through Christ, the pardoned sinner becomes fruitful in good works, and by looking to and trusting in the Saviour's righteousness, finds his feet set in the way of his steps. Righteousness is a sure guide, both in meeting God, and in following him
Psalms 85:1-13 . On the ground of former mercies, the Psalmist prays for renewed blessings, and, confidently expecting them, rejoices.
1. captivity--not necessarily the Babylonian, but any great evil ( Psalms 14:7 ).
2, 3. (Compare Psalms 32:1-5 ).
3. To turn from the "fierceness," implies that He was reconcilable, though
4-7. having still occasion for the anger which is deprecated.
5. draw out--or, "prolong" ( Psalms 36:10 ).
8. He is confident God will favor His penitent people ( Psalms 51:17 , 80:18 ).
saints--as in Psalms 4:3 , the "godly."
9. They are here termed "them that fear him"; and grace produces glory ( Psalms 84:11 ).
10. God's promises of "mercy" will be verified by His "truth" (compare Psalms 25:10 , 40:10 ); and the "work of righteousness" in His holy government shall be "peace" ( Isaiah 32:17 ). There is an implied contrast with a dispensation under which God's truth sustains His threatened wrath, and His righteousness inflicts misery on the wicked.
11. Earth and heaven shall abound with the blessings of this government;
12, 13. and, under this, the deserted land shall be productive, and men be "set," or guided in God's holy ways. Doubtless, in this description of God's returning favor, the writer had in view that more glorious period, when Christ shall establish His government on God's reconciled justice and abounding mercy.