Bible Commentaries
Psalms 85

Sermon Bible CommentarySermon Bible Commentary

Verse 6

Psalms 85:6

I. As individual Christians and as Churches of Jesus Christ, we need to be very clear in our doctrinal foundations. Beginning with the doctrine of sin, let us strive after God's view of it. Out of a true knowledge of sin will come a true appreciation of Jesus Christ as the Saviour. If we lay firmly hold of these two points the sinfulness of sin and the work of Jesus Christ we shall come to know what is meant by the glow of piety.

II. We must have a public ministry which is faithful to the spirit and demands of Jesus Christ. All Christian ministers are called to be faithful to Jesus Christ in seeking the salvation of men. We have a great positive work to do. We have affirmative truths to teach. We have to cast out devils, not by controversy, but by Divinely revealed and authoritative truths.

III. There is one feature in our public Christianlife that should be more fully brought out: the bearing of individual testimony on behalf of Jesus Christ.

Parker, City Temple, 1870, p. 25.

Reference: Psalms 85:6 . Preacher's Monthly, vol. iii., p. 357.

Verse 8

Psalms 85:8

I. The death of sin is mostly a gradual process, a thing going on for a long time, and not beginning or ending in one sharp, single struggle. Yet neither is it true that it goes on quite evenly. On the contrary, it has its sharper seasons and its gentler ones. It has times when it destroys much of the principle of sin within us; it has times also when it does little more than hold its ground, and the struggle seems suspended.

II. The process of the death of sin has in it nothing horrible, nothing exciting; the imagination may not be struck by it: and yet it is of an interest really far deeper than the death of the body, and an interest which we may all presently realise. It works quietly and invisibly to the eyes of others, but most perceptibly and most truly to him who is undergoing it.

III. Many struggle successfully against one marked fault, but fly back from the prospect of having to overcome a whole sinful nature and having to become made anew after God's image. So it is but too often, but so it is not always. Let us suppose that we bear the sight of our general sinfulness not with a cowardly despair, but with a Christian resolution; then indeed begins the struggle which may be truly called the death of sin. Then our old nature begins to die sensibly, in no part without pain.

T. Arnold, Sermons, vol. v., p. 139.

It is not too much to say that whoever will resolve to listen as David listened will hear what David heard. Only determine, "I will hear what God the Lord will speak," and "He will speak peace." God never disappoints a really attentive hearer.

I. God has always something to say to us. We only miss it either because we do not believe that He is going to speak, or because we are not quiet enough. This is frequently the reason of a sickness or a deep sorrow. God has something to say to us. He makes a calm, He settles the rush of life, that He may speak. The Shepherd draws the hurdles closer that His sheep, being nearer to Him, may the better hear the Shepherd's voice.

II. There are few of us who do not know what these times are when God has come very near. They are very critical times; great issues hang upon them: they will weigh heavily in the balances of "the great account of life." From these high-wrought feelings there will be a reaction. The moment you become earnest for good, Satan will become earnest to stop you. He who had read life better than almost any man who ever lived saw the need of the caution, "He will speak peace unto His people, and to His saints: but let them not turn again to folly."

III. The expression, "turn again to folly," may mean one of three things. Either all sin is folly, or you may understand by it the particular sin of those who return to the vanities of the world, or you may take it to imply that a relapse into what is wrong has such a distorting influence on the mind, and so perverts the judgment and darkens the intellect, that both by natural consequence and judicial retribution the condition of a person who goes on in sin after the strivings of the Holy Ghost and after the manifestations of God's peace becomes emphatically "folly."

IV. Peace, the peace of Christ, is a delicate plant. Do not expose it. Do not trifle with it, but lay it up in your heart's closest affections. Watch it. Deal tenderly with it. It is your life.

J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 10th series, p. 210.

Reference: Psalms 85:8 . R. Lee, Sermons, p. 57.

Verse 10

Psalms 85:10

Strict regard for rule is of the essence of righteousness. It is by the revelation of law that God awakens in us the sentiment of righteousness; by His undeviating adherence to law that sentiment is stimulated and confirmed. The essence of tenderness is regard for persons. Love contemplates the wants of living beings, and seeks to supply them. God is righteous; He is moved and controlled by regard for what is right. God is love; He is moved and swayed by regard for all His creatures. It is God's object to bring us to the joyful discovery, wherein we rest for time and for eternity, that His regard for right and His regard for us are at one; that tenderness and righteousness are in harmony; that all the opposition is in our ignorance, our perverted feeling; that the strictest rule is the truest tenderness. Consider some of the ways in which God reveals this to us.

I. Parental rule is one of these ways. The government of every pious household is in measure a revelation of the government of God. We have all a child's hold on God's affections, all a child's need of discipline and correction, all a child's power to grieve Him; and He has all a father's kind determination to train us in right.

II. The tenderness of God's strict rule is revealed to us again in the experience of life. We find that the dearest love may mislead and ruin; unregulated affection is a shameful and destructive thing. Regard for right is the truest personal regard. God would shield men from woes unnumbered, and therefore has He made His laws so severe and certain, and therefore does He subdue us to His laws.

III. This revelation, again, is granted in prayer. One of the great ends of prayer is to reveal to us the tenderness of God. The order of human life, with its partings and its pains, the law by which we suffer, appears to us in a new aspect. God's mercy is seen not in interfering for our sakes with the order of His providence; that order is itself most merciful. God's tenderness is revealed not in saving us from tribulation, but in saving us by tribulation.

IV. The tenderness of God's strict law is revealed to us in the Gospel of Christ. It is personal regard for man which we see pre-eminently in Jesus, yet who so much as He makes us feel the constraining bond of righteousness? He delivers men from the penalties of law; but it is to awaken in them a reverence for it, deeper and more solemn than any experience of penalty can be. He frees them from its pains by transforming its painfulness into an entire devotion to it. There dawns upon us the overwhelming conception that surrounding law is surrounding love; that law is the highest expression of love.

V. The closing verses of the Psalm declare the blessed effects of this discovery in a true and. fruitful, in a trusting, an intelligent and obedient life, in a life hallowed by God's smile and crowned with His constant benediction.

A. Mackennal, Christ's Healing Touch, p. 57.

Reference: Psalms 85:10 , Psalms 85:11 . Clergyman's Magazine, vol. xviii., p. 143.

Verses 10-13

Psalms 85:10-13

These four verses are a fourfold picture of how heaven and earth ought to blend and harmonise.

I. Take the first verse: "Mercy and truth are met together," etc. We have here the heavenly twin sisters, and the earthly pair that corresponds. Mercy and Truth, two radiant angels, like virgins in some solemn choric dance, linked hand in hand, issue from the sanctuary and move amongst the dim haunts of men, making "a sunshine in a shady place;" and to them there come forth, linked in a sweet embrace, another pair, whose lives depend on the lives of their elder and heavenly sisters: Righteousness and Peace. (1) In man's experience righteousness and peace cannot be rent apart. (2) Righteousness and her twin sister Peace only come in the measure in which the mercy and the truth of God are received into thankful hearts.

II. In the eleventh verse "Truth shall spring out of the earth, and righteousness shall look down from heaven" we have God responding to man's truth. (1) Man's truth shall begin to grow and blossom in answer, as it were, to God's truth that came down upon it. (2) Righteousness shall look down from heaven, not in its judicial aspect merely, but as the perfect moral purity that belongs to the Divine nature, which shall bend down a loving eye upon the men beneath and mark the springings of any imperfect good and thankfulness in our hearts.

III. Then there is the third aspect of the ideal relation between earth and heaven set forth in the next verse: "Yea, the Lord shall give that which is good; and our land shall yield her increase;" that is to say, man responding to God's gift. The great truth is here developed that earthly fruitfulness is possible only by the reception of heavenly gifts.

IV. The last phase of the fourfold representation of the ideal relation between earth and heaven is, "Righteousness shall go before Him, and shall set us in the way of His steps;" that is to say, God teaching man to walk in His footsteps. Man may walk in God's ways, not only in the ways that please Him, but in the ways that are like Him. "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."

A. Maclaren, A Year's Ministry, 1st series, p. 15.

Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Psalms 85". "Sermon Bible Commentary".