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the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 85

Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book PsalmsScott on the Psalms

Verses 1-13

V. 1-3. This psalm seems to have been written, either during the Babylonish captivity, or before the people were re-established in their own land. It might be much better used by them,’ (the Jews,) ’ after their return from the captivity of Babylon, than at any other time ; when they were infested with many enemies, who disturbed the peaceable enjoyment of their country and religion.’ Bp. Patrick. (Notes,Ezar 4:- 6:: The Lord had formerly been favourable unto their fathers, and had often brought back their captivity, having pardoned those sins for which they had been sold into the hands ot their enemies ; and this gave the captive Jews encouragement again to expect deliverance. (Marg. Ref.) Or, ’ We have received the beginnings of deliverance, as a token of thy forgiveness and reconciliation : therefore " perfect what " concerneth us." ’ (Note, Psalms 138:8.) Covered, &c. (2) Note, Psalms 32:1-2.

V. 4. ’ Our sins indeed deserve worse than all our sufferings, and retard our re-establishment : but turn and convert us to thyself by thy special grace, and make way for the more complete effects of thy reconciliation to us. (Notes. Jeremiah 31:18-20. Daniel 9:14-19.)

V. 5- 7 (Marg. Ref. Notes,Psalms 74:1-2; Psalms 77:5-12.) ’ He confesseth that our salvation cometh only of ’ God’s mercy.’ (Notes, Ezra 3:8-13. Jeremiah 33:10-11.) ’ Though we deserve to be more miserable than we ’ are, yet let thy mercy prevail with thee to grant us a ’ complete deliverance.’ Bp. Patrick.

V. 8. The prophet, having prayed for mercy and salvation, waited to hear what message " God the LORD " would send by him ; being assured that he had thoughts of peace towards the nation of Israel, whom he had taken for his people and specially favoured, and that a Peacemaker would at length be sent to them. But as folly, or idolatry and wickedness, had brought on them their formei miseries, he warned them to beware, when again favoured and prospered, not to return to the same foolish and rebellious conduct. After the captivity, the nation was preserved from gross idolatry till the Redeemer came ; and he both went himself and sent his apostles and ministers, to speak peace to Israel first, and to " bless them by turning every one of them from his iniquities." (Noten, Acts 3:22-26.) But the nation rejected him and his message and, returning to rebellion and folly, was deprived of its peculiar privileges ; and then oeace was spoken in Christ’s name to the Gentiles, who became the people and " saints " of God by faith in Christ Jesus, and returned no more to their dumb idols and evil courses. (Marg 1 . Ref.}

V. 9. The temple and ordinances of God had been " the glory " of Israel : and that glory in some measure dwelt among them again after the captivity. But the Redeemer, who appeared in that land, was its chief Glory ; his coming approached, and his salvation was, at all times, nigh those who feared the Lord. (Notes, Luke 1:46-55; Luke 2:25-32.) Christ himself, " the Salvation of God," and " the glory of his people Israel," was evidently predicted ; and the expectation of this great Deliverer was intended to be the support of true believers under their trials, through successive ages ; even as the expectation of his coming to make his cause triumphant, and at length to raise the dead, and judge the world, is, under the new testament dispensation.

(Notes, 1 Corinthians 4:3-5. Titus 2:11-14. Hebrews 9:27-28.)

V. 10- 13. When God restored the captive Jews, he mercifully fulfilled his faithful promises to them. He had glorified his justice in their sufferings, and he might consistently return unto them in peace. Thus while truth was performed on earth, righteousness looked down from heaven with approbation. The Lord conferred manifold benefits on his people : their land again gave its increase, both of the fruits of the earth, and of the fruits of righteousness : for the justice and holiness of God, which had been so conspicuous in those dispensations, had a powerful effect to attach the people to his ordinances and commandments, and to teach them to copy the example of his equity, truth, and mercy. Thus this passage may be explained ; but the interpretation is comparatively uninteresting, and falls greatly below the energy of the expressions made use of. It is therefore generally, and no doubt justly, interpreted in a far higher and fuller sense, of the harmony of the divine attributes in the redemption of sinners by Jesus Christ. The truth of the promises is manifested by the mercy of God in sending the Redeemer ; and the truth of the types and prophecies, in his person, miracles, obedience, and atonement: (Notes, John 1:17; John 14:4-6:) but especially the truth of the threatenings now consists with the exercise of mercy to believers, through the great Surety, " who bare our sins in his own body on the tree." (Notes, Psalms 53:4-6. Daniel 9:24. 1 Peter 2:18-25. 1 John 2:1-2. The justice of God, which renders to all their due, demanded the punishment of the transgressor, and seemed to preclude all hope of his obtaining favour : but it is now satisfied by the great atonement, and amicably embraces and unites with peace; and entirely approves of the believing sinner’s being treated as a righteous person by a reconciled Judge. (Notes, Is. 9: 6, 7; 45: 23- 25. 2 Corinthians 5:18--21 . Ephesians 2:11-18. Hebrews 7:13.) Thus Christ, " the ;WAY; TRUTH and the LIFE," sprang out of the earth, when he was born of a woman : and " justice " looked down upon his character, obedience, and atonement^ well pleased and satisfied. (Notes, Matthew 3:16-17; Matthew 17:5-8. John 14:4-6.) For his sake the Father gives all good things, especially his Holy Spirit, to those who ask him ; (Notes, Matthew 7:7-11. Luke 11:5-13;) and by his influence every land, where the gospel is preached, produces an increase of believers, and of holiness to the glory of God. " Righteousness," as a harbinger, marched before, and marked out the Redeemer’s path, which he pursued without deviation through his whole course : his righteousness went before to prepare his mediatorial throne ; and when it is discovered to the believer for his justification, by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, it becomes also his example, and he learns to walk in the steps of Christ, as well as to rely on his merits. This harmony of the divine attributes in man’s salvation is the grand peculiarity of the Christian religion, by which it displays the glory of God in full perfection. No other religion, no other view of Christianity,

than that for substance here stated, makes any provision for the honour of the divine justice in the exercise of mercy : and this accords to the language of the prophets and apostles in many places. (Notes, Is. 45: 20- 22. Jeremiah 23:5-6. Romans 3:21-26.)


The mercies shewn to Israel, in their deliverance from bondage and captivity, were external signs of that redemption afforded, in all ages, to the remnant of believers, in setting them free from the bondage of sin and Satan, which always accompanies the " covering of their sins," and the turning away of the fierce wrath of God from them. The awakened sinner, when distressed in conscience, should attend to this report, and cry earnestly to " the God of salvation," to convert him by his grace, and mercifully to cause his anger to cease from him : nor will that anger endure for ever against any, but the impenitent and unbelieving. Even the true people of God, when they commit sin, may expect sharp and tedious afflictions : but when they return to him, humbly praying, that he would " shew them his mercy, and grant them his salvation ; " he will in due time revive their comforts, and make them again to rejoice in him. (Note,Psalms 51:12-13.) Having spoken unto the Lord in prayer, we should compose ourselves to hear him speak to us by his word ; and to expect an answer by his Spirit, or in his providence. He will certainly " speak peace to his people," whom lie has separated and sanctified to himself. Yet let them take warning that they do not turn again to folly, forgetful of his rebukes and corrections, and abusing his mercy: for this conduct so much resembles that of hypocrites, that it must bring them into uncertainty and distress ; and the Lord will greatly resent it, if their falls do not teach them watchfulness, and their recoveries gratitude. The preaching of the gospel, and the lively ordinances of God, confer more honour on any land, city, or village, than all external distinctions can do : and " his salvation is nigh those, who " fear " his wrath, reverence his authority, and humbly seek his mercy. For in the Redeemer’s person and work, all things are ready for the reception of every one, whose heart is prepared to accept of mercy : all the Persons and perfections in the Godhead will be eternally glorified in the salvation of sinners : and the redemption of their souls, when they repent and believe the gospel, is a continuation of the display, which was made of the divine truth, justice, and mercy, when the Redeemer paid the all-sufficient ransom. Through him the sinner asks and receives " all " things pertaining to life and godliness," and thus becomes fruitful in every good work : and, by looking unto the Saviour’s righteousness, he finds his feet " set in the a way of his steps." (Note, 2 Corinthians 3:17-18.) May this salvation be communicated to our hearts, and appear in our lives ; that as the divine attributes harmonize in our redemption, so all Christian graces may harmonize in our characters. (Note, 2 Peter 1:5-7) May this glory dwell in our land, and yield a large increase of truth and goodness, of purity and equity, through successive generations. May the Lord revive his church throughout all the earth, that his people may rejoice in him : may he grant, that ’ all who are called Christians may be led into the way of truth, and hold the faith in unity of spirit, in the bond ’ of peace, and in righteousness of life : ’ and may he put an end to all remains of idolatry and vice, and fill the world with truth and righteousness.

Bibliographical Information
Scott, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 85". Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tsp/psalms-85.html. 1804.
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