READ PSALM 85
Yesterday we saw how profoundly the psalmists proclaimed the coming salvation of God, even as they asked for Him to come and save. With boldness, they cried out to the God of their salvation, asking Him to be His saving Self to them again. The entire psalm up to this point has been a united cry for salvation and a proclamation of God’s past faithfulness to their nation. We can almost hear their voices lifted in unison as they proclaimed the words of their book of prayer for generations to come, “Show us your steadfast love, O Lord.”
But in our verses for today, the tone and tense change. And it’s a change that is incredibly important for our study today.
What changes between Psalm 85:1-7 and verse 8-9? Give particular attention to the details of the grammar.
While there are a few thematic shifts that occur at this juncture, a primary shift is in the tense of the verbs and their accompanying pronouns. If you didn’t catch this shift, take a look back and notice the way that the first half of the Psalm is written in the plural – it is intended to be sung in unison. Every phrase uses “our” or “we” or “us” as it approaches God and asks for His salvation. But in verse 8, we see a change to the singular: “Let ME hear what the Lord will speak.”
What do you think this shift means in it’s original context?
Most likely, the shift to the singular voice in this psalm would indicate the introduction of a priest or prophet. The “me” of verse 8 is the one inquiring of the Lord and waiting on His response. Very likely, the person leading this portion of the song would be the person who represented the people before God – either as a priest offering a sacrifice before God or a prophet who is speaking on behalf of God. Since this is written by the Sons of Korah who are members of the Levitical tribe, it is quite likely that this part of the psalm was intended for a priest (though no one can be entirely certain).
Let’s quickly remember our context. What has the chorus or group just asked of God in unison?
On the heels of asking for salvation, it seems fitting that a priest or prophet would be introduced. As the nation of Israel approaches God asking for pardon, it is only fitting that a priest would step forward to offer a sacrifice to God and hear an answer from Him. This is how the Lord established His relationship with His people in the days of the temple. A priest, like is displayed here, would leave the nation of Israel outside in the courts of worship, enter the Holy of Holies before God, and return with God’s response.
What is God’s response? How does He speak to His people in verses 8 and 9?
God’s response is an overwhelming one: peace. Here, God speaks through His priest to His people one of my very favorite Hebrew words: שָׁל֗וֹם, or Shalom. Let’s do a quick word study of the word שָׁל֗וֹם, to understand all the weight it carries for this response from God.
Look up the following passages. Identify where the word שָׁל֗וֹם is being used, and how it should be understood from that context:
God’s response to His people’s request for salvation – for Him to be His covenant-keeping Self – is peace. And we cannot miss what an incredibly anxiety-releasing response this is to hear from the lips of the priest of God’s people! The people need salvation – they need peace in their midst, in themselves, and between them and God. They’ve cried out in unison, lifted their voices together to make this one request of God, and then allowed their voices to drop silent as they wait for Him to answer. And the representative that God has given them says: His answer will be peace.
In what areas of your life do you need God’s peace? His שָׁל֗וֹם?
The priest’s response is that God will speak peace, but that’s not all. What else does He tell God’s people? Name three things.
God’s response is that there is peace for the people of God, and He gives them three reminders. First, He commands them not to return to their folly, or foolishness. They are not to turn back to their faithlessness or return to their doubting ways, but to remain steadfast, secure, confident in His will and ways. Second, He reminds them that salvation is near those who fear Him or revere Him. In doing so He is telling them that simply by asking for Him to save them, their understanding that He alone can save, is one of the “prerequisites” for His salvation. And lastly, He tells them that when they do this, glory will be in their midst, or in their homeland. As they walk in the blessing and salvation of God, His presence will be their company.
In what ways do you in your own life need to hear these three calls:
Let [her/him] not turn back to folly
Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him
That glory may dwell in [your] land
Praise God that His response to our pleas for salvation is the same: PEACE. By Christ’s blood, God has made peace for you and me. He has made peace for us before God and makes peace possible in our relationships. God’s response to our cries is peace, and He sent His שָׁל֗וֹם in the person of Jesus Christ.
PRAY & REFLECT
Supplication: Confess to God that you need His salvation and His salvation alone. Confess to Him ways in which you have returned to your folly. Ask Him to give you the wisdom and godly fear not to turn back.
Submission: Thank God for making peace between you and God. Praise Him for His saving act. Praise Him for His peace. Thank Him that it is an unchanging part of His character.