Will you stay mad at us forever? Will you remain angry throughout future generations? – Psalms 85:5
1 LORD, you poured out blessings on your land! You restored the fortunes of Israel.
2 You forgave the guilt of your people – yes, you covered all their sins.
3 You held back your fury. You kept back your blazing anger.
4 Now restore us again, O God of our salvation. Put aside your anger against us once more.
5 Will you be angry with us always? Will you prolong your wrath to all generations?
6 Won’t you revive us again, so your people can rejoice in you?
7 Show us your unfailing love, O LORD, and grant us your salvation.
10 Unfailing love and truth have met together. Righteousness and peace have kissed!
11 Truth springs up from the earth, and righteousness smiles down from heaven.
The feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys, two families that lived on land located in Kentucky and West Virginia, is one the more spirited and colorful stories from American history. It has become a part of American folklore. It was marked by claims and counterclaims, choosing different sides during the Civil War, and ultimately violence and death.
And how did the feud begin? It involved a dispute about the ownership of the pig. For generations people were fighting and dying because of a pig. In 1878, Floyd Hatfield had the hog in his possession. But simultaneously, Randolph McCoy claimed the pig was his property. It seems back in the day pigs were identified in a fashion somewhat similar to cattle. But rather than branding them, they put distinctive notches on a pig’s ears. McCoy asserted that the notches on this particular pig were made by a McCoy and not a Hatfield.
The dispute was brought before a local Justice of the Peace, Anderson “Preacher Anse” Hatfield. Guess what? The judge ruled in favor of the Hatfields[FH1] . His decision was made based upon the testimony of Bill Staton. In June 1880, two McCoy brothers killed Bill Staton. They were tried, but acquitted on the grounds of self-defense. Over time, the antagonism settled down.
In 1979, the families united for a special week’s taping of the popular game show Family Feud, in which they played for a cash prize and a pig which was kept on stage during the games.
It seems that feuding became a part of our human DNA after the Fall. We feud amongst ourselves, family members, friends, but ultimately and tragically with the Father. How often, if we dared to admit it, are we angry with the Father and maintain our distance. But more importantly, we feel that He is angry with us. No matter what we do, we just cannot seem to get things right between us. We feel battered and in need of restoration.
Sadly, most the time it is nothing more than our imagination, dread, and fear playing out. But there have been times during the Old Testament period when the Father was truly displeased. Psalms 85 recalls such a time. It is a community lament written when the Father was indeed displeased with His people’s unfaithfulness.
The people of Israel needed to get right with the Father. Psalms 85 provides a pattern, steps of action, that any of us can take at any time to make right with the Father. The same steps of action carry over into human relationships as well.
The people needed a redo. They needed to make a fresh start, new beginning. The Scottish preacher George H. Morrison said, “The victorious Christian life is a series of new beginnings,” and he is right. It is a sin to disobey God and fall, but it is also a sin to stay fallen. We must always make a new beginning, and this psalm gives us some instructions that we can follow after times of failure and chastening (Weirsbe).
Psalms 85 provides three steps of action to make things right.
REFLECT & PRAY
Because perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18), we need no longer fear and flee from the Father. He ended the feud and now He seeks intimate companionship us with each of his children.
Father there are times when I am battered and need restoration and renewal. Help me to remember that that is exactly what You joyfully do! Enable me to recognize the error of my ways and return to You.
Spiritual revival is not only about getting right with God; even more it is about returning to a place where we can delight in God, where we can joyfully celebrate His goodness and love and mercy (Stanley).
The Father is characterized by steadfast, loyal love and eternal self-consistency. He does not just provide salvation; He delights in saving us and coming to our aid. His response to sin is to make provision for forgiveness, and then He forgives us. He takes great joy and satisfaction in doing this.
Psalms 85:10 Lovingkindness and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
In poetic language, the psalmist creates a beautiful word picture. It is hard to take it all in. Loyal love and truth are partners, not opponents. Righteousness and peace are loving companions. They meet, embrace, and kisseach other. These words are intended to engender in our minds the delightful intimacy of our relationship with the Father.
The Father not only restores us. The Father rushes to meet us, embraces us, and kisses us (Luke 15:20-24). What could be better than that?
Our part, is recognition, coming to terms with what we have done, and changing course. Repentance is all about changing our minds and then following through and changing our lives.
31 It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick.
32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.
Steadfast love and faithfulness, righteousness and peace are four characteristics of the Father’s personality. These abstract qualities are personified. They meet and greet each other with a kiss as they prepare to go and bless the Father’s people. The Hebrew text could be translated: “Faithful Love and Loyalty join together, Saving Justice and Peace embrace” (NJB). The Father as a person is characterized by delightful and lovely personality traits. The Father is moving force Who initiates and develops love and peace within human hearts (UBS).
Great is thy faithfulness, O God my father
There is no shadow of turning with thee
Thou changest not, thy compassions they fail not
As thou hast been thou forever wilt be
And great is thy faithfulness
Great is thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed thy hand hath provided
Great is thy faithfulness
Lord unto me