Psalm 85

(c) Copyright 2000 Rev. Bill Versteeg

Psalm 85

1 You showed favor to your land, O LORD; you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
2 You forgave the iniquity of your people and covered all their sins. Selah
3 You set aside all your wrath and turned from your fierce anger.
4 Restore us again, O God our Savior, and put away your displeasure toward us.
5 Will you be angry with us forever?
Will you prolong your anger through all generations?
6 Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?
7 Show us your unfailing love, O LORD, and grant us your salvation.
8 I will listen to what God the LORD will say;
he promises peace to his people, his saints— but let them not return to folly.
9 Surely his salvation is near those who fear him,
that his glory may dwell in our land.
10 Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.
11 Faithfulness springs forth from the earth,
and righteousness looks down from heaven.
12 The LORD will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest.
13 Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps.

People of God:

In every human heart there is the hunger for heaven.

I see that hunger in children who love to learn, love to understand new things, love to be creative, love to communicate, develop friendships, long to grow up.  For a child, these are tastes of heaven when things are right, the way they should be. And we especially see the hunger for heaven in children when they have difficulty in any of these areas, hunger that disables, frustration sets in, sometimes showing itself in anger, discouragement, tears, withdrawal.

I see this hunger in teenagers and young adults. As I watch young people, I am amazed at how relational they are. They.., (I was once a young person too), desire to belong, be in relationships where they are safe, where they can grow as persons, where they can have fun, an important building block to taking life a little more seriously later on. Having fun in relationships, rejoicing in community, maturing in safety, these are all tastes of heaven, hunger satisfied. But this hunger debilitates when sinful distortions happen in relationships, when we wound one another, when community is no longer safe, when our place, our significant niche is lost, then the hunger for heaven becomes especially intense.

I see this hunger in families.  I see it in parents who discover how much work life can be in this busified culture, how tired they sometimes can become, awake wondering, worrying, pacing until their children come home safe and sound, I see it in their children who want, no, expect more. Two incomes feels like hardly enough. We are on the relentless marathon to discover happiness, after all, next to America, it is our human dignified right to pursue happiness, and we demonstrate our hunger for heaven by the sacrifices we make and the energy we put into finding this illusive concept.  The Psalmist would have called it "favor."

As I have pastored over the years, I have seen this hunger vividly in the elderly, those who have experienced life with its ups and downs, and having experienced life, they begin to articulate their hunger, their hunger for God, his glory, his presence, they honestly say that retirement and life is not all its cracked up to be, they have lost their friends, their spouses, sometimes their children, they have lost many of their abilities, their influence, what feels like their significance, the choices they have made leads to regrets, guilt, at times a conclusion of failure, and they long, they hunger for heaven.

On this Good Friday - Easter weekend, we experience our hunger for heaven because we see death, and whether it is the death of Christ, or the death of a loved one - every fiber of our being tells us that when death occurs, there is something not right, death shocks us because we sense in our hearts and spirits that this loss should not have to happen, we deny it because our human make up was not designed to accept death, we become depressed by it because our emotions were made for rejoicing and celebrating life and wholeness and happiness.

But listen to what has happened!

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

5 The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you."

8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.

I'm looking forward to meeting Mary and Mary one day!  I want to ask them what that Easter morning joy felt like. Was it simply a return of a friend, or did they see it was much more? Did they understand what this resurrection of Jesus really meant? Did they realize it was the kiss of heaven satisfying their most intense hunger? Did they see in the resurrection of this one man, Jesus, the vindication of all his actions and words, did they see the victory of God over the separating, dividing, forces of the universe? Did they see the sense of the words of the Psalmist who foresaw this day as he struggled with his hunger for heaven..

10 Love and faithfulness meet together;
righteousness and peace kiss each other.
11 Faithfulness springs forth from the earth,
and righteousness looks down from heaven.

To understand the words of the Psalmist, we need to picture in our minds the character of the new relationship between earth and heaven. Where once the relationship was broken, backs turned, words of favor not spoken, anger vented, separation painfully experienced, the Psalmist saw a new relationship.

10 Love and faithfulness meet together;
righteousness and peace kiss each other.

Love and faithfulness don't just meet together as in a business meeting, a handshake and then discussion!  Tthis meeting is much stronger, the kind of meeting when we ask two people who are deeply in love and we ask them when they first met, a meeting that changed the rest of their lives because the meeting was the beginning of an intimate relationship.

Love and faithfulness meet together
righteousness and peace kiss each other

These are intimate words that characterize God's disposition towards us through the resurrection!  These are life giving words, filled with shalom, where under God's blessing, life is right, whole, love is fulfilled, relationships are safe, peace that passes understanding is ours, the power of sin is broken, the sting of death is overcome. We are surrounded, in intimate conversation, by God's love, faithfulness, righteousness and peace. The two Marys tasted that, maybe they didn't understand it, but they tasted it - and they rejoiced with literally "Mega Joy."

The Psalmist then pictures how earth and heaven respond and relate to each other.

11 Faithfulness springs forth from the earth,
and righteousness looks down from heaven.

Like a dance, a dance of joy, there is harmony between heaven and earth. New life begins. The seed of Christ sown to die has sprung forth to new life, not just his, but ours. Instead of our failures comes the success of Christ within us. Instead of our unreliability comes the true character of Christ by the fruits of the Spirit. And it springs up from within. It is not first of all a matter of our effort, it is the fruit, the harvest of the resurrection working within us. Our response of joy and faithfulness to God springs forth, like a plant bursts through the soil to bring forth flowers and new life. Heaven comes down and glory, the presence of God fills our soul. Hunger is satisfied.

That's easter for us. When Jesus met the Marys, what is translated "Greetings," was actually much stronger - he said to them "Rejoice!"

Forget your grief, Rejoice!
Taste heaven - Rejoice!
Taste the end of death - Rejoice!
Taste the righteousness of God - Rejoice!
Taste God's favor for you - rejoice!
Eat and drink and be satisfied in the glory of my kingdom - Rejoice.

On Easter morning, there was a kiss, a history changing kiss, an eternal history changing kiss, and the kiss continues, we taste its joy today, we will taste its joy eternally in the glory of a new creation!

Rejoice, the Lord is King!

22 The stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone;
23 the LORD has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day, epoc, the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.

And at the end of history, the Kiss that measures forever love will come to fulfillment.

6 Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:


For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.
8 Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) 9 Then the angel said to me, "Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'"

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(NIV) Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright (C) 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

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