"blessed is the man that trusteth in thy Word;''
in Christ, the essential Word.
INTRODUCTION TO Psalm 85
To the chief Musician, A Psalm for the sons of Korah. This psalm is generally thought to have been composed after the return of the Jews from their captivity in Babylon; and yet when they were in some distress from their neighbours, either in the times of Ezra and Nehemiah, or in the times of Antiochus; but then this deliverance from captivity must be considered as typical of redemption by Christ; for as the title of the Syriac version is,
"it is a prophecy concerning Christ;''
it speaks of his dwelling in the land, of his salvation being near, and of the glory of the divine perfections as displayed in it; and perhaps some parts of it may respect the conversion of the Jews in the latter day; and Aben Ezra and Kimchi say, it is concerning the captivity of Babylon, yet also of their present captivity.
thou hast brought back the captivity of Jacob; or, "the captives" (m) of Jacob; in a temporal sense, both out of Egypt, and out of Babylon; and in a spiritual sense from sin, Satan, and the law; the special people of God often go by the name of Jacob, and these are captives to the above mentioned; and redemption by Christ is a deliverance of them from their captivity, or a bringing of it back, for he has led captivity captive; and in consequence of this they are put into a state of freedom, liberty is proclaimed to these captives, and they are delivered, and all as the fruit and effect of divine favour.
(m) "captivam turbam", Junius & Tremellius; i. e. "captivos", Gejerus, Michaelis.
thou hast covered all their sin; this is but another phrase for forgiveness, see Psalm 32:1, and this is done by the blood and righteousness, and propitiatory sacrifice of Christ, the antitypical mercy seat, the covering of the law and its transgressions, and the people of God from its curse and condemnation; whose sins are so covered by Christ, as not to be seen by the eye of avenging justice, even all of them, not one remains uncovered.
Selah. See Gill on Psalm 3:2.
thou hast turned thyself from the fierceness of thine anger; the anger of God is very fierce against sin and sinners; it is poured forth like fire, and there is no abiding it; but, with respect to the Lord's people, it is pacified by the death of his Son; or he is pacified towards them for all that they have done, for the sake of his righteousness and sacrifice; and which appears to them when he manifests his love and pardoning grace to their souls; see Ezekiel 16:63.
(n) "collegisti", Montanus, Gejerus, Michaelis.
and cause thine anger towards us to cease: the manifest tokens of which are now upon them, being scattered up and down in the world, and made a proverb, a taunt, and a jeer; but will be removed, and cease, when they shall be converted.
wilt thou draw out thine anger to all generations? out of his heart, where it is supposed to be conceived; and out of his treasury, where it is thought to be laid up: this has been drawn out to a great length of time upon the Jewish nation; it has been upon them for almost twenty centuries, or ages, and still remains, and will until the fulness of the Gentiles is brought in; but it will not be drawn out to "all" ages or generations; for they shall return to the Lord, and seek him; and he will come to them, and turn away iniquity from them, and so all Israel shall be saved.
that thy people may rejoice in thee; it was a time of rejoicing in the Lord, when the Jews were returned from their captivity in Babylon; but their future conversion will be matter of greater joy, both to themselves and to the Gentiles; everlasting joy will be upon their heads, and in their hearts, when they shall return to Zion, Psalm 14:7 and so is the conversion of every sinner joyful to himself and to others; such rejoice in Christ, in his person, blood, and righteousness; and every view of him afterwards, as it is a reviving time, it fills with joy unspeakable, and full of glory: the Targum is,
"and thy people shall rejoice in thy Word;''
Christ, the essential Word.
and grant us thy salvation; Jesus, the Saviour, and salvation by him, an interest in it, and the joys of it; which is all a free gift, a grant of divine favour, and not according to the merits and works of men.
(o) "bonitatem tuam", Tigurine version, Musculus; "benignitatem tuam", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "gratiam tuam", Cocceius, Gejerus.
for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints; as he does in his word, which is the Gospel of peace; and by his ministers, who bring the good tidings of it, and publish it; and by the blood and righteousness of his Son, which both procure, call for, and produce it; and by his Spirit, the fruit of which is peace: it is an answer of peace, or of good and comfortable words, that the Lord returns to his people sooner or later; and it is only to his own people he speaks peace, to his covenant ones, with whom the covenant of peace is made; and to his saints, his Holy Ones, whom he has set apart for himself, and sanctified by his Spirit: as for the wicked, there is no peace unto them, nor any spoken to them by him: Kimchi understands by the "saints" the godly among the Gentiles, as distinct from the Lord's "people", the Jews:
but let them not turn again to folly; to doubt of and question the providence of God; so Arama; or to idolatry, which there was danger of, upon the Jews' return from Babylon; and it is observable, that they afterwards never did return to it, to which they were so much addicted before; or to a vicious course of life, to sin and iniquity, which is the greatest folly, after mercy has been shown; or to self-righteousness, and a dependence on it, to the neglect of Christ and his righteousness, which is the great folly of the Jews to this day; and when the Lord shall quicken them, and convert them, show them his mercy and salvation, speak peace and pardon to them, it would be very ungrateful in them to turn again to this folly.
that glory may dwell in our land; Christ, who is the brightness of his Father's glory, having the same nature, names, worship, and honour; whose glory is the glory of the only begotten of the Father, and who also is the glory of his people Israel; who, when he was incarnate, dwelt among men, particularly in the land of Judea, where the writer of this psalm dwelt, and therefore calls it "our land"; and though his appearance was then but mean, in the form of a servant, yet he had a glory, which was manifest in his doctrine and miracles; and he was the Lord of glory, even when he was crucified; see Hebrews 1:3, Luke 2:32, or else the Gospel may be meant, which has a glory in it excelling that of the law; it containing glorious truths, and glorious promises; and which is the glory of a land where it is, and, when it departs, an "Ichabod" may be written on it: this came in consequence of Christ, the Saviour, and salvation by him, which it is a revelation of; and dwelt and abode in the land of Judea, till it was utterly despised and rejected: the whole of Gospel worship and ordinances may be intended also, together with a holy life and conversation becoming it.
righteousness and peace have kissed each other; as friends at meeting used to do: "righteousness" may intend the essential justice of God, which will not admit of the pardon and justification of a sinner, without a satisfaction; wherefore Christ was set forth to be the propitiation for sin, to declare and manifest the righteousness of God, his strict justice; that he might be just, and appear to be so, when he is the justifier of him that believes in Jesus; and Christ's blood being shed, and his sacrifice offered up, he is just and faithful to forgive sin, and cleanse from all unrighteousness, Exodus 34:6, Romans 3:25 and thus the law being magnified, and made honourable by the obedience and sufferings of Christ, an everlasting righteousness being brought in, and justice entirely satisfied, there is "peace" on earth, and good will to men: peace with God is made by Christ the peacemaker, and so the glory of divine justice is secured and peace with God for men obtained, in a way consistent with it, Luke 2:14 and Christ's righteousness being imputed and applied to men, and received by faith, produces a conscience peace, an inward peace of mind, which passeth all understanding, Romans 5:1.
(p) "gratia et veritas", Cocceius, Gejerus, Michaelis.
and righteousness shall look down from heaven: the justice of God, or the righteous God, shall look down from heaven on Christ, the truth, in our nature on earth, with pleasure beholding his obedience, sufferings and death, sacrifice and righteousness; being well pleased with him, and with all he did and suffered, and with all his people, considered in him: these upright and righteous ones his countenance beholds with delight, as they are clothed with Christ's righteousness, washed in his blood, and their sins expiated by his sacrifice, and as they are hoping in his mercy, and trusting in his Son.
(q) fides. Tigurine version, Musculus, Junius & Tremellius.
and our land shall yield her increase; such who are like to the earth, which receives blessing of God, and oft drinks in the rain that comes upon it, and brings forth herbs to the dresser of it, Hebrews 6:2, these increase with the increase of God, bring forth fruits of righteousness, and grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ; though the whole may be interpreted of the incarnation of Christ, which agrees with what goes before and follows after; see Psalm 67:6.