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Psalm 85

Our longings define who we are and are a lifeline through difficult times. Psalm 85 is composed of three time-frames: the past when God forgave and favored Israel (verses 2-4); a current estrangement from God (verses 5-8); and the longed-for future of enduring closeness to God, enabling stability, prosperity, and fulfillment of purpose (verses 9-14).

The very middle words of the Psalm provide the break from the cycle of salvation and trouble: “Let me hear what the El Adonai will speak- for God will speak peace to [God’s] people and devotees that they not return to folly” (verse 9). The willingness to actively listen to God will enable the longed-for transformation. And then the vision of a better world where God’s qualities are present on earth as if living beings (see artworks below): “Kindness and truth have met; justice and peace have kissed” (verse 11).

Justice is a process that entails accountability; peace is a state of equanimity: “No justice, no peace.” In the vision of the future the two are in harmony. Three times in the final four verses the word tzedek, justice or righteousness, is declared. A world of justice is a world of enduring peace, the ultimate longing.

This learning is dedicated to Jackie Wolf, a consistent student of Psalms and a pursuer of peace.

Below Psalm Chapter 85

https://www.johnaugustswanson.com/default.cfm/PID%3D1.2-16.html

Der Kuß von Gerechtigkeit und Friede, Antwerp, c. 1580

The Kiss of Peace and Justice by Laurent de La Hyre, 1654

Justice and Peace by Tiepolo, 18th century