Psalms 85:1 MEANING

Psalm 85:1
(1) Thou hast brought back.--See Psalm 14:7; Psalm 68:18. The expression might only imply generally a return to a state of former prosperity, as in Job 42:10, but the context directs us to refer especially to the return from exile. (See Introduction.)

Verses 1-3. - The thanksgiving. God is thanked for two things especially:

(1) for having granted his people forgiveness of their sins (vers. 2, 3); and

(2) for having, partially at any rate, removed his chastening hand from them, and given them a return of prosperity (ver. 1). Ver 1. - Lord, thou hast been favourable unto thy land; or, "thou art become gracious" (Kay, Cheyne) - a preceding time during which God was not gracious is implied (comp. Psalm 77:7-9). Thou hast brought back the captivity of Jacob. It is most natural to understand this of the return from the Babylonian captivity; but possible that some lighter affliction may be intended, since שׁבות is used, metaphorically, for calamities short of actual captivity (see the comment on Job 42:10).

85:1-7 The sense of present afflictions should not do away the remembrance of former mercies. The favour of God is the fountain of happiness to nations, as well as to particular persons. When God forgives sin, he covers it; and when he covers the sin of his people, he covers it all. See what the pardon of sin is. In compassion to us, when Christ our Intercessor has stood before thee, thou hast turned away thine anger. When we are reconciled to God, then, and not till then, we may expect the comfort of his being reconciled to us. He shows mercy to those to whom he grants salvation; for salvation is of mere mercy. The Lord's people may expect sharp and tedious afflictions when they commit sin; but when they return to him with humble prayer, he will make them again to rejoice in him.Lord, thou hast been favourable unto thy land,.... The land of Canaan, which the Lord chose for the people of Israel, and put them into the possession of it; and where he himself chose to dwell, and had a sanctuary built for him; and therefore though the whole earth is his, yet this was his land and inheritance in a peculiar manner, as it is called, Jeremiah 16:18, the inhabitants of it are meant, to whom the Lord was favourable, or whom he graciously accepted, and was well pleased with and delighted in, as appears by his choosing them above all people to be his people; by bringing them out of Egyptian bondage, by leading them through the Red sea and wilderness, by feeding and protecting them there; and by bringing them into the land of Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey, and settling them in it; and by many temporal blessings, and also spiritual ones, as his word and ordinances; but especially by sending his own Son, the Messiah and Saviour, unto them; and which perhaps is what is here principally intended:

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.

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