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85. Psalm 85

Lord, thou hast been favourable unto thy land: thou hast brought back the captivity of Jacob.

2Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, thou hast covered all their sin. Selah.

3Thou hast taken away all thy wrath: thou hast turned thyself from the fierceness of thine anger.

4Turn us, O God of our salvation, and cause thine anger toward us to cease.

5Wilt thou be angry with us for ever? wilt thou draw out thine anger to all generations?

6Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?

7Shew us thy mercy, O Lord, and grant us thy salvation.

8I will hear what God the Lord will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again to folly.

9Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him; that glory may dwell in our land.

10Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

11Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven.

12Yea, the Lord shall give that which is good; and our land shall yield her increase.

13Righteousness shall go before him; and shall set us in the way of his steps.

10. Mercy and truth shall meet together. Here the verbs are in the past tense; but it is evident from the scope of the passage, that they should be translated into the future. I cordially embrace the opinion which is held by many, that we have here a prophecy concerning the kingdom of Christ. There is no doubt, that the faithful lifted up their eyes to Him, when their faith had need of encouragement and support in reference to the restoration of the Church; and especially after their return from Babylon. Meanwhile, the design of the prophet is, to show how bountifully God deals with his Church, after he is reconciled to her. The fruits which he represents as springing from this reconciliation are, first, that mercy and truth meet together; and, secondly, that righteousness and peace embrace each other From these words, Augustine deduces a beautiful sentiment, and one fraught with the sweetest consolation, That the mercy of God is the origin and source of all his promises, from whence issues the righteousness which is offered to us by the gospel, while from that righteousness proceeds the peace which we obtain by faith, when God justifies us freely. According to him, righteousness is represented as looking down from heaven, because it is the free gift of God, and not acquired by the merit of works; and that it comes from heaven, because it is not to be found among men, who are by nature utterly destitute of it. He also explains truth springing out of the earth as meaning, that God affords the most incontestable evidence of his faithfulness, in fulfilling what he has promised. But as we ought rather to seek after the solid truth, than exercise our ingenuity in searching out refined interpretations, let us rest contented with the natural meaning of the passage, which is, that mercy, truth, peace, and righteousness, will form the grand and ennobling distinction of the kingdom of Christ. The prophet does not proclaim the praises of men, but commends the grace which he had before hoped for, and supplicated from God only; thus teaching us to regard it as an undoubted truth, that all these blessings flow from God. By the figure synecdoche, some parts being put for the whole, there is described in these four words all the ingredients of true happiness. When cruelty rages with impunity, when truth is extinguished, when righteousness is oppressed and trampled under foot, and when all things are embroiled in confusion, were it not better that the world should be brought to an end, than that such a state of things should continue? Whence it follows, that nothing can contribute more effectually to the promotion of a happy life, than that these four virtues should flourish and rule supreme. The reign of Christ, in other parts of Scripture, is adorned with almost similar encomiums. If, however, any one would rather understand mercy and truth as referring to God, I have no disposition to enter into dispute with him. 477477     “Pource qu’on luy defend de se trouver en public et que chacun la repousse.” — Fr. The springing of truth out of the earth, and the looking down of righteousness from heaven, without doubt imply, that truth and righteousness will be universally diffused, as well above as beneath, so as to fill both heaven and earth. It is not meant to attribute something different to each of them, but to affirm in general, that there will be no corner of the earth where these qualities do not flourish.


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