Psalm 85: A Psalm for Advent

In Advent we prepare ourselves for God.

Uniquely, God did arrive, has arrived, and will be arriving. 

God’s work in me is done, being done and will be done.

This is similar to Revelation 1:8, “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”

What is God doing in me now? What has God done in me in the past? What will God be doing in me in the future?
What do I do now to respond to God’s current action in me? What do I do now to respond to God’s previous action in me? What do I do now to prepare for God’s future action in me?

Psalm 85 is often considered during Advent. 

You, Lord, showed favor to your land;
    you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people
    and covered all their sins.
You set aside all your wrath
    and turned from your fierce anger.   Restore us again, God our Savior,
    and put away your displeasure toward us.  
Consider the amazing work of God in the past. (Was) Showed favorRestored the fortunesForgave the iniquityCovered all sinsSet aside all your wrathTurned from your fierce anger     Restore us again Put away your displeasure
Will you be angry with us forever?
    Will you prolong your anger through all generations?
Will you not revive us again,
    that your people may rejoice in you?
Show us your unfailing love, Lord,
    and grant us your salvation.  
In the present, Lord:  (Is) Will you be angry with us forever?Will you prolong your anger?Will you revive us again that we may rejoice?Show us your unfailing loveGrant us your salvation    
I will listen to what God the Lord says;
    he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants—
    but let them not turn to folly.
We expect the Lord to speak. He promises peaceTo his peopleTo his faithful servants Do not turn to folly
  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.  
The promised future (Will be)
Salvation is near to those who fear himHis glory will dwell in our land   Love and faithfulness meet togetherRighteousness and peace kiss each otherFaithfulness springs forth from the earthRighteousness looks down from heaven   The Lord will indeed give what is goodThe land will yield its harvestRighteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps    

Psalm 85 might be considered during Advent, in part, because of the long experience of not seeing God present or participating and yet the inspirational hopefulness in His promised arrival.

In 1744 Charles Wesley was considering the plight of hungry and orphaned children through the lens of Haggai 2:5-9.

My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not. For thus says the Lord of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the Lord of hosts. The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.’”

Out of his heart for God’s promise through Haggai and his longing for the struggling children, he wrote the hymn, “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus.”

Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.
Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne.

— Charles Wesley