Psalm 85 (B)

Psalm 85

Will you not revive us again,
    so that your people may rejoice in you?

Click on the link for the Psalm above (my links show up as red words) or find it in your favorite Bible or digital Bible or listen to Psalm 85:

Bonus: The Lord’s Prayer is about the amount of time you need for hand scrubbing 😉 

Breath Prayer:  I am including breath prayers because this is the practice that I engage in most often.  Sometimes, I simply manage my breathing as I would when I was singing as a warmup and strengthening exercise.  This practice helps me to feel centered, strong, and connected with myself and the divine.  Sometimes, I add words or intentions for the inhalation and exhalation.  

Nicole Cardoza’s Guided Meditation For Anxiety
Try this short meditation, created by Yoga Foster and Reclamation Ventures founder Nicole Cardoza, the next time you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, stressed, or anxious.  Read in Yoga Journal.

Mr. Roger’s “Taking a breath”  This one is short, but Mr. Roger’s voice is calming for me (and many Pittsburghers) and even his virtual presence can summon childhood memories of calmness and safety.  


I am hopeful that the way we are doing church now and evaluating what it means to worship to be a church outside of a building will bring new zeal or energy for doing new things even we are gathered in person. I hope for that even when there is no assurance that hope will be realized. For me, the closure of the building has been a long advent of waiting and hoping for new light and life. Maybe Christ will enter our lives anew this year and maybe not. But I’m holding onto the hope that Christ will come and bring new life after the pandemic for all of creation.

That new way of life must come from God and this new life is God. The new way of living must include the attributes characteristic of the way of the LORD: covenant loyal love (hesed), faithfulness (’emet), righteousness (sedeq), and peace (shalom). Salvation happens when the love and faithfulness and righteousness and peace of God are active in and through the community of God-fearing faithful. God’s work is God’s character and we are to be transformed to be like God and carry out that work. Union with Christ, Oneing with God, Filled with the Holy Spirit, is what look forward to and prepare for especially in advent. Advent is about softening our hearts, humbling our pride, and reconciling with God and neighbor.

I love the image of verses 10 and 11:

10 Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;
    righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
11 Faithfulness will spring up from the ground,
    and righteousness will look down from the sky.

These four attributes of God will meet in the middle. Love and faithfulness will come up from the ground and righteousness and peace will come down from the sky and meet in a holy kiss. God is going to move heaven and earth to revive us again. All we have to do is prepare a way.

Maybe the more familiar hymn based on Psalm 42 makes it more plain. From our hymnal #3 Comfort, Comfort You My People “Comfort, Comfort you my people, Tell of peace, thus says our God; Comfort those who sit in darkness Bowed beneath oppression’s load. Speak you to Jerusalem Of the peace that waits for them: Tell them that their sins I cover, and their warfare now is over. For the herald’s voice is calling In the desert far and near, Bidding us to make repentance Since the kingdom now is here. O that warning cry obey! Now prepare for God a way; Let the valleys rise in meeting and the hills bow down in greeting. Make you straight what long was crooked, make the rougher places plain; let your hearts be true and humble, as befits God’s holy reign. For the glory of the Lord Now o’er earth is shed abroad; And all flesh shall see the token that God’s word is never broken.”

Let us pray:

One way to think about breath prayer is that whatever is exhaled other people will inhale. So, sometimes we might inhale and exhale the same idea with the hope that what we receive from God, we can share with others. For example, you may imagine receiving God’s steadfast love while praying that others are receiving God’s steadfast love.

Another way to think about breath prayer is to pick something you would like to receive for your inhalation and something you would like to release for your exhalation. The idea is to keep it simple, so I encourage you to simply find one word for each inhale and one word for each exhale. That simple prayer could be something like this: God fill me with your Holy spirit. I receive your peace and release my warfare.

Ok, everyone take a deep breath. Breath in. Breath out. Breath in. Breath out. Repeat as needed.

Sources and notes:

“It begins in the style of hymnic address and praises the LORD for his favor to his land and people in the past (vv. 1-3). Then it asks that the LORD turn again, as he did in the past, from anger to favor and manifest his covenant faithfulness (hesed) in the salvation of his people (vv. 4-8). An individual voice, responding to the petition, announces that he will listen on behalf of the congregation to what God says and bring them God’s message of shalom (v. 8). A thematic sentence (v. 9) introduces the message, which takes the form of a portrayal of the powers of salvation at work creating shalom (vv. 10-13).” Mays p. 276

“Salvation is portrayed as the dynamic activity of a quartet of attributes characteristic of the way of the LORD: covenant loyalty (hesed), faithfulness (’emet), righteousness (sedeq), and peace (shalom). …. [salvation is] a dynamic process in which the character of God in all its fullness is at work. Salvation is happening when the hesed and ’emet and sedeq and shalom of God are active in and through the community of God-fearing faithful. For similar portrayals of divine attributes, see Isaiah 32:15-18; 45:8; 58:8; 59:14-15; Pss. 43:3; 89:14; 96:6. This vision of salvation as the conformation of life to the character of God always transcends the life of the people of God. The vision has an easchatalocial reach. It needs the coming of God himself to realize it fully (vv. 9, 13).” Mays p. 277

“Ps 85 is a prayer for renewal of “life” among the people of Yahweh. The supplication in v 7 [v.6] looks back to Yahweh’s life-giving actions in the past and it looks forward to the great message of the future shalom in vv 9-14. “Life” is, of course, more than physical existence, and to “revive” or “renew” life is more comprehensive than a new surge of physical vitality.” WBC p. 373

“…Psalm 85, especially vv. 8-13, captures the reality that Christians already know and experience in Jesus Christ, but that exists amid the ongoing brokenness of the world and the sinfulness of persons and of our society.” NIB p. 538

“… Advent encourages us both to celebrate salvation and to pray for salvation, as does Psalm 85…” NIB p. 538

WBC Allen, Leslie C. 1983. Word Biblical Commentary: Psalms 101-150. Vol. 21. Waco, TX: Word Books, Publisher.

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. 1974. Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible. 8th ed. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Press.

Brueggemann, Walter. 2007. Praying the Psalms: Engaging Scripture and the Life of the Spirit. 2nd ed. Eugene, OR: Cascade.

Brueggemann Brueggemann, Walter. 2014. From Whom No Secrets Are Hid: Introducing the Psalms. Edited by Brent A. Strawn. 1st ed. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.

WBC Craigie, Peter C. 1983. Psalms 1-50–Word Biblical Commentary. Vol. 19. Waco, TX: Word Books.

Creach, Jerome Frederick Davis. 1998. Psalms: Interpretation Bible Studies. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.

NIB Keck, Leander E. 2015. The New Interpreters Bible Commentary. Vol. 3. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.

Mays Mays, James Luther. 1994. Psalms. Louisville, KY: John Knox Press.

McCann, J. C., & Howell, J. C. 2001. Preaching the Psalms. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.

Miller Miller, Patrick D. 1986. Interpreting the Psalms. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press.

Schlimm Schlimm, Matthew Richard. 2018. 70 Hebrew Words Every Christian Should Know. Nashville, TN: Abington Press.

Spong Spong, M. (Ed.). (2020). The words of her mouth: Psalms for the struggle. Cleveland, OH: The Pilgrim Press.

WBC Tate, Marvin E. 1990. Word Biblical Commentary: Psalms 51-100. Edited by David Allan. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker. Vol. 20. Waco, TX: Word.

OTL Weiser, Artur. 1998. Old Testament Library: Psalms. Translated by Herbert Hartwell. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Manchester University Press.

I began writing Psalm reflections during Lent of 2020 shortly after we decided to close the church building, work from home, and worship via zoom.  Many churches use the revised common lectionary that rotates scripture on a three-year cycle (A, B, and C).  Starting in Advent 2019, Third Church decided to worship with the texts from Year D, which is still not circulated as are years A, B, and C.  Year D was created with the goal of including scriptures that were left out or not used as frequently as others.  Reflections exploring the Psalms in year D.  While we were using Year D, most other lectionary followers were using Year A.  Now that we are rejoining those who use the lectionary, we are on Year B.  This we hope will keep all of us planning and preparing worship on the same page.  

I use the Vanderbilt Divinity Library’s resource for lectionary readings to make text selections when I’m following the Revised Common Lectionary.

Other Year B Psalm blog posts:

Advent – Transfiguration: 1st Sunday in Advent Psalm 80, 2nd Sunday in Advent Psalm 85, 3rd Sunday in Advent Psalm 126, 4th Sunday in Advent Psalm 89, Christmas Eve or Christmas Day Psalm 96, Psalm 97, Psalm 98, 1st Sunday after Christmas, Psalm 148, New Year’s Day Psalm 8, 2nd Sunday after Christmas Psalm 147, Epiphany Psalm 72, 1st Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 29, 2nd Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 139, 3rd Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 62, 4th Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 111, 5th Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 147, Transfiguration Sunday (Sunday before Lent) Psalm 50

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