1 In times past, LORD, you showed favour to your own beloved land; The prosperity of Jacob you restored by your strong hand. 2 You forgave your people’s trespass; you were pleased their sins to hide. 3 You withdrew all your displeasure; from your wrath you turned aside.
4 God our Saviour, now restore us; from us turn away your rage. 5 Will your anger burn against us? Will it last from age to age? 6 Will you not again revive us, that we may rejoice in you? 7 Show us, LORD, your covenant mercy; your salvation grant anew.
8 I will hear what God the LORD says: to his saints he offers peace; But his people must not wander and return to foolishness. 9 Surely for all those who fear him his salvation is at hand, So that once again his glory may be seen within our land.
10 Love and truth have met together; righteousness and peace embrace. 11 Righteousness looks down from heaven; from the earth springs faithfulness. 12 What is good the LORD will give us, and our land its fruit will bear. 13 Righteousness will go before him and his royal way prepare.
This Psalm can be heard sung by a Free Church of Scotland congregation to Blaenwern here and to the lovely haunting tune Here is Love Vast As The Ocean here.
What a great Psalm! Especially the lines in verse 10 where righteousness and peace embrace – in some versions this is rendered not as “embrace” but as “kiss”!
In the heading to this Psalm in the Bible it is noted that it is “of the sons of Korah.” (Who? We need to go to the book of Numbers 16 for this, Korah is remembered for the rebellious action, together with his cousins Dathan and Abiram, against Moses. It’s a pretty horrible account – read it for yourself. Our modern sensibilities find parts of the Old Testament difficult, but it’s part of our faith history and, like the New Testament, contains God’s Word.)
Anyway, here we have the Sons of Korah remembering God’s faithfulness and forgiveness to Jacob (their great, great grandpa) and the people of old (vs 1–3) but with a plea for this to continue. There is always a watchful eye on the wrath of God when the people get it wrong – as their father and uncles got it wrong – a plea for mercy and forgiveness as God forgave in times past (vs 4-7.) Then we move on to, almost, a sermon – do what God says and all will be well. (vs 8-9.) Then the final verses – a confidence that it has all come about – love, truth, righteousness, peace.
What a message for us today. There is a lot of rubbish in the world but if we can hold on to the message of Scripture seen all through the Bible and in this Psalm, we can cope. In this Psalm we are urged to remember that the result of living with love and truth is that righteousness and peace embrace.
O Lord, our God, like your people of old we get it wrong. Help us to remember that you are our God and we are your people. Help us to live our lives in love and truth. Help us to remember the beautiful words that righteousness and peace kiss. Amen
The Rev’d Lena Talbot. Retired Minister and Member of Darwen Central URC
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