It seems as if most of the whole Old Testament deals with God’s punishment of Israel for its repeated rejection and disobedience, and unfaithfulness of God’s chosen people, yet He loved and favored and blessed them even though they repeatedly disobeyed God’s demands and purposes he had for them.
Psalm 85 is a prayer for the forgiveness and restoration of God’s people yet again:
“Lord, you were favorable to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people; you pardoned all their sin.
You withdrew all your wrath; you turned from your hot anger.
Restore us again, O God of our salvation, and put away your indignation towards us.
Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger to all generations?
Will you not revive us again, so that your people may rejoice in you?
Show us your steadfast love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation.
Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people,
to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts. Surely his salvation is at hand for those who trust (obey) him, that his glory may dwell in our land.
The Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase.
Righteousness will go before him, and will make a path for his steps.”
We Americans who have historically claimed to be one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all, need more than ever to seek forgiveness and the restoration of our great land, the renewal of God’s purposes for our nation and for its people.
If we seek anew the forgiveness of the God of the second chance, by his love and grace and power, He will save us, as He has done over and over for Israel.
As Paul, in the third chapter of his Letter to the Colossians admonishes us:
“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
David Tritenbach is a retired Presbyterian minister.