Psalm 85:1 “You showed favor to your land, O LORD; you restored the fortunes of Jacob. 2 You forgave the iniquity of your people and covered all their sins. "Selah"”
This psalm is generally considered by commentators to be talking about the restoration of the Jews from captivity. Jeremiah had prophesied that there would be 70 years of captivity – one year for each time they did not let the land have a Sabbath rest. Jeremiah prophesied this in chapter 25:11 – 12. There were more issues than the land not having a Sabbath rest. In the beginning of chapter 25 Jeremiah says they followed other gods and worshipped them, doing evil and not turning from it.
Their captivity is not the actions of a capricious God who suddenly loses His temper with His people and strikes out at them. He is longsuffering and full of grace. He sent prophets and called them to repent from their ways. Repent means to change your mind and subsequently the direction you are pursuing. They did not repent but continued in their unfaithfulness despite all the gentle messengers the Lord sent to them.
Daniel recognized this prophecy and prayed for the Lord to release them from captivity. (Daniel 9) But Daniel in chapter 9 says: “We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.”
At the time of this psalm being written the Lord had answered Daniel’s prayers and brought His people out of captivity. Verse 1 says He showed favor to the land and restored the fortunes of Jacob. Some bible versions say in verse 1 that He restored the captivity of Jacob while other versions say the fortunes of Jacob. It is interesting that the word ‘repentance’ means to turn. One version emphasis a “turning away or freedom from” whilst the other versions emphasis a “turning to or releasing of wealth and prosperity”. During their time of captivity there was a turning back to the one true God. When they did, He delivered them from captivity into blessing.
Is this relevant to us now? Certainly for some commentators feel this is a prophetic psalm picturing Christ and His relationship to us. We are being transformed into the image of Christ day by day. Although we were saved upon our confession of faith in Christ, we are being saved through this transformation of our heart. We still chose how we live and sometimes we get ourselves into predicaments that we need to be delivered from. Verse 2 of the psalm says He forgave their iniquities. Forgive is the Hebrew word in this instance that means carries the burden or lifts up and shoulders the load. Iniquity in the Hebrew comes from a root that means to be bent, be bowed down, be twisted, and be perverted. This word “pervert” means in English to cause to turn aside or away from what is good or true or morally right.
So Jesus carries the burden of our weakness in our fallen character. He also covers our sin, which in the Hebrew means to miss or miss the way or go wrong. He covers our mistakes. Remember when you were a kid and you did something wrong and your big brother or sister took the blame for it to cover for you? Jesus carries us bearing our sin so we can be blessed with good fortune in the land.
Prayer: “Father, I thank you that you are for me and not against me. Thank you that Jesus took my sin and iniquity so that I may know your blessing, favor and good fortune in the land.”