Psalm 85:10 reads:
“Mercy & truth have met together;
righteousness and peace have kissed.”
What does this all mean? Here are some quick takeaways from a more complete message which can be viewed at:
In short, three takeaways:
- This psalm is all about reconciling seemingly conflicting almost irreconcilable biblical values.
- This psalm is also rooted in a history of rebellion and consequences.
- This psalm points the way forward via a very practical two-step process.
Reconciling Conflicting Biblical Values
How do mercy and truth meet? For a very practical and timely example, look to the looming issue of Brexit – due for breakup at the end of this month (March 2019). British Prime Minister is seeking mercy from both her Parliament and the European Union. The EU is seeking confirmation of its truth; harsh and relatively uncompromising requirements for breaking up. A work still in progress. Meeting is necessary, but not in and of itself sufficient for resolution.
And more tellingly: What does it mean for righteousness and peace to kiss? Are we talking a ceremonial kiss? Like PLO leader Yasser Arafat kissing the hand of Pope John Paul II in 2002? Or are we talking a passionate (if impulsive) kiss? Perhaps the most famous kiss of all time — when a joyous and perhaps overly aggressive sailor at the end of World War II grabs the first woman he sees and kisses her in Times Square. A elder gentleman who just passed away this last month (if he is in fact the right guy). Or something yet different?
A History of Rebellion & Consequences
Before we can answer these questions, it helps to understand a bit of the history of Psalm 85. The title of the Psalm is a “Prayer that the Lord will restore favor to the land.” It is written to the chief musician (of the Tabernacle or Temple). A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.
Who is Korah? He is a cousin of Moses who led a revolt against his cousin after the Israelites are condemned to wander in the wilderness for 40 years.
Korah’s revolt is dealt with summarily by God who opens the earth to swallow Korah and 250 of his followers. But as the book of Numbers pointedly records, God intentionally spares the children of Korah from the fate of their father.
The result is that the descendants (the Korahites) become porters in the temple, musicians to whom we owe a debt today, and great warriors. Perhaps the best known of these descendants is the prophet Samuel – who would anoint the first two kings of Israel – Saul and David.
And in Psalm 85 as well as others of the Korahites, we see continuing themes of contrition for the sins of the ancestor, reconciliation in ways seemingly impossible, and resulting joy through God’s blessing.
A 2-Step Way Forward
So, how does one today apply the advice of the Korahites? Two steps are indicated:
Step 1: Reconcile truth with mercy.
The step begins with active listening, followed by attempting to find common ground. Then agree on what, if anything, can come next.
But this is not the end-game. Don’t stop now. The sustainable win-win is found by going to the next step …
Step 2: Reconcile righteousness with peace.
Recognize that in this two step process, the value of righteousness always trumps truth. Doing what is right is more important than facticity.
And even more importantly, let peace trump mercy. Mercy is, at best, a short-term solution. Properly exercised, peace is enduring.
And now, if this has wetted your appetite, check out the full message via You-Tube. Simply click:
Thanks and may God bless.
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