Do you have any unfinished projects at your house? I sure do, there are several which I have conveniently left in my garage so that they are not constantly reminding me that I’ve left them unfinished and so I’m living out that old saying, “Out of sight, out of mind.”
But play with me for a moment. Imagine if those projects could speak to you, what would they say? “You’re off to a good start but let’s see it through.” “Hey! Don’t leave me half done!” “I love what you’ve done so far, imaging how great it will be when I’m finished!”
That’s the sense of the prayer of the psalmist here in Psalm 85.
We don’t know the circumstances of the psalm’s writing but looking over the history of God’s people in the Bible, we can easily fit the Psalm into several situations.
However, whatever of the circumstances, it’s clear that the people have just come through a very difficult time and the psalmist is asking the Lord to continue to restore the people by showing His steadfast love to them again (verses 1-7).
The psalmist then continues to pray, looking forward to the time when God’s restorative work will be made full in their lives as the Lord’s salvation, goodness, steadfast love, faithfulness, righteousness, and peace provide new life and blessing in His presence.
In other words, it’s already begun, but it has not yet been fully realized.
And the further encouragement from the psalmist is to press on into this fully realized relationship with the Lord through the warning not to turn away from the Lord again (vs 8).
It’s a fantastic tension that the psalmist and the people are living in as they have tasted the Lord’s forgiveness and are waiting for the fulfillment of God’s promises in a relationship with Him.
It’s the same tension that we live in with Jesus on this side of the cross. We know that in Jesus our sin is forgiven, and we also know that we are in a transformational process, becoming who the Lord has always planned and purposed us to be.
God is doing a tremendous work in our lives, but we have our part to play.
In Philippians 2.12-13, Paul encouraged the believers to continue to work out their salvation with fear and trembling.
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
When Paul says “work out your own salvation” he is often misunderstood as saying that they have to work to earn their salvation. That thought certainly doesn’t agree with the rest of scripture. Salvation is God’s thing from beginning to end. The meaning communicated here is that Paul wants the Philippians to grow in maturity as they live for Christ in every aspect of their lives. In other words, Paul is encouraging, even challenging the believers to take responsibility for their relationship with Jesus; to know, love, and follow Jesus more and more, especially in Paul’s absence.
The Lord has begun a great work in our lives, and we are invited to follow in His righteous footsteps as the Lord sees it through.
Verse 13 contains that invitation as we are urged to pursue the Lord. As Derek Kidner notes in his commentary on this Psalm, “So we are roused from basking to following.”
Where is Jesus asking you to follow Him today?
God bless you and know that you are prayed for constantly.