Wednesday of Lent III – Psalm 85

1LORD, you were favorable to your land;
   you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
2You forgave the iniquity of your people;
   you covered all their sin.              Selah

3You withdrew all your wrath;
   you turned from your hot anger.

 4 Restore us again, O God of our salvation,
   and put away your indignation toward us!
5 Will you be angry with us forever?
   Will you prolong your anger to all generations?
6Will you not revive us again,
   that your people may rejoice in you?
7Show us your steadfast love, O LORD,
   and grant us your salvation.

 8 Let me hear what God the LORD will speak,
   for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints;
   but let them not turn back to folly.
9Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him,
   that glory may dwell in our land.

 10 Steadfast love and faithfulness meet;
    righteousness and peace kiss each other.
11Faithfulness springs up from the ground,
   and righteousness looks down from the sky.
12Yes, the LORD will give what is good,
   and our land will yield its increase.
13 Righteousness will go before him
   and make his footsteps a way.

I am growing tomato, pepper, and some other vegetable starts in a little green house I constructed in my back yard. I like to garden, and it is really satisfying to take a seed all the way to maturity and finally to harvesting a basket of fruit from it. Right now, they are just tiny little seedlings. I went out there this afternoon and a bunch of them were lying flat on the ground. Apparently, today’s sunshine heated the greenhouse, and my watering was not quite on time. Don’t worry, a little water and they sprang right back up, but they reminded me of this text.

The psalmist imagines God’s favor and His wrath. He remembers a day when God’s favor was given after their sins. That was a good day. But now he is enduring the wrath of God. I rather imagine he looks like those seedlings which wilted in the sun. He wonders if the favor of God will ever fall on them again. Like a tender seedling longing for water, he longs for God’s steadfast love and favor. He wants a little water for his parched soul.

God causes faithfulness to spring up from the ground and righteousness looks down from the sky. The Lord will give what is good and the land will yield its increase of faithfulness. My little plants stand tall. A little water and the sun ducking behind the neighbor’s tree have revived them. Once more they are growing. Soon they will have deeper roots, stronger stems, and better be able to withstand the vagaries of temperature and water. But they will for their whole lives be dependent on enough water, enough sun, and enough nourishment from good soil. Inexorably, winter comes when tomatoes perish. We may not be feeling either God’s wrath or his pleasure today, but we are dependent on Him and His favor for all of life.

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