Psalm 85:8
I will hear what God the LORD will speak: for he will speak peace to his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again to folly.
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(8) Speak peace . . .—This word “peace” comprehends all that the nation sighed for:


Dear nurse of arts, plenties, and joyful truth.”

To Christians the word has a higher meaning still, which directed the choice of this psalm for Christmas Day.

Folly.—See Psalm 14:1; Psalm 49:13. Here it most probably implies idolatry.

Psalm 85:8. I will hear — Diligently observe; what God the Lord will speak — Either by his prophets and other messengers, or by his providence, for that also hath a voice: I will hear what answer God will give to these my prayers. And the psalmist, by declaring what he would do, teaches all the Israelites what they ought to do; namely, attentively to hearken to the voice of God, in whatever way he should be pleased to speak to them, and to receive his gracious declarations and promises in faith and expectation, and his holy precepts and dispensations in obedience and submission: and especially that they should wait to know what answer God would return to their prayers. For he will speak peace unto his people — I am assured, from God’s gracious nature, and declared will and promises, that he will give an answer of peace to his people; and to his saints — Which clause seems to be added by way of explication and restriction, to show that this glorious privilege did not belong to all that were called God’s people, but only to those that were truly and really such, even to his saints or holy ones, or, as חסידיו, chasidaiv, rather means, his kind, beneficent, and merciful ones, who to piety and holiness toward God, join justice and benevolence toward man, and while they truly love and serve God, love and serve their brother also. To these God will speak peace, for blessed are the merciful, they shall obtain mercy. But let them not turn again to folly — That is, to sin, which in Scripture is commonly called folly. This is added as a necessary caution; for it is on these terms, and no other, that peace is to be expected. To those, and those only, peace is spoken, who turn from sin; but if they return to it again, if they become wanton and secure, and relapse into their former wicked courses, they will provoke God to repent of his kindness to them, to inflict further and sorer judgments upon them here; and, if they still persist in disobedience and rebellion, to punish them more severely hereafter. Observe, reader, all sin is folly, but especially backsliding; it is egregious folly to turn to sin, after we had turned from it; to turn to it, after God had forgiven it, delivered us from the power of it, and spoken peace to our consciences. God is for peace, but when he speaks thereof, such are for war.85:8-13 Sooner or later, God will speak peace to his people. If he do not command outward peace, yet he will suggest inward peace; speaking to their hearts by his Spirit. Peace is spoken only to those who turn from sin. All sin is folly, especially backsliding; it is the greatest folly to return to sin. Surely God's salvation is nigh, whatever our difficulties and distresses are. Also, his honour is secured, that glory may dwell in our land. And the truth of the promises is shown by the Divine mercy in sending the Redeemer. The Divine justice is now satisfied by the great atonement. Christ, the way, truth, and life, sprang out of the earth when he took our nature upon him, and Divine justice looked upon him well pleased and satisfied. For his sake all good things, especially his Holy Spirit, are given to those who ask him. Through Christ, the pardoned sinner becomes fruitful in good works, and by looking to and trusting in the Saviour's righteousness, finds his feet set in the way of his steps. Righteousness is a sure guide, both in meeting God, and in following himI will hear what God the Lord will speak - I, the psalmist; I, representing the people as looking to God. The state of mind here is that of patient listening; of a willingness to hear God, whatever God should say; of confidence in him that what he would say would be favorable to his people - would be words of mercy and of peace. Whatever God should command, the speaker was willing to yield to it; whatever God should say, he would believe; whatever God should enjoin, he would do; whatever God should ask him to surrender, he would resign. There was no other resource but God, and there was entire confidence in him that whatever he should say, require, or do, would be right.

For he will speak peace unto his people - Whatever he shall say will tend to their peace, their blessedness, their prosperity. He loves his people, and there may be a confident assurance that all he will say will tend to promote their welfare.

And to his saints - His holy ones; his people.

But let them not turn again to folly - The Septuagint and the Vulgate render this, "To his saints and to those who turn the heart unto him." Our common version, however, has expressed the sense of the Hebrew; and it contains very important truths and admonitions.

(a) The way which they had formerly pursued was folly. It was not mere sin, but there was in it the element of foolishness as well as wickedness. All sin may be contemplated in this twofold aspect: as wickedness, and as foolishness. Compare Psalm 14:1; Psalm 73:3.

(b) There was great danger that they would turn again to their former course; that they would forget alike the punishment which had come upon them; their own resolutions; and their promises made to God. Compare Psalm 78:10-11, Psalm 78:17-18, Psalm 78:31-32. Nothing is more common than for a people who have been afflicted with heavy judgments to forget all that they promised to do if those judgments should be withdrawn; or for an individual who has been raised up from a bed of sickness - from the borders of the grave - to forget the solemn resolutions which he formed on what seemed to be a dying bed - perhaps becoming more thoughtless and wicked than he was before, as if to make reprisals for the wrong done him by his Maker, or as if to recover the time that was lost by sickness.

(c) This passage, therefore, is a solemn admonition to all who have been afflicted, and who have been restored, that they return not to their former course of life. To this they should feel themselves exhorted

(1) by their obligations to their benefactor;

(2) by the remembrance of their own solemn vows made in a time of sincerity and honesty, and when they saw things as they really are; and

(3) by the assurance that if they do return to their sin and folly, heavier judgments will come upon them; that the patience of God will be exhausted; and that he will bear with them no longer.

Compare John 5:14, "Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee."

8. He is confident God will favor His penitent people (Ps 51:17; 80:18).

saints—as in Ps 4:3, the "godly."

8 I will hear what God the Lord will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again to folly.

9 Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him; that glory may dwell in our land.

10 Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

11 Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven.

12 Yea, the Lord shall give that which is good; and our land shall yield her increase.

13 Righteousness shall go before him; and shall set us in the way of his steps.

Having offered earnest intercession for the afflicted but penitent nation, the sacred poet in the true spirit of faith awaits a response from the sacred oracle. He pauses in joyful confidence, and then in ecstatic triumph he gives utterance to his hopes in the richest form of song.

Psalm 85:8

"I will hear what God the Lord will speak." When we believe that God hears us, it is but natural that we should be eager to hear him. Only from him can come the word which can speak peace to troubled spirits; the voices of men are feeble in such a case, a plaister far too narrow for the sore; but God's voice is power, he speaks and it is done, and hence when we hear him our distress is ended. Happy is the suppliant who has grace to lie patiently at the Lord's door, and wait until his love shall act according to its old wont and chase all sorrow far away. "For he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints." Even though for a while his voice is stern with merited rebuke, he will not always chide, the Great Father will reassume his natural tone of gentleness and pity. The speaking of peace is the peculiar prerogative of the Lord Jehovah, and deep, lasting, ay, eternal, is the peace he thus creates. Yet not to all does the divine word bring peace, but only to his own people, whom he means to make saints, and those whom he has already made so. "But let them not turn again to folly." For if they do so, his rod will fall upon them again, and their peace will be invaded. Those who would enjoy communion with God must be jealous of themselves, and avoid all that would grieve the Holy Spirit; not only the grosser sins, but even the follies of life must be guarded against by those who are favoured with the delights of conscious fellowship. We serve a jealous God, and must needs therefore be incessantly vigilant against evil. Backsliders should study this verse with the utmost care, it will console them and yet warn them, draw them back to their allegiance, and at the sine time inspire them with a wholesome fear of going further astray. To turn again to folly is worse than being foolish for once; it argues wilfulness and obstinacy, and it involves the soul in sevenfold sin. There is no feel like the man who will be a feel cost him what it may.

Psalm 85:9

"Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him." Faith knows that a saving God is always near at hand, but only (for such is the true rendering) to those who fear the Lord, and worship him with holy awe. In the gospel dispensation this truth is conspicuously illustrated. If to seeking sinners salvation is nigh, it is assuredly very nigh to those who have once enjoyed it, and have lost its present enjoyment by their folly; they have but to turn unto the Lord and they shall enjoy it again. We have not to go about by a long round of personal mortifications or spiritual preparations, we may come to the Lord, through Jesus Christ, just as we did at the first, and he will again receive us unto his loving embrace. Whether it be a nation under adversity, or a single individual under chastisement, the sweet truth before us is rich with encouragement to repentance, and renewed holiness.

"That glory may dwell in our land." The object of the return of grace will be a permanent establishment of a better state of things, so that gloriously devout worship shall be rendered to God continuously, and a glorious measure of prosperity shall be enjoyed in consequence. Israel was glorious whenever she was faithful - her dishonour always followed her disloyalty; believers also live glorious lives when they walk obediently, and they only lose the true glory of their religion when they fall from their stedfastness.

In these two verses we have, beneath the veil of the letter, an intimation of the coming of the Word of God to the nations in times of deep apostasy and trouble, when faithful hearts would be looking and longing for the promise which had so long tarried. By his coming, salvation is brought near, and glory, even the glory of the presence of the Lord, tabernacles among men. Of this the succeeding verses speak without obscurity.

Psalm 85:10


I will hear, i.e. diligently observe. And the psalmist, by declaring what he would do, teacheth all the Israelites what they ought to do. Or he speaks in the name of all the people of God.

What God the Lord will speak; either by his prophets or messengers; or by the works of his providence, for that also hath a voice. What answer God will give to these my prayers. For I am assured, from God’s gracious nature and declared will and promise, that he will give an answer of peace.

And to his saints; which clause seems to be added by way of explication and restriction, to show that this glorious privilege did not belong to all that were called God’s people, but only to those that were truly and really such, even to his saints or holy ones. To folly, i.e. to sin, which in Scripture is commonly called

folly. This is added as a necessary caution; but when God shall speak peace to his people, let them not grow wanton and secure, nor return to their former wicked courses; which if they do, they will provoke God to repent of his kindness to them, and to inflict further and sorer judgments upon them. Others render the place, and they will not, or that they may not, return to folly. But the particle al being prohibitive, our translation seems to be better. I will hear what God the Lord will speak,.... This the psalmist says in the name of the people of the Jews, whom he represents, in all the foregoing expostulations and petitions, refusing to be still and quiet, and wait and listen for an answer to the above request from the Lord, who speaks by his providences, word, and Spirit; see Habakkuk 2:1,

for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints; as he does in his word, which is the Gospel of peace; and by his ministers, who bring the good tidings of it, and publish it; and by the blood and righteousness of his Son, which both procure, call for, and produce it; and by his Spirit, the fruit of which is peace: it is an answer of peace, or of good and comfortable words, that the Lord returns to his people sooner or later; and it is only to his own people he speaks peace, to his covenant ones, with whom the covenant of peace is made; and to his saints, his Holy Ones, whom he has set apart for himself, and sanctified by his Spirit: as for the wicked, there is no peace unto them, nor any spoken to them by him: Kimchi understands by the "saints" the godly among the Gentiles, as distinct from the Lord's "people", the Jews:

but let them not turn again to folly; to doubt of and question the providence of God; so Arama; or to idolatry, which there was danger of, upon the Jews' return from Babylon; and it is observable, that they afterwards never did return to it, to which they were so much addicted before; or to a vicious course of life, to sin and iniquity, which is the greatest folly, after mercy has been shown; or to self-righteousness, and a dependence on it, to the neglect of Christ and his righteousness, which is the great folly of the Jews to this day; and when the Lord shall quicken them, and convert them, show them his mercy and salvation, speak peace and pardon to them, it would be very ungrateful in them to turn again to this folly.

I will hear what God the LORD will speak: for he will speak {f} peace unto his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again to folly.

(f) He will send all prosperity to his Church, when he has sufficiently corrected them, also by his punishments the faithful will learn to beware that they not return the same offences.

8. I will hear] Or, Let me hear. Cp. Psalm 62:11; and the striking parallel in Habakkuk 2:1, which the LXX makes even closer by its reading, what the Lord God will speak with me (lit. in me), from which comes the P.B.V., what the Lord God will say concerning me.

God the Lord] The mighty God (El), Jehovah.

he will speak &c.] Or, he speaketh peace. He will not always be wroth, but will forthwith utter the ‘thoughts of peace’ which He has all along cherished (Jeremiah 29:11). This reconciliation must result in the welfare of His people. Cp. Psalm 122:6 ff.; and for the phrase, Zechariah 9:10.

and to his saints] Or, even to: for ‘his saints’ are synonymous with ‘his people.’ It is as the objects of His lovingkindness (Psalm 85:7) not for any merits of their own, that they look for His favour. For the meaning of ‘saints’ see note on Psalm 50:5, and Appendix, Note 1.

but let them not turn again to folly] The folly of self-confidence (Psalm 49:13) leading to unbelief and disobedience, which has been the cause of their past misfortunes. Such a note of warning is not out of place, but the reading of the LXX, and to those who turn their heart to him, is preferred by some editors.

8–13. The Psalmist listens for Jehovah’s answer to His people’s prayer; and conveys to them the assurance that rich abundance of blessing is in store for those who fear Him.Verses 8-13. - The joyful anticipation. The psalmist anticipates a favourable answer to his prayer, and proceeds to note down the chief points of it. God will "speak peace to his people" (ver. 8), bring his salvation near to them (ver. 9), contrive a way by which "mercy and truth," "righteousness and peace," shall be reconciled (vers. 10, 11), shower blessings on his land (ver. 12), and guide his people in the way marked out by his own footsteps (ver. 13). Verse 8. - I will hear what God the Lord will speak; i.e. "I will wait now and hear the Divine answer to my prayers" (comp. Habakkuk 3:1, "I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me"). For he will speak peace unto his people. He will give them a gentle answer - one breathing peace and loving kindness. And to his saints. And especially he will so answer the elite of his people - the khasidim, "his saints," or "loving ones." But let them not turn again to folly (comp. Ezra 9:10-14). If, after the deliverance that they had experienced, they turned again to such "folly" as had brought on their misfortunes, it would make their end worse than their beginning. The poet first of all looks back into the past, so rich in tokens of favour. The six perfects are a remembrance of former events, since nothing precedes to modify them. Certainly that which has just been experienced might also be intended; but then, as Hitzig supposes, Psalm 85:5-8 would be the petition that preceded it, and Psalm 85:9 would go back to the turning-point of the answering of the request - a retrograde movement which is less probable than that in shuwbeenuw, Psalm 85:5, we have a transition to the petition for a renewal of previously manifested favour. (שׁבית) שבּ שׁבוּת, here said of a cessation of a national judgment, seems to be meant literally, not figuratively (vid., Psalm 14:7). רצה, with the accusative, to have and to show pleasure in any one, as in the likewise Korahitic lamentation- Psalm 44:4, cf. Psalm 147:11. In Psalm 85:3 sin is conceived of as a burden of the conscience; in Psalm 85:3 as a blood-stain. The music strikes up in the middle of the strophe in the sense of the "blessed" in Psalm 32:1. In Psalm 85:4 God's עברה (i.e., unrestrained wrath) appears as an emanation; He draws it back to Himself (אסף as in Joel 3:15, Psalm 104:29; 1 Samuel 14:19) when He ceases to be angry; in Psalm 85:4, on the other hand, the fierce anger is conceived of as an active manifestation on the part of God which ceases when He turns round (השׁיב, Hiph. as inwardly transitive as in Ezekiel 14:6; Ezekiel 39:25; cf. the Kal in Exodus 32:12), i.e., gives the opposite turn to His manifestation.
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