Psalm 85:11 – Justice and Peace shall Kiss!
Today, people in the United States are celebrating Thanksgiving. It’s a Thanksgiving like no other in that due to COVID 19, many families are not gathering, including mine. No big family gathering, no roasted turkey and my sister-in-law’s stuffing (based on my mom’s) and homemade turkey gravy. Instead I’m warming smoked turkey legs, having stove top dressing and gravy out of a box. But Thanksgiving is more than a meal. It’s giving thanks for blessings. This year, I’m reflecting on one of my favorite passages from the Psalms, Psalm 85:11, “Kindness and truth shall meet; justice and peace shall kiss.”
Psalm 85 is a restoration psalm. “You restored the fortunes of Jacob.” (1) It’s after the destruction of the Temple and the Babylonian exile. Thus it is a psalm of re-orientation based on Walter Brueggemann’s grouping of the psalms. The Israelites have gone through a time of crisis to a time of reorientation.
The psalm speaks of a time when the four virtues, once estranged, are now rejoined. “Kindness and truth shall meet; justice and peace shall kiss,” as stated in Psalm 85:11. Peace without justice is a false peace. Many false prophets preached peace, but if there is no justice, there is no true peace. Peace that is based on social structures that demean one segment of the population is a false peace. Peace based on lies is a false peace.
It’s a message of hope. The psalm goes on to state, “Truth shall spring out of the earth, and justice shall look down from heaven.” (12) Earth and heaven will be as one, with true justice based on truth.
Psalm 85 ends with hope. “The Lord himself will give his benefits; our land shall yield its increase Justice shall walk before him, and salvation, along the way of his steps.” (13-14)
Justice and Peace shall Kiss
I first came across this passage during my twenties. It was a time of searching for my life’s purpose, a time of working for peace and justice to create a better world.
I’ve been thinking about those years of my idealistic youth over the past months while rhetoric of hatred and lies overwhelmed the airways and social media. This was not the world I had envisioned in my youth. It was not the legacy I wanted to leave my grandchildren. But with the election, the rhetoric, while not gone, has lessened, giving me reason to hope.
So this year, I’m giving thanks for that gift of hope. We are into the depths of this pandemic but there is hope on the horizon in the form of a vaccine. At the first Thanksgiving the Pilgrims had survived a devastating first year in the new world with many losses. They were going into another winter with the potential for more losses, but there was hope. Giving thanks and hope are linked. I’m hoping for a better world, where there is true peace based on justice.
What are you thankful for this year? Where do you find hope?
For a different look at Psalm 85 follow the link!
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