“Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. The Lord will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest. Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps.” (Psalm 85:10-13)
As post-pandemic creatures, we share one undeniable thing: the slow healing of global trauma brought on by lockdowns, shutdowns, and social distancing. As restrictions eased, my desire to connect and commune grew more intense. Yet I struggled to return to a more engaged life with other humans. Complacency set in, and I grew more comfortable in my isolation. I asked myself, “Why go to all the effort? Would it really matter if I remain settled in my estranged life?”
God whispered His response to my inquisition through the words of Psalm 85, reminding me that the ministry of reconciliation (aka reconnection) is my calling—a corporate call that does not flourish in the darkness of detachment. (2 Corinthians 5:11-21)
The Israelites understood this darkness well in their often estranged relationship with God. Psalm 85 recalls this rocky relationship and God’s past restorations of Israel. The author petitions God not to stay angry and pleads with Him to restore them yet again.
The psalmist envisions God’s answer in verse 10 as a perfect kiss: “Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.” What does it mean for love and faithfulness to meet and righteousness and peace to kiss? And why does it matter to you and me as we move through this season of slow healing?
Restoration of unity and peace between God and an unrepentant Israel is the hope of the Psalmist. He highlights the longed-for kiss, a standard greeting in ancient times. The Hebrew word for kiss in this verse often translated embrace or unite, paints a picture of two friends reuniting after a long estrangement. We can all relate to the desire for reconciliation in the face of feeling disconnected and distanced from others. We can equally relate to the deep joy of reconnecting after a long estrangement.
The Psalms author outlines the rich results possible through reconciliation with God, hanging his hopes on God’s unchanging characteristics of love, faithfulness, peace, and righteousness. In verses 11–13, he casts his vision, “Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. The Lord will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest. Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps.”
Despite the unfaithfulness of the Israelites, the psalmist is confident God will extend His mercy once more. His righteousness, peace, faithfulness, and love will unite and bless His people in due time.
We have this same promise from God. He offers His unmerited grace to us. His righteousness, peace, faithfulness, and love combine to unite us with Him and each other as He blesses us through the work of Jesus on the cross, a kiss from Perfect Love Himself. Once received, this blessing is ours to offer to a turbulent, hurting world longing for reconciliation—an arduous task when one remains at arm’s length from others.
The heart of the message of Psalm 85 is the core message we are to carry and share. What is that message? It is simply this: because of Jesus, God’s grace is always greater than our sin. Jesus, alone, provides everything we need for salvation. By knowing this love and believing it for ourselves, we move forward, one in Jesus and one in the mission of loving others by offering Perfect Love’s kiss of forgiveness to all estranged from Him.
Perfect Love’s kiss is why we, as followers of Jesus, commit to gathering and cultivating connection. We meet to worship, study, encourage, and pray for one another as we live out the story God is writing through our lives. As we carry the kiss of reconciliation to the world in whatever unique way God has called us to, we can sing as the angels did on the night Perfect Love incarnated. “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14)