When justice and peace make out...

How do you connect the opposites of grace and truth, of justice and peace (Psalm 85)?

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It's supposed to be about making out today.

No, not really, but I stumbled across a Bible verse while searching for a topic and got stuck on it (Psalm 85:11; NEÜ

Grace and truth have met, justice and peace kiss.

I compared several Bible translations and everywhere it says "kiss". I had already read the passage once, because I had highlighted it.

But I found this image somehow fascinating: justice and peace making out with each other.

Grace and truth are also rather opposites, but meet here.

What does this picture mean?

Let us take a look at this psalm. Like all psalms, it is a song (at the beginning it says "for the choirmaster") of which we unfortunately no longer know the melody.

The guilt of the people

Psalm 85, 2-4; NL

2 Lord, you took delight in your land and delivered Israel from captivity. 3 You forgave your people their iniquity and covered all their sins. 4 You have ceased from your wrath and quenched the embers of your anger.

The psalmist looks back. He is aware of the guilt of his people and he is also aware that the people have experienced God's wrath.

I have often asked myself if and how this can be applied to today. What kind of behaviour provokes God's wrath? And how does God's anger express itself?

So, what must a people do today to arouse God's anger?

If I start from the individual, then anyone who does not have Jesus Christ is under God's wrath anyway. This is what it says in John 3:36; NL:

And all who believe in the Son of God have eternal life. But those who do not obey the Son will never experience eternal life, but the wrath of God continues to be upon them.

So one only escapes the wrath of God by holding on to Jesus Christ. Faith is the entrance to eternal life, obeying is the way to experience eternal life. This is not about blind obedience, but rather listening to Jesus and living with Him.

However, according to the Bible, God is not simply angry across the board, but the anger is triggered by a person's unrighteousness (Romans 1:18), which is fuelled by the distance from Jesus. Other passages also describe that evil behaviour can make God particularly angry.

But fortunately God is also very patient, as it says very beautifully in 2 Peter 3:9; NL:

But it is not that the Lord delays his promised return, as some think. No, he waits because he is patient with us. For he does not want even one person to be lost, but that all repent and turn to him.

OK, for individuals we have clarified that. But what about a whole nation?

People are different, there are some and there are others. We find many passages in the Old Testament where God mostly judges Israel. I believe that this has to do with the fact that Israel has a special role in the Old Testament, that God wants to show Israel that a good, godly life does not work on its own.

Much was demanded of Israel at that time, although God himself often intervened with miracles (e.g. the parting of the sea), but despite these great miracles, the Israelites later turned away from God again and again.

God had announced blessings through the Torah, the Law, and through prophets, but also curses in case of misconduct, and so it happened.

There are indeed messages of judgement for other peoples in the Bible, but they do not occur to the same extent as they do for Israel, because, as I said, Israel had a special role at the time of the Old Testament.

Looking at disasters today, I find it very difficult to classify any of it as God's judgement.

Was the flood disaster a judgement of God? I can't imagine that, it probably doesn't only seem absurd to me.

Is Corona a judgement of God? I don't think so either.

The churches are often accused of not having a sensible answer to Corona.

The rational explanation is rather simple. Mankind is taking more and more risks. More and more people are travelling around the world, more and more wild animal species are being eaten, which of course increases the risk of pandemics. Or we are blowing more and more CO² into the air and that increases the risk of storms and thus of flood disasters.

But are we as Christians satisfied with such an explanation?

On the other hand, many people in normality do not want to hear the Christian message, but when there are disasters, people sometimes complain because the churches do not seem to speak out.

Actually, that is not true. In the individual congregations, statements were made about Corona, also about other catastrophes, but there is no common press office for Christians.

This question of God's judgement on nations is beyond the scope of today, so I will go further in the text.


We have truth and justice here in this Psalm. The psalmist seems very convinced that the people were truly guilty and that God's wrath was justified.

But the emphasis in the first verses was already not only on guilt, but on forgiveness. And it continues with that (Psalm 85, 5-8; NL):

5 Now turn again to us, God of our salvation, and forget your anger towards us. 6 Will you then be angry with us forever? Will you extend your wrath to future generations? 7 Wilt thou not rather give us new life, that thy people may rejoice in thee again? 8 Show us your love, Lord, and give us your salvation.

He asks for new life, for God's love and salvation.

This Psalm already seems very New Testament: experiencing forgiveness and setting out on the journey with God.

We always hear this in a similar way during the Lord's Supper (1 Corinthians 11:25, NL):

"This cup is the new covenant between God and you, sealed by my blood.

In Jesus Christ, one can leave guilt behind and set out anew with God, experience new life, through God's love.

This does not mean that one minimises, ignores or represses guilt, nor does it mean that one wallows in it. And of course guilt can also have earthly consequences that one has to face.

But the focus on God helps one to leave that behind in a healthy way. The psalmist explains this a little more (Psalm 85:9,10; NL):

9 I listen carefully to what the Lord God says, for he promises peace to his people, to those who are faithful to him. Do not let them return to their wicked ways. 10 Most surely his salvation is with those who give him glory; and our land will be filled with his glory.

Listening to God, through prayer and Bible reading, through sharing with other Christians, also through the sermon, that is how you can hear God. And to expect the new way from God, to believe that you will get help and guidance through Jesus Christ, that is ultimately giving God the glory.

Well, and the land filled with God's glory? I would be happy if that were true for my life, but I think that is something that you can never determine yourself, but that others always have to judge.

The Kiss

And come it does:

11 Love and truth have allied. Justice and peace kiss each other!

We have two pairs of contrasts here: love and truth, and justice and peace.

We heard earlier that despite the unpleasant truth of one's own guilt, one can set out with God's love. You can bring all truths, both positive and negative, to God. God wants to show us his love and to deal with life together with each of us.

And justice and peace are linked even more intensively by a kiss. Justice and peace don't really seem to go together. Someone has always done something, so that with just action there can be no peace.

There are still societies today where there is blood revenge. Everything has to be avenged somehow, so avenged with "ä", and that goes back and forth and there is no peace.

Fortunately, it is not that bad here, but we already realise that peace and justice cannot work without forgiveness. One faces the truth and one's deeds, and if there is forgiveness, then one can start anew in peace. And if everyone is aware of their mistakes and faces up to them, then there is also a justice that is not based on offsetting.

And that is this righteousness that we can get through Jesus Christ, and then righteousness and peace actually make out with each other.

The consequences of this

Psalm 85, 12-14; NL

12 Truth will grow on the earth and righteousness will look down from heaven.
13 Yes, the Lord will make it prosperous for us and our land will bear a rich harvest.
14 Righteousness will go before him and prepare the way for him.

That will be the consequence for our lives then, and if that is lived on a large scale, it could also be a consequence for our country. Truth and justice, but also peace and love.

The psalmist is very optimistic here. If you think a bit wickedly, it sounds something like:

"And they lived happily ever after together."

Don't get me wrong: I already believe that what the psalmist says here is true.

We only have to ask ourselves what the reason is if we don't experience this, for example, if the truth is not growing here on earth or at least in our lives, or what the reason is if we are not doing well.

This is certainly not about material prosperity or health integrity, but about living in peace with God, and also with oneself, so that one is not consumed by discontent.

God wants to bless, I am sure of that. But, that is also part of truthfulness: To what extent does grace, truth, peace and justice shape our lives?


I summarise.