Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;
   righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
Faithfulness with spring up from the ground,
  and righteousness will look down from the sky.
Yea, the Lord will give what is good,
  and our land will yield its increase.
Righteousness will go before him,
  and make his footsteps a way.
                                     Psalm 85.10-13

                          .                     .                     .                      .                     .

This is one of my favorite images from the Psalms. The Psalms have been my refuge since my youth, truly. I have no idea how I might have survived adolescence without having recourse to the songs of exile and lament that often voiced my own anxiety and sense of not-belonging. Among my favorites, though, this Psalm is a relative late-comer and reflects a slightly different perspective on the Psalms. Different, I say, not more mature. It may well be that I have grown up (by God’s grace) since I pleaded with God to ‘have mercy on me, because I am lonely and weak…’ (the Good News Bible’s rendering of Psalm 25.16), but I know full well that I am as prone to stumbling as the next person.

My fondness for the image centers on the love that is integral to peace and justice in the Psalmist’s description. I imagine faithfulness and righteousness gazing at one another in intimate love: something intrinsic to each draws it to another. The unity of God’s love and righteousness draws from creation a faithfulness that displays recognition of its source and destiny. And it isn’t just in the abstract, either. I cannot read the final verse without seeing John the Baptist making the way for Jesus. In Jesus steadfast love and faithfulness meet, the creation responds appropriately to the Creator.

For all my romantic portrayal of the scene, I could have done worse than to read the Gospels. In Jesus the Lord has given what is good: Himself. And the fruit of His coming still grows, by the grace of the Spirit. But that’s another story.

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