on Psalms 85 :10
Mercy and truth are met together - It would be more simple to translate the original: -
חסד ואמת נפגשו
צדק ושלום נשקו
Chesed veemeth niphgashu;
Tsedek veshalom nashaku, - "
Mercy and truth have met on the way
Righteousness and peace have embraced."
This is a remarkable text, and much has been said on it: but there is a beauty in it which, I think, has not been noticed.
Mercy and peace are on one side; truth and righteousness on the other. Truth requires righteousness; mercy calls for peace.
They meet together on the way; one going to make inquisition for sin, the other to plead for reconciliation. Having met, their differences on certain considerations, not here particularly mentioned are adjusted; and their mutual claims are blended together in one common interest; on which peace and righteousness immediately embrace. Thus, righteousness is given to truth, and peace is given to mercy.
Now, Where did these meet? In Christ Jesus.
When were they reconciled? When he poured out his life on Calvary.
on Psalms 85 :10
Mercy and truth are met together - That is, in the divine dealings referred to in the psalm. There has been a blending of mercy and truth in those dealings; or, both have been manifested; truth, in the divine statements, threatenings, and promises; and mercy, in forgiving sin, and in sparing the people. There is no necessary contradiction between truth and mercy; that is, the one does not necessarily conflict with the other, though the one seems to conflict with the other when punishment is threatened for crime, and yet mercy is shown to the offender - that is, where the punishment is not inflicted, and the offender is treated as if he had not sinned. In this respect, the great difficulty in all human governments has been to maintain both; to be true to the threatening of the law, and at the same time to pardon the guilty. Human governments have never been able to reconcile the two.
If punishment is inflicted up to the full measure of the threatening, there is no manifestation of mercy; if mercy is shown, there is a departure from justice, or a declaration that the threatenings of the law are not, in all cases, to be inflicted: that is, there is, to that extent, an abandonment of justice. Human governments have always felt the need, in their practical operations, of some device like an atonement, by which the two might be blended, and both secured. Such a method of reconciliation or of securing both objects - truth, in the fulfillment of the threat, and mercy toward the offender - has never been (and could not be) acted on in a human administration. It is only in the divine government that this has been accomplished, where a true and perfect regard has been paid to truth in the threatening, and to mercy toward the guilty by an atonement. It is true, indeed, that this passage does not refer to the atonement made by the Redeemer, but there can scarcely be found a better illustration of that work than occurs in the language used here. Compare the notes at Romans 3:26. See also my work on the "atonement," chapters ii., iii.
Righteousness - In the maintenance of law, or the manifestation of justice. That is, in this case, God had shown his justice in bringing these calamities on the people for their sins. In the work of the Redeemer this was done by his being "wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities;" by the fact that "the chastisement of our peace was upon him," and that "the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all." Isaiah 53:5-6. "And peace." Pardon; mercy; restoration to favor. In the case of the Hebrew people this was done by his removing the calamities which their sins had brought upon them, and by his returning favor. In the work of redemption, it was done by the pardon of sin, and by reconciliation to God.
Have kissed each other - As friends and lovers do; as they do who have been long separated; as they do who, after having been alienated and estranged, are made friends again. In like manner, there seemed to be an alienation - an estrangement - a state of hostility - between righteousness and mercy, between justice and pardon, but they have been now united as separated and alienated friends are, and have embraced each other as such friends do; that is, they blend together in beautiful harmony.
on Psalms 85 :10