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Matthew Henry's Commentary – Chapter 85
Chapter 85

Interpreters are generally of the opinion that this psalm was penned after the return of the Jews out of their captivity in Babylon, when they still remained under some tokens of God’s displeasure, which they here pray for the removal of. And nothing appears to the contrary, but that it might be penned then, as well as Ps. 137:1-9 They are the public interests that lie near the psalmist’s heart here, and the psalm is penned for the great congregation. The church was here in a deluge; above were clouds, below were waves; every thing was dark and dismal. The church is like Noah in the ark, between life and death, between hope and fear; being so, I. Here is the dove sent forth in prayer. The petitions are against sin and wrath (Ps. 85:4) and for mercy and grace, Ps. 85:7. The pleas are taken from former favours (Ps. 85:1-3) and present distresses, Ps. 85:5, 6. II. Here is the dove returning with an olive branch of peace and good tidings; the psalmist expects her return (Ps. 85:8) and then recounts the favours to God’s Israel which by the spirit of prophecy he gave assurance of to others, and by the spirit of faith he took the assurance of to himself, Ps. 85:9-13. In singing this psalm we may be assisted in our prayers to God both for his church in general and for the land of our nativity in particular. The former part will be of use to direct our desires, the latter to encourage our faith and hope in those prayers.