favorable to the land

Periodically, during the Advent season, we'll be looking at devotions written by Hispanic pastors in our denomination. Today's devotion was written by Eddy Alemán. Eddy Alemán is the director of strategic leadership development and coordinator of Hispanic ministries for the RCA.

Psalm 85:1-2
Lord, you were favorable to your land;
         you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people;
         you pardoned all their sin.
In the season of Advent, we remember and celebrate the birth of Jesus who was born for us and for our salvation. That promise of salvation was something the people of Israel needed to hear at the time of this psalm. Psalm 85 was written after the return of the Jews from their captivity in Babylon, most likely during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. After their arrival, however, they were also under some distress from their neighbors. 
In the first two verses of this psalm we can see several things. First, God shows favor to the land and makes it acceptable and good for his people to live there. Second, God restores the fortunes of his people. This is a reference to his bringing them back from a place of captivity. Israel can now rejoice that God has set them free and has delivered them from the land and the hand of their enemy. Third, he forgives the iniquity of his people. We must be thankful that God’s forgiveness is not just a one-time thing. God is loving and forgiving toward us all the time, and in an ongoing manner. Without forgiveness we have no hope. Fourth, God covers the sins of his people. God chooses not to remember our sin. The blood of Jesus is powerful enough in one moment to fully cover all sin and unrighteousness. The removal of sin will bring the removal of God’s anger.
We must be thankful for God’s divine favor toward his people. We sometimes are quick to forget how good God has been to us. This psalm was written in the tension between God’s goodness and a difficult time. The best way to approach difficulty is by remembering how faithful God has been to us. This Advent, may we remember God’s goodness to us.
Prayer: Lord, today we remember your goodness. Thank you for showing your favor to our land, for restoring our fortunes, and for forgiving our sins.