Mercy And Truth: A Response to Psalm 85

Psalm 85 contains, in my view, two of the most beautiful verses in the whole Bible:

Mercy and truth are met together: righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

Truth shall flourish out of the earth: and righteousness hath looked down from heaven.

But we live in a culture that has divorced and separated mercy and truth. On the one hand the ‘truth-telling of a call-out culture shows no mercy, and on the other, the apparent mercy of laissez faire indifference, or instant affirmation of every behaviour, shows scant regard for truth. But what God has joined together we should not put asunder, and in Christ the prophecy of this psalm finds fulfilment, for when we behold his glory we find, as John the evangelist said, that it is ‘full of grace and truth’. And so it was that in my psalm I prayed for a healing of our split culture, and prayed to Cjrost that he would join together what we have split asunder.

As always you can hear me read the poem by clicking on the play button or the title and you can find the other poems in this evolving series by putting the word ‘psalm’ into the search box on the right.

The full set of these poems has now been published as a book David’s Crown which you can buy from UK Amazon Here, or, in North America, it should soon be available from Amazon Here.

LXXXV Benedixisti, Domine

His peace refreshes like a holy well,

His mercy turns me round and quickens me,

Lifts me a little higher for each fall.


And now within this psalm he summons me

To hear a truth my nation has ignored,

A truth forgotten in captivity.


So open me afresh to hear this word:

Mercy and truth are met together, peace

And righteousness have kissed each other. Lord


How is it we have sundered them? Can peace

Be founded where there is no righteousness?

Some speak the truth, but speak it with out grace


And, calling others out, are merciless.

Lord, join together all that we have sundered

That we may flourish in your tenderness.

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7 responses to “Mercy And Truth: A Response to Psalm 85

  1. Rebekah

    This wise sonnet reminds me of one of my favorite insights from G.K. Chesterton:

    “The modern world is full of the old Christian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other and are wandering alone. Thus some scientists care for truth; and their truth is pitiless. Thus some humanitarians only care for pity; and their pity (I am sorry to say) is often untruthful.”

    Only in Christ do mercy and justice kiss and in such a way as to keep from diminishing the other. Is this not what occurred on the Cross of our Lord – that which was at once both a collision and a contradiction from our human perspective, as Chesterton wrote. At the heart of our faith, mercy and justice unite.

    • malcolmguite

      Yes indeed. I know that Chesterton passage well and it probably informed the way I wrote the poem

      • Rebekah

        That passage from GKC has helped me understand our modern world (and the battles that rage within my own modern heart)! Mercy and Justice are unwieldy giants for us to balance as finite humans, aren’t they? But for the grace of God …. Thank you for these insights!

  2. Virginia

    Thanks for sharing.

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. C G

    Malcolm, This morning I seem to have unsubscribed by mistake. Would you kindly keep my name on the distribution list? Many thanks! So grateful to have access to your wonderful poems and prayers. blessings to you this Lent!

    Carolyn Gwadz

    • malcolmguite

      I don’t think I’m allowed to add people – they have to do it themselves but it should be simple to add your email back in via the subscribe feature in the sidebar


    So true!

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