8 I listen carefully to what God the Lord is saying, for he speaks peace to his faithful people. But let them not return to their foolish ways.
Psalm 85:8 (NLT)
Welcome to the third installment of my study of Psalm 85. In the earlier installments, we have read about the prayers of an engineer who knows how to make use of God’s love to bring prosperity to himself and his nation. It seemed that the nation of Israel or Judah must have sinned against God. As a result, they suffered oppression and poverty. The engineer wanted God to restore the strength and prosperity of his nation by capitalizing on God’s goodness and love. Thus, he prayed the prayers in Psalm 85.
At the same time, he must have realized that asking and trusting God for his deliverance and prosperity alone is not enough. He had a role to play in his path toward his prosperity. Verse 8 tells us that he intended to listen carefully to what God the Lord is saying for he speaks peace to his faithful people. We are to listen to God. Just because we pray and believe we receive, it does not mean that we can shut ourselves from God after we pray.
Why not? God could have answered our prayers in the form of words. For example, God can answer your prayers for prosperity by directing you to a place where you will meet someone who will offer you a high paying job. If you don’t listen carefully to God, you will never go to that place. You will not meet the person God had designated to offer you that job. You will not get that job and thus you will not receive your prosperity. It is not God’s fault that you are not prosperous. He answered your prayers. You just denied yourself the prosperity God wants you to have.
The second part of Verse 8 says, “for he speaks peace to his faithful people.” We need to listen carefully to God because he speaks peace to us. What is peace? In English, peace is peace. You can be poor, sick, living in defeat and still in peace. However in Hebrew, it is different. The Hebrew word for peace is “shalom”. Let us look at what is means.
Strong’s Concordance 7965 – Hebrew Shalom ….. A word study in the New King James version for SHALOM says: Completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord.
So, the “peace” in Psalm 85:8 covers everything. When you are in shalom, you are also in completeness, which include health and prosperity. So, each time you see the word “peace” in the Bible, remind yourself that it is the Hebrew shalom and not the English peace. The lesson for us here is, listen carefully to God because his words will bring shalom into our lives. Prosperity is a part of shalom.
The last part of Verse 8 says, “But let them not return to their foolish ways.” What are the foolish ways? Based on the context of the entire verse, the foolish ways must be the opposite of words of shalom God is saying to his people. This implies the freedom of choice. When God speaks the words of shalom to us, he wants us to listen carefully to him so that we can experience the life of shalom. However, he will never force us to do so. We still have the freedom to choose whether to obey or disobey him.
If we choose to obey, we will have shalom in our lives. If we don’t, we will have the opposite effect of shalom in our lives. So, it is not God’s fault if we are living in sickness, poverty and in defeat. We have to ask ourselves this question: Am I listening to the words of shalom from God?
In conclusion, the words of God brings shalom into our lives. If you truly desire to have shalom, make sure you listen to God. Pray, listen to faith messages, read the Bible and do whatever you can to get the words of God into your heart if you truly desire to have shalom in your life.