Psalm 89

Psalm 89
Restored Israel Rejoicing in Jehovah’s Faithfulness: the Sure Mercies of David
Psalm 89. This Psalm is a Maschil Psalm, written by Ethan the Ezrahite. Ethan could be either a wise man, one of the five sons of Zerah (1 Kings 4:31; 1 Chron. 2:6), but more likely the son of Kushaiah, and one of the chief singers of David, along with Asaph and Heman (1 Chron. 15:17). Psalm 89 is the only Psalm attributed to Ethan. This Psalm is an interesting contrast with the previous Psalm. In Psalm 88 we have the state of Israel on the ground of the law: i.e. fit for the wrath of God. In Psalm 89 we have Israel on the ground of God’s faithfulness to His promises, particularly to David His servant – “the sure mercies of David” (Isa. 55:3; Acts 13:34) – and the result is blessing! At the end of the Psalm (vv.38-51), Israel looks back on their experiences and soul exercises leading up their blessing in the Millennium.
An instruction. Of Ethan the Ezrahite.
1 I will sing of the loving-kindness of Jehovah for ever; with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness from generation to generation.
2 For I said, Loving-kindness shall be built up for ever; in the very heavens wilt thou establish thy faithfulness.
3 I have made a covenant with mine elect, I have sworn unto David my servant:
4 Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne from generation to generation. Selah.
vv.1-4 Jehovah’s Faithfulness to Israel. The Psalm opens with a burst of praise for the loving-kindness of Jehovah which He has shown to Israel. They are seen in the Millennium in these verses. The theme is not Israel’s unfaithfulness, but Jehovah’s faithfulness to His own promises; “I make known thy faithfulness from generation to generation”. The promises here in view are those of the Davidic Covenant; “I have made a covenant with mine elect, I have sworn unto David my servant”. The Davidic Covenant was the promise that God would have a seed of David to sit on the throne forever (2 Sam. 23:4; 1 Kings 8:25). In the Millennium, Jehovah will show Himself faithful in that covenant by putting Christ, the Son of David, on the throne in Jerusalem. David knew that the covenant did not depend on his own faithfulness, but on Gods! “Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow” (2 Sam. 23:5).
5 And the heavens shall celebrate thy wonders, O Jehovah, and thy faithfulness in the congregation of the saints.
6 For who in the heaven can be compared to Jehovah? who among the sons of the mighty shall be likened to Jehovah?
7 GOD is greatly to be feared in the council of the saints, and terrible for all that are round about him.
8 Jehovah, God of hosts, who is like unto thee, the strong Jah? And thy faithfulness is round about thee.
9 “Thou” rulest the pride of the sea: when its waves arise, “thou” stillest them.
10 Thou hast crushed Rahab as one that is slain; thou hast scattered thine enemies with the arm of thy strength.
11 Thine are the heavens, the earth also is thine; the world and its fulness, “thou” hast founded them.
12 The north and the south, “thou” hast created them: Tabor and Hermon triumph in thy name.
13 Thine is the arm of might: strong is thy hand, high is thy right hand.
14 Righteousness and judgment are the foundation of thy throne; loving-kindness and truth go before thy face.
vv.5-14 The Power of Jehovah in Accomplishing His Purpose. Jehovah’s faithfulness is celebrated; none in heaven can be compared to Him (v.6). God is viewed now as dwelling in Israel, feared by His saints, and those outside terrified of Him (v.7). Jehovah is called “the God of Hosts” and “the strong Jah”; both are figures of power. We have Jehovah’s victory over “the pride of the sea”, which refers to the deliverance from Pharaoh at the Red Sea. The name “Rahab” here (as in Psa. 87) is a poetic name given to Egypt, and it means “insolent”, or “arrogant” (see Isa. 30:7). Israel is looking all the way back to her deliverance from Egypt thousands of years before! All of Israel is seen rejoicing in the Lord, both north and south. Tabor and Hermon are two prominent mountains in Israel, and they are poetically described as triumphing in Jehovah’s name. The power of Jehovah is emphasized in v.13, and his character in v.14. Notice that power is not the foundation of Jehovah’s throne. With many worldly leaders, power is the principle of their rule. But with Jehovah, “Righteousness and judgment are the foundation of thy throne; loving-kindness and truth go before thy face”. In other words, Jehovah’s kingdom takes its character from His own character!
15 Blessed is the people that know the shout of joy: they walk, O Jehovah, in the light of thy countenance.
16 In thy name are they joyful all the day, and in thy righteousness are they exalted.
17 For thou art the glory of their strength; and in thy favour our horn shall be exalted.
18 For Jehovah is our shield, and the Holy One of Israel, our king.
vv.15-18 The Blessedness of Israel with Jehovah as King. The “shout of joy” refers to a happy occasion when Israel is restored in the land and restored to the Lord; “they walk, O Jehovah, in the light of thy countenance”. This is a great key to joy; to walk in the light of God’s countenance. Jehovah is seen among the people, representing the people, and lending His power, protection, and glory to them. The “Holy One of Israel” would be Jehovah, in the Person of the Messiah. Jehovah Himself is Israel’s king in the Millennium!
19 Then thou spakest in vision of thy Holy One, and saidst, I have laid help upon a mighty one; I have exalted one chosen out of the people.
20 “I have found David my servant;” [quoted Acts 13:22] with my holy oil have I anointed him:
21 With whom my hand shall be established; and mine arm shall strengthen him.
22 No enemy shall exact upon him, nor the son of wickedness afflict him;
23 But I will beat down his adversaries before his face, and will smite them that hate him.
24 And my faithfulness and my loving-kindness shall be with him, and by my name shall his horn be exalted.
25 And I will set his hand in the sea, and his right hand in the rivers.
26 “He” shall call unto me, Thou art my father, my GOD, and the rock of my salvation;
27 And as to me, I will make him firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.
28 My loving-kindness will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him;
29 And I will establish his seed for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven.
30 If his sons forsake my law, and walk not in mine ordinances;
31 If they profane my statutes, and keep not my commandments:
32 Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes.
33 Nevertheless my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor belie my faithfulness;
34 My covenant will I not profane, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.
35 Once have I sworn by my holiness; I will not lie unto David:
36 His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me;
37 It shall be established for ever as the moon, and the witness in the sky is firm. Selah.
vv.19-37 Jehovah’s Covenant with David Rehearsed. In these verses we have the covenant that Jehovah made with David rehearsed, but in it we see also a type of Christ. What we have is God side of the covenant with David, and God’s thoughts about it. In vv.20-29 we have all that Jehovah would do for David. He chose, found, and anointed David (vv.19-20). He established David’s kingdom (v.21), and set him from from nations that put Israel to tribute (v.22). Jehovah put down David enemies before him (v.23), and blessed David according to His own character (v.24). He made David to have dominion over the Gentiles (v.25), and fostered a relationship with him (v.26). God established an everlasting covenant with David, and promised a seed of David to set on the throne of Israel forever (vv.27-29). Further, Jehovah would graciously discipline David’s seed with “the rod” and “stripes”, in order to bring them back into a path of righteousness. We see this carried out in the books of Kings and Chronicles. But no matter what happened, even if those sons did not heed the discipline, Jehovah would not go back on the promise He had made; “My covenant will I not profane, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Once have I sworn by my holiness; I will not lie unto David.” Those who deny the literal, future restoration of Israel would do well to read vv.33-37.
38 But thou hast rejected and cast off; thou hast been very wroth with thine anointed:
39 Thou hast made void the covenant of thy servant; thou hast profaned his crown to the ground:
40 Thou hast broken down all his hedges; thou hast brought his strongholds to ruin.
41 All that pass by the way plunder him; he is become a reproach to his neighbours.
42 Thou hast exalted the right hand of his oppressors; thou hast made all his enemies to rejoice:
43 Yea, thou hast turned back the edge of his sword, and hast not made him stand in the battle.
44 Thou hast made his brightness to cease, and cast his throne down to the ground;
45 The days of his youth hast thou shortened; thou hast covered him with shame. Selah.
46 How long, Jehovah, wilt thou hide thyself for ever? shall thy fury burn like fire?
47 Remember, as regards me, what life is. Wherefore hast thou created all the children of men to be vanity?
48 What man liveth, and shall not see death? Shall he deliver his soul from the power of Sheol? Selah.
49 Where, Lord, are thy former loving-kindnesses, which thou swarest unto David in thy faithfulness?
50 Remember, Lord, the reproach of thy servants — that I bear in my bosom that of all the mighty peoples —
51 Wherewith thine enemies, O Jehovah, have reproached, wherewith they have reproached the footsteps of thine anointed.
vv.38-51 Calling on Jehovah to Remember His Covenant. Israel now looks back on their experiences leading up their blessing in the Millennium. They are reviewing their exercises in the great tribulation. Seeing God made an everlasting, irrevocable covenant with David, how could it be that Israel was brought so low? They speak of the shame of being invaded, defeated, plundered, and killed. They even get to the point of saying that God has made void His covenant with David. The question is, “How long?” … how long until God fulfills His promise? “Where, Lord, are thy former loving-kindnesses, which thou swarest unto David in thy faithfulness?” (v.49). Israel cries to the Lord to remember His covenant, and remember his servants; to take note of the reproach that has fallen on Israel. The Lord will answer that prayer in the glorification of Messiah as the preeminent One over the earth.
52 Blessed be Jehovah for evermore! Amen, and Amen.
v.52 Conclusion. In confidence that God will answer their prayer, the third book of the Psalms concludes with a burst of praise!
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