Psalm 89:14

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 14. Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne. They are the basis of the divine government, the sphere within which his sovereignty moves. God as a sovereign is never unjust or unwise. He is too holy to be unrighteous, too wise to be mistaken; this is constant matter for joy to the upright in heart.

Mercy and truth shall go before thy face. They are the harbingers and heralds of the Lord; he calls these to the front to deal with guilty and changeful man; he makes them, in the person of the Lord Jesus, to be his ambassadors, and so poor, guilty man is enabled to endure the presence of his righteous Lord. If mercy had not paved the way, the coming of God to any man must have been swift destruction.

Thus has the poet sung the glories of the covenant God. It was meet that before he poured forth his lament he should record his praise, lest his sorrow should seem to have withered his faith. Before we argue our case before the Lord it is most becoming to acknowledge that we know him to be supremely great and good, whatever may be the appearance of his providence; this is such a course as every wise man will take who desires to have an answer of peace in the day of trouble.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 14. Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne. As if the Psalmist had said, "The ornaments with which God is invested, instead of being a robe of purple, a diadem, or a sceptre, are, that he is the righteous and impartial judge of the world, a merciful father, and a faithful protector of his people." Earthly kings, from their having nothing in themselves to procure for them authority, and to give them dignity, are under the necessity of borrowing elsewhere what will invest them therewith; but God, having in himself all sufficiency, and standing in no need of any other helps, exhibits to us the splendour of his own image in his righteousness, mercy, and truth. --John Calvin.

Verse 14. Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne. The Holy Ghost alludes to the thrones of earthly princes, which were underpropped with pillars, as Solomon's throne with lions, 1 Kings 19:20 , that were both a support and an ornament to it. Now, saith the Psalmist, justice and judgment are the pillars upon which God's throne standeth, as Calvin expounds it, the robe and diadem, the purple and sceptre, the regalia with which God's throne is adorned. --George Swinnock.

Verse 14. Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne. Jehovah is here exhibited, by the sacred poet, under the character of a Sovereign, and of a Judge, he being presented to our adoring regard as on his throne; the throne of universal empire, and absolute dominion; as exercising his authority, and executing his laws, with an omnipotent but impartial hand. For "Justice and judgment are the habitation", the preparation, the establishment, or the basis, of this throne. Our textual translation is, habitation; the marginal, establishment; the Septuagint, preparation; and, if I mistake not, our best modern interpreters render the original term, basis or foundation; which, on the whole, seems most agreeable. The basis, then, of Jehovah's government, or that on which it rests, is "justice and judgment." By "justice", I conceive we are to understand the attribute so called; and, by "judgment", the impartial exercise of that attribute in the Divine administration. So that were not the Most High to administer impartial justice in his moral government, he might be considered, if it be lawful to use the expression, as abdicating his throne. --Abraham Booth, 1734-1806.

Verse 14. Justice, which defends his subjects, and does every one right. Judgment, which restrains rebels, and keeps off injuries. Mercy, which shows compassion, pardons, supports the weak. Truth, that performs whatsoever he promises. --William Nicholson.

Verse 14. Mercy and truth shall go before thy face. Note --

  1. Mercy is said to go before the face of God, because God sends mercy before judgment, that he might find less to punish: so Bellarmine.
  2. That God permits not his face to be seen before He has forgiven our sins through mercy: so Rickelius.
  3. That no one comes to the knowledge of God, but he who has obtained mercy beforehand.
  4. That God comes to no one unless His grace go before Him. ... Truth goes before the face of God, because God keeps it ever before his eyes, to mould his actions thereby. Pindar calls truth qugatera Dios the daughter of God. Epaminoudas the Theban general, cultivated truth so studiously, that he is reported never to have spoken a falsehood even in jest. In the courts of kings this is a rare virtue. --Le Blanc.

Verse 14. Mercy and truth. Mercy in promising; truth in performing. Truth, in being as good as thy word; mercy, in being better. -- Matthew Henry.

Verse 14. Shall go. In his active going forth, tender mercy and goodness announce him, and faithful truth will tell his people he is there when he comes forth. His activities are mercy and faithfulness, because his will is at work and his nature is love. Yet his throne still maintains justice and judgment. --J.N. Darby.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 14. --

  1. The Equity of the divine government -- "justice", etc. No creature can eventually be unjustly dealt with under his dominion, and his kingdom ruleth over all.
  2. The Sovereignty of the divine government. Truth before mercy. Mercy founded upon truth. "Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob and the mercy to Abraham." The covenant made in mercy to Abraham is fulfilled in truth to Jacob.