Psalm 89:2

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 2. For I have said, Mercy shall be built up for ever. His heart was persuaded of it, and he had affirmed it as an indisputable truth. He was certain that upon a sure foundation the Lord intended to pile up a glorious palace of goodness -- a house of refuge for all people, wherein the Son of David should for ever be glorified as the dispenser of heavenly grace.

Thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens. This divine edifice, he felt assured, would tower into the skies, and would be turreted with divine faithfulness even as its foundations were laid in eternal love. God's faithfulness is no thing of earth, for here nothing is firm, and all things savour of the changes of the moon and the fickleness of the sea: heaven is the birthplace of truth, and there it dwells in eternal vigour. As the blue arch above us remains unimpaired by age, so does the Lord's truth; as in the firmament he hangs his covenant bow, so in the upper heavens the faithfulness of God is enthroned in immutable glory. This Ethan said, and this we may say; come what will, mercy and faithfulness are built up by "the Eternal Builder", and his own nature is the guarantee for their perpetuity. This is to be called to mind whenever the church is in trouble, or our own spirits bowed down with grief.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 2. I have said. The word ytrma, "I have said", is used, in the Book of Psalms, to express two things; either a fixed purpose, or a settled opinion of the person speaking. The Psalmist, therefore, delivers the whole of this second verse in his own person, and introduces not God speaking till the next verse. --Samuel Horsley.

Verse 2. I have said, etc. The perpetuity of mercy is one eminent piece of this Psalm, for with that he begins: Mercy shall be built up for ever, etc. And they are the sure mercies of our spiritual David (Christ), he means. Now, to set forth the perpetuity hereof, he first useth words that express firmitude, as established, built up for ever, Psalms 89:2 Psalms 89:4 . Then he uses such similitudes as are taken from things which are held most firm and inviolable amongst men, as Psalms 89:4 , foedus incidi, I have cut or engraven my covenant (so in the Hebrew), alluding to what was then in use, when covenants were mutually to be made, such as they intended to be inviolate, and never to be broken; to signify so much, they did engrave and cut them into the most durable lasting matter, as marble, or brass, or the like. You may see this to have been the way of writing in use, as what was to last for ever: as Job 19:23-24 . "Oh, that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever!" And what is that rock or marble here? No other than the heart itself of our gracious and most merciful Jehovah, and his most unalterable and immovable purposes, truth and faithfulness. This is that foundation in the heavens, whereon mercy is built up for ever, as Psalms 89:2 , which (as the Apostle says) "remains for ever"; and so they become "the sure mercies of David", Isaiah 60:3 . Again, solemn oaths amongst men serve to ratify and make things sworn to perpetual. This also is there specified as having been taken by God: "Once have I sworn by my holiness", etc., and sworn by him that cannot lie, and sworn to that end, "to show the immutability of his counsel", Hebrews 6:17 . And not only is the immutability of his mercy illustrated by these things taken from what is firm on earth, but he ascends up to the heavens, and first into the very highest heavens: Psalms 89:2 , For I have said, Mercy shall be built up for ever; thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens: comparing them to an house built not on earth, or upon a foundation of earth, which thieves break through, and violence destroys, but in heaven, whither they cannot reach. --Thomas Goodwin.

Verse 2. Mercy shall be built up for ever. What is this "mercy" that is "built up for ever"? but the glorious and the gracious scheme, the glorious and the gracious fabric, of our salvation, founded in the eternal purpose of God -- carried into execution by the labours and the death of Jesus Christ -- and then applied and brought home to the heart by the illuminating and converting power of the Holy Ghost? This is that "mercy" which is "built up for ever." It was planned from everlasting, and will know no ruin or decay, through the illimitable line of eternity itself. Who is the builder of this fabric? Not man's free will. Not man's own righteousness or wisdom. Not human power nor human skill. Every true believer will here join issue with David, that it is God, and God alone, who builds up the temple of his Church; and who, as the builder of it, is alone entitled to all the glory.

The elect constitute and form one grand house of mercy: an house, erected to display and to perpetuate the riches of the Father's free grace, of the Son's atoning merit, and of the Holy Ghost's efficacious agency. This house, contrary to the fate of all sublunary buildings, will never fall down, nor ever be taken down. As nothing can be added to it, so nothing can be diminished from it. Fire cannot injure it; storms cannot overthrow it; age cannot impair it. It stands on a rock, and is immovable as the rock on which it stands -- the threefold rock of God's inviolable decree, of Christ's finished redemption, and of the Spirit's never failing faithfulness. --Augustus Montague Toplady, 1740-1778.

Verse 2. Built up. Mention of a building of mercy, presupposes miserable ruins, and denotes that this building is intended for the benefit of an elect world ruined by Adam's fall. Free grace and love set on foot this building for them, every stone in which, from the lowest to the highest, is mercy to them; from top to bottom, from the foundation stone to the top stone, all is free and rich mercy to thrum. And the ground of this glorious building is God's covenant with his chosen: I have made a covenant with my chosen. -- Thomas Boston.

Verse 2. Built up. Former mercies are fundamental to later ones. The mercies that we enjoy this day are founded upon the mercies of former days, such as we ought joyfully and thankfully to recount with delight and praise; remembering the years of the right hand of the Most High. --John Howe.

Verse 2. (last clause). The meaning of this passage appears to be, that the constancy of the celestial motions, the regular vicissitudes of day and night, and alternations of the seasons, were emblems of God's own immutability. --R. Warner, 1828.

Verse 2.

For I have said, Thy mercies rise,
A deathless structure, to the skies:
The heavens were planted by thy hand,
And, as the heavens, Thy truth shall stand. --Richard Mant.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 2. --

  1. The Testimony.

    1. To the constancy of Mercy.

    1. builds up its trophies every moment.
    2. It preserves them for ever.

(b) To the constancy of Faithfulness. It remains as the ordinances of heaven.

  1. Its Confirmation. "I have said", etc., said it,

    1. Upon the ground of Scripture.
    2. of experience.
    3. of reason.
    4. of observation of others.