God's mercy and truth, and his covenant. (1-4) The glory and perfection of God. (5-14) The happiness of those in communion with him. (15-18) God's covenant with David, as a type of Christ. (19-37) A calamitous state lamented, Prayer for redress. (38-52)
Verses 1-4 Though our expectations may be disappointed, yet God's promises are established in the heavens, in his eternal counsels; they are out of the reach of opposers in hell and earth. And faith in the boundless mercy and everlasting truth of God, may bring comfort even in the deepest trials.
Verses 5-14 The more God's works are known, the more they are admired. And to praise the Lord, is to acknowledge him to be such a one that there is none like him. Surely then we should feel and express reverence when we worship God. But how little of this appears in our congregations, and how much cause have we to humble ourselves on this account! That almighty power which smote Egypt, will scatter the enemies of the church, while all who trust in God's mercy will rejoice in his name; for mercy and truth direct all he does. His counsels from eternity, and their consequences to eternity, are all justice and judgment.
Verses 15-18 Happy are those who so know the joyful sound of the gospel as to obey it; who experience its power upon their hearts, and bring forth the fruit of it in their lives. Though believers are nothing in themselves, yet having all in Christ Jesus, they may rejoice in his name. May the Lord enable us to do so. The joy of the Lord is the strength of his people; whereas unbelief dispirits ourselves and discourages others. Though it steals upon us under a semblance of humility, yet it is the very essence of pride. Christ is the Holy One of Israel; and in him was that peculiar people more blessed than in any other blessing.
Verses 19-37 The Lord anointed David with the holy oil, not only as an emblem of the graces and gifts he received, but as a type of Christ, the King Priest, and Prophet, anointed with the Holy Ghost without measure. David after his anointing, was persecuted, but none could gain advantage against him. Yet all this was a faint shadow of the Redeemer's sufferings, deliverance, glory, and authority, in whom alone these predictions and promises are fully brought to pass. He is the mighty God. This is the Redeemer appointed for us, who alone is able to complete the work of our salvation. Let us seek an interest in these blessings, by the witness of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. As the Lord corrected the posterity of David for their transgressions, so his people shall be corrected for their sins. Yet it is but a rod, not a sword; it is to correct, not to destroy. It is a rod in the hand of God, who is wise, and knows what he does; gracious, and will do what is best. It is a rod which they shall never feel, but when there is need. As the sun and moon remain in heaven, whatever changes there seem to be in them, and again appear in due season; so the covenant of grace made in Christ, whatever alteration seems to come to it, should not be questioned.
Verses 38-52 Sometimes it is not easy to reconcile God's providences with his promises, yet we are sure that God's works fulfil his word. When the great Anointed One, Christ himself, was upon the cross, God seemed to have cast him off, yet did not make void his covenant, for that was established for ever. The honour of the house of David was lost. Thrones and crowns are often laid in the dust; but there is a crown of glory reserved for Christ's spiritual seed, which fadeth not away. From all this complaint learn what work sin makes with families, noble families, with families in which religion has appeared. They plead with God for mercy. God's unchangeableness and faithfulness assure us that He will not cast off those whom he has chosen and covenanted with. They were reproached for serving him. The scoffers of the latter days, in like manner, reproach the footsteps of the Messiah when ( 2 Peter. 3:3 2 Peter. 3:4 ) records of the Lord's dealings with the family of David, show us his dealings with his church, and with believers. Their afflictions and distresses may be grievous, but he will not finally cast them off. Self-deceivers abuse this doctrine, and others by a careless walk bring themselves into darkness and distress; yet let the true believer rely on it for encouragement in the path of duty, and in bearing the cross. The psalm ends with praise, even after this sad complaint. Those who give God thanks for what he has done, may give him thanks for what he will do. God will follow those with his mercies, who follow him with praises.
Psalms 89:1-52 . during some season of great national distress, perhaps Absalom's rebellion. It contrasts the promised prosperity and perpetuity of David's throne (with reference to the great promise of 2 Samuel 7:12-17 ), with a time when God appeared to have forgotten His covenant. The picture thus drawn may typify the promises and the adversities of Christ's kingdom, and the terms of confiding appeal to God provided appropriate prayers for the divine aid and promised blessing.
1. mercies--those promised ( Isaiah 55:3 , Acts 13:34 ), and--
faithfulness--that is, in fulfilling them.
2. I have said--expressed, as well as felt, my convictions ( 2 Corinthians 4:13 ).
3, 4. The object of this faith expressed in God's words ( 2 Samuel 7:11-16 ).
with--or literally, "to"
my chosen--as the covenant is in the form of a promise.
6, 7. This is worthy of our belief, for His faithfulness (is praised) by the congregation of saints or holy ones; that is, angels (compare Deuteronomy 33:2 , Daniel 8:13 ).
sons of the mighty--(compare Psalms 29:1 ). So is He to be admired on earth.
8-14. To illustrate His power and faithfulness examples are cited from history. His control of the sea (the most mighty and unstable object in nature), and of Egypt ( Psalms 87:4 ), the first great foe of Israel (subjected to utter helplessness from pride and insolence), are specimens. At the same time, the whole frame of nature founded and sustained by Him, Tabor and Hermon for "east and west," and "north and south," together representing the whole world, declare the same truth as to His attributes.
12. rejoice in thy name--praise Thy perfections by their very existence.
15. His government of righteousness is served by "mercy" and "truth" as ministers ( Psalms 85:10-13 ).
know the joyful sound--understand and appreciate the spiritual blessings symbolized by the feasts to which the people were called by the trumpet ( Leviticus 25:9 , &c.).
walk . . . countenance--live in His favor ( Psalms 4:6 , 44:3 ).
16, 17. in--or, "by"
thy righteousness--Thy faithful just rule.
of their strength--They shall be adorned as well as protected.
our horn--exalt our power ( Psalms 75:10 , Luke 1:69 ).
18. (Margin). Thus is introduced the promise to "our shield," "our king," David.
19-37. Then--when the covenant was established, of whose execution the exalted views of God now given furnish assurance.
thou . . . to thy holy one--or godly saint, object of favor ( Psalms 4:3 ). Nathan is meant ( 2 Samuel 7:17 1 Chronicles 17:3-15 ).
laid help--literally, "given help." David was chosen and then exalted.
20. I have found--having sought and then selected him ( 1 Samuel 16:1-6 ).
21. will protect and sustain ( Isaiah 41:10 ),
22-25. by restraining and conquering his enemies, and performing My gracious purpose of extending his dominion--
25. hand [and] right hand--power ( Psalms 17:7 , 60:5 ).
sea, and . . . rivers--limits of his empire ( Psalms 72:8 ).
26, 27. first-born--one who is chief, most beloved or distinguished ( Exodus 4:22 , Colossians 1:15 ). In God's sight and purposes he was the first among all monarchs, and specially so in his typical relation to Christ.
28-37. This relation is perpetual with David's descendants, as a whole typical in official position of his last greatest descendant. Hence though in personal relations any of them might be faithless and so punished, their typical relation shall continue. His oath confirms His promise, and the most enduring objects of earth and heaven illustrate its perpetual force ( Psalms 72:5 Psalms 72:7 Psalms 72:17 ).
35. Once--one thing ( Psalms 27:4 ).
by my holiness--as a holy God.
that I will not lie--literally, "if I lie"--part of the form of swearing ( 1 Samuel 24:6 , 2 Samuel 3:35 ).
37. It shall . . . moon . . . heaven--literally, "As the moon, and the witness in the sky is sure, that is, the moon."
38-52. present a striking contrast to these glowing promises, in mournful evidences of a loss of God's favor.
cast off--and rejected (compare Psalms 15:4 , 43:2 , 44:9 ).
39. An insult to the "crown," as of divine origin, was a profanation.
40-45. The ruin is depicted under several figures--a vineyard whose broken "hedges," and "strongholds," whose ruins invite spoilers and invaders; a warrior, whose enemies are aided by God, and whose sword's "edge"--literally, "rock" or "strength" ( Joshua 5:2 ) is useless; and a youth prematurely old.
45. days of his youth--or, "youthful vigor," that is, of the royal line, or promised perpetual kingdom, under the figure of a man.
46. How long, &c.--(Compare Psalms 13:1 , 88:14 , Jeremiah 4:4 ).
47. These expostulations are excited in view of the identity of the prosperity of this kingdom with the welfare of all mankind ( Genesis 22:18 , Psalms 72:17 , Isaiah 9:7 , 11:1-10 ); for if such is the fate of this chosen royal line.
48. What man--literally, "strong man--shall live?" and, indeed, have not all men been made in vain, as to glorifying God?
49-51. The terms of expostulation are used in view of the actual appearance that God had forsaken His people and forgotten His promise, and the plea for aid is urged in view of the reproaches of His and His people's enemies (compare Isaiah 37:17-35 ).
50. bear in my bosom--as feeling the affliction of the people ( Psalms 69:9 ).
footsteps--ways ( Psalms 56:6 ).
52. Blessed, &c.--denotes returning confidence ( Psalms 34:1-3 ).
Amen, and Amen--closes the third book of Psalms.