Psalms 89

Psalm 89


A maskil of Ethan the Ezrahite.

1 I will sing of the LORD's loyal love forever. I will proclaim your faithfulness with my own mouth from one generation to the next.
2 That's why I say, "Your loyal love is rightly built—forever! You establish your faithfulness in heaven."
3 You said,"I made a covenant with my chosen one; I promised my servant David:
4 ‘I will establish your offspring forever; I will build up your throne from one generation to the next.'" Selah
5 Heaven thanks you for your wondrous acts, LORD— for your faithfulness too— in the assembly of the holy ones.
6 Is there any in the sky who could compare to the LORD? Who among the gods is equal to the LORD?
7 God is respected in the council of the holy ones; God is awesome and revered more than all those around him.
8 Who is like you, LORD God of heavenly forces? Mighty LORD, your faithfulness surrounds you!
9 You rule over the surging sea: When its waves rise up, it's you who makes them still.
10 It's you who crushed Rahab like a dead body; you scattered your enemies with your strong arm.
11 Heaven is yours! The earth too! The world and all that fills it— you made all of it! North and south—you created them!
12 The mountains Tabor and Hermon shout praises to your name.
13 You have a powerful arm; your hand is strong; your strong hand is raised high!
14 Your throne is built on righteousness and justice; loyal love and faithfulness stand in front of you.
15 The people who know the celebratory shout are truly happy! They walk in the light of your presence, LORD!
16 They rejoice in your name all day long and are uplifted by your righteousness
17 because you are the splendor of their strength. By your favor you make us strong
18 because our shield is the LORD's own; our king belongs to the holy one of Israel!
19 Once you spoke in a vision to your faithful servants: I placed a crown on a strong man. I raised up someone specially chosen from the people.
20 I discovered my servant David. I anointed him with my holy oil.
21 My hand will sustain him— yes, my arm will strengthen him!
22 No enemy will oppress him; no wicked person will make him suffer.
23 I will crush all his foes in front of him. I will strike down all those who hate him.
24 My faithfulness and my loyal love will be with him. He will be strengthened by my name.
25 I will set his hand on the sea. I will set his strong hand on the rivers.
26 He will cry out to me: "You are my father, my God, the rock of my salvation."
27 Yes, I'll make him the one born first— I'll make him the high king of all earth's kings.
28 I will always guard my loyal love toward him. My covenant with him will last forever.
29 I will establish his dynasty for all time. His throne will last as long as heaven does.
30 But if his children ever abandon my Instruction, stop following my rules—
31 if they treat my statutes like dirt, stop keeping my commandments—
32 then I will punish their sin with a stick, and I will punish their wrongdoing with a severe beating.
33 But even then I won't withdraw my loyal love from him. I won't betray my faithfulness.
34 I won't break my covenant. I won't renege on what crossed my lips.
35 By my own holiness I've sworn one thing: I will not lie to David.
36 His dynasty will last forever. His throne will be like the sun, always before me.
37 It will be securely established forever; like the moon, a faithful witness in the sky. Selah
38 But you, God, have rejected and despised him. You've become infuriated with your anointed one.
39 You've canceled the covenant with your servant. You've thrown his crown in the dirt.
40 You've broken through all his walls. You've made his strongholds a pile of ruins.
41 All those who pass by plunder him. He's nothing but a joke to his neighbors.
42 You lifted high his foes' strong hand. You gave all his enemies reason to celebrate.
43 Yes, you dulled the edge of his sword and didn't support him in battle.
44 You've put an end to his splendor. You've thrown his throne to the ground.
45 You've shortened the prime of his life. You've wrapped him up in shame. Selah
46 How long will it last, LORD? Will you hide yourself forever? How long will your wrath burn like fire?
47 Remember how short my life is! Have you created humans for no good reason?
48 Who lives their life without seeing death? Who is ever rescued from the grip of the grave? Selah
49 Where now are your loving acts from long ago, my Lord— the same ones you promised to David by your own faithfulness?
50 Remember your servant's abuse, my Lord! Remember how I bear in my heart all the insults of the nations,
51 the ones your enemies, LORD, use— the ones they use to abuse every step your anointed one takes.
52 Bless the LORD forever! Amen and Amen!

Psalms 89 Commentary

Chapter 89

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.

Footnotes 5

  • [a]. Perhaps instruction; the root is used in Ps 32:8.
  • [b]. Heb lacks Your.
  • [c]. Heb lacks You said.
  • [d]. Heb Sheol
  • [e]. Correction; MT all of many peoples

Chapter Summary

Maschil of Ethan the Ezrahite. Who this Ethan was is not certain. Kimchi takes him to be the same with Ethan the wise man, a grandson of Judah, 1 Kings 4:31. But seeing he lived some hundreds of years before the times of David, it is not likely that he should be the writer of this psalm; for David is made mention of in it, which could not be, unless it can be thought to be by a spirit of prophecy; which indeed is the opinion of Doctor Lightfoot {k}, who takes this Ethan to be the penman of this psalm; and who "from the promise, Genesis 15:1 sings joyfully the deliverance (of Israel); that the raging of the Red sea should be ruled, Psalm 89:9, and Rahab, or Egypt, should be broken in pieces, Psalm 89:10, and that the people should hear the joyful sound of the law, Psalm 89:15, and as for the name of David in it, this, he says, might be done prophetically; as Samuel is thought to be named by Moses, Psalm 99:6, which psalm is held to be made by him; or else might be put into it, in later times, by some divine penman, endued with the same gift of prophecy, who might improve the ground work of this psalm laid by Ethan, and set it to an higher key; namely, that whereas he treated only of bodily deliverance from Egypt, it is wound up so high as to reach the spiritual delivery by Christ; and therefore David is often named, from whence he should come."

There was another Ethan, a singer, in David's time; and it is more probable that he is the person, who might live to the times of Rehoboam, and see the decline of David's family, and the revolt of the ten tribes from it; or perhaps it was one of this name who lived in the times of the Babylonish captivity, and saw the low estate that David's family were come into; to which agrees the latter part of this psalm; and, in order to comfort the people of God, he wrote this psalm, showing that the covenant and promises of God, made with David, nevertheless stood firm, and would be accomplished: the title of the Septuagint version calls him Etham the Israelite; and the Arabic version Nathan the Israelite: the Targum makes him to be Abraham, paraphrasing it "a good understanding, which was said by the hand of Abraham, that came from the east."

But whoever was the penman of this psalm, it is "maschil," an instructive psalm, a psalm causing to understand; it treats concerning the covenant of grace, and the promises of it; and concerning the mercy and faithfulness of God, in making and keeping the same; and concerning the Messiah and his seed, his church and people; and the stability and duration of all these: many passages in it are applied to the Messiah by Jewish writers, ancient and modern; and Psalm 89:20 is manifestly referred to in Acts 13:22.

Psalms 89 Commentaries

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