III. Book III (Psalms Psalms 73–89)
III. Book III (Psalms 73–89)
73:1-5 Asaph begins the psalm with a declaration of the goodness of God to his people (73:1). Yet, in spite of this divine reality, he confesses that his feet almost slipped and his steps nearly went astray (73:2). He had almost departed from the right path! Why? Because he envied the arrogant and saw the prosperity of the wicked (73:3). It seems they have an easy time and don’t experience trouble like most people (73:4-5). Asaph was feeling conflict between his theology and his experience. He thus wants to know why the righteous experienced difficulties as the wicked flourished. More than a few Christians have been tempted to think similarly.
73:6-12 Not only do the arrogant seem to live at ease, but they flaunt their wickedness. They wear pride like a necklace (73:6). They mock and speak maliciously about others (73:8). They even mock God, speaking against heaven and denying that God knows everything (73:9, 11). By their lives they proclaim, “Hey, followers of God, why are you wasting your time? I care nothing about him. I live as I please. And I’m doing just fine.”
73:13-16 Asaph reveals the conflict that filled his heart: Did I purify my heart and wash my hands in innocence for nothing? (73:13). He wants to know if his ethical behavior had been a waste of time. After all, while the wicked person thrives, Asaph had been afflicted and punished (73:14). In his misery, he wonders if he should have lived as he pleased so that he might at least share in the benefits of the unbelievers. He realizes, though, that he couldn’t say these things aloud to God’s people, because such pessimism would drive them from God instead of driving them to God (73:15). He didn’t understand; all seemed hopeless (73:16).
Notice that Asaph didn’t hide his feelings from God. He was honest about his confusion and frustration. When you are upset and feel that God has let you down, bring your struggles to him in prayer. He’s not afraid of your concerns; he’s not troubled by your disappointments. It is far better to pour out your anger and anxieties to God through prayer than to bury them inside and turn to sin (which Asaph almost did; see 73:2).
73:17-20 Asaph’s “until” indicates the turning point. He was filled with envy of the wicked and tempted to follow them, until [he] entered God’s sanctuary. Then [he] understood their destiny (73:17). When Asaph entered the presence of God, he experienced a fresh vision of his glory and gained an eternal perspective regarding the wicked. He suddenly grasped that God had put them in slippery places (73:18). And if they don’t turn in repentance and faith, God would see to it that their slick path sent them sliding into hell. They may appear to be cruising along life’s highway, they’re certain to come to an end (73:19).
73:21-23 Asaph finally grasps that when [he] became embittered, it caused him to be stupid and act like an unthinking animal toward God (72:21-22). In the midst of his frustration, he lacked an eternal perspective. When Asaph once again understands God’s view of life, he realizes that he is always with God, who holds his right hand (73:23). Notice who was holding whom. God was holding Asaph, and he wasn’t letting go.
73:24-26 Not only did Asaph have God’s presence, but he also had his guidance, his counsel. God’s Word directs us to believe what is true and to live with wisdom. Then, when this life is over, though the wicked are “swept away by terrors” (73:19), God will take the righteous up in glory (73:24). When Asaph’s perspective changes to match this reality, he realizes that he desired nothing but God (73:25). He recognizes that the Lord was everything to him. And, regardless of what temporary pleasures the wicked receive in this life, Asaph has God as his portion forever (73:26).
73:27-28 Asaph began this psalm with, “But as for me, my feet almost slipped” (73:2). He finishes with, But as for me, God’s presence is my good (73:28). So, what happened in between verses 2 and 28? He encountered God in worship. In the presence of God, he found the truth, hope, and strength he needed. As a result, he wants nothing more than to tell others about God (73:28). Let life’s confusion drive you to God, not away from him.
74:1-11 Asaph expresses his sense of rejection by God in light of the affliction that God’s people, the sheep of [his] pasture, were experiencing (74:1). He urges God to remember both the congregation that he had redeemed and Mount Zion where he dwelled (74:2). Asaph calls on God to intervene because of the ruins in Jerusalem, the destruction that Babylon had wrought on the sanctuary (74:3). The invaders had smashed and burned God’s dwelling place (74:6-7), and there [was] no longer a prophet to speak to the people for God and tell them how long this [would] last (74:9). Asaph understands that the enemy did not simply mock the people of God; he mocked God himself (74:10). Therefore, he pleads with God to punish them (74:11).
74:12-23 In spite of the dreadful circumstances of God’s people, Asaph confesses that God is still King (74:12). He has repeatedly demonstrated his sovereign strength over creation (74:13-17), often using creation as a means of delivering his people, as when he divided the sea during the exodus (74:13). Thus, God is not without power. So, Asaph emphasizes how the enemy has mocked the Lord and implores him not to forget his poor people, the people of his covenant (74:18-20). In this way, Asaph prays that God’s concern for his own glory would be his motivation for acting. God’s name was at stake. Therefore, Asaph appeals, Rise up, God, champion your cause! (74:22).
When we pray for intervention in our circumstances, we, too, should desire to see God vindicated and glorified. So, whatever assistance we need, let us be motivated to see God’s name lifted high in praise as he brings down the wicked and demonstrates his faithfulness to his people.
75:1-5 Asaph expresses thanks to God for his nearness to his people in spite of what they were experiencing (75:1). In verses 2-5, God speaks. He has a sovereign timetable according to which he will intervene in human history and bring about his final judgment on earth against the wicked (75:2-3). He thus exhorts those who boast in their wickedness and arrogantly exalt themselves against heaven (75:4-5). Unless they repent, their days are numbered.
75:6-8 God alone is the Judge: He brings down one and exalts another (75:7). No one escapes his righteous gaze; therefore, no one will escape his condemnation of pride. “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Pet 5:5). He will pour out his cup of judgment on the wicked, who will have no choice but to drink its contents down (75:8).
75:9-10 Asaph praises the Lord and desires to make his name and deeds known to everyone (75:9). The final words are God’s. He vows to cut off all the horns of the wicked, but to lift up the horns of the righteous (75:10). An animal’s horns represent power. Thus, God will act in a way that’s consistent with his just and righteous character, vanquishing those who exalt themselves, but establishing those who submit to his kingdom rule and authority.
76:1-3 Asaph declares that one of the ways that God makes himself known is by destroying the weapons of those who make war against his people (75:1, 3). He dwells in the midst of Zion (75:2), and he wages battles on their behalf against their enemies.
76:4-6 Asaph extols the resplendent and majestic God who falls on his enemies, no matter how brave-hearted and powerful they are (76:4-5). He destroys them, sending them to their final sleep (76:5). This, of course, takes little effort on God’s part: a mere rebuke and he defeats them (76:6).
76:7-10 God’s wrath against the wicked demonstrates his sovereignty. When he displays his anger, no one can stand before [him] (76:7). As a result, his people praise him and are moved to fear him (76:7-8), which serves as a deterrent against further evil.
76:11-12 Believers are exhorted to fear the awe-inspiring God—that is, to take him seriously—by keeping their vows and maintaining their commitment to him (76:11). He humbles proud leaders so that they might fear him, as well (76:12).
All people will submit to the Lord one day, whether in joy or by coercion (see Phil 2:10-11). He invites us to fear and enjoy him now so that we may experience his blessings. Those who do not will experience his judgment.
77:1-3 Seeking comfort in the midst of his trouble, Asaph reaches out to God in prayer. He has faith that the Lord would hear him (77:1-2). Yet, comfort alludes him because God has not yet responded; thus, he is affected physically and spiritually. He groans, and his spirit is weak (76:3). Notice, though, that Asaph continues to pursue God in his despair.
77:4-6 While waiting on God to answer, Asaph searches his own spirit for comfort. Because God kept him awake at night (77:4), he contemplates past times when he had experienced God’s deliverance and sang in the night (77:5-6). He then ponders the fact that he had no current reason for praise, given the nation’s circumstances (77:6).
77:7-9 Asaph was confused because it seemed that God had rejected him and his people by removing from them his faithful love, covenantal promises, and graciousness (77:7-9). God’s anger seemed to have replaced his compassion (77:9).
77:13-15 For comfort and assurance, Asaph turns to recalling and meditating on the holy God’s deliverances in the past. Truly, there is no one like him (77:13). God is in a class by himself. He worked wonders and redeemed Israel with power (77:14-15).
77:16-20 Creation itself trembled when God acted for his people (77:16). When he rescued Israel from Egypt, he made a way . . . through the sea and further demonstrated his power with storm clouds . . . thunder . . . lightning (77:17-19). God used Moses and Aaron as instruments to lead and deliver his people like a flock of sheep (77:20).
By recalling this great redemption of Israel by God’s hand, Asaph encourages himself that God would again come to the aid of his people. His delayed response does not mean abandonment. Thus, when God delays in answering our prayers, we need to remember how he cared for us in other times of distress. His footprints of grace from yesterday give us the power to trust him today.
78:1-2 Asaph invites those with spiritual understanding to hear the instruction and wise sayings that he was about to share. Those without spiritual perception would not be able to interpret and apply the truths he was about to teach; they would remain mysteries from their view. Similarly, those who were without spiritual insight and unwilling to receive it would be unable to understand Jesus’s parables (see Matt 13:10-17).
78:3-8 The purpose of this psalm was to recount God’s faithfulness throughout Israel’s history so that a future generation would praise God for the wondrous works he has performed for his people (78:3-4).
The psalmist begins with the giving of the law to Israel (78:5). God did this so that they would know what he required of his covenant people. Thus, they could know him and trust him. Asaph wants to challenge his own generation to teach their children not to be like their ancestors who were stubborn and rebellious (78:6-8). We, too, must learn from the past, imitating the faithful and avoiding the foolishness of the wicked, if we are to experience the goodness of God.
78:9-16 Asaph laments how Ephraim did not keep God’s covenant (78:9-10). The significant tribe of Ephraim was often used as shorthand for the entire northern kingdom of Israel. They forgot the wondrous works of God when he rescued the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and supernaturally cared for them in the wilderness afterwards (78:11-16).
78:16-33 Though he brought them streams out of stone and rained both bread and meat on them, the Israelites continued to sin against God in the desert (78:16-17, 24, 27). They tested him regardless of how much he provided for them (78:18-20) because they did not believe God or rely on his salvation (78:22). As a result, God’s anger caused him to kill many of them (78:31). Nonetheless, they kept sinning and experienced further disaster (78:32-33).
78:34-39 When God judged them, some of the people made a pretense of repenting (78:34). But, they were insincere, confessing with their mouths but demonstrating with their lives that they were still unfaithful to his covenant (78:37). Amazingly, though, God was compassionate and atoned for their iniquity (78:38).
78:40-55 Asaph recalls the plagues that the Lord brought upon Egypt (78:43-51)—all of which the people of the exodus had failed to remember (78:42). He explains how he brought them to safety and settled them in the promised land, his holy territory (78:53-54).
78:56-66 Though he brought them to the land of promise, the people continued to rebel against God. They turned to carved images instead of to the true and living God (78:58). Therefore, he gave them over to their enemies (78:61-64). Nevertheless, the Lord would not completely give up his people. In time, he beat back their adversaries (78:65-66).
78:67-72 Ultimately, God would choose the tribe of Judah and the house of David for the messianic line (78:68, 70; see 2 Sam 7:11-16). Thus, the one who shepherded sheep (David) would shepherd God’s people in fulfillment of his kingdom purpose (78:70-71). This shepherding role, however, would ultimately be fulfilled by Jesus Christ, the good shepherd (see John 10).
God’s people today need to be students of history. Knowing how God has acted in the past can influence how we respond in the future. Divine sovereignty and human responsibility go hand in hand.
79:1-4 Asaph laments over the city of Jerusalem. God’s holy temple had been invaded and desecrated (79:1). Many of the people had been killed and left unburied, their bodies devoured by scavengers (79:2-3). As a result, God’s people were an object of scorn among the nations (79:4).
79:5-9 Asaph calls on the Lord not to continue to be angry with his people or to hold their sins against them (79:5, 8). He asks God to be the defender of Jacob (that is, Israel) and to execute his justice against the wicked nations that had devastated the land God had given them (79:6-7). He begs God to help them for the glory of [his] name (79:9). When you need God’s intervention, and have dealt with your own sin, appeal to God’s glory. As Scripture shows, it’s a trusted way to get God’s attention.
79:10-13 Asaph is concerned that the nations are asking, Where is their God? (79:10). He wants the Lord to show them that he was right there, present with his people. He thus seeks to motivate God to respond to his cry by pointing to the suffering that his people were enduring (79:11). In the Bible, the number seven denotes completeness. Thus, a request that God pay back sevenfold means that Asaph wants them to experience complete reproach for what they’d done (79:12). Such thorough divine deliverance would result in continual praise from his people (79:13).
80:1-3 Asaph requests that God restore his battered people (80:3). After all, he was their Shepherd and their King, enthroned between the cherubim above the ark of the covenant (80:1-2). He prays that God would make [his] face shine on them (80:3)—that is, that he would allow his favor and blessing, which had been blocked because of their sin, to return to them.
80:4-7 Asaph recognizes that God was the one responsible for their tears (80:5). And, he had put [them] at odds with [their] neighbors (80:6). Thus, Asaph wants to know how long the Lord’s anger would continue (80:4). In verse 7, he repeats the request of 80:3 that God would return his favor upon them and end their despair.
80:8-13 When God delivered his people from Egypt, he transplanted them to the land he had promised (80:8-9). For a time, Israel flourished (80:10-11). But then, God removed their protection so that they were oppressed by enemies; they became like an untended vine whose fruit could be devoured by animals (80:12-13).
80:14-19 Asaph pleads with God to care for this vine of his, which was a reference to his people Israel (80:14)—even though the vine had been cut down and burned as a result of the Lord’s discipline (80:16). He asks that God rescue his people through the man at [his] right hand, the son of man (80:17), a reference to the messianic deliverer. In that day, God’s people would call on him (80:18). Asaph then concludes with the refrain of 80:3 and 7: Restore us, Lord, God of Armies; make your face shine on us, so that we may be saved (80:19).
In times when God is correcting us, let us return to him quickly so that his favor can return quickly to us.
81:1-5 The psalmist, Asaph, calls on God’s people to sing for joy to [him] (81:1). He urges fellow believers to come to the feasts (81:3) in obedience to God’s commands and as a reminder of God’s work on their behalf.
81:6-10 In the remainder of the psalm, the Lord speaks to his people. He reminds them of how he’d lifted their burden when they suffered under Egyptian bondage (81:6). When he’d tested them at Meribah, they had flunked (81:7; see Exod 17:1-7). He thus admonished them to listen to him and put their false gods away (81:8-9). They needed to remember that he was the one who had rescued them from Egypt, and he was the one who could provide for them still, who could fill their mouths with good things (81:10) as they came to him with great petitions.
One of the quickest ways to sever fellowship with God is to appeal to false gods in time of need. There is only one true God. Loyalty to him is critical if we are to receive all that he wants us to have.
81:11-16 When his people didn’t submit to him, God let them follow their own stubborn hearts—a dead-end street (81:11-12). If his people would follow him, he promised to subdue their enemies and shower them with blessings, represented here by wheat and honey (81:13-16).
Obedience brings blessing, a reversal of fortune, and supernatural provision (see Exod 17:6).
The same is true today. If we want God to reverse our circumstances, we need to place ourselves in a position of submission to his will and kingdom authority.
82:1-2 In the divine assembly, which is the assembly of the angels, God pronounces judgment among the gods (82:1). In this context, “gods” is a way of referring to human rulers, those who are made in God’s image and are charged with the responsibility of mirroring God’s character and judgments. But, the particular leaders in view had ruled unjustly and favored the wicked (82:2). They hadn’t represented God’s way. The courts had failed to reflect God’s concern for justice for the poor (see Deut 24:17; Isa 11:4; Jer 22:16).
82:3-5 Therefore, the Lord exhorts these faithless rulers to provide true justice for those who need it—the needy and the oppressed (82:3)—those who can’t stand up for themselves. A leader’s righteousness is demonstrated when such people are rescued and the power of the wicked is overthrown (82:4). Yet, the rulers continue to wander in darkness, giving no attention to the Lord or his ways (82:5).
82:6-8 Though these rulers, these gods (see commentary on 82:1-2), were sons of the Most High (82:6), they were not behaving as sons of God. (This verse was quoted by Jesus when the Jewish religious leaders wanted to stone him for declaring himself to be the Son of God; see John 10:34-38.) The rulers had failed to exercise justice and righteousness on God’s behalf. As a result, they would fall like any other ruler (82:7). The psalmist concludes by calling the true King to judge the earth. He alone can bring justice to the nations (82:8).
83:1-4 Asaph makes a plea to God not to keep silent but to take action against his enemies (83:1-2). They were concocting schemes against God’s people, his treasured ones, in an attempt to wipe them off the map (83:3-4). Asaph could appeal to God for help because of Israel’s covenant relationship to him. Their enemies were his enemies. Therefore, the battle was his.
There are two principles here for believers to remember. First, every battle is spiritual at root—even if there are other physical, emotional, financial, or political components involved. Second, when you’re involved in a righteous spiritual battle, you should verbally transfer the fight to the Lord’s hands. If you are operating under his covenant and kingdom rule, ask him for help according to his covenantal, faithful love.
83:5-8 Asaph identifies those who had made an alliance against God and his people. These included Israel’s relatives: Edom (descendants of Jacob’s brother Esau) as well as Moab and Ammon (descendants of Abraham’s nephew Lot) (83:6-7).
83:9-12 He prays earnestly that God would deal with Israel’s present enemies just as he had dealt with their past enemies. Each of those Asaph names had oppressed Israel during the days of the Judges (see Judg 4:1-24; 6:1–8:21). They sought to subdue God’s people and take the land he had given them, saying, Let us seize God’s pastures for ourselves (83:12). This, however, was pure foolishness. Though the Lord at times judged Israel by giving its land to others, the land was never taken from him. One may as well try to seize a cub from a mother grizzly.
83:13-18 Asaph implores God to terrify their enemies and bring them to shame (83:15-17), so that—whether in repentance or in despair—they would know that [God] alone is the Most High over the whole earth (83:18).
84:1-4 The psalmist expresses his longing to be in the courts of the Lord’s dwelling place, his house (84:1-2, 4)—references to the temple. Ultimately, his desire was to be in God’s presence, which should be the longing of all those who love God. He repeatedly refers to God as Lord of Armies (84:1, 3; also 84:8, 12), the all-powerful one who commands hosts of unconquerable angelic forces.
84:5-7 The psalmist affirms that blessings come to those who find their strength in God alone (84:5). He recharges their spiritual batteries so that they go from strength to strength (84:7). Prioritizing God’s presence through his Word is a means of finding spiritual refreshment and vigor.
84:8-10 The psalmist prays for God’s favor on his anointed one, the king who leads his people (84:9). He then expresses the exceeding joy to be found in communion with God. One day with him is better than a thousand elsewhere. To stand at the entrance of God’s house is better than to live in the tents of wicked people (84:10). In other words, the psalmist would rather be found serving God than serving self. Those who have tasted the goodness of God know this to be true.
84:11-12 The Lord’s favor and honor are available to those who live with integrity. His blessings provide both provision and protection, shining on them like the rays of the sun and sheltering them like a shield (84:11). Thus, the psalmist looks forward to the “pilgrimage” (84:5) to Jerusalem to gather with God’s people at his temple to enjoy his presence (84:1-2, 4, 7, 10).
Today, believers have the privilege of enjoying God’s presence through his Holy Spirit who dwells in us, making us God’s temple—individually and collectively (see Rom 8:9; 1 Cor 3:16; 6:19; Eph 2:21). His presence enables us to experience his provision and protection in our lives.
85:1-3 The psalmist remembered God’s love and favor that he had shown to his people by restoring them to their homeland from their Babylonian captivity (85:1). Such a restoration was possible because God forgave . . . their sin and removed his anger in response to their repentance (85:2-3).
85:4-7 In light of the favor God had shown them in the past, the psalmist petitions him to show his covenant people his faithful love and salvation once again for their present circumstances (85:7). He begs that God might revive them so that they could give him glory and rejoice in [him] (85:6). Our prayers ought to be similarly God-centered, asking for God’s intervention so that we might give him public praise. The steadfastness of his love allows for the continuous flow of his grace and mercy.
85:8-13 His salvation is very near those who fear him (85:9). Deliverance is available to those who take God seriously. Such faithful ones (85:8) will experience the fullness of God as he brings faithful love and truth together and causes righteousness and peace to combine in their lives (85:10). The coupling of these blessings will ultimately be established by the Messiah in his earthly kingdom rule. Earth and heaven (85:11) will be united when Jesus Christ comes to reign as King.
86:1-5 David appeals to God for help. He affirms his need for God (I am poor and needy), his submission to God (I am faithful), and his dependence on God (your servant . . . trusts in you) (86:1-2). He is confident of God’s character and knows the Lord was kind and ready to forgive (86:5). Likewise, in your times of need, deal with any known sin in your life and appeal to God’s character.
86:6-10 Again, David calls on God to hear his plea (86:6). Though many gods are worshiped in the world, there is no one like the true and living God (86:8). He alone can perform supernatural works and wonders (86:8, 10). He is incomparable. Why would we turn to anyone or anything else?
86:11-13 David asks the Lord to teach him so that he could have an undivided mind to follow him—rather than trying to pursue two conflicting ways to live (86:11). This kind of single-minded devotion to God leads to obedience (I will live by your truth) and worship (I will praise you with all my heart) (86:11-12).
86:14 King David asks for strength to deal with the arrogant people who have attacked [him]. What made them arrogant? They [would] not let [God] guide them. The prideful person lives life from his own limited, distorted viewpoint. The humble person, by contrast, lives life from God’s heavenly, righteous viewpoint.
86:15 God is compassionate and gracious . . . slow to anger and abounding in faithful love and truth. For deliverance, then, David appeals to God’s righteous character that he revealed to Moses (see Exod 34:6). This God of compassion, grace, faithful love, and truth was available to Moses. He was available to David. And he’s available to you.
86:16-17 David wants a sign of God’s goodness, showing that he would deliver him from his enemies (86:17), so that all would know that God had worked on his behalf.
87:1-3 The psalmist reflects on the city of God . . . glorious Jerusalem, which the Lord loved and where he dwelt in his temple (87:3). This was where God manifested his glory on earth, and it is where Christ will manifest his glory when he returns to set up his millennial kingdom.
87:4-6 When Christ returns to rule on earth from Jerusalem, people from all the nations will come to worship him—including those who were previously enemies of God and his people: Rahab (that is, Egypt), Babylon, Philistia, Tyre, and Cush (87:4). Zion will be the mother city of the earth, full of new citizens who will come to dwell there (87:5-6).
87:7 Celebration, typified by singers and dancers, will characterize the Messiah’s kingdom rule from Jerusalem. The testimony of God’s people in that day will be, My whole source of joy is in you. Where else could joy be found?
The heading of the psalm indicates that it was composed by Heman the Ezrahite.
88:1-9 The psalmist desired divine aid in the midst of his affliction; therefore, he cries to the Lord day and night so that his prayer might enter his presence (88:1-2). His troubles were so intense that he felt he was about to go to Sheol, the place of the dead (88:3). In a sense, he feels that he was already lying in the grave, forsaken by God (88:5). The source of his despair was God’s wrath, which overwhelmed him like violent waves crashing on a shore (88:7). Even his friends found him repulsive and kept their distance from him (88:8). Nevertheless, he would not cease crying out to God all day long (88:9).
88:10-12 Heman reasons that if God let him die, he couldn’t praise him for his faithful love and wonders (88:11-12). He wants God’s deliverance so that he could declare his glory on this side of the grave.
88:13-18 Again, he laments his affliction and the inaction of God to answer his prayers (88:13-14). Again, he points to his suffering under the wrath of God (88:16). Again, he despairs that loved ones avoided him (88:18). Hopelessness surrounds him. Darkness is [his] only friend (88:18). Yet, in spite of his emotional turmoil, he continued to pray.
Sometimes, we must pray through affliction and uncertainty. When God appears unresponsive and our feelings lead us to despair, our faith in God’s character and past actions must push us forward.
This psalm was written by Ethan the Ezrahite, whose great wisdom was compared to that of Solomon (see 1 Kgs 4:30-31).
89:1-4 The psalmist celebrates God’s faithful love and faithfulness (89:1-2), especially as it had been demonstrated in his covenant with David (89:3). The Lord promised David an eternal kingdom: He would have an offspring forever sitting on his throne (89:4; see 2 Sam 11-16).
This was not fulfilled by an eternal succession of Davidic kings, but by one Davidic King who lives forever, the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ (see 2 Sam 7:1-19; Acts 2:29-36). He will reign from David’s throne in Jerusalem in his millennial kingdom (see Rev 20:4). Though the sons of David would prove unfaithful in their role as kings, this Son of David will never fail.
89:5-14 Ethan praises the unrivaled God. No one can compare to him; no one is like him (89:6). He is feared among the angelic council (89:7). How much more should he be feared by humanity? He scatters his enemies by his strength (89:8-10) and sovereignly rules over his creation (89:11-12). He alone is God, known for his righteousness and justice, for his faithful love and truth (89:14). Let all creation praise him!
89:15-18 Next, Ethan the Ezrahite personalizes his praise. He knows from experience that the Lord is to be adored by those who walk in the light from [his] face (89:15)—that is, by those who live in intimate fellowship with him. They rejoice in him and enjoy the blessing of having God as their shield (89:16, 18).
89:19-29 He returns to praising God for his gracious choosing and anointing of David to be the king of Israel (89:19-20). His covenant with David would be kept forever through his seed, the Messiah (89:28-29). God will give this King his strength, faithfulness, and power (89:21, 24-25). The Messiah’s kingdom will be universal and unconquerable.
89:30-37 God promised to discipline David’s sons who disobeyed him (89:30-32). Nevertheless, he would not violate his covenant because he would never betray his own faithfulness (89:33-34). He had sworn to David and would not lie (89:35). In spite of the failure of the Davidic kings, the Lord assured David that his offspring [would] continue forever (89:36). Ultimately, his promises would be kept through Jesus Christ. The sinfulness of humanity, then, can’t prevent God from accomplishing his sovereign goals.
89:38-45 The reason the psalmist is anxious to affirm God’s faithfulness to his unconditional covenant promise is because it seemed that God had cast off the Davidic line. One after another of David’s sons had been unfaithful—until finally God allowed Jerusalem to be overrun and David’s throne to be overthrown, too (89:38-40, 44). The sins of the kings and the people had resulted in shame (89:45). Had God’s judgment trumped his promises?
89:46-52 In light of this destruction, the psalmist asks how long his judgment would continue (89:46). How long would God hide his favor from his people? He pleads with God not to forget his covenant with David (89:49). He reminds the Lord of how his enemies had ridiculed him, his anointed one, and his people (89:50-51). He insists that God’s reputation is at stake and again asks God to remember (89:50)—a prayer that is ultimately answered in the coming of Christ.
The psalmist concludes, Blessed be the Lord forever (89:52). Thus ends the third book of Psalms.