Psalms 89

Listen to Psalms 89
1 1I will sing of 2the steadfast love of the LORD, forever; with my mouth I will make known your 3faithfulness to all generations.
2 For I said, 4"Steadfast love will be built up forever; in the heavens 5you will establish your 6faithfulness."
3 You have said, "I have made 7a covenant with my 8chosen one; I have 9sworn to David my servant:
4 'I will establish your 10offspring forever, and build your 11throne for all generations.'" Selah
5 Let 12the heavens praise your 13wonders, O LORD, your faithfulness in the assembly of 14the holy ones!
6 For 15who in the skies can be compared to the LORD? 16Who among the heavenly beings[a] is like the LORD,
7 a God greatly 17to be feared in the council of 18the holy ones, and awesome above all 19who are around him?
8 O LORD God of hosts, 20who is mighty as you are, O 21LORD, with your faithfulness all around you?
9 You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, you 22still them.
10 You 23crushed 24Rahab like a carcass; you 25scattered your enemies with your mighty arm.
11 26The heavens are yours; the earth also is yours; 27the world and all that is in it, you have 28founded them.
12 29The north and the south, you have created them; 30Tabor and 31Hermon 32joyously praise your name.
13 You have a mighty arm; strong is your hand, high your right hand.
14 33Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; 34steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.
15 Blessed are the people who know 35the festal shout, who walk, O LORD, in 36the light of your face,
16 who exult in your 37name all the day and in your righteousness are 38exalted.
17 For you are 39the glory of their strength; by your favor our 40horn is exalted.
18 For our 41shield belongs to the LORD, our king to 42the Holy One of Israel.
19 43Of old you spoke in a vision to your godly one,[b] and said: "I have 44granted help to one who is 45mighty; I have exalted one 46chosen from the people.
20 47I have found David, my servant; with my holy oil I have 48anointed him,
21 so that my 49hand shall be established with him; my arm also shall strengthen him.
22 The enemy shall not outwit him; 50the wicked shall not humble him.
23 I will 51crush his foes before him and strike down those who hate him.
24 My 52faithfulness and my 53steadfast love shall be with him, and in my name shall his 54horn be exalted.
25 I will set his hand on 55the sea and his right hand on 56the rivers.
26 He shall cry to me, 'You are my 57Father, my God, and 58the Rock of my salvation.'
27 And I will make him the 59firstborn, 60the highest of the kings of the earth.
28 My steadfast love I will keep for him forever, and my 61covenant will stand firm[c] for him.
29 I will establish his 62offspring forever and his 63throne as 64the days of the heavens.
30 65If his children forsake my law and do not walk according to my rules,[d]
31 if they violate my statutes and do not keep my commandments,
32 then I will punish their transgression with 66the rod and their iniquity with stripes,
33 but I will not remove from him my steadfast love or be false to my faithfulness.
34 I will not violate my 67covenant or alter the word that went forth from my lips.
35 Once for all I have sworn 68by my holiness; I will not 69lie to David.
36 His 70offspring shall endure forever, 71his 72throne as long as 73the sun before me.
37 Like 74the moon it shall be established forever, 75a faithful witness in the skies." Selah
38 But now you have 76cast off and rejected; you are full of wrath against your 77anointed.
39 You have 78renounced 79the covenant with your servant; you have 80defiled his 81crown in the dust.
40 You have 82breached all his walls; you have laid his strongholds in ruins.
41 83All who pass by plunder him; he has become 84the scorn of his neighbors.
42 You have exalted the right hand of his foes; you have made all his enemies rejoice.
43 You have also turned back the edge of his sword, and you have not made him stand in battle.
44 You have made his splendor to cease and cast his throne to the ground.
45 You have cut short 85the days of his youth; you have 86covered him with shame. Selah
46 87How long, O LORD? Will you hide yourself forever? How long will your wrath 88burn like fire?
47 89Remember 90how short my 91time is! For what vanity you have created all the children of man!
48 92What man can live and never 93see death? Who can deliver his soul from the power of 94Sheol? Selah
49 Lord, where is your 95steadfast love of old, which by your 96faithfulness you swore to David?
50 97Remember, O Lord, how your servants are mocked, and how I bear in my 98heart the insults[e] of all the many nations,
51 with which your enemies mock, O LORD, with which they mock 99the footsteps of your 100anointed.
52 101Blessed be 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.

Cross References 101

Footnotes 5

  • [a]. Hebrew the sons of God, or the sons of might
  • [b]. Some Hebrew manuscripts godly ones
  • [c]. Or will remain faithful
  • [d]. Or my just decrees
  • [e]. Hebrew lacks the insults

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

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.