Psalms 89

1 O Lord, I will always sing of your constant love; I will proclaim your faithfulness forever.
2 I know that your love will last for all time, that your faithfulness is as permanent as the sky.
3 You said, "I have made a covenant with the man I chose; I have promised my servant David,
4 "A descendant of yours will always be king; 1 I will preserve your dynasty forever.' "
5 The heavens sing of the wonderful things you do; the holy ones sing of your faithfulness, Lord.
6 No one in heaven is like you, Lord; none of the heavenly beings is your equal.
7 You are feared in the council of the holy ones; they all stand in awe of you.
8 Lord God Almighty, none is as mighty as you; in all things you are faithful, O Lord.
9 You rule over the powerful sea; you calm its angry waves.
10 You crushed the monster Rahab and killed it; with your mighty strength you defeated your enemies.
11 Heaven is yours, the earth also; you made the world and everything in it.
12 You created the north and the south; Mount Tabor and Mount Hermon sing to you for joy.
13 How powerful you are! How great is your strength!
14 Your kingdom is founded on righteousness and justice; love and faithfulness are shown in all you do.
15 How happy are the people who worship you with songs, who live in the light of your kindness!
16 Because of you they rejoice all day long, and they praise you for your goodness.
17 You give us great victories; in your love you make us triumphant.
18 You, O Lord, chose our protector; you, the Holy God of Israel, gave us our king.
19 In a vision long ago you said to your faithful servants, "I have given help to a famous soldier; I have given the throne to one I chose from the people.
20 I have made my servant David king 2 by anointing him with holy oil.
21 My strength will always be with him, my power will make him strong.
22 His enemies will never succeed against him; the wicked will not defeat him.
23 I will crush his foes and kill everyone who hates him.
24 I will love him and be loyal to him; I will make him always victorious.
25 I will extend his kingdom from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates River.
26 He will say to me, "You are my father and my God; you are my protector and savior.'
27 I will make him my first-born son, 3 the greatest of all kings.
28 I will always keep my promise to him, and my covenant with him will last forever.
29 His dynasty will be as permanent as the sky; a descendant of his will always be king.
30 "But if his descendants disobey my law and do not live according to my commands,
31 if they disregard my instructions and do not keep my commandments,
32 then I will punish them for their sins; I will make them suffer for their wrongs.
33 But I will not stop loving David or fail to keep my promise to him.
34 I will not break my covenant with him or take back even one promise I made him.
35 "Once and for all I have promised by my holy name: I will never lie to David.
36 He will always have descendants, and I will watch over his kingdom as long as the sun shines.
37 It will be as permanent as the moon, that faithful witness in the sky."
38 But you are angry with your chosen king; you have deserted and rejected him.
39 You have broken your covenant with your servant and thrown his crown in the dirt.
40 You have torn down the walls of his city and left his forts in ruins.
41 All who pass by steal his belongings; all his neighbors laugh at him.
42 You have given the victory to his enemies; you have made them all happy.
43 You have made his weapons useless and let him be defeated in battle.
44 You have taken away his royal scepter and knocked his throne to the ground.
45 You have made him old before his time and covered him with disgrace.
46 Lord, will you hide yourself forever? How long will your anger burn like fire?
47 Remember how short my life is; remember that you created all of us mortal!
48 Who can live and never die? How can we humans keep ourselves from the grave?
49 Lord, where are the former proofs of your love? Where are the promises you made to David?
50 Don't forget how I, your servant, am insulted, how I endure all the curses of the heathen.
51 Your enemies insult your chosen king, O Lord! They insult him wherever he goes.
52 Praise the Lord forever! Amen! 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 3

  • 1. 89.4 2 S 7.12-16;1 Chronicles 17.11-14;Psalms 132.11;Acts 2.30.
  • 2. 89.20 a 1 S 13.14;Acts 13.22; b 1 S 16.12.
  • 3. 89.27Revelation 1.5.

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. rahab: [A legendary sea monster which represented the forces of chaos and evil.]
  • [b]. [Probable text] royal scepter; [Hebrew] purity.
  • [c]. [Probable text] curses; [Hebrew] crowds.

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

Scripture taken from the Good News Translation - Second Edition, Copyright 1992 by American Bible Society. Used by Permission.