Psalms 89

1 I will sing forever about the evidence of your mercy, O LORD. I will tell about your faithfulness to every generation.
2 I said, "Your mercy will last forever. Your faithfulness stands firm in the heavens."
3 [You said,] "I have made a promise to my chosen one. I swore this oath to my servant David:
4 'I will make your dynasty continue forever. I built your throne to last throughout every generation.'" Selah
5 O LORD, the heavens praise your miracles and your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones.
6 Who in the skies can compare with the LORD? Who among the heavenly beings is like the LORD?
7 God is terrifying in the council of the holy ones. He is greater and more awe-inspiring than those who surround him.
8 O LORD God of Armies, who is like you? Mighty LORD, even your faithfulness surrounds you.
9 You rule the raging sea. When its waves rise, you quiet them.
10 You crushed Rahab; it was like a corpse. With your strong arm you scattered your enemies.
11 The heavens are yours. The earth is also yours. You made the world and everything in it.
12 You created north and south. Mount Tabor and Mount Hermon sing your name joyfully.
13 Your arm is mighty. Your hand is strong. Your right hand is lifted high.
14 Righteousness and justice are the foundations of your throne. Mercy and truth stand in front of you.
15 Blessed are the people who know how to praise you. They walk in the light of your presence, O LORD.
16 They find joy in your name all day long. They are joyful in your righteousness
17 because you are the glory of their strength. By your favor you give us victory.
18 Our shield belongs to the LORD. Our king belongs to the Holy One of Israel.
19 Once in a vision you said to your faithful ones: "I set a boy above warriors. I have raised up one chosen from the people.
20 I found my servant David. I anointed him with my holy oil.
21 My hand is ready to help him. My arm will also give him strength.
22 No enemy will take him by surprise. No wicked person will mistreat him.
23 I will crush his enemies in front of him and defeat those who hate him.
24 My faithfulness and mercy will be with him, and in my name he will be victorious.
25 I will put his [left] hand on the sea and his right hand on the rivers.
26 He will call out to me, 'You are my Father, my God, and the rock of my salvation.'
27 Yes, I will make him the firstborn. He will be the Most High to the kings of the earth.
28 My mercy will stay with him forever. My promise to him is unbreakable.
29 I will make his dynasty endure forever and his throne like the days of heaven.
30 "If his descendants abandon my teachings and do not live by my rules,
31 if they violate my laws and do not obey my commandments,
32 then with a rod I will punish their rebellion and their crimes with beatings.
33 But I will not take my mercy away from him or allow my truth to become a lie.
34 I will not dishonor my promise or alter my own agreement.
35 On my holiness I have taken an oath once and for all: I will not lie to David.
36 His dynasty will last forever. His throne will be in my presence like the sun.
37 Like the moon his throne will stand firm forever. It will be like a faithful witness in heaven."
38 But you have despised, rejected, and become angry with your anointed one.
39 You have refused to recognize the promise to your servant and have thrown his crown into the dirt.
40 You have broken through all his walls and have laid his fortified cities in ruins.
41 (Everyone who passed by robbed him. He has become the object of his neighbors' scorn.)
42 You held the right hand of his enemies high and made all of his adversaries rejoice.
43 You even took his sword out of his hand and failed to support him in battle.
44 You put an end to his splendor and hurled his throne to the ground.
45 You cut short the days of his youth and covered him with shame. Selah
46 How long, O LORD? Will you hide yourself forever? How long will your anger continue to burn like fire?
47 Remember how short my life is! Have you created Adam's descendants for no reason?
48 Can a mortal go on living and never see death? Who can set himself free from the power of the grave? Selah
49 Where is the evidence of your mercy, Lord? You swore an oath to David on [the basis of] your faithfulness.
50 Remember, O LORD, how your servant has been insulted. Remember how I have carried in my heart [the insults] from so many people.
51 Your enemies insulted [me]. They insulted your Messiah every step he took.
52 Thank 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.

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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