Psalms 89

1 I will always sing about the Lord's love; I will tell of his loyalty from now on.
2 I will say, "Your love continues forever; your loyalty goes on and on like the sky."
3 You said, "I made an agreement with the man of my choice; I made a promise to my servant David.
4 I told him, 'I will make your family continue forever. Your kingdom will go on and on.'"Selah
5 Lord, the heavens praise you for your miracles and for your loyalty in the meeting of your holy ones.
6 Who in heaven is equal to the Lord? None of the angels is like the Lord.
7 When the holy ones meet, it is God they fear. He is more frightening than all who surround him.
8 Lord God All-Powerful, who is like you? Lord, you are powerful and completely trustworthy.
9 You rule the mighty sea and calm the stormy waves.
10 You crushed the sea monster Rahab; by your power you scattered your enemies.
11 The skies and the earth belong to you. You made the world and everything in it.
12 You created the north and the south. your name.
13 Your arm has great power. Your hand is strong; your right hand is lifted up.
14 Your kingdom is built on what is right and fair. Love and truth are in all you do.
15 Happy are the people who know how to praise you. Lord, let them live in the light of your presence.
16 In your name they rejoice and continually praise your goodness.
17 You are their glorious strength, and in your kindness you honor our king.
18 Our king, our shield, belongs to the Lord, to the Holy One of Israel.
19 Once, in a vision, you spoke to those who worship you. You said, "I have given strength to a warrior; I have raised up a young man from my people.
20 I have found my servant David; I appointed him by pouring holy oil on him.
21 I will steady him with my hand and strengthen him with my arm.
22 No enemy will make him give forced payments, and wicked people will not defeat him.
23 I will crush his enemies in front of him; I will defeat those who hate him.
24 My loyalty and love will be with him. Through me he will be strong.
25 I will give him power over the sea and control over the rivers.
26 He will say to me, 'You are my father, my God, the Rock, my Savior.'
27 I will make him my firstborn son, the greatest king on earth.
28 My love will watch over him forever, and my agreement with him will never end.
29 I will make his family continue, and his kingdom will last as long as the skies.
30 "If his descendants reject my teachings and do not follow my laws,
31 if they ignore my demands and disobey my commands,
32 then I will punish their sins with a rod and their wrongs with a whip.
33 But I will not hold back my love from David, nor will I stop being loyal.
34 I will not break my agreement nor change what I have said.
35 I have promised by my holiness, I will not lie to David.
36 His family will go on forever. His kingdom will last before me like the sun.
37 It will continue forever, like the moon, like a dependable witness in the sky."Selah
38 But now you have refused and rejected your appointed king. You have been angry with him.
39 You have abandoned the agreement with your servant and thrown his crown to the ground.
40 You have torn down all his city walls; you have turned his strong cities into ruins.
41 Everyone who passes by steals from him. His neighbors insult him.
42 You have given strength to his enemies and have made them all happy.
43 You have made his sword useless; you did not help him stand in battle.
44 You have kept him from winning and have thrown his throne to the ground.
45 You have cut his life short and covered him with shame.Selah
46 Lord, how long will this go on? Will you ignore us forever? How long will your anger burn like a fire?
47 Remember how short my life is.
48 What person alive will not die? Who can escape the grave?Selah
49 Lord, where is your love from times past, which in your loyalty you promised to David?
50 Lord, remember how they insulted your servant; remember how I have suffered the insults of the nations.
51 Lord, remember how your enemies insulted you and how they insulted your appointed king wherever he went.
52 Praise 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

Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.