Psalms 89

A maskil of Ethan the Ezrahite.

1 [a][b]I will sing of the LORD’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.
2 I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.
3 You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant,
4 ‘I will establish your line forever and make your throne firm through all generations.’ ”[c]
5 The heavens praise your wonders, LORD, your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones.
6 For who in the skies above can compare with the LORD? Who is like the LORD among the heavenly beings?
7 In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared; he is more awesome than all who surround him.
8 Who is like you, LORD God Almighty? You, LORD, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.
9 You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them.
10 You crushed Rahab like one of the slain; with your strong arm you scattered your enemies.
11 The heavens are yours, and yours also the earth; you founded the world and all that is in it.
12 You created the north and the south; Tabor and Hermon sing for joy at your name.
13 Your arm is endowed with power; your hand is strong, your right hand exalted.
14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you.
15 Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, LORD.
16 They rejoice in your name all day long; they celebrate your righteousness.
17 For you are their glory and strength, and by your favor you exalt our horn.[d]
18 Indeed, our shield[e] belongs to the LORD, our king to the Holy One of Israel.
19 Once you spoke in a vision, to your faithful people you said: “I have bestowed strength on a warrior; I have raised up a young man from among the people.
20 I have found David my servant; with my sacred oil I have anointed him.
21 My hand will sustain him; surely my arm will strengthen him.
22 The enemy will not get the better of him; the wicked will not oppress him.
23 I will crush his foes before him and strike down his adversaries.
24 My faithful love will be with him, and through my name his horn[f] will be exalted.
25 I will set his hand over the sea, his right hand over the rivers.
26 He will call out to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, the Rock my Savior.’
27 And I will appoint him to be my firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the earth.
28 I will maintain my love to him forever, and my covenant with him will never fail.
29 I will establish his line forever, his throne as long as the heavens endure.
30 “If his sons forsake my law and do not follow my statutes,
31 if they violate my decrees and fail to keep my commands,
32 I will punish their sin with the rod, their iniquity with flogging;
33 but I will not take my love from him, nor will I ever betray my faithfulness.
34 I will not violate my covenant or alter what my lips have uttered.
35 Once for all, I have sworn by my holiness— and I will not lie to David—
36 that his line will continue forever and his throne endure before me like the sun;
37 it will be established forever like the moon, the faithful witness in the sky.”
38 But you have rejected, you have spurned, you have been very angry with your anointed one.
39 You have renounced the covenant with your servant and have defiled his crown in the dust.
40 You have broken through all his walls and reduced his strongholds to ruins.
41 All who pass by have plundered him; he has become the scorn of his neighbors.
42 You have exalted the right hand of his foes; you have made all his enemies rejoice.
43 Indeed, you have turned back the edge of his sword and have not supported him in battle.
44 You have put an end to his splendor and cast his throne to the ground.
45 You have cut short the days of his youth; you have covered him with a mantle of shame.
46 How long, LORD? Will you hide yourself forever? How long will your wrath burn like fire?
47 Remember how fleeting is my life. For what futility you have created all humanity!
48 Who can live and not see death, or who can escape the power of the grave?
49 Lord, where is your former great love, which in your faithfulness you swore to David?
50 Remember, Lord, how your servant has[g] been mocked, how I bear in my heart the taunts of all the nations,
51 the taunts with which your enemies, LORD, have mocked, with which they have mocked every step of your anointed one.
52 Praise be to 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 71

  • 1. Psalms 59:16; Psalms 101:1
  • 2. S Psalms 36:5; Psalms 40:10
  • 3. S Psalms 36:5
  • 4. 2 Samuel 7:12-16; 1 Kings 8:16; Psalms 132:11-12; Isaiah 9:7; Ezekiel 37:24-25; S Matthew 1:1; S Luke 1:33
  • 5. S Psalms 19:1
  • 6. S Psalms 1:5
  • 7. S Genesis 1:26; S Exodus 9:14; S Psalms 18:31; Psalms 113:5
  • 8. Psalms 111:1
  • 9. S Job 5:1
  • 10. Psalms 47:2
  • 11. Isaiah 6:3
  • 12. S Psalms 71:19
  • 13. S Psalms 65:7
  • 14. S Job 9:13; Psalms 87:4
  • 15. S Psalms 59:11; S Psalms 68:1; Psalms 92:9
  • 16. S Deuteronomy 10:14; Psalms 115:16
  • 17. 1 Chronicles 29:11; S Psalms 24:1
  • 18. S Genesis 1:1
  • 19. S Joshua 19:22
  • 20. S Deuteronomy 3:8; S Deuteronomy 4:48; Joshua 12:1
  • 21. Psalms 98:8
  • 22. S Joshua 4:24
  • 23. Psalms 97:2
  • 24. Psalms 85:10-11
  • 25. Psalms 1:1
  • 26. Psalms 44:3
  • 27. Psalms 30:4; Psalms 105:3
  • 28. Psalms 18:1
  • 29. ver 24; Psalms 75:10; Psalms 92:10; Psalms 112:9; Psalms 148:14
  • 30. Psalms 18:2
  • 31. Psalms 47:9; Isaiah 16:5; Isaiah 33:17,22
  • 32. Acts 13:22
  • 33. Psalms 78:70
  • 34. S Exodus 29:7; S 1 Kings 1:39
  • 35. S 1 Samuel 2:35; S 2 Samuel 22:51; 1 Samuel 16:1,12
  • 36. ver 13; Psalms 18:35
  • 37. S Judges 3:15
  • 38. 2 Samuel 7:10
  • 39. Psalms 18:40
  • 40. 2 Samuel 7:9
  • 41. S 2 Samuel 7:15
  • 42. Psalms 72:8
  • 43. S 2 Samuel 7:14; S Jeremiah 3:4; Hebrews 1:5
  • 44. S Psalms 62:2
  • 45. S 2 Samuel 22:47
  • 46. S Colossians 1:18
  • 47. S Numbers 24:7
  • 48. Psalms 2:6; Revelation 1:5; Revelation 19:16
  • 49. ver 33-34; Isaiah 55:3
  • 50. ver 4,36; Deuteronomy 11:21; Jeremiah 33:17
  • 51. 2 Samuel 7:14
  • 52. S 2 Samuel 7:15
  • 53. S Numbers 23:19
  • 54. ver 4
  • 55. Jeremiah 33:20-21
  • 56. Deuteronomy 32:19; 1 Chronicles 28:9; Psalms 44:9; Psalms 78:59
  • 57. Lamentations 5:16
  • 58. S Psalms 80:12
  • 59. Isaiah 22:5; Lamentations 2:2
  • 60. S Judges 2:14
  • 61. S Psalms 44:13
  • 62. Psalms 13:2; Psalms 80:6
  • 63. Psalms 44:10
  • 64. S Psalms 39:5
  • 65. Psalms 44:15; Psalms 109:29
  • 66. Psalms 79:5
  • 67. S Genesis 47:9; S Job 7:7; Psalms 39:5; 1 Peter 1:24
  • 68. S Genesis 5:24; Psalms 22:29; Psalms 49:9
  • 69. Psalms 69:19
  • 70. Psalms 74:10
  • 71. S Psalms 41:13; S Psalms 72:19

Footnotes 7

  • [a]. In Hebrew texts 89:1-52 is numbered 89:2-53.
  • [b]. Title: Probably a literary or musical term
  • [c]. The Hebrew has "Selah" (a word of uncertain meaning) here and at the end of verses 37, 45 and 48.
  • [d]. "Horn" here symbolizes strong one.
  • [e]. Or "sovereign"
  • [f]. "Horn" here symbolizes strength.
  • [g]. Or "your servants have"

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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