Psalm 89

A contemplation by Ethan, the Ezrahite.
1 I will sing of the loving kindness of the LORD forever. With my mouth, I will make known your faithfulness to all generations. 2 I indeed declare, “Love stands firm forever. You established the heavens. Your faithfulness is in them.” 3 “I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David, my servant, 4 ‘I will establish your offspring forever, and build up your throne to all generations.’” Selah. 5 The heavens will praise your wonders, LORD; your faithfulness also in the assembly of the holy ones. 6 For who in the skies can be compared to the LORD? Who amongst the sons of the heavenly beings is like the LORD, 7 a very awesome God in the council of the holy ones, to be feared above all those who are around him? 8 LORD, God of Armies, who is a mighty one, like you? The LORD, your faithfulness is around you. 9 You rule the pride of the sea. When its waves rise up, you calm them. 10 You have broken Rahab in pieces, like one of the slain. You have scattered your enemies with your mighty arm. 11 The heavens are yours. The earth also is yours; the world and its fullness. You have founded them. 12 The north and the south, you have created them. Tabor and Hermon rejoice in your name. 13 You have a mighty arm. Your hand is strong, and your right hand is exalted. 14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne. Loving kindness and truth go before your face. 15 Blessed are the people who learn to acclaim you. They walk in the light of your presence, LORD. 16 In your name they rejoice all day. In your righteousness, they are exalted. 17 For you are the glory of their strength. In your favor, our horn will be exalted. 18 For our shield belongs to the LORD; our king to the Holy One of Israel. 19 Then you spoke in vision to your saints, and said, “I have given strength to the warrior. I have exalted a young man from the people. 20 I have found David, my servant. I have anointed him with my holy oil, 21 with whom my hand shall be established. My arm will also strengthen him. 22 No enemy will tax him. No wicked man will oppress him. 23 I will beat down his adversaries before him, and strike those who hate him. 24 But my faithfulness and my loving kindness will be with him. In my name, his horn will be exalted. 25 I will set his hand also on the sea, and his right hand on the rivers. 26 He will call to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, and the rock of my salvation!’ 27 I will also appoint him my firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth. 28 I will keep my loving kindness for him forever more. My covenant will stand firm with him. 29 I will also make his offspring endure forever, and his throne as the days of heaven. 30 If his children forsake my law, and don’t walk in my ordinances; 31 if they break my statutes, and don’t keep my commandments; 32 then I will punish their sin with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. 33 But I will not completely take my loving kindness from him, nor allow my faithfulness to fail. 34 I will not break my covenant, nor alter what my lips have uttered. 35 Once have I sworn by my holiness, I will not lie to David. 36 His offspring will endure forever, his throne like the sun before me. 37 It will be established forever like the moon, the faithful witness in the sky.” Selah. 38 But you have rejected and spurned. You have been angry with your anointed. 39 You have renounced the covenant of your servant. You have defiled his crown in the dust. 40 You have broken down all his hedges. You have brought his strongholds to ruin. 41 All who pass by the way rob him. He has become a reproach to his neighbors. 42 You have exalted the right hand of his adversaries. You have made all of his enemies rejoice. 43 Yes, you turn back the edge of his sword, and haven’t supported him in battle. 44 You have ended his splendor, and thrown his throne down to the ground. 45 You have shortened the days of his youth. You have covered him with shame. Selah. 46 How long, LORD? Will you hide yourself forever? Will your wrath burn like fire? 47 Remember how short my time is! For what vanity have you created all the children of men! 48 What man is he who shall live and not see death, who shall deliver his soul from the power of Sheol? Selah. 49 Lord, where are your former loving kindnesses, which you swore to David in your faithfulness? 50 Remember, Lord, the reproach of your servants, how I bear in my heart the taunts of all the mighty peoples, 51 with which your enemies have mocked, LORD, with which they have mocked the footsteps of your anointed one. 52 Blessed be the LORD forever more. Amen, and Amen.

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

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 they ask, Where is the promise of his coming? 2Pe 3:3, 4. The 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.

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