PSALM 89 TALK: GOD’S COVENANT OF LOVE

PSALM 89 TALK: GOD’S COVENANT OF LOVE

 (A psalm that explores God’s covenant with David, a covenant based on his love and faithfulness, which says that through a great descendant of David God would establish his rule of justice and love forever in our world and the universe. We will see that this promised king, also called the Messiah is non other than Jesus Christ who calls us to follow him as our savior and Lord or king.)

 THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide”.

INTRODUCTION

Many Christians face trials and set backs in their lives as they seek to follow and serve our Lord and these trials or difficulties can lead some to turn away from following the Lord. I love the stories of famous missionaries of the past and one of my favorites is about one of the first great missionaries of modern times, William Carey.

William Carey was a pioneer in missionary work in the early nineteenth century and he after much difficulty and set back arrived in Calcutta, India in 1793 but he suffered great trial and difficulty with the death of his five year old son Peter which led to his wife having a mental breakdown and then a few years later she died of a disease she caught in the rough living conditions of India. Carey also lost his second wife in a similar way a few years later as well.

However the story of hardship Carey faced that inspires me the most is the tragic burning down of the printing building where the first translation of an Indian dialect, called Bengali and some other major Indian dialects was kept. Carey lost years of hard work in this fire.

Carey could have simply just given up and went home after such a tragedy but his faith and his resolve was strong and out of what he could salvage from the fire and another 12 months of hard work he was able to print bibles in a local Indian dialect for the first time.

In fact in Indian and back home in England the news of Carey’s set backs caused by the fire helped raise massive amounts of money and Carey was able to expand his missionary work through these extra funds raised.

Psalm 89 speaks of two great things; the first is that God promised David and the people of Israel a great covenant that stated that his throne or reign would be eternal. However the last part of the Psalm, which is set at the time of the Babylonian conquest of Judah and Jerusalem in 586BC, seems to suggest the end of the reign or throne of David’s descendants in Israel.

We could well ask, like the writer of Psalm 89, what is God doing and can he be relied upon as the writer of Psalm 89 seems to be asking in verse 49,

“O Lord where is your former great love, which in your faithfulness you swore to David”.

 William Carey could have asked the same sort of thing after the fire in the printing house but his faith in the God of the bible was strong and was not governed by circumstances in this life.

The Psalm does not answer these questions concerning how David’s throne can be eternal when his line of kings was ended by the Babylonians but the rest of the bibles story does as the Jewish people do miraculously return from exile after 70 years and 500 years later God fulfills his promise of a great king from a descendant of David. This descendant is the Lord Jesus Christ who is God’s son became flesh and he through his death and resurrection makes a way back to God and ascends to heaven to reign with God forever in Justice and love.

Psalm 89 is the last Psalm in the third book of Psalms which we have seen are mainly made up of worship songs written by men who served as music leaders in the Old Testament times of the Temple in Jerusalem. These psalms were written from the time of David (1004BC) up to the Babylonian conquest of Judah and Jerusalem and the taking of the last Davidic King the very young King named Jehoiachin in captivity in Babylon (586BC) and the exile into Babylon of his uncle Zedekiah nine years later, a period of over 400 years.

The Psalms in the third book of Psalms have featured the holiness of God and how we should come into his presence remembering his love and faithfulness to us at all times. Some like Psalms 74, 78 and 79 seem to have been written in the context of the Babylonian conquest of Judah and Jerusalem and the second half of Psalm 89 verses 38 – 51 also fits well into this time period.

The problem that the Babylonian conquest will cause the writers of the Psalms (and no doubt bible believers in Israel since then) is the seeming end to the line or house of David as the young king Jehoiachin died in exile in Babylon and so did his uncle Zedekiah and they were the last kings in the bible related to David.

Yet both the book of Samuel (2 Samuel 7) and many Psalms speak of the eternal nature of David’s kingdom as does the first half of this Psalm. In the fourth book of Psalms mainly composed after the return from exile the promise of David’s eternal kingdom changes to a future hope bound up in the coming of the Messiah and through this promised Messiah God would give Israel the king of a eternal spiritual kingdom that will last forever.

Who wrote this Psalm is a problem if the Hebrew heading is correct and the second half of the Psalm was written after the Babylonian captivity as the heading says simply,

“A maskil of Ethan the Ezrahite”

 Ethan is a man who lived in the later years of King David and during the time of the reign of Solomon over 400 years before the Babylonian conquest (see 1 Chronicles 15: 17 and 19 and 1 Kings 4: 31).

Some commentators like Allan Harman offer a solution to this problem by suggesting that verses 38 – 51 are,

“Best taken as a later reflection on the covenant when some disastrous events had overtaken Judah”

 We know for sure that this Psalm had a revision to its original form by the editors of book three of Psalm as the last verse; verse 52 was added to it when it was placed last in the third book of Psalms. Like the past two books of Psalms and this one the last Psalm in each book contains a short doxology with a double “Amen”.

Editing of Psalms by the Old Testament people of the past poses no problems with me as I have done lots of editing work over the years of my own poetic writing.

I would consider it as a writer of poetry myself that no editing of former compositions would have been unnatural and unhelpful and this process would have taken place with the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit as well, (2 Timothy 3: 16 and 1 Peter 1: 21)

With the major theme of God’s Covenant of love in mind my breakdown for this Psalm is,

  1. 1 – 18   GOD’S COVENANT OF LOVE FOUNDATIONS
  1. 1 – 2    Praise God for his love and faithfulness
  2. 3 – 14   God’s love and faithfulness is the foundation of the covenant
  3. 15 – 18 Trust and obey in God is our right response to God’s covenant

             of love

  1. 19 – 37 GOD’S COVENANT OF LOVE    ESTABLISHED
  1. 19 – 26   God’s promise to establish his covenant to David
  2. 27 – 29   God’s covenant of love to David
  3. 30 – 37   God’s warning to disobedient descendants of David
  1. 38 – 45   GOD’S COVENANT OF LOVE SEEMINGLY BROKEN
  1. 38 – 39   The accusation that God has broken his covenant
  2. 40 – 45   How the writer believes God has broken his covenant
  1. 46 – 51   GOD’S COVENANT OF LOVE ASKED TO BE RESTORED
  1. 46 – 49   How long will God’s rejection last
  2. 50 – 51   The nations mocking of God’s people
  1. 52           DOXOLOGY OF BOOK
  1. 1 – 18   GOD’S COVENANT OF LOVE FOUNDATIONS

 Psalm 89 starts on a high note of praise and hope for future blessing but ends with a lament for current national disgrace and pleading with God for national restoration of the fortunes of God’s people.

In this first section we will see the foundations of God’s great loving covenant promises and I have broken this first section into three parts.

  1. 1 – 2    Praise God for his love and faithfulness
  2. 3 – 14   God’s love and faithfulness is the foundation of the covenant
  3. 15 – 18 Trust and obey in God is our right response to God’s covenant of love

 Lets then have a closer look at part 1,

  1. 1 – 2    Praise God for his love and faithfulness

As I have already stated Psalm 89 starts on a very high note of praise and this is not unusual to see in a Psalm initially written by a Temple leader of music like Ethan the Ezrahite.

He clearly states his intent to praise God in verse 1,

“I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever, with my mouth I will make faithfulness known through all the generations”.

 His intent to praise God, note, is based or founded on God’s great love which makes Israel’s God stand out from any other God or idea of God in the writers time or ever since. Most, what I call natural man made ideas of God think of him as a powerful force of vengeance and might and the idea of a loving God is considered a weakening of the one supreme being of the universe.

Yet over and over again the God of the bible reveals himself as a God of love. Not that God does not hate sin and will judge it but rather he hates sin and he will pay for it himself and of course this was achieved through the coming of God’s son, Jesus Christ to this world as we are told in 2 Corinthians 5: 21,

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”.

Even a man like Ethan the Ezrahite living nearly 1,000 years before Christ coming knew that the God of the bible he sought to worship was a God of love and faithfulness as he knew that God had given his nation, Israel a covenant or binding agreement of his love as we see in Deuteronomy 7: 6 – 8,

“ For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.

 The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt”.

 The words,

Kept the oath he swore to your ancestors”

 are but another way of speaking of God’s covenantal agreement with Israel and its ancient ancestors.

Verse 1 speaks of God’s love being known,

“Through all generations”

 Which simply means God did not just express his love to people like Abraham, Moses etc. but that his love has been known by one generation to the next.

We will see in this Psalm it has been expressed again through the Godly King David.

In verse 2, he writes,

“I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you established your faithfulness in heaven itself”,

 This is a good as saying God’s loving intent for his people has been set in stone and cannot be changed.

This is a point a later edition of this Psalm will question, as we believe that it was written when Judah’s mighty enemy the Babylonians crushed Judah and took the Jews along with their king into exile.

I mentioned in the introduction the story of William Carey and how his many years of hard work translating the bible into an Indian dialect seemed to go up in smoke. Carey seemed unmoved by this tragic turn of events and later realised that in a wonderful way God used this event to further the work of the Gospel in India through greater support in prayer and material giving.

Even men and women inspired by the faith of Carey and God’s help for him in times of difficulty led them to go out to places like India to spread the message of God’s love to people who did not know it. “God certainly moves in mysterious he wonders to perform”, as the famous hymn states written by the nineteenth century hymn writer William Cowper.

So this great but mysterious love of God is what this inspired Temple leader of music wants to sing about as he contemplates, we will see, God’s covenant of love to David in his day.

  1. 3 – 14   God’s love and faithfulness is the foundation of the covenant

The writer of Psalm 89 then states in verses 3 and 4 his main inspired theme of his song or Psalm, which he simply says,

“You said, ‘I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant. I will establish your line forever and make your throne firm through all generations”.

 This idea of David being the founder of a eternal kingdom did not come from David himself but rather from God, through the prophet Nathan as recorded in 2 Samuel 7: 1 – 17, which we will look at little closer at in the next section.

Not only did this eternal kingdom idea not come from David but David himself is bewildered by what God is saying through the prophet Nathan and we see this in David’s prayer that follows Nathans announcement in verses 18 and 19 of 2 Samuel 7,

“Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and he said: “Who am I, Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? 19 And as if this were not enough in your sight, Sovereign Lord, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant—and this decree, Sovereign Lord, is for a mere human”.

We must realise that David was not born into a high brow family and was in his childhood a simple Jewish shepherd boy who seems to have been plucked from obscurity by the prophet Samuel and anointed king of Israel. David also could not have imagined he would establish a line or dynasty of kings that would last forever.

However this is what God seems to be saying through the prophet Nathan and, as I have already said, David is as perplexed by it as anyone in Israel at the time would have been,

 The key two phrases or titles of these two verses are:

  1. Chosen One
  2. Servant

Lets have a look at what they might mean in the context of this Psalm.

  1. Chosen One

As I have already indicated David would have seen by the people of his day as being a most unlikely person plucked out of obscurity to be made God’s chosen king. The story of his choosing by God has always fascinated me and as a person who feels both socially and even intellectually poor I find David’s choosing by God story very encouraging.

We read this story in 1 Samuel 16: 1 – 13 which takes place after we learn of the obvious failure of God’s first choice of the first king of Israel, Saul. God leads Samuel to the backcountry family in Judah headed by a man named Jesse who lives in the Bethlehem area of Judah.

Jesse had eight sons and one by one seven of these eight sons come before Samuel and one by one God rejects them as the future king even though on the surface many of these boys seemed suitable. God says this to Samuel as he rejects the seven sons of Jesse in 1 Samuel 16: 7,

“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

 Then Samuel learns of the youngest son, David who is so unimportant in his family’s eyes he is out keeping sheep but Samuel insists he wants to see him also. Let me quote the bible text directly here to finish the story, 1 Samuel 16: 12 – 13,

“ So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.

 Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”

 13 So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah”.

God’s choice, I think, will always surprise us and when I was in Youth ministry and was heavily into preaching the Gospel over many years I found, often that the young people who responded to the message where a surprise and that only confirmed to me what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1: 26 – 29,

“Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him”.

Even in the original choosing of a special nation for the original covenant of love we read in Deuteronomy 7: 6 – 8,

“ For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.

 The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt”.

  1. Servant

David is called in verse 3, Psalm 89,

“My servant”

 I found an interesting blog by an American man named Buck Denver when researching the topic of what it means to be a servant and I like this quote from his blog,

“Having a servant’s heart means to not only put other’s needs ahead of our own, but to serve with the right motivation—and that is to put God’s will first. Rewards, recognition or even gratitude cannot be the motivation to live out true servant hood the way Jesus did”.

 That is what God saw in David, a man who at heart was similar to himself, as Samuel said to Saul about David in 1 Samuel 13: 14,

“But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart”.

 David and much more Jesus shows us what it means to be “a servant” and Jesus expresses this best in Mark 10: 45,

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many”.

 So another key foundation of God’s covenant of love is that it is given by God like a servant to his chosen people who are to receive it like he gives it in the attitude of a servant.

Then in verses 5 – 14 we have four great foundational truths about the God who gives us his loving covenant:

  1. He is a God who is praised in heaven and earth (5 – 7)
  2. He is a God who rules over all the earth (8 – 12)
  3. He is a God who is mighty and strong (13)
  4. He is a God who is just and loving (14)

Lets look a little closer at each of these four characteristics of the God who gives this loving covenant.

  1. He is a God who is praised in heaven and earth (5 – 7)

In verses 5 – 8 speaks of the praise of God in this world and the spiritual world where God dwells with countless numbers of heavenly beings we generally call angels,

The heavens praise your wonders, Lord, your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones.For who in the skies above can compare with the Lord? Who is like the Lord among the heavenly beings? In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared; he is more awesome than all who surround him. Who is like you, Lord God Almighty?  You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you”.

The writer of Psalm 89, I think, wants to build up a clear picture of the God of the bible who gives to David and his people a wonderful covenant of love and he starts by giving us a glimpse of how God is praised in heaven and on earth.

In verse 5 speaks of both heaven and earth praising God, which reminds me of Psalm 19: 1,

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands”.

However the end of verse 5 and verses 6 and 7 speak of the praise of heavenly beings and some think believers in heaven in terms like,

“The assembly of the holy ones” (vs. 5)

“The heavenly beings” (vs. 6) and

“The council of the holy ones” (vs. 7).

Spurgeon explains these terms and applies them to the theme of praise to the God who gives the covenant of love, with these words,

“All heaven would be filled with adoring wonder. The sun and moon, which had been made tokens of the covenant, would praise God for such an extraordinary display of mercy, and the angels and redeemed spirits would sing, “as it were, a new song’. Thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints. By which is probably intended the holy ones on earth. So that the ‘whole family in heaven and on earth’ would join in the praise”.

There are a number of such heavenly gatherings in heaven described in picture language in the book of Revelation, let me share just one, Revelation 5: 11 – 14,

“Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise!”

13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honour and glory and power, for ever and ever!” 14 the four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped”.

So when we gather here on earth in our churches worship services we are joining in an activity conducted both here and in heaven namely to praise and adore the loving faithful God who gives us his great covenant of love.

In this “council of the holy ones”, God is “greatly feared”, which could mean fear in the sense of respect for who he his which we might call reverence that of course leads to true worship. It is only those who recognise who the God of the bible is who truly worship him.

It is not from some kind of earthly institution that true worship comes because many a church today and in the past sadly did not truly recognise who God really is and therefore their so called worship is and was hollow and false but those who gather in the name of the God of the bible who recognise that he is real and true and must be worshipped because they realise as the last part of verse 7 says,

“He is more awesome than all who surround him”.

  1. He is a God who rules over all the earth (8 – 12)

The next four verses of Psalm 89 speak of how and why God rules over this earth and indeed the entire universe.

Lets look a little closer at these two great truths of the bible:

  1. How God rules over the earth (vs. 8 – 9)

Verses 8 and 9 speak clearly of how God rules over the earth,

“O Lord God Almighty, who is like you? You are mighty. O Lord, and your faithfulness surrounds you. You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them”.

 Leopold points out that verse 8 is very much like Exodus 15: 11,

“Who among the god’s is like you, O Lord? Who is like you- majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders”.

 Exodus 15 is a song sung by Moses after his people had successful crossed the dried up red sea and then saw how God smashed their enemies, the Egyptians by his mighty power when he stopped holding back the sea and drowned them all.

God shows us how great and wonderful he is by his mighty deeds of creation and salvation. The reference to God’s rule over the surging sea is probably a veiled reference to the crossing of the red sea at the exodus.

Also the sea or oceans is a symbol in the bible of chaos and disorder as we see in Psalm 46: 2 – 3,

“Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging”.

Even over the chaos of the sea or ocean verse 8 says God,

“Rules over the surging sea”.

 Jesus proved he was in fact God in the flesh when he stood up and calmed the raging waters of the Sea of Galilee with just a word in Mark 4 and the disciples reaction tells it all in Mark 4: 41,

“They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and waves obey him”.

  1. Why God rules over the earth (10 – 12)

The next three verses feature more of the idea of why God rules this earth although some of the how he rules is here as well. The first reason why God rules the earth is in verse 10 which is a little tricky to interpret, it reads like this,

“You crushed Rahab like one slain, with your strong arm you scattered your enemies”.

 I have seen before in other Psalms that the Hebrew word Rahab has a number of meanings as I stated in my comments on Psalm 87 verse 4,

“We know that Rahab is a image name for Egypt from the writings of the prophet Isaiah who twice refers to Egypt as Rahab, the first is Isaiah 30: 7,

 “To Egypt whose help is utterly useless. Therefore I call her Rahab the Do – Nothing”.

 And Isaiah 51: 9 – 10

 “Awake, awake! Clothe yourself with strength, O arm of the Lord; awake, as in days gone buy, as in generations of old. Was it not you who cut Rahab to pieces who pieced that monster through. Was it not you who dried up the sea, the waters if the great deep who made a road in the depths of the sea so that the redeemed might cross over”

 Rahab also has another meaning in Hebrew, which Allan Harman says is,

 “To behave proudly”.

 Tremper Longman III also gives us yet another meaning for Rahab when he writes,

“Rahab here is used in its mythological sense as a sea monster”.

 And Allan Harman says that Rahab personified the sea citing Job 26: 13 which says,

“By his power he churned up the sea; by his wisdom he cut Rahab to pieces”.

 I prefer the Egypt interpretation as it seems to me the writer of Psalm 89 had the song of Moses in Exodus 15 in mind in the previous verse but whatever it is it is clear God has control of this world and this shows us why he rules over the earth.

Then in verse 11, 12 and 13 God shows why he rules over this world because he created it and keeps it running. In verse 11 we read,

“The heavens are yours and yours also the earth; you founded the world and all that is in it”.

 David says something similar in Psalm 24: 1,

“The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it”

 God is God because he is the eternal one who is the creator of this world and the universe. The bible does not give us a scientific rundown of how God did it, Genesis simply says, “And God Said, let there be” and things were created, such is his power and might of the God of the bible that he simply speaks and things happen.

The power of God’s word or speaking is how the apostle John explains how God made everything when he says at the start of his Gospel,

“In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made”. (John 1: 1 – 3)

 Later John makes the amazing claim about Jesus being God’s word made flesh, John 1: 14,

“The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth”.

 So Psalm 89: 11 tells us that both heaven and earth belongs to God because he made them and this is why he rules over heaven and earth.

Verse 12, Takes the concept of God creating the world a step further and says,

“You created the north and the south; Tabor and Hermon sing for joy at your name”.

 Leopold explains the use of the mountains Tabor and Hermon this way,

“Mighty mountains that tower over the land like Tabor and Hermon which could probably represent east and west”.

 So if Leopold is right this verse is saying that God’s creation of this world is complete as it extends to North, South, East and west.

Tremper Longman 111 points out that mountains, “Signify stability and grandeur”, so the two mountains could carry with them the poetic image of the power and wonder of God seen through might and grandeur of the mountains he has created.

So the reason why God rules heaven and earth is because he created such an increasable and marvellous world.

  1. He is a God who is mighty and strong (13)

Verse 13 speaks about another foundational truth about the God, who gives us his covenant of love, when it says,

“Your arm is endured with power; your hand is strong, your right hand exalted”.

 I spoke before of the power of God’s word and now in this verse we have the power of his arm and right hand. I have seen before in the Psalms this expression of God’s right hand in Psalms in this third book of Psalms like, 73: 23, 74: 11, 77: 10, 78: 54 and 80: 15.

I’d like to share the thoughts I had on the concept of God’s right hand when commenting on Psalm 77 verse 10, which says,

“Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years of the right hand of the Most High”.

 The idea of the great “right hand of God” is an idea or theme spoken of right through the entire Old Testament. It is a term that first appears in Moses great song of the actual crossing of the red sea which this writer focuses on in the rest of this Psalm. This is in Exodus 15: 6,

 “Your right hand, O Lord, was majestic in power. Your right hand, O Lord shattered the enemy”.

 The right hand, as most people are right handed, is the hand of action and power and when God acts he is often spoken of using his right hand of power and might as David declares in Psalm 20: 6,

 “Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed; he answers him from his holy heaven with the saving power of his right hand”.

 Isaiah also speaks of the comfort God offers his faithful people by the help he offers them by his righteous right hand in Isaiah 41: 10,

 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand”.

 In the New Testament the concept of the right hand of God is used in a number of places to refer to the position Jesus now holds in heaven once he had died for our sins on the cross and rose and ascended back to God. Stephen catches a glimpse of this as he is dying by being stoned in Acts 7: 55,

 “But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God”.

 Finally Paul refers to Jesus being at the right hand of God in his prayer for the church in Ephesus as an encouragement for them and us to look to God in prayer with great hope in Ephesians 1: 18 – 21,

 “I pray also that your eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparable great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him form the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion and tile that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come”.

 It is interesting to note that verse 13 and its reference to the power of God’s right hand is very similar again to something Moses said in his song in Exodus 15 vs. 6. He definitely had Moses song in mind when writing verse 8 using ideas from Exodus 15: 11.

So God not only shows how and why he rules heaven and earth because he created them but he also shows his rule of this world by his mighty works in it. So the God of the bible is both Lord of creation and the saving God who delivers his people from their enemies with his strong right hand.

  1. He is a God who is just and loving (14)

The final foundational truths of God and his covenant of love is summed up beautifully in verse 14, which says,

“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you”.

 Allan Harman says this when commenting on the first part of this verse,

“God’s rule is marked out by righteousness and justice. These form the basis on which his kingship operate”.

 His kingship is what the Covenant of love given to David is all about. David is promised to be the founder of God’s eternal throne or kingdom and what this really meant was not clear for at least 400 years after the exile into Babylon took place where the last Davidic king died in exile in Babylon. For four hundred years after the exile into Babylon God himself entered into human history to be born to a descendant of David and through Jesus Christ that descendant of David God established his eternal Kingdom as the Angel told Mary in Luke 1: 30 – 33,

“But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

Jesus marked his ministry and teaching with the twin characteristics of righteousness and justice as we see in so many of the parables of Jesus. Jesus says this about justice in Luke 18: 6 – 8,

“And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

 But the foundations of God’s covenant of love, his kingdom is not just about righteousness and justice but also as the second half of verse 14 says,

“Love and faithfulness go before you”.

 Jesus spoke a lot about righteousness and justice but he also spoke a lot about love and faithfulness in his teaching especially in his parables and the best example of this, I think, is the parable of the lost son in Luke 15: 11 – 31. I think the climax of that story of the prodigal sons return to his loving faithful father says it all in Luke 15: 21 – 24,

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate”.

The father says the same thing to the elder brother who resents the return of his foolish brother. God’s love and faithfulness is often just not understood by non- believers because it is so other world or it is so amazing many people just don’t get it.

The writer of Psalm 89, got it, he knew that the foundations of God’s covenant of love was justice, love and faithfulness and when we look at the cross of Christ we see how all these three things can be one for Jesus died for our sins and paid the price that had to be paid but in doing so he revealed God’s great love.

As the writer to the Hebrews says in Hebrews 2:9,

 “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honour because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone”.

  1. 15 – 18 Trust and obey in God is our right response to God’s covenant of love

The Psalmist now moves on to say how we should respond to God and his covenant of love he has just spoken of. The key answer to how we should respond is summed up in one verse, verse 15, which simply says,

“Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord”.

 This verse speaks poetically of two responses to the revelation of the God of the bible and I believe they basically are saying we must trust and obey this great God.

So lets look at these two key right responses to God’s covenant of love:

  1. Trust – learned to acclaim you

For a man whose job is to lead worship through music in the Temple the first expression, which I think, means trust in the Lord is very appropriate because it says,

“Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you”.

 Allan Harman draws the connection between trusting in the Lord and his covenant of love with these words,

“Those who trust in the Lord are the ones who are able to proclaim this knowledge of him”

 The connection of trust and true worship has been a major theme of the Psalms in book three. We see this right from the first Psalm in the book, Psalm 73 and the last verse of that Psalm, verse 28 says,

“But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds”.

 The idea of learning to trust in the Lord, which then leads to proclaiming him, is beautifully expressed in Psalm 86 verses 11 and 12,

“Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.12 I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever”.

In Romans 12: 1, Paul speaks of trusting in God because of the great mercies offered by God through Christ in terms of offering yourself as a living sacrifice and then seeking to please God and Paul says this will be your act of spiritual worship, Romans 12: 1,

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God –this is your spiritual act of worship”.

  1. Obey – Walking in the light of God’s presence

The actual verse says,

“Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord”.

 I think walking in God’s presence is an excellent poetic image of obeying God in our daily lives. Being in God’s presence is a key concept in this third book of Psalms and I have said before that this probably comes from the writers of these Psalms who are leaders of musical worship in the Temple in Jerusalem where God’s special presence is said to dwell on earth.

However the Temple only symbolizes God dwelling with his people and they will only know God’s presence in their lives as they, as David said in Psalm 86 verses 11, let God teach them his way, or as the verse says,

“Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name”.

Jesus calls all of us to follow him and go the way of God as he says in Matthew 7: 13 – 14,

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it”.

He made this way for us as he says in John 14: 6,

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”.

Jesus wants us to go his way or walk his way and if we do he promises his presence with us always as he says in the great commission to all true followers of Jesus in Matthew 28: 19 – 20,

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

So we must trust and obey and real faith must be shown in faithful obedience to what Jesus has commanded us to do just as John tells us in 2 John 1: 6,

“And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love”.

The one thing I have not commented on in this verse, verse 15 of Psalm 89, is the word “Blessed” which kicks off the verse.

The word “Blessed” features right throughout the book of Psalms and is in fact the first word in the first Psalm in the first book of Psalms, Psalm 1: 1,

“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stands in the way of sinners or sits in the seat of mockers”.

I have mentioned in other Psalm talks that the Hebrew word for “Blessed” means something like “true godly happiness”, happiness like the peace Paul speaks of in Philippians 4: 7,

“Transcends all understanding”

And this peace or happiness comes only to those who trust and obey as the first verse and chorus of John H. Sammis hymn, “Trust and obey” says,

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

 Chorus:

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

The closing three verses of this first section flesh out what this trusting and obey God and his covenant of love will lead to or what day-to-day outcome will show in their lives and it is threefold:

  1. They will rejoice in the name of God (vs. 16)
  2. God will be there glory and strength (vs. 17)
  3. God’s king will help protect them (vs. 18)

Lets have a close look at each of these:

  1. They will rejoice in the name of God (vs. 16)

The first day-to-day outcome that true trusting and obeying the God of the covenant will lead to is rejoicing in the very name or nature of the God they trust and obey.

When I am impressed by a person I will sing their praise and so do we all but the greatest one, the one who gives us his covenant of love is the one we should always at all times thank and praise. As Paul advocated a number of times as he told the Philippians in Philippians 4: 4,

‘Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say again: Rejoice!”

To rejoice in the name of God is to rejoice in who God is as the names of God spell out in a number of places in the bible in a number of ways, who the God of the bible is and what he has done for us, is doing for us and will do for us. Spurgeon puts it this way,

“Only a covenant God could look with favor upon men, and those who have known him in that relationship learn to rejoice in him, yea, to walk with him in fellowship, and to continue in communion with him”.

  1. God will be there glory and strength (vs. 17)

The second day-to-day outcome that trusting and obeying the God of the covenant will lead to is they will glory in the God of the covenant, the God of the bible and they will find that God to be their strength, as the verse says,

“For you are their glory and strength, and by your favor you exalt our horn”.

Continually David spoke of God as his rock or refuge or strength as he so well puts it in Psalm 18: 2,

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold”.

David over and over again in his Psalms gloried in the God of the covenant, the God of the bible who he knew not as a theological theory but a living presence in his life on a day-to-day basis.

God in return showed favor on David and this Psalmist wants to follow in the steps of his great king or at least Israel’s great king who he calls “Our Horn”. Allan Harman points out that “Horn” is a parallel term to shield or king and God gave Israel a king in the first place to help protect his people as he, under God, would help them fight their many enemies and have victory over them and David recognised that he was only this “horn” through faith in God who is his king or horn as we have just seen in what David said in Psalm 18: 2b,

“My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold”.

Later in Psalms in the last two books of Psalms David’s eternal kingdom becomes a Messianic hope and the “horn of David” becomes a name for that promised Messiah, as we see in Psalm 132: 17,

“Here I will make a horn grow for David and set up a lamp fo my anointed one”.

This was fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus Christ as we read in Zechariah’s song in Luke 1: 68 – 69,

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David”.

So a day-to-day outcome of our trust in and obedience to the Lord Jesus we experience his divine favor as we glory in him as our Savior and our Lord.

  1. God’s king will help protect them (vs. 18)

Finally the last day-to-day outcome to trusting and obeying the God of the covenant or bible is we obey his anointed king as verse 18, reads,

“Indeed, our shield belongs to the Lord, our king to the Holy One of Israel”.

Under David as king this made a lot of sense as he was God’s appointed or anointed king as Psalm 2: 2,

“The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed”.

However verse 18, made little sense for most of the kings after David, even the later reign of his son Solomon was a rather godless reign as even Solomon turned away from fully following the Lord.

Even Christian kings in the history since Jesus coming to earth have demanded absolute trust and obedience as they saw themselves as God’s appointed king who deserves absolute obedience.

It is only in Jesus do we find the kind of King God really wants us to trust and obey and therefore verse 18 of this Psalm, to me finds its meaning in Jesus who alone is our shield and Holy one of Israel and indeed the whole earth.

Paul speaks of the supremacy of Christ in Colossians 1: 15 – 20 and explains clearly why we must trust and obey only him,

“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross”.

  1. 19 – 37 GOD’S COVENANT OF LOVE ESTABLISHED

 After this long first section which laid down who the God of the covenant and bible is and what that covenant generally involves and how we should rightly respond to it the writer then spells out this covenant to David.

He also spells what would happen to David’s sons if they disobeyed their requirements in that agreement between God and David’s descendants.

So lets have a closer look at this second section of the Psalm, which I have broken into three parts:

  1. 19 – 26   God’s promise to establish his covenant to David
  2. 27 – 29   God’s covenant of love to David
  3. 30 – 37   God’s warning to disobedient descendants of David

 Lets have a close look at each of these three parts:

  1. 19 – 26   God’s promise to establish his covenant to David

A number of commentators point out that this first section mirrors 2 Samuel 7: 8 – 17 and it seems that the writer of Psalm 89 was inspired to write this part of his psalm with the prophet Nathans words in mind that spell out the God’s actual covenant of love to David. He also seems to have Samuels anointing of David a few years before in mind as well.

This first part spells two great promises to David:

  1. The bestowing of favor on David as the Lord’s anointed king (19 – 20)
  2. God’s promise to David of victory over his enemies (21 – 26)

Lets have a look at these two great promises to David:

  1. The bestowing of favor on David as the Lord’s anointed king (19 – 20)

The writer of Psalm 89, directly refers to Nathans vision from God that he shared with King David in 2 Samuel 7, with the words,

“Once you spoke in a vision, to your faithful people you said”.

 How God revealed himself to us in the bible was in various ways and one of those ways was through visions and even dreams. These visions or dreams that revealed the will of God and even his nature Peter tells us did not come from a mans imagination but by the will of God inspired by God’s Holy Spirit, as we read in 1 Peter 1: 21,

“For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit”.

 God still speaks to men and women today, occasionally through dreams and even visions but not with a new word of God like the prophet Muhammad claimed to have had and others like the founder of the Mormons, Joseph Smith claimed to have had in the 19th century.

The reason for this is that God spoke finally through his Son, Jesus Christ who is God’s word become flesh (John 1: 14) and is his last and complete revelation as Hebrews 1: 1 – 3,

“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven”.

Modern visions or dreams from God only clarify this final word or are used by God for special guidance of a person or church when needed, like Paul’s vision of the Macedonian man in Acts 16: 6 – 10 that led Paul to move from Asia into Macedonia (Greece).

Verse 19b and 20 read like this,

“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”.

The writer then spells out his version of Nathans word from God in the vision from God Nathan received. Nathan said to David in 2 Samuel 7: 8b,

“ I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel.

The reference to the sacred oil is a reference to Samuel’s anointing of David as God’s chosen king from 1 Samuel 16: 13.

David then from a very young age becomes a great warrior as we see in the killing Goliath in 1 Samuel 17 and after that leading many victories over the Philistines even before he takes over as king which is part of the reason for the jealous rage of King Saul.

In verse 9 of 2 Samuel 7, Nathan speaks of how David has had God’s help to have victory over his enemies as God’s anointed king,

I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth.

 The writer of Psalm 89 speaks of this in verses 21 – 23,

“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”.

This is what actually happened under the leadership of David, David defeated the enemies of God as God led him and strengthened him to do it. In 2 Samuel chapter 8 we read of David’s great victories over Israel’s many enemies including the their great enemy of that time The Philistines, 2 Samuel 8: 1,

“In the course of time, David defeated the Philistines and subdued them, and he took Metheg Ammah from the control of the Philistines”.

Then the reason why God did this is spoken of clearly in the next three verses, verses 24 – 26,

 My faithful love will be with him, and through my name his horn 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.’

Verse 24 again makes it clear that God’s covenant with David and through him Israel came about because the God of the bible is a God of love. God’s agreement with David and his forefathers like Abraham, Jacob and Moses was made with them not because they deserved to have a covenant or agreement with God but simply because God makes these covenants out of his love, his undeserved love which is called in the New Testament, “Grace”.

Paul speaks much about this key concept of God’s Grace in many places, like Ephesians 1: 3 – 10, where Paul speaks of God choosing us to know and follow him as his very own sons and daughters to experience his glorious blessings in the heavenly realms not because we deserved that but purely out of God’s amazing grace.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ”.

God declares in verse 24 then that David would know his faithful love as it will be with him and through the name or character of God his “horn” or reign will be exalted.

In verse 25 we read,

“I will set his hand over the sea, his right hand over the rivers”

It is God and God alone who made David a great and powerful king poetically described in this verse as his hand over the sea or rivers. The sea and rivers poetically represented evil and chaos in Jewish poetry, as we see in Psalm 74: 13,

“It was you who split open the sea by your power; you broke the heads of the monster in the waters”.

Note how this verse speaks of God as the one who has the power over the sea or as it represents, evil and chaos. In verse 25 God says that this power will in some way be given to David who will have to fight evil and chaos during his reign.

Of course we know that it is Jesus, the greater son of David who has power over all evil and chaos in heaven and earth as we see in the story of Jesus stilling the storm by simply saying the words, “Quiet, Be still” (Mark 4: 39) and in the book of Revelation the sea or lake of fire is the place all who oppose God will be thrown into by Jesus now sitting on his throne in heaven (Revelation 20: 11 – 15).

Finally verse 26 tells us that David will call out to God as his father, God, rock and savior.

“He will call out to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, the Rock my savior”.

So many of David’s Psalm speak of David calling out to God for help and salvation or deliverance using terms like we see in this verse. A great example of this is Psalm 18: 1 -3,

“I love you, Lord, my strength.The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies”.

He uses similar terms in Psalm 144: 1 – 2,

Praise is to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.
He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me”.

Note how David acknowledges God’s love in verse 2 as David knew he did not deserve to call God’s his father, God, rock and savior and its was only God’s great love and faithfulness that made this possible.

  1. 27 – 29   God’s covenant of love to David

The next three verses spell out the main theme of this Psalm namely God’s covenant of love to David,

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”.

I wish to draw out three principle foundations of this covenant of love to David:

  1. The first born great king (vs. 27)
  2. The eternal promise of love (vs.28)
  3. The eternal throne of David (vs.29)
  1. The first born great king (vs.27)

The idea that David, once a lowly shepherd herder became the first of a line of kings that will last forever seems an unimaginable fairy tale. People might argue life does not go like that; lowly born people don’t rise to the position of kings. Yet God clearly says in verse 27,

“And I will appoint him to be my firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the earth”.

We only have the briefest archeological evidence to say that Israel once had a king named David but of course this discounts what we have of David in the bible.

David wrote at least 73 Psalms out of 150, he features in the writings of the Old Testament and his rule and life is referred to a number of times in the New Testament as well.

For the ancient Jew, like the writer of the second half of this Psalm (verses 38 – 52) the ending of the physical line of the house of David was a very big puzzle.

However we know from the Old Testament prophecy and the clear teaching of the New Testament that David’s rule, as king is the birth of the reign of the Messiah King who we believe is non -other than Jesus Christ himself.

Isaiah speaks of the reign of the Messiah king coming out of the line of David in Isaiah 9: 6 – 7,

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this”.

The angels announce to the lowly shepherds outside the city of David Bethlehem the birth of this Messiah king this way, in Luke 2: 9 – 14,

“An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savoir have been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.”

So David is the first born of the Messiah king to come who is Jesus Christ our Lord and savoir.

  1. The eternal promise of love (vs.28)

Verse 28 speaks directly of God’s covenant of love to David,

“28 I will maintain my love to him forever, and my covenant with him will never fail”

This covenant of love is promised to be eternal which also can only be understood in the context of the great Messiah king who is Jesus Christ. We just read in Isaiah 9: 7,

“Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this”.

The writer to the Hebrews makes it clear that Jesus is this eternal covenant of love fulfilment in Hebrews 13: 20 – 21,

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep,

21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen”.

Note how the writer of the letter to the Hebrews speaks of how Jesus established this new covenant of love, it is through,

“ The blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep”.

Jesus made the way back to God through his death and resurrection and this has established God’s covenant of love for all who seek to trust and obey the Lord Jesus Christ and what he has done for us.

  1. The eternal throne of David (vs.29)

Then in verse 29 we see again the eternal nature of the throne of David that God is establishing through the line of David,

“29 I will establish his line forever, his throne as long as the heavens endure”.

Again the physical line of kings of David seemed to come to a end in the exile to Babylon in 597 BC but prophets like Isaiah knew that this promise of David’s throne lasting forever would be in the coming Messiah king who would come out of the line of David which he predicts in Isaiah 11: 1 – 5, where Isaiah refers to the line of David as “the stump of Jesse”, Jesse being David’s father,

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,  the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist”.

This “stump of Jesse” or descendant of David is non other than the Lord Jesus Christ. Mary, a descendant of David is told this by an angel about the child she would bear, in Luke 1: 30 – 33,

“But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

  1. 30 – 37   God’s warning to disobedient descendants of David

As I have already said this great covenant of love that was given to David by God that spoke of his line or house lasting forever seemed to dissolve in 597 BC when the final king of the line of David named Zedekiah was taken into captivity by the Babylonians and later died there like his nephew Jehoiachin. I will speak more about this in the final two sections of this Psalm.

The cause of the seeming physical end of the line of David is now spoken of in this final part of the second section of this psalm. I see that this final part of the second section of the Psalm speaks of two things:

  1. God’s Warning to the descendants of David (30 – 32)
  2. God’s promise to uphold his covenant of love to David (33 – 37)

Lets look at each of these two things:

  1. God’s Warning to the descendants of David (30 – 32)

God makes it clear to David and his descendants both here in Psalm 89 and in Nathans original declaration of God’s covenant of love to David in 2 Samuel 7 of what would happen if David and his descendants turned away from following the God of the bible. Nathans warning found in 2 Samuel 7: 14 goes like this,

“I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands”.

In Psalm 89: 30 – 32 the warning is even made clearer to David and the kings that will come from his line,

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”.

The story of the kings that followed David is a tragic tale of kings who basically did forsake God’s law and statutes and did violate God’s decrees and failed to keep his commands. Even Solomon in his later years of his reign fell into this Godless way of ruling probably because he took so many foreign wives who drew him and his people away from faith and worship in the God of the bible.

The son of Solomon named Rehoboam falls so far away from following the God of the bible that God takes most of his kingdom away from him and helps in the setting up of a new king in the north of Israel named Jeroboam.

In the end only a small number of kings of the line of David heed the warning of not forsaking the God of the bible and his clear stated way of ruling and living as a king of his people Israel.

The three great examples of kings who heed this warning and attribute something of the faith and commitment that David had in the God of the bible are Jehoshaphat (872BC – 848BC), Hezekiah (715BC – 686BC) and Josiah (640BC – 609BC). These three great kings of Judah don’t have the usual epitaph of their reign that usual mention how they did wrong in the sight of the Lord and led the people into all kind of grave sins.

We will see in the last two sections that the final two physical king of Judah, Jehoiakim and his uncle Zedekiah, who was a Babylonian puppet king, failed to heed the warning of God’s covenant of love and 2 Kings 23: 37 says this about Jehoiakim,

“And he did evil in the eyes of the Lord, just as his fathers had done”.

  1. God’s promise to uphold his covenant of love to David (33 – 37)

So the kings that flow from David’s line seem to be a failure except for three kings, as I have just mentioned. However God continues to promise that his covenant of love will not be taken away from David and his descendants and that through them his kingdom will last forever as we read in verses 33 – 37,

“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.”

I believe the original writer of this first section of the Psalm, probably a man named Ethan the Ezrahite who lived through the later reign of David and the reign of Solomon as a leader of music in the Temple of Jerusalem took the word of the God of the bible seriously when it came from the prophet Nathan to David in 2 Samuel 7: 15 – 16,

“But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me ; your throne will be established forever.’”

We will see that a probable later editor of this Psalm, probably during the time of the Babylonian conquest of Judah will cry out to God for him to honour this promise of God in the face of the destruction of the house of David around 597BC.

However the promise of the God of the bible for the line of David is very sure and strong and it contains four key elements:

  1. God’s promise of love is bound up in his faithfulness (vs. 33)
  2. God’s promise of love is bound up in his unchangeable covenant (vs. 34)
  3. God’s promise of love is bound up in his holiness (vs. 35)
  4. God’s promise of love is bound up in the sureness of the universe (vs. 36 – 37)

Lets have a closer look at each of these key elements:

  1. God’s promise of love is bound up in his faithfulness (vs. 33)

David had much to say, in his Psalms about God’s love and faithfulness and I had a really close look at this in my Psalm talk on Psalm 57. David speaks of God’s great love and faithfulness twice in this Psalm in verse 3 and 10. I like verses 9 and 10 that says it all,

“I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples.
10 For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies”.

So God’s love and faithfulness is great as it reaches the heavens as sure as the universe itself is real and large. When I went on special outreach missions as a young man to beaches on the coast of my state New South Wales over the Christmas holidays we sang many times the old children’s chorus that simply says,

“Wide, wide as the ocean

High as the heavens above

Deep, Deep as the deepest sea

Is my Saviours love.

I, though so unworthy,

Still am a child of His care;
For His Word teaches me that His love reaches me everywhere”.

 God’s covenant of love assurance to David is then bound up in the great and sure love and faithfulness of God.

Our relationship with God through Christ is assured as it too is bound up in God’s sure love and faithfulness as Paul says in Romans 8: 38 – 39,

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

Times of testing and difficult times might challenge us to question this but in those times as in good times we must hang on by faith to the sure word of the God of the bible whose love and faithfulness is assured to us no matter what might happen to us in this life.

  1. God’s promise of love is bound up in his unchangeable covenant (vs. 34)

This verse makes it clear that God has made a promise of a covenant of love to David and his descendants and that covenant cannot be violated,

34 I will not violate my covenant or alter what my lips have uttered”.

Some might say the covenant of love that God gave is set in stone. Of course, literally the original covenant of God to Israel through Moses was set in stone with the Ten Commandments been written by God himself on two tablets of stone, which was placed in the Ark of the Covenant, which sat at the centre of the Temple in the holy of hollies.

The writer to the Hebrews had much to say about how God, through Christ now has made a new covenant of love to us and he puts it this way in Hebrews 8: 6 – 13, quoting a number of key Old Testament scriptures as he argues for a new covenant of love,

“But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises.

 For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people and said: “The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord.


10 This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.11 No longer will they teach their neighbour, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.12 For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” 13 by calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear”.

So the covenant of love God gave to David cannot be violated, as it will, through a greater son of David, Jesus Christ a new and greater covenant of love will be established that brings about the salvation of God possible to anyone in the world both Jew and non-Jew.

  1. God’s promise of love is bound up in his holiness (vs. 35)

The God of the bible is not like us as Numbers 23: 19 says,

“God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfil?”

 God is holy or set apart from us and he is totally righteous and can do no wrong as Isaiah says in Isaiah 5: 16,

“But the Lord Almighty will be exalted by his justice, and the holy God will be proved holy by his righteous acts”.

Because God cannot lie, as he is totally holy then his promise to David of a covenant of love is totally sure and true.

This is also true of the New Covenant of love established by Jesus who Paul says in 2 Corinthians 2: 21,

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”.

Paul is saying that through the death of Jesus on the cross, the death of a true and holy man, we are made holy in God’s sight and like the promise of God’s covenant of love to David this cannot be violated or changed for us as well.

  1. God’s promise of love is bound up in the sureness of the universe (vs. 36 – 37)

Finally the assurance of this covenant of love to David and his descendants is bound up in the very sureness and might of the universe itself,

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.”

As sure as the sun comes up each day, as sure as the moon comes out each night is the sureness of God’s covenant of love to David and his descendants. Spurgeon sums it all up and applies it to us this way,

“David’s line in the person of Jesus is an endless one, and the race of Jesus, as represented in successive generations of believers, shows no sign of failure.

No power, human or Satanic, can break the Christian succession, as saints die others shall rise up to fill their place, so that till the last day of doom, Jesus shall have a seed to serve him. And his throne as the sun before me. In our Lord Jesus the dynasty of David remains upon the throne. Jesus has never abdicated, nor gone into banishment”.

 As the hymn writer Isaac Watts put it,

“Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
does its successive journeys run,
his kingdom stretch from shore to shore,
till moons shall wax and wane no more”.

  1. 38 – 45   GOD’S COVENANT OF LOVE SEEMINGLY BROKEN

 We come then to the final two sections of this Psalm, which I believe were written by a later editor of the third book of Psalms some time after the exile of the Jews into Babylon. The reason for this is because of the changes of theme and wording that fits so well in this period of Jewish history and because clearly this Psalm has been worked over as the last Psalm of book three of Psalms by the final verse of the Psalm, verse 52 being a added doxology of this third book of Psalms.

I have broken this third section of the Psalm into two parts:

  1. 38 – 39   The accusation that God has broken his covenant
  2. 40 – 45   How the writer believes God has broken his covenant

 Lets then have a closer look at the first part of this third section of the Psalm:

  1. 38 – 39   The accusation that God has broken his covenant

So my theory of the composition of this Psalm is that the original Psalm written by the author the Hebrew headings tells us is Ethan the Ezrahite wrote the first half of this Psalm some time during the reign of Solomon after he built his temple. This original Psalm is verses 1 – 37 and would have been sung for hundred of year in ancient Hebrew worship.

Then after the Jews are sent into exile by the Babylonians two things happen, the first is a editor or group of Psalm editors put together the third book of Psalms to add to the already established first two books of Psalms first coming together around the time of Solomon. Maybe later editors made a few changes to the first two books of Psalms but most of these first two books contain the Psalms of David and other Psalm authors of his time.

The second thing that happened during the time of the editing of the third book of Psalms is one of these editors wrote the final 15 verses of this Psalm which includes the editors doxology verse at the end of the Psalm which formally brings the third book of Psalms to and end.

The extra 14 verses of this Psalm came about because of the seemingly destruction of the basis of God’s covenant of love to David namely the ending of the line of kings that descended from David himself when king Jehoiachin and his uncle Zedekiah were taken in exile in Babylon and both died there, Zedekiah before Jehoiachin.

The big question the writer raises in his extra 14 verses is expressed well in the first two verses of his extra 14 verses, verses 38 – 39,

“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”.

With Jehoiachin and Zedekiah were taken into exile and there country, Judah seemed to have lost it kings of the line of David.

It is though the “crown” or rule of David lies dead in the dust or sands of the land of Babylon, a very dry and dusty place or this could refer to the ruins of Judah also in a very dry and dusty place.

The writer of the last 14 verses is asking:

How can the promise of David’s eternal kingdom be true when his kingdom and descendants, King Jehoiachin and king Zedekiah seem lost or dead in exile?

At the beginning of this Psalm talk I spoke of the story of William Carey who seemed to have lost all his hard work of translating the bible into an Indian dialect through its loss in a tragic fire. Carey could have easily packed up and home believing God had abandoned him by allowing the fire in the building that contained all his translation work.

Carey’s faith was much greater than this as he did not give up when the fire struck but rather he salvaged what he could out of the fire and pushed on to publish the first New Testament in a Indian dialect a year after the fire had seemingly destroyed this great endeavor.

The point I am making is that sometimes what looks like disaster in this world can be and is used by God as his perfect will. Paul knew the truth of this when he wrote in Romans 8: 28,

 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”.

 What seemed like a renouncing of God’s covenant of love was actually part of God’s fulfilment of that covenant for as we have been seeing the fulfilment of the covenant of love to David came in the form of one of David’s descendants four hundred years after the return from exile in Babylon when Jesus was born to Mary and this descendent born in David’s town of Bethlehem would be both Lord or King and saviour of his people as we saw earlier from the angels word to Mary about the child she would bring into this world in Luke 1: 30 – 33,

30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

  1. 40 – 45   How the writer believes God has broken his covenant

 The writer of Psalm 89: 38 – 52 then sets down why he believes God has broken his covenant. I have broken this part of the section into three reasons why it appears God has broken his covenant of love:

  1. Judah and Jerusalem have been destroyed (40 – 41)
  2. Judah and God’s enemies have been victorious (42 – 43)
  3. Judah’s young king has been defeated (44 – 45)

Lets have a closer look at each of these three reasons why it appears God has broken his covenant of love.

  1. Judah and Jerusalem have been destroyed (40 – 41)

Verses 40 and 41 perfectly describe the destruction of Judah and particularly Jerusalem, the Holy city of God by the Babylonians,

“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 neighbours”.

Another Psalm, Psalm 79, written after the destruction of Jerusalem describes the destruction this way in verses 1 – 4,

O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple, they have reduced Jerusalem to rubble.They have left the dead bodies of your servants as food for the birds of the sky, the flesh of your own people for the animals of the wild.They have poured out blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there is no one to bury the dead.We are objects of contempt to our neighbours, of scorn and derision to those around us”.

These two Psalms or parts of Psalms certainly describe a dark black day in the Jews long history probably their blackest dark day as the nation seems lost and Jerusalem is but a ruin, a sad state compared to its former glory.

However this dark time only lasted for 70 years and after 70 years the Jews were allowed to return to Judah after the Persian Empire defeated the Babylonians in 539BC and the Jews were able to re-build Jerusalem again.

Why did God allow the Jews to suffer this terrible destruction of their nation?

The simple answer to that is that it was God’s judgment on the Nations many sins over many years that were led from the top namely the King himself. Jehoiakim’s father Josiah was a God of the bible loving king but his father Amon and Amon’s father Manasseh did great evil in the sight of the Lord and did not worship or obey the laws of the God of the bible.

Manasseh like many evil kings before him were warned by the prophets about what their evil sinful reign will lead to if they did not turn back to the God of the bible and in 2 Kings 21: 10 – 16,

“The Lord said through his servants the prophets: 11 “Manasseh king of Judah has committed these detestable sins. He has done more evil than the Amorites who preceded him and has led Judah into sin with his idols. 12 Therefore this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I am going to bring such disaster on Jerusalem and Judah that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. 13 I will stretch out over Jerusalem the measuring line used against Samaria and the plumb line used against the house of Ahab. I will wipe out Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. 14 I will forsake the remnant of my inheritance and give them into the hands of enemies. They will be looted and plundered by all their enemies; 15 they have done evil in my eyes and have aroused my anger from the day their ancestors came out of Egypt until this day.”

 Kings like Manasseh even practiced infant sacrifice to the pagan idols they installed throughout the land.

Things were so bad that Josiah had to find a copy of the bible or law in a run down part of the Temple in Jerusalem for him to be able to even attempt to follow the Lord so far had Judah and its kings strayed from true faith in the God of the bible.

Even though there was a revival of true faith in Judah at the time of Josiah we read this about his grandson the young king Jehoiakim in 2 Kings 24: 8- 9,

“Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. His mother’s name was Nehushta daughter of Elnathan; she was from Jerusalem. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father had done”.

Finally even through the reign of Josiah God’s anger or wrath was still going to fall on Judah and Jerusalem because we read this in 2 Kings 23: 26 – 27, written during the later years of Kings Josiah’s reign,

“Nevertheless, the Lord did not turn away from the heat of his fierce anger, which burned against Judah because of all that Manasseh had done to arouse his anger. 27 So the Lord said, “I will remove Judah also from my presence as I removed Israel, and I will reject Jerusalem, the city I chose, and this temple, about which I said, ‘My Name shall be there.”

All of the great prophets of Israel and Judah like Isaiah and Jeremiah warned the kings and their people of the danger of not worshipping and obeying their God, the God of the bible but the people continually rejected their message and failed to head God’s constant warnings of judgment.

 So the northern kingdom, Israel was overrun and destroyed in 722BC by the Assyrians and the southern kingdom, which verses 40 – 45 speak of was defeated and the people taken into exile by the Babylonians in 597BC a hundred and twenty five years later.

Jesus faced the same general rejection and weeps over Jerusalem because of this rejection of the God of the bible and speaks of another coming destruction in Matthew 24: 37 – 39,

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”.

At the start of Matthew 24 verses 1 and 2 Jesus even predicts the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, which came to pass in AD 70 at the hands of the Romans,

“Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

Jesus warn us also that God’s final great judgment is coming in a number of places in the Gospels like Matthew 25: 31 – 33,

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.

32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

  1. Judah and God’s enemies have been victorious (42 – 43)

So God’s judgment fell on Judah and its young king by the hands of the Babylonians. Verse 42 actually says the right hand of this great foe,

“You have exalted the right hand of his foes; he has become the scorn of his neighbours”.

 The right hand symbolizes the hand of power and authority because in human terms the right hand is the main strong hand of most people. God has made Babylon strong and allowed them to conquer and destroy Judah and Jerusalem and take most of its inhabitants into exile.

These events are on the world stage of that day as enemy neighbours know about it and it causes Judah to suffer scorn or words of disgrace from them. Both Assyria and Babylon enlisted former captured soldiers from the nations they conquered into their army so some of this scorn by other nations could have been spoken as they with their Babylonian war- lords over run the land of Judah.

Then in verse 43 we read,

“You have turned back the edge of his sword and have made all his enemies rejoice”.

 The easy nature of Babylon’s victory over Judah and Jerusalem was as though the Jews were fighting with blunt swords and God was responsible for making them blunt. The first victory over Judah and Jerusalem in 2 Kings 24: 1 – 4, speak more of how what happened was the work of God in judgment for the terrible sins of the kings and their subjects leading up to this first conquest of Judah and Jerusalem,

“During Jehoiakim’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon invaded the land, and Jehoiakim became his vassal for three years. But then he turned against Nebuchadnezzar and rebelled.

 2 The LORD sent Babylonian, Aramean, Moabite and Ammonite raiders against him to destroy Judah, in accordance with the word of the LORD proclaimed by his servants the prophets.

 3 Surely these things happened to Judah according to the LORD’s command, in order to remove them from his presence because of the sins of Manasseh and all he had done, 4 including the shedding of innocent blood. For he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the LORD was not willing to forgive”.

 A Babylonian puppet king, named Zedekiah, Jehoiakims uncle was installed as king in Judah after Jehoiakim was taken off to exile in Babylon but he too did evil in the sight of the Lord and again raised the Lords anger (2 Kings 24: 19 – 20). Nine years after the first Babylonian conquest Zedekiah also rebelled against the Babylonian rule and Nebuchadnezzar himself led a final conquest of Jerusalem and after an almost two year siege of the city the city fell to the might of the Babylonians.

This final conquest of Jerusalem led to its destruction as the Babylonians tore town the cities walls, set fire to most of the buildings and levelled the Temple taking anything valuable in it and the city off to Babylon with most of the remaining citizens who survived the siege and conquest off to exile into Babylon.

Zedekiah witnessed the execution of his sons and then had his eyes cut out of his head and was taken bound into exile in Babylon as well.

The phrase is verse 43B,

“And have not supported him in battle”.

 The graphic capitulation of Judah at this time certainly rings true to what is recorded in the second book of Kings and reveals how serious is the judgment of God when it comes down on sinful people. The writer to the Hebrews says simply,

“It is a dreadful (or fearful) thing to fall into the hands of the living God”.

  1. Judah’s young king has been defeated (44 – 45)

Verse 45 speaks of the kings demise as the cutting short of the days of his Youth. Jehoiakim was only 25 years old when he became king and was carried off to exile before he had turned 30 and so in Jewish terms he was still a young man or even a “youth”.

Verse 44 reads like this,

“You have put an end to his splendour and cast his throne to the ground”.

 The splendour is his rule or reign as a king in the line of David in the holy city of God, Jerusalem but this all came to an end when this young king in his early years of his reign as king of Judah was taken off into the dark despair of captivity in Babylon and his uncle, Zedekiah followed him nine years later.

The royal throne or rule of David was cast to the ground or put down and destroyed like a dead body being buried in the ground. No more it seems did a descendant of David sit as king on the throne of Judah in Jerusalem.

No wonder in the final two books of Psalms to come God’s covenant love and its eternal rule and throne of David becomes a Messianic hope and the king in these final Psalms is none other than God himself.

At Christmas we sing hymns called carols and once ancient carol goes like this,

“O come, O come, Immanuel,
and ransom captive Israel
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.

 Refrain:
Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel
shall come to you, O Israel”.

 This is the hope of the new covenant of love that Jesus fulfilled as he is “Immanuel” which means God with us as foretold by the prophet Isaiah in the context of this judgment on the kings from the house of David, in Isaiah 7: 13 – 14.

“Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel”.

 So the end of the line of direct kings from David was the young king Jehoiakim and his uncle Zedekiah who verse 45 says,

You have cut short the days of his youth; you have covered him with a mantle of shame”.

 The splendour of his reign (vs. 44) is replaced with the shame of his exile into Babylon never to return. His people left in exile returned 70 years later but the throne of David was not seen again unto the heavenly throne of Jesus is established when he comes to earth, dies on the cross and rises to life with God forever to sit on the throne of David in heaven as I have already referred to before in Luke 1: 30 – 33,

30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

  1. 46 – 51   GOD’S COVENANT OF LOVE ASKED TO BE RESTORED

 We come then to the final section of this Psalm which the later editor of the third book of Psalms wrote after it appeared to him and the faithful followers of the God of the bible of his time saw what seemed to be the end of the house of David and the death of God’s great covenant of love given to David and his descendants.

He has just set down what seems to be the death of this covenant of love in verses 38 – 45 and now in this final section he asks God to restore the covenant of love to David by probably reversing the fortunes of the last king of the line of David named Jehoiakim who was still probably in exile in Babylon after his uncle Zedekiah had died there after having his eyes cut out, been taken into exile and imprisoned there.

I have broken this last section into two parts:

  1. 46 – 49   How long will God’s rejection last
  2. 50 – 51   The nations mocking of God’s people

 Lets have a closer look at these two parts of this final section of this Psalm:

  1. 46 – 49   How long will God’s rejection last

The editor writer of this last part of Psalm 89, writing some time around the exile of the Jews into exile into Babylon cries out to God, using a very familiar cry of the Psalmists, verse 46,

“How long, O Lord? Will you hide yourself forever?

 I count ten times in the Psalms this cry has been used as a desperate cry to God starting with Psalm 6: 3 and ending with Psalm 119: 84 and Tremple Longman 111 explains,

“The phrase indicates how the sufferer has been long in his pain and sees no terminus in sight”.

So these words were then, definitely not written after the return from exile as the answer to this part of the Psalmist prayer was the defeat of the Babylonians by the Persians and the return from exile from Babylonia 70 years after the exile began.

There is a theory that the third book of Psalms was put together during the time of the exile and this part of Psalm 89, the last Psalm in this book of Psalms seems to confirm this.

The second half of verse 46, seems to indicate that the writer recognized that this terrible defeat of Judah and its king was a result of God’s wrath or anger towards them because of their many sins as it says,

“How long will your wrath burn like fire?”

The writer along with all other surviving Jews of the Babylonian conquest and exile period would have been suffering much and so a cry of “How long” is very understanding.

When I have faced times of testing in my Christian life I have felt like time had suddenly stood still and changes sometimes seemed to go so slowly. I remember two periods of unemployment in my long working life, which both only lasted about 3 months but those three months seemed a long time and I remember praying many desperate prayers during that difficult time in my life.

One scripture I often used in my prayers during those time was Proverbs 3: 5 – 6,

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight”.

The writer and his fellow Jews suffered pain and difficulty much longer than three months as it took 70 years before God answered his people’s prayer with a yes, your punishment is over and you can return to the Promised Land once more.

Then the writer prayers about his own sense of how fragile and fleeting his life is in verses 47 – 48, especially in the oppressed situation he and his nation is going through in the time of the Babylonian conquest and exile,

“Remember how fleeting is my life. For what futility you have created all men! What man can live and not see death, or save himself from the power of the grave”.

 These two verses make a lot of sense only in the context of his nations precarious position and no doubt during the time of the Babylonian conquest the writer witnessed the whole- sale slaughter of many of his people. During dark and terrible times of war life often seems cheap as so many simply perish with often no time to even bury the dead. At the time of writing this Psalm talk the Syrian city of Aleppo, which for some time has witnessed some say the worst destruction and death since the Second World War.

Well may the people still alive today in Aleppo ask,

“Remember how fleeting is my life. For what futility you have created all men!”

Like present- day Aleppo, life in Judah and even Jerusalem seemed cheap and fragile and all its inhabitants felt constantly threatened by their enemies who showed no sign of giving up their reign of terror and death.

In dark times of our lives we might ask the same questions and if we have witnessed the death of someone close to us we might go on to ask what the writer of Psalm 89 asks in verse 48,

“What man can live and not see death, or save himself from the power of the grave?”

 The ultimate answer to this question of our writer was over 400 years away in the future because it is only in The Gospel message of the Lord Jesus Christ do we find God’s ultimate hope for the dark power of death and the grave.

In the previous Psalm, Psalm 88, the writer there asks many questions about the darkness of death and in my Psalm talk I offer this answer to it,

“Death and what followed it for a ancient Hebrew was a much darker reality for them than it is for us who know the wonderful teaching of the New Testament like Jesus words in John 11: 25,

 “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

 The Gospel message Jesus proclaimed is summed up by the apostle John in his famous verse, John 3: 16,

 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”.

So what man can live and not see death?

Well, no man really, but what man can die and then see life?

The New Testaments answer to that is, those who put their faith and trust in Jesus as their Lord and Savior”.

Who can save himself from the power of the grave?

The answer here is, on one again but who can be saved by God from the power of the grave and the answer is, those who put their faith and trust in Jesus as their Lord and Savior”.

As John 3: 15 says, again,

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”.

Finally the writer of Psalm 89 asks the question he really wants answered in verse 49,

“O Lord, where is your former great love, which in your faithfulness you swore to David?”

 To me the reality of this question is that for hundred of years men like our editor writer of the last part of this Psalm sang the words of the first part written as far back as the time of Solomon which spoke of God’s covenant of love to David. A covenant promise that continued the great covenant promise to Abraham that he would be the father of a great nation that would last forever.

David would be the father of a line of kings of that eternal nation that also would rule forever. This covenant was a covenant of love because as the writer of verse 49 says it came out of the great love and faithfulness of the God of the bible.

But, now in our writers time the house of David seems lost and even the nation seemed doomed, not living in its land and captives again by another foreign nation, Babylon. But even in this dark time God offers hope through his prophet Jeremiah who in Jeremiah 29: 10 – 14,

“This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

Even during this 70 years in Babylon Jeremiah speaks of the people in exile prospering even in exile and some scholars have pointed out that many Jews actually did not return after the time of the exile.

However even though the nation returned from exile, no king of the line of David returned as the last king of the line of David, Jehoiakim died in exile eventually in a privileged position as he actually ate at the kings table before he died in Babylon (2 Kings 24: 27 – 29).

Even the puppet king, Jehoiakim’s uncle named Zedekiah died in Babylon in disgrace and as a tortured prisoner, who had his eyes cut out and his sons killed because of his rebellion to the Babylonians.

So how was God’s covenant of love for filled to David?

Again it took over 500 years before God sent Jesus into the world to be born of the line of David through his mother Mary and in him was the throne of David established forever, as I have already alluded to in the Angels words to Mary when she is told about the baby she would give birth to, Luke 1: 30 – 33,

30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

Jesus now reigns with God in heaven as we read in Revelation 11: 15,

The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said:

“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah,

and he will reign for ever and ever.”

  1. 50 – 51   The nations mocking of God’s people

 The new, added section of Psalm 89, I believe was written by a later editor of the third book of Psalms does not end on a positive note. We can see what the positive note is because we live after the time of the coming of Jesus, God’s Son and heir to the eternal throne of David.

The new section of the Psalm ends with a plea for this last king who I believe is Jehoiakim not the Babylonian puppet king Zedekiah, Jehoiakim’s uncle. The writer of this added section of Psalm 89, writes in verses 50 and 51,

“Remember, Lord, how your servant has 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”.

Both in the first and second conquest of Judah and Jerusalem by the Babylonians the nations, probably represented by captured nations soldiers now fighting for the Babylonians mocked the Jewish people and their king as I have already mentioned previously in another Psalm written at this time, Psalm 79 verses 1 – 4,

O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple, they have reduced Jerusalem to rubble.They have left the dead bodies of your servants as food for the birds of the sky, the flesh of your own people for the animals of the wild.They have poured out blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there is no one to bury the dead.We are objects of contempt to our neighbours,

 of scorn and derision to those around us”.

The young king Jehoiakim and even his uncles years later would have copped the brunt of this scorn, derision or mocking by all the nations present at the time’s of the Babylonian conquests of Jerusalem and Judah. Both men were carried off into exile in Babylon in disgrace. One Psalm in the final book of Psalms. Psalm 137 picks up some of the taunts of the Babylonians in exile, verses 1 – 4,

“By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. There on the poplars we hung our harps,for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?”

The words of this Psalm show the depth of the anguish and pain the people felt when they were dragged of into exile and the writer of this last section of Psalm 89, feels this depth of pain and anguish when he writes in verse 50B and 51,

“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”.

For King Jehoiakim, we saw that God did hear this plea by our Psalmist, not in his return to his throne and kingdom but at least he eventually lived out his days in exile in some form of privileged position in the King of Babylon’s court (2 Kings 25: 27 – 30).

I mentioned before at the start of this Psalm talk the true story of the great modern missionary pioneer, William Carey and how he faced such problems and difficulties when working in India. Particularly during the trial of the great fire that seemed to have destroyed years of hard work of translating the bible into an Indian dialect for the first time.

However Carey, with great faith in his Lord and Savior took from the ashes what he could salvage and within a year of hard work he was able to publish the first New Testament in an Indian dialect. His faith did not falter in the face of great opposition and difficulty.

We too can learn from the story behind the message of Psalm 89 that even in the darkest times God is working out his plan for our world and us. As the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8: 28 – 35,

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

 31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?”

  1. 52           DOXOLOGY OF BOOK 3

Allen Harman sums up these editors of the third book of Psalms concluding verse, which is often called a doxology with these words,

This is the shortest of all the concluding doxologies, but it contains the essential thrust of them all – an ascription of praise to the covenantal Lord, with the affirmation of a double ‘Amen”.

 “Praise be to the Lord forever! Amen and Amen”.

 If this book of Psalms, the third book came together just before the return from exile, probably in the 70 year period of exile in Babylon then this word of praise at the end of a Psalm that has spoken when the throne of David seemed to have been restored is a remarkable statement of faith.

The Psalm has set down God’s covenant of love that cannot be done away with, a covenant to David that his house or family line will reign forever. However the last extra part of the Psalm seems to strongly suggest that house of David seemed now dead and gone or at least in danger of being lost forever.

Yet the editors still completed their edited version of this third book of Psalm with a clear word of praise to the God of the bible, they praise the Lord with a double Amen.

Jack Wellman writing in the “Christian Crier” explains that Amen is Hebrew means “So be it” and he says this about the double Amen in these Books of Psalms doxologies,

“He repeats it twice and in the Jewish literature, this is the greatest of emphasis possible.  The only greater emphasis that is possible in Jewish literature is to say it or write it three times and that is only reserved for God where it is said that He is “holy, holy, holy” in Isaiah 6 and a few other places”.

Maybe the editors knew the promise of a future David kingdom that would be established by the coming of the Messiah, as we read in Jeremiah 23: 5 – 6,

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savoir”.

Besides the reference to Jesus fulfilling the Messiah King of the house of David in Luke 1: 30 – 33, which I have referred to a number of times in this Psalm talk already we have proof that the early church leaders incorporated this in their preaching of the Gospel in the early days of the Christian church and we see this twice in the book of Acts.

The first is Peters sermon on the day of Pentecost, the first recorded Christian sermon and in that we read a reference to Jesus being the Messiah, king of the line of David in Acts 2: 22 – 36,

“Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men,[a] put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. 25 David said about him:

 “‘I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. 26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest in hope,27 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, you will not let your holy one see decay. 28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence”.

29 “Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,

 “‘The Lord said to my Lord:  “Sit at my right hand 35 until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”

36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”

Then a little later on, a few years after Pentecost we have another recorded early Christian church sermon this time preached by Paul speaking in a Synagogue in Pisidian Antioch and we read this in Acts 13: 22 – 41

 “After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’

 23 “From this man’s descendants God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as he promised. 24 Before the coming of Jesus, John preached repentance and baptism to all the people of Israel. 25 As John was completing his work, he said: ‘Who do you suppose I am? I am not the one you are looking for. But there is one coming after me whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.’

 26 “Fellow children of Abraham and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent. 27 The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath. 28 Though they found no proper ground for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29 When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the cross and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and for many days he was seen by those who had travelled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to our people.

 32 “We tell you the good news: What God promised our ancestors 33 he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm:

 “‘You are my son; today I have become your father.’

 34 God raised him from the dead so that he will never be subject to decay. As God has said,

 “‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings promised to David.’

35 So it is also stated elsewhere:

 “‘You will not let your holy one see decay”.

 36 “Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed. 37 But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay.

 38 “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39 Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses. 40 Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you:

 41 “‘Look, you scoffers, wonder and perish, for I am going to do something in your days that you would never believe, even if someone told you.”

We will read more of this Messianic hope of fulfilment of God’s covenant of love in the Psalms of books 4 and 5 of Psalms in Psalm talks to come.

For now I close, as usual, with an original poem and prayer:

GOD’S COVENANT OF LOVE

(Based on Psalm 89: 1 – 37 and Luke 1: 29 – 33)

 I will sing of God’s great wondrous love

A love that came to us from God above.

God’s love will never ever pass away

It is a love that we can know today.

He first gave it to Abraham of Old

And now it comes to us to make us bold.

 

God’s covenant of love made David king

It made him great and caused him then to sing

Great praises of the great eternal love of God

David’s line would produce God’s rod

A king that would rule for all eternity

And show the love of God to you and me.

 

Chorus:

The angel said to Mary don’t be afraid

For you will bear a child who God has made.

This child will save people from their sin

And he will be the promised David king.

He will rule forever more

With those who respond to his call.

 

The heavens declare the wonders of the Lord

Whose love and faithfulness is in his word.

For no God can compare with God above

Who calls us now to know his amazing love.

For God rules over all the land and sea

And he has sent his son to set us free.

 

You rule with righteousness and justice Lord

And blessed are the ones who trust your word.

They rejoice and praise your name each day

For you give strength to help them go your way.

You are our help our mighty loving King

So now I lift my voice to you and sing.

 

Chorus:

The angel said to Mary don’t be afraid

For you will bear a child who God has made.

This child will save people from their sin

And he will be the promised David king.

He will rule forever more

With those who respond to his call.

 

David was promised God’s help all his days

God’s appointed king who will show God’s ways.

God will help him fight all his enemies

God’s love will be known through the centuries

Through a Son of David who one day will come

Who will be called King David’s greater son.

 

So don’t forsake God’s covenant of love

Or God will judge you from his throne above.

But Kings that followed David turned away

They failed to follow God and go his way

God would not forsake his covenant of love

So he sent his Son from his home above.

 

Chorus:

The angel said to Mary don’t be afraid

For you will bear a child who God has made.

This child will save people from their sin

And he will be the promised David king.

He will rule forever more

With those who respond to his call.

 

By: Jim Wenman

PRAYER:

 Help us father up above to always know your love expressed to us in Jesus Christ your only Son who came and died for us. Help us in dark times to remember that you’re always with us through good and bad and may we serve you Lord above who sits on high on your throne of love. The eternal throne of David’s line for Jesus sits their king and Lord to guide us by his word and through his Spirit to always walk with us. In Jesus name I pray Amen.