maskil of Ethan the Ezrahite.
Comments: A ‘psalm of understanding' [a maskil] with
an author difficult to identify. What is even more difficult is
being definite about when it was written and to what situation
1 simply extols
the Lord's love and faithfulness [v.1,2] in a variety of ways
– His covenant with David [v.3,4], His greatness in heaven [v.5-8],
His greatness on earth [v.9-13], the nature of His character [v.14-17],
His call and establishing of David [v.18-25] and the nature of
His relationship through the covenant [v.26-29]. Verse 30 to 37
are critical to understanding what follows: the covenant, as all
covenants with God are, is conditional on the obedience on the
human side, i.e. David and his successors. However, note v.33
where the Lord declares that even if there is disobedience by
David's ‘sons' [as there was] the Lord would not stop loving David.
2 is all about
what happened when the covenant was broken – by Solomon and his
successors: in v.39 the word ‘renounced' might be better served
by ‘drawn back from' meaning the Lord stopped blessing the wayward
successors to David and brought chastisement on them and on Jerusalem
[v.40-45]. The personal touch in the following verses suggests
it is one of the successors who pleads for mercy.]
1: v.1-37: Extolling the Lord's Great Love & Faithfulness
God's love & faithfulness declared
will sing of the Lord's
with my mouth I will make your
through all generations.
will declare that your love stands firm for ever,
that you have established your faithfulness
in heaven itself.
That love was demonstrated by His covenant with David
said, ‘I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to David my servant,
will establish your line for ever
and make your throne firm through all
The Lord's greatness over the heavenly courts
heavens praise your wonders, Lord,
your faithfulness too, in the assembly
of the holy ones.
who in the skies above can compare with the Lord?
Who is like the Lord among the heavenly
the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared;
he is more awesome than all who surround
is like you, Lord
You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness
The Lord's greatness over the earth
rule over the surging sea;
when its waves mount up, you still them.
crushed Rahab like one of the slain;
with your strong arm you scattered your
heavens are yours, and yours also the earth;
you founded the world and all that is
created the north and the south;
Tabor and Hermon sing for joy at your
arm is endowed with power;
your hand is strong, your right hand
Various expressions of the Lord's greatness in His character
and justice are the foundation of
your throne; love
and faithfulness go before you.
are those who have learned to acclaim you,
who walk in the light of your presence,
rejoice in your name all day long;
they celebrate your righteousness.
you are their glory and strength,
and by your favour you exalt our horn.
The Lord's greatness in calling & establishing David
our shield belongs to the Lord,
our king to the Holy One of Israel.
you spoke in a vision,
to your faithful people you said:
‘I have bestowed strength on a warrior;
I have raised up a young man from among
have found David my servant;
with my sacred oil I have anointed him.
hand will sustain him;
surely my arm will strengthen him.
enemy will not get the better of him;
the wicked will not oppress him.
will crush his foes before him
and strike down his adversaries.
faithful love will be with him,
and through my name his horn will be
will set his hand over the sea,
his right hand over the rivers.
The covenant established in relationship
will call out to me, “You are my Father,
my God, the Rock my Saviour.”
I will appoint him to be my firstborn,
the most exalted of the kings of the
will maintain my love to him for ever,
and my covenant with him will never fail.
will establish his line for ever,
his throne as long as the heavens endure.
The Blessing that comes through Covenant is Conditional upon obedience
his sons forsake my law
and do not follow my statutes,
they violate my decrees
and fail to keep my commands,
will punish their sin with the rod,
their iniquity with flogging;
I will not take my love from him,
nor will I ever betray my faithfulness.
will not violate my covenant
or alter what my lips have uttered.
for all, I have sworn by my holiness –
and I will not lie to David –
his line will continue for ever
and his throne endure before me like
will be established for ever like the moon,
the faithful witness in the sky.'
2: v.38-52: The Discipline that comes through that Covenant
But that Covenant appears to have been broken
you have rejected, you have spurned,
you have been very angry with your anointed
have renounced the covenant with your servant
and have defiled his crown in the dust.
Jerusalem (and David's line) appear to have been brought down
have broken through all his walls
and reduced his strongholds to ruins.
who pass by have plundered him;
he has become the scorn of his neighbours.
have exalted the right hand of his foes;
you have made all his enemies rejoice.
you have turned back the edge of his sword
and have not supported him in battle.
have put an end to his splendour
and cast his throne to the ground.
have cut short the days of his youth;
you have covered him with a mantle of
He appeals on the basis of his humanity
? Will you
hide yourself for ever?
How long will your wrath burn like fire?
how fleeting is my life.
For what futility you have created all
can live and not see death,
or who can escape the power of the grave?
He appeals on the basis of the covenant
where is your former great love,
which in your faithfulness you swore
Lord, how your servant has been mocked,
how I bear in my heart the taunts of
all the nations,
taunts with which your enemies, Lord
, have mocked,
with which they have mocked every step
of your anointed one.
He concludes with praise to the Lord
be to the Lord
Amen and Amen.
Comments: The psalm examines the reality of the covenants
that appear in Scripture. In the Pentateuch, in the Law, in the
blessings and curses, it is very clear indeed that the covenant
with God brings blessing to the people but it is conditional upon
obedience by the nation. When that obedience ceases, the flow
of God's blessing ceases and is replaced by discipline, which
is what Part 2 above refers to. The goal is always to bring the
nation (and its king) to their senses and draw them back to God
so that the blessings continue. The psalmists praise in the final
verse shows there is no anomaly between Parts 1 and 2.]
to Psa 90