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Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: Psalms

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FRAMEWORKS: Psa 89

    

A maskil of Ethan the Ezrahite.

  

[Preliminary 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 it applies.

Part 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.

Part 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.]

 

 

PART 1: v.1-37: Extolling the Lord's Great Love & Faithfulness

 

v.1.2 God's love & faithfulness declared

v.1  I will sing of the Lord's great love for ever;
     with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known
     through all generations.
v.2  I will declare that your love stands firm for ever,
     that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.
    

v.3,4 That love was demonstrated by His covenant with David

v.3  You said, ‘I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
     I have sworn to David my servant,
v.4  “I will establish your line for ever
     and make your throne firm through all generations.”'

 

v.5-8 The Lord's greatness over the heavenly courts

v.5  The heavens praise your wonders, Lord,
     your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones.
v.6  For who in the skies above can compare with the Lord?
     Who is like the Lord among the heavenly beings?
v.7  In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared;
     he is more awesome than all who surround him.
v.8  Who is like you, Lord God Almighty?
     You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.

  

v.9-13 The Lord's greatness over the earth

v.9  You rule over the surging sea;
     when its waves mount up, you still them.
v.10  You crushed Rahab like one of the slain;
     with your strong arm you scattered your enemies.
v.11  The heavens are yours, and yours also the earth;
     you founded the world and all that is in it.
v.12  You created the north and the south;
     Tabor and Hermon sing for joy at your name.
v.13  Your arm is endowed with power;
     your hand is strong, your right hand exalted.

 

v.14-17 Various expressions of the Lord's greatness in His character

v.14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you.
v.15  Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you,
     who walk in the light of your presence, Lord.
v.16  They rejoice in your name all day long;
     they celebrate your righteousness.
v.17  For you are their glory and strength,
     and by your favour you exalt our horn.
     

v.18-25 The Lord's greatness in calling & establishing David

v.18  Indeed, our shield belongs to the Lord,
     our king to the Holy One of Israel.

v.19  Once you spoke in a vision,
     to your faithful people you said:
‘I have bestowed strength on a warrior;
     I have raised up a young man from among the people.
v.20  I have found David my servant;
     with my sacred oil I have anointed him.
v.21  My hand will sustain him;
     surely my arm will strengthen him.
v.22  The enemy will not get the better of him;
     the wicked will not oppress him.
v.23  I will crush his foes before him
     and strike down his adversaries.
v.24  My faithful love will be with him,
     and through my name his horn will be exalted.
v.25  I will set his hand over the sea,
     his right hand over the rivers.
    

v.26-29 The covenant established in relationship

v.26  He will call out to me, “You are my Father,
     my God, the Rock my Saviour.”
v.27  And I will appoint him to be my firstborn,
     the most exalted of the kings of the earth.
v.28  I will maintain my love to him for ever,
     and my covenant with him will never fail.
v.29  I will establish his line for ever,
     his throne as long as the heavens endure.

  

v.30-37 The Blessing that comes through Covenant is Conditional upon obedience

v.30  ‘If his sons forsake my law
     and do not follow my statutes,
v.31  if they violate my decrees
     and fail to keep my commands,
v.32  I will punish their sin with the rod,
     their iniquity with flogging;
v.33  but I will not take my love from him,
     nor will I ever betray my faithfulness.
v.34  I will not violate my covenant
     or alter what my lips have uttered.
v.35  Once for all, I have sworn by my holiness –
     and I will not lie to David –
v.36  that his line will continue for ever
     and his throne endure before me like the sun;
v.37  it will be established for ever like the moon,
     the faithful witness in the sky.'

 

PART 2: v.38-52: The Discipline that comes through that Covenant

 

v.38,39 But that Covenant appears to have been broken

v.38  But you have rejected, you have spurned,
     you have been very angry with your anointed one.
v.39  You have renounced the covenant with your servant
     and have defiled his crown in the dust.
     

v.40-45 Jerusalem (and David's line) appear to have been brought down

v.40  You have broken through all his walls
     and reduced his strongholds to ruins.
v.41  All who pass by have plundered him;
     he has become the scorn of his neighbours.
v.42  You have exalted the right hand of his foes;
     you have made all his enemies rejoice.
v.43  Indeed, you have turned back the edge of his sword
     and have not supported him in battle.
v.44  You have put an end to his splendour
     and cast his throne to the ground.
v.45  You have cut short the days of his youth;
     you have covered him with a mantle of shame.

 

v.46 He appeals on the basis of his humanity

v.46  How long, Lord ? Will you hide yourself for ever?
     How long will your wrath burn like fire?
v.47  Remember how fleeting is my life.
     For what futility you have created all humanity!
v.48  Who can live and not see death,
     or who can escape the power of the grave?
   

v.49-51 He appeals on the basis of the covenant

v.49  Lord, where is your former great love,
     which in your faithfulness you swore to David?
v.50  Remember, Lord, how your servant has been mocked,
     how I bear in my heart the taunts of all the nations,
v.51  the taunts with which your enemies, Lord , have mocked,
     with which they have mocked every step of your anointed one.

    

v.52 He concludes with praise to the Lord

v.52  Praise be to the Lord for ever!
Amen and Amen.

 

 

[Additional 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.]

     

    

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