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Psalm 89

God’s Covenant with David

A Maskil of Ethan the Ezrahite.

1

I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever;

with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations.


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1 I will sing of the mercies of Jehovah for ever. It must be borne in mind, as I have just now observed, that the Psalmist opens with the praises of God, and with calling to mind the Divine covenant, to encourage the faithful to strengthen their faith against the formidable assaults of temptation. If when we set about the duty of prayer some despairing thought, at the very outset, presents itself to us, we must forcibly and resolutely break through it, lest our hearts faint and utterly fail. The design of the prophet, therefore, was to fortify the minds of the godly at the very commencement, with stable and substantial supports, that, relying on the Divine promise, which, to outward appearance, had almost fallen to the ground, and repelling all the assaults of temptation with which their faith was severely shaken, they might with confidence hope for the re-establishment of the kingdom, and continue perseveringly to pray for this blessing. From the sad spectacle of begun decay, 522522     Ainsworth’s translation of this last clause is both literal and elegant. “The heavens, thou wilt establish thy faithfulness in them.” Dr Kennicott, in his Remarks on Select Passages of the Old Testament, here refers to verses 37, 38, “where,” says he, “it appears that the sun, the moon, and the bow in the sky, were the tokens of confirmation given by God to the covenant made with David.” “The meaning of this passage,” says Warner, “appears to be, that the constancy of the celestial motions, the regular vicissitudes of day and night, and alternations of the seasons, were emblems of God’s own immutability.” which Ethan beheld, listening to the dictates of carnal reason, he might have thought that both himself and the rest of God’s believing people were deceived; but he expresses his determination to celebrate the mercies of God which at that time were hidden from his view. And as it was no easy matter for him to apprehend and acknowledge the merciful character of God, of whose severity he had actual experience, he uses the plural number, the Mercies of God, that by reflecting on the abundance and variety of the blessings of Divine grace he might overcome this temptation.

2 For I have said, Mercy shall be built up for ever. He assigns the reason why he perseveres in singing the Divine praises in the midst of adversities; which is, that he does not despair of the manifestation of God’s loving-kindness towards his people, although at present they were under severe chastisement. Never will a man freely open his mouth to praise God, unless he is fully persuaded that God, even when he is angry with his people, never lays aside his fatherly affection towards them. The words I have said, imply that the truth which the inspired writer propounds was deeply fixed in his heart. 523523     “Ex tristi ruinae spectaculo.” — Lat. “Voyant ce commoncement pitoyable d’une ruine.” — Fr. Whatever, as if he had said, has hitherto happened, it has never had the effect of effacing from my heart the undoubted hope of experiencing the Divine favor as to the future, and I will always continue steadfastly to cherish the same feeling. It is to be observed, that it was not without a painful and arduous conflict that he succeeded in embracing by faith the goodness of God, which at that time had entirely vanished out of sight; — this we say is to be particularly noticed, in order that when God at any time withdraws from us all the tokens of his love, we may nevertheless learn to erect in our hearts that everlasting building of mercy, which is here spoken of, — a metaphor, by which is meant that the Divine mercy shall be extended, or shall continue till it reach its end or consummation. In the second clause of the verse something must be supplied. The sense, in short, is, that the Divine promise is no less stable than the settled course of the heavens, which is eternal and exempt from all change. By the word heavens I understand not only the visible skies, but the heavens which are above the whole frame of the world; for the truth of God, in the heavenly glory of his kingdom, is placed above all the elements of the world.




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