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89. Psalm 89

I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.

2For I have said, Mercy shall be built up for ever: thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens.

3I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant,

4Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations. Selah.

5And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O Lord: thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints.

6For who in the heaven can be compared unto the Lord? who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the Lord?

7God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him.

8O Lord God of hosts, who is a strong Lord like unto thee? or to thy faithfulness round about thee?

9Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them.

10Thou hast broken Rahab in pieces, as one that is slain; thou hast scattered thine enemies with thy strong arm.

11The heavens are thine, the earth also is thine: as for the world and the fulness thereof, thou hast founded them.

12The north and the south thou hast created them: Tabor and Hermon shall rejoice in thy name.

13Thou hast a mighty arm: strong is thy hand, and high is thy right hand.

14Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face.

15Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance.

16In thy name shall they rejoice all the day: and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted.

17For thou art the glory of their strength: and in thy favour our horn shall be exalted.

18For the Lord is our defence; and the Holy One of Israel is our king.

19Then thou spakest in vision to thy holy one, and saidst, I have laid help upon one that is mighty; I have exalted one chosen out of the people.

20I have found David my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him:

21With whom my hand shall be established: mine arm also shall strengthen him.

22The enemy shall not exact upon him; nor the son of wickedness afflict him.

23And I will beat down his foes before his face, and plague them that hate him.

24But my faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him: and in my name shall his horn be exalted.

25I will set his hand also in the sea, and his right hand in the rivers.

26He shall cry unto me, Thou art my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation.

27Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth.

28My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him.

29His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven.

30If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments;

31If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments;

32Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes.

33Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail.

34My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.

35Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David.

36His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me.

37It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven. Selah.

38But thou hast cast off and abhorred, thou hast been wroth with thine anointed.

39Thou hast made void the covenant of thy servant: thou hast profaned his crown by casting it to the ground.

40Thou hast broken down all his hedges; thou hast brought his strong holds to ruin.

41All that pass by the way spoil him: he is a reproach to his neighbours.

42Thou hast set up the right hand of his adversaries; thou hast made all his enemies to rejoice.

43Thou hast also turned the edge of his sword, and hast not made him to stand in the battle.

44Thou hast made his glory to cease, and cast his throne down to the ground.

45The days of his youth hast thou shortened: thou hast covered him with shame. Selah.

46How long, Lord? wilt thou hide thyself for ever? shall thy wrath burn like fire?

47Remember how short my time is: wherefore hast thou made all men in vain?

48What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death? shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave? Selah.

49Lord, where are thy former lovingkindnesses, which thou swarest unto David in thy truth?

50Remember, Lord, the reproach of thy servants; how I do bear in my bosom the reproach of all the mighty people;

51Wherewith thine enemies have reproached, O Lord; wherewith they have reproached the footsteps of thine anointed.

52Blessed be the Lord for evermore. Amen, and Amen.

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.

3 I have made a covenant with my chosen. 524524     “The word אמרתי, ‘I have said,’ is used, in the Book of Psalms, to express two things; either a fixed purpose, or a settled opinion of the person speaking. The Psalmist, therefore, delivers the whole of this second verse in his own person, and introduces not God speaking till the next verse.” — Horsley The more effectually to confirm himself and all the godly in the faith of the Divine promise, he introduces God himself as speaking and sanctioning, by his authority, what had been said in the preceding verse. As faith ought to depend on the Divine promise, this manner of speaking, by which God is represented as coming forward and alluring us to himself by his own voice, is more forcible than if the prophet himself had simply stated the fact. And when God in this way anticipates us, we cannot be charged with rashness in coming familiarly to him; even as, on the contrary, without His word we have no ground to presume that he will be gracious to us, or to hope, at the mere suggestion of our own fancy, for what he has not promised. Moreover, the truth of the promise is rendered still more irrefragable, when God declares that he had made a covenant with his servant David, ratified by his own solemn oath. It having been customary in ancient times to engrave leagues and covenants on tables of brass, a metaphor is here used borrowed from this practice. God applies to David two titles of distinction, calling him both his chosen and his servant. Those who would refer the former appellation to Abraham do not sufficiently attend to the style of the Book of Psalms, in which it is quite common for one thing to be repeated twice. David is called the chosen of God, because God of his own good pleasure, and from no other cause, preferred him not only to the posterity of Saul, and many distinguished personages, but even to his own brethren. If, therefore, the cause or origin of this covenant is sought for, we must necessarily fall back upon the Divine election.

The name of servant, which follows immediately after, is not to be understood as implying that David by his services merited any thing at the hand of God. He is called God’s servant in respect of the royal dignity, into which he had not rashly thrust himself, having been invested with the government by God, and having undertaken it in obedience to his lawful call. When, however, we consider what the covenant summarily contains, we conclude that the prophet has not improperly applied it to his own use, and to the use of the whole people; for God did not enter into it with David individually, but had an eye to the whole body of the Church, which would exist from age to age. The sentence, I will establish thy throne for ever, is partly to be understood of Solomon, and the rest of David’s successors; but the prophet well knew that perpetuity or everlasting duration, in the strict and proper sense, could be verified only in Christ. In ordaining one man to be king, God assuredly did not have a respect to one house alone, while he forgot and neglected the people with whom he had before made his covenant in the person of Abraham; but he conferred the sovereign power upon David and his children, that they might rule for the common good of all the rest, until the throne might be truly established by the advent of Christ.


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