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Psalm 89

God’s Covenant with David

A Maskil of Ethan the Ezrahite.


I will sing of your steadfast love, O L ord, forever;

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


I declare that your steadfast love is established forever;

your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.



You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one,

I have sworn to my servant David:


‘I will establish your descendants forever,

and build your throne for all generations.’ ” Selah



Let the heavens praise your wonders, O L ord,

your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones.


For who in the skies can be compared to the L ord?

Who among the heavenly beings is like the L ord,


a God feared in the council of the holy ones,

great and awesome above all that are around him?


O L ord God of hosts,

who is as mighty as you, O L ord?

Your faithfulness surrounds you.


You rule the raging of the sea;

when its waves rise, you still them.


You crushed Rahab like a carcass;

you scattered your enemies with your mighty arm.


The heavens are yours, the earth also is yours;

the world and all that is in it—you have founded them.


The north and the south—you created them;

Tabor and Hermon joyously praise your name.


You have a mighty arm;

strong is your hand, high your right hand.


Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne;

steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.


Happy are the people who know the festal shout,

who walk, O L ord, in the light of your countenance;


they exult in your name all day long,

and extol your righteousness.


For you are the glory of their strength;

by your favor our horn is exalted.


For our shield belongs to the L ord,

our king to the Holy One of Israel.



Then you spoke in a vision to your faithful one, and said:

“I have set the crown on one who is mighty,

I have exalted one chosen from the people.


I have found my servant David;

with my holy oil I have anointed him;


my hand shall always remain with him;

my arm also shall strengthen him.


The enemy shall not outwit him,

the wicked shall not humble him.


I will crush his foes before him

and strike down those who hate him.


My faithfulness and steadfast love shall be with him;

and in my name his horn shall be exalted.


I will set his hand on the sea

and his right hand on the rivers.


He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father,

my God, and the Rock of my salvation!’


I will make him the firstborn,

the highest of the kings of the earth.


Forever I will keep my steadfast love for him,

and my covenant with him will stand firm.


I will establish his line forever,

and his throne as long as the heavens endure.


If his children forsake my law

and do not walk according to my ordinances,


if they violate my statutes

and do not keep my commandments,


then I will punish their transgression with the rod

and their iniquity with scourges;


but I will not remove from him my steadfast love,

or be false to my faithfulness.


I will not violate my covenant,

or alter the word that went forth from my lips.


Once and for all I have sworn by my holiness;

I will not lie to David.


His line shall continue forever,

and his throne endure before me like the sun.


It shall be established forever like the moon,

an enduring witness in the skies.” Selah



But now you have spurned and rejected him;

you are full of wrath against your anointed.


You have renounced the covenant with your servant;

you have defiled his crown in the dust.


You have broken through all his walls;

you have laid his strongholds in ruins.


All who pass by plunder him;

he has become the scorn of his neighbors.


You have exalted the right hand of his foes;

you have made all his enemies rejoice.


Moreover, you have turned back the edge of his sword,

and you have not supported him in battle.


You have removed the scepter from his hand,

and hurled his throne to the ground.


You have cut short the days of his youth;

you have covered him with shame. Selah



How long, O L ord? Will you hide yourself forever?

How long will your wrath burn like fire?


Remember how short my time is—

for what vanity you have created all mortals!


Who can live and never see death?

Who can escape the power of Sheol? Selah



Lord, where is your steadfast love of old,

which by your faithfulness you swore to David?


Remember, O Lord, how your servant is taunted;

how I bear in my bosom the insults of the peoples,


with which your enemies taunt, O L ord,

with which they taunted the footsteps of your anointed.



Blessed be the L ord forever.

Amen and Amen.

47 Remember how short my time is. After having confessed that the severe and deplorable afflictions which had befallen the Church were to be traced to her own sins as the procuring cause, the prophet, the more effectually to move God to commiseration, lays before him the brevity of human life, in which, if we receive no taste of the Divine goodness, it will seem that we have been created in vain. That we may understand the passage the more clearly, it will be better to begin with the consideration of the last member of the verse, Why shouldst thou have created all the sons of men in vain? The faithful, in putting this question, proceed upon an established first principle, That God has created men and placed them in the world, to show himself a father to them. And, indeed, as his goodness extends itself even to the cattle and lower animals of every kind, 558558     This appeal respecting the universality of death, and the impossibility of avoiding it, meets with a ready response in the bosom of every child of Adam, however exalted or humble his lot. And, when death has once seized on its victim, all the wealth, power, and skill of the world cannot spoil the grave of its dominion. The admirable lines of Gray, in his celebrated Elegy, furnish a very good comment on this verse: —
   “The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave,
Await alike th’ inevitable hour:

The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

   “Can storied urn, or animated bust,
Back to its mansions call the fleeting breath?
Can Honour’s voice provoke the silent dust,
Or Flatt’ry soothe the dull cold ear of Death?”
it cannot for a moment be supposed, that we, who hold a higher rank in the scale of being than the brute creation, should be wholly deprived of it. Upon the contrary supposition, it were better for us that we had never been born, than to languish away in continual sorrow. There is, moreover, set forth the brevity of the course of our life; which is so brief, that unless God make timely haste in giving us some taste of his benefits, the opportunity for doing this will be lost, since our life passes rapidly away. The drift of this verse is now very obvious. In the first place, it is laid down as a principle, That the end for which men were created was, that they should enjoy God’s bounty in the present world; and from this it is concluded that they are born in vain, unless he show himself a father towards them. In the second place, as the course of this life is short, it is argued that if God does not make haste to bless them, the opportunity will no longer be afforded when their life shall have run out.

But here it may be said, in the first place, that the saints take too much upon them in prescribing to God a time in which to work; and, in the next place, that although he afflict us with continual distresses, so long as we are in our state of earthly pilgrimage, yet there is no ground to conclude from this that we have been created in vain, since there is reserved for us a better life in heaven, to the hope of which we have been adopted; and that, therefore, it is not surprising though now our life is hidden from us on earth. I answer, That it is by the permission of God that the saints take this liberty of urging him in their prayers to make haste; and that there is no impropriety in doing so, provided they, at the same time, keep themselves within the bounds of modesty, and, restraining the impetuosity of their affections, yield themselves wholly to his will. With respect to the second point, I grant that it is quite true, that although we must continue to drag out our life amidst continual distresses, we have abundant consolation to aid us in bearing all our afflictions, provided we lift up our minds to heaven. But still it is to be observed, in the first place, that it is certain, considering our great weakness, that no man will ever do this unless he has first tasted of the Divine goodness in this life; and, secondly, that the complaints of the people of God ought not to be judged of according to a perfect rule, because they proceed not from a settled and an undisturbed state of mind, but have always some excess arising from the impetuosity or vehemence of the affections at work in their minds. I at once allow that the man who measures the love of God from the state of things as presently existing, judges by a standard which must lead to a false conclusion;

“for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth,” (Hebrews 12:6.)

But as God is never so severe towards his own people as not to furnish them with actual experimental evidence of his grace, it stands always true that life is profitless to men, if they do not feel, while they live, that He is their father.

As to the second clause of the verse, it has been stated elsewhere that our prayers do not flow in one uniform course, but sometimes betray an excess of sorrow. It is, therefore, not to be wondered at that the faithful, when immoderate sorrow or fear occupies their thoughts and keeps fast hold of them, experience such inattention stealing by degrees upon them, as to make them for a time forget to keep their minds fixed in meditation upon the life to come. Many think it very unaccountable, if the children of God do not, the first moment they begin to think, immediately penetrate into heaven, as if thick mists did not often intervene to impede or hinder us when we would look attentively into it. For faith to lose its liveliness is one thing, and for it to be utterly extinguished is another. And, doubtless, whoever is exercised in the judgments of God, and in conflict with temptations, will acknowledge that he is not so mindful of the spiritual life as he ought to be. Although then the question, Why shouldst thou have created all the sons of men in vain? is deduced from a true principle, yet it savours somewhat of a faulty excess. Whence it appears that even in our best framed prayers, we have always need of pardon. There always escapes from us some language or sentiment chargeable with excess, and therefore it is necessary for God to overlook or bear with our infirmity.

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