Psalms 89 Commentary

Psalm 89 Remember the covenant with David

Apparently Israel had suffered some military setback that threatened its existence. This caused some people to think that God had forsaken his anointed king. The psalmist therefore recalls the covenant promise God made to David to preserve his dynasty for ever, and on the basis of this he claims God’s help (1-4; see 2 Sam 7:8-16).

Before speaking further of the covenant, the psalmist praises God for his majesty and greatness. None among the multitudes of glorious heavenly beings can compare with him (5-7). On the earth also he is all- powerful, crushing his foes, working wonders and administering justice (8-14). This one is the God of the people of Israel. He is their glory, joy and strength, the one who gave them their king (15-18).

Assured of God’s perfection and sovereignty, the psalmist turns to consider the covenant that God made with Israel. He outlines how God chose David to be his anointed king (19-20), gave him victory over all his enemies (21-23), enlarged his kingdom beyond the borders of Israel (24-25) and gave him power and glory (26-27). Above all, God made a covenant with David to establish his dynasty permanently (28-29). Even if some kings proved unworthy, God promised that he would not alter his plans. He had chosen the dynasty of David as the means of bringing the Messiah (30-37).

It seems now, however, that their great and powerful God has left them. Their covenant Lord appears to have forgotten his promises (38-39). The kingdom has been ruined, the city destroyed, the land plundered (40-41). Enemies are allowed to conquer as they please. The Davidic king has lost his throne and been openly disgraced (42-45). Why, then, does God not act? Certainly, some must die, but is he going to allow these enemies to conquer and kill until the king and his people are eventually wiped out (46-48)? The psalmist prays that God will remember his covenant promise to David, save his people from their present shame, and give them freedom under the rule of their Davidic king again (49-52).

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