Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible
Psalm 89:1-52. Of Ethan - (See on Psalm 88:1, title). This Psalm was composed during some season of great national distress, perhaps Absalom‘s rebellion. It contrasts the promised prosperity and perpetuity of David‘s throne (with reference to the great promise of 2 Samuel 7:12-17), with a time when God appeared to have forgotten His covenant. The picture thus drawn may typify the promises and the adversities of Christ‘s kingdom, and the terms of confiding appeal to God provided appropriate prayers for the divine aid and promised blessing.
mercies — those promised (Isaiah 55:3; Acts 13:34), and -
faithfulness — that is, in fulfilling them.
The object of this faith expressed in God‘s words (2 Samuel 7:11-16).
with — or literally, “to”
my chosen — as the covenant is in the form of a promise.
This is worthy of our belief, for His faithfulness (is praised) by the congregation of saints or holy ones; that is, angels (compare Deuteronomy 33:2; Daniel 8:13).
sons of the mighty — (compare Psalm 29:1). So is He to be admired on earth.
To illustrate His power and faithfulness examples are cited from history. His control of the sea (the most mighty and unstable object in nature), and of Egypt (Psalm 87:4), the first great foe of Israel (subjected to utter helplessness from pride and insolence), are specimens. At the same time, the whole frame of nature founded and sustained by Him, Tabor and Hermon for “east and west,” and “north and south,” together representing the whole world, declare the same truth as to His attributes.
His government of righteousness is served by “mercy” and “truth” as ministers (Psalm 85:10-13).
know the joyful sound — understand and appreciate the spiritual blessings symbolized by the feasts to which the people were called by the trumpet (Leviticus 25:9, etc.).
walk countenance — live in His favor (Psalm 4:6; Psalm 44:3).
in — or, “by”
thy righteousness — Thy faithful just rule.
glory — or, “beauty.”
of their strength — They shall be adorned as well as protected.
our horn — exalt our power (Psalm 75:10; Luke 1:69).
Then — when the covenant was established, of whose execution the exalted views of God now given furnish assurance.
thou to thy holy one — or godly saint, object of favor (Psalm 4:3). Nathan is meant (2 Samuel 7:17; 1 Chronicles 17:3-15).
laid help — literally, “given help.” David was chosen and then exalted.
by restraining and conquering his enemies, and performing My gracious purpose of extending his dominion -
hand [and] right hand — power (Psalm 17:7; Psalm 60:5).
sea, and rivers — limits of his empire (Psalm 72:8).
first-born — one who is chief, most beloved or distinguished (Exodus 4:22; Colossians 1:15). In God‘s sight and purposes he was the first among all monarchs, and specially so in his typical relation to Christ.
This relation is perpetual with David‘s descendants, as a whole typical in official position of his last greatest descendant. Hence though in personal relations any of them might be faithless and so punished, their typical relation shall continue. His oath confirms His promise, and the most enduring objects of earth and heaven illustrate its perpetual force (Psalm 72:5, Psalm 72:7, Psalm 72:17).
Once — one thing (Psalm 27:4).
by my holiness — as a holy God.
that I will not lie — literally, “if I lie” - part of the form of swearing (1 Samuel 24:6; 2 Samuel 3:35).
It shall moon heaven — literally, “As the moon, and the witness in the sky is sure, that is, the moon.”
present a striking contrast to these glowing promises, in mournful evidences of a loss of God‘s favor.
cast off — and rejected (compare Psalm 15:4; Psalm 43:2; Psalm 44:9).
The ruin is depicted under several figures - a vineyard whose broken “hedges,” and “strongholds,” whose ruins invite spoilers and invaders; a warrior, whose enemies are aided by God, and whose sword‘s “edge” - literally, “rock” or “strength” (Joshua 5:2) is useless; and a youth prematurely old.
days of his youth — or, “youthful vigor,” that is, of the royal line, or promised perpetual kingdom, under the figure of a man.
These expostulations are excited in view of the identity of the prosperity of this kingdom with the welfare of all mankind (Genesis 22:18; Psalm 72:17; Isaiah 9:7; Isaiah 11:1-10); for if such is the fate of this chosen royal line.
What man — literally, “strong man - shall live?” and, indeed, have not all men been made in vain, as to glorifying God?
The terms of expostulation are used in view of the actual appearance that God had forsaken His people and forgotten His promise, and the plea for aid is urged in view of the reproaches of His and His people‘s enemies (compare Isaiah 37:17-35).
bear in my bosom — as feeling the affliction of the people (Psalm 69:9).
footsteps — ways (Psalm 56:6).
Blessed, etc. — denotes returning confidence (Psalm 34:1-3).
Amen, and Amen — closes the third book of Psalms.
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