Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Psalms 89

Verses 1-52

We have here another national and historical Ps., written when the Jewish kingdom and its king had fallen very low before their enemies, contrasting the promises made to David with their seeming lack of fulfilment in the course of events, and appealing to God to vindicate His faithfulness. Psalms 89:1-4 are introductory, announcing the Psalmist's purpose of praising God, and recalling the covenant made with David. The following vv. celebrate God's glory among His heavenly hosts (Psalms 89:5-7), in His victory over His enemies, especially Egypt (Psalms 89:8-10), and in the world of nature (Psalms 89:11-12). Psalms 89:13-14 declare His attributes of strength, righteousness, mercy, and truth, and Psalms 89:15-18 speak of the blessedness of His people and their king. His promises to David are repeated at length (Psalms 89:19-37), and the present humiliation of king and people are graphically described (Psalms 89:38-45). The closing vv. are a prayer, in which the Psalmist pleads the shortness of his own life, and the reproaches of the heathen, as reasons for a speedy manifestation of God's faithfulness to His word (Psalms 89:46-51). Psalms 89:52 is the closing doxology of Book 3 of the Psalter. The Ps. was probably written during the exile, and it has been supposed that the king of Psalms 89:39-45 is Jehoiachin, who was deposed and carried away to Babylon in his youth, after a reign of three months (2 Kings 24:8-12; 2 Chronicles 36:9-11; Jeremiah 24:1; Jeremiah 29:2), and kept a prisoner there for thirty-seven years (2 Kings 25:27).

Title.—Maschil] see on Psalms 32. Ethan the Ezrahite] mentioned in 1 Kings 4:31 and 1 Chronicles 2:6.

3, 4. God is here the speaker: see on Psalms 89:19-37. Selah] see on Psalms 3:4;

5. Congregation of the saints] RV 'assembly of the holy ones.' The angels are meant.

6. Sons of the mighty] angels: see Psalms 29:1.

7. Assembly of the saints] RV 'council of the holy ones,' as in Psalms 89:5. Had in reverence of] RV 'feared above.'

8. Or to thy faithfulness] RV 'and thy faithfulness is.'

10. Rahab] Egypt: see on Psalms 87:4.

12. Tabor and Hermon] the most prominent mountains of Palestine.

14. Justice] RV 'righteousness.'

Habitation] RV 'foundation.'

15. The joyful sound] perhaps the sound of trumpets on the occasion of Israel's national and religious rejoicing.

17. Our horn] see Psalms 75:4, Psalms 75:10.

18. RV 'For our shield belongeth unto the Lord; and our king to the Holy One of Israel.' The 'shield' is the same as the 'king,' who is under God's protecting care.

19. In vision] 2 Samuel 7:17. Thy holy one] RV 'thy saints,' the nation of Israel. I have laid help, etc.] I have given a brave man My aid to defend Israel.

19-37 are a poetical expansion of 2 Samuel 7:8-16.

22. Exact upon him] RM 'do him violence.'

25. In.. in] RV 'on.. on': see on Psalms 80:11.

27. My firstborn] The position formerly given to the nation (Exodus 4:22) is here assigned to its king.

30f. The promises of the past are recalled in view of the sad present. Israel had suffered for his sins. Should he not be restored?

37. And as the faithful witness, etc.] The meaning is uncertain. The 'faithful witness' may be the moon, or we may read, 'and the witness in the sky (God) is faithful.'

38. Abhorred] RV 'rejected.' Thineanointed] Israel's king. A particular individual, probably Jehoiachin, seems to be in view in this and the following vv., though they may also be understood of the nation as a whole.

39. Made void] RV 'abhorred.'

40. The thought passes from the king to the nation. For the figure cp. Psalms 80:12.

45. The days of his youth] a phrase specially appropriate to Jehoiachin.

46. Shall] RV 'how long shall.'

47. Wherefore.. in vain?] RV 'For what vanity hast thou created all the children of men!'

48. Hand of the grave] RV' power of Sheol.'

50. People] RV 'peoples,' the enemies of Israel.

52. The doxology marks the close of Book 3: cp. Psalms 41:13; Psalms 72:18, Psalms 72:19.

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Psalms 89". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.