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Taken as a whole, this song is one of the finest in the collection as a revelation of how the man of faith is compelled to view circumstances of calamity. In a poem of great beauty he first sets forth the praises of God (vv. Psa 89:1-37 ). Then he surveys the present condition of His people, and so creates a contrast (vv. Psa 89:38-52 ). No present defeat can dim the glory of past history as it reveals the facts of Divine majesty. Yet these past facts and confidences may be the reason of present enquiry and approach to God.
In the first part, which is a song of praise, the singer tells of the covenant made with David, and then breaks out into adoration. The heavens and the angels witness to His greatness (vv. Psa 89:5-7 ). The earth and men also. All nature, the sea and the mountains, the north and the south, are conscious of His power. In His government the foundations are unshakeable, and the method full of tenderness (vv. Psa 89:8-14 ).
It follows naturally that the people who are peculiarly His own are indeed blessed (vv. Psa 89:15-18 ). This is not theory only; it is experience. For them Jehovah had found a king, and had made him and the people under him invincible in the days of their obedience. Such facts issue in confidence that the future must be one of victory and blessing.
“But”, and the word suggests a change, and a great change it is. Instead of the glowing picture of the former verses is a dark one of present experience. The people are scattered, their defences broken down, their enemies triumphant, and their king is robbed of glory, and covered with shame (vv. Psa 89:38-45 ).
Yet most carefully notice that all this is spoken of as the work of Jehovah. The key phrase to this portion is “Thou hast.” The mighty One Who had found the king and blessed the nation is the One Who has broken the nation and cast out the king. Upon the basis of that conviction the final prayer rises, “How long, Jehovah.” This is the true attitude of the interceding soul in the day of calamity. First, a sense of the greatness and goodness of God, as revealed in the first part of the song. Then the conviction that this same One is visiting the people in discipline. To know the faithfulness of god is to know that when He afflicts there is meaning of mercy in it. When that is recognised, prayer for deliverance is proper, for it must inevitably be accompanied by a turning back of Jehovah from those things which have been the reason of His punishments.
The psalm ends with the doxology which closes the book, and expresses the worship of Jehovah as the essential Helper of His people.
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Morgan, G. Campbell. "Commentary on Psalms 89". "Morgan's Exposition on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13