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Bible Commentaries

Smith's Writings

Psalms 89

Verses 1-52


The mercies of Jehovah, secured by Israel by the faithfulness of God.

In Psalm 88 the godly man, representing the nation of Israel, learns in the presence of Jehovah that sin and a broken law bring the soul under the judgment of Jehovah, from which there is no salvation apart from Jehovah to whom faith looks.

In Psalm 89 , the godly remnant look for salvation in the mercy of God, and the faithfulness of God to His covenant with David, by which blessing is secured, even though for a time the nation is cast off.

(vv. 1-2) The opening verses present the great theme of the psalm - the mercies and faithfulness of God, instead of the sin and failure of the nation, as in Psalm 88 , moreover the psalm presents the great fact that, not only are there mercies and faithfulness with God, but, these blessed qualities cannot be affected by anything that man can do. They are beyond the reach of man's corrupting hand. Mercy is built up for ever; and faithfulness is established in the very heavens.

(vv. 3-4) The two verses that follow recite the covenant of mercy with David, which is made sure by the faithfulness of Jehovah ( 2Sa_23:5 ; Act_13:34 ).

(vv. 5-8) The psalmist then celebrates the glory of Jehovah - the One who has made the covenant with David. The heavens declare His wonders; the saints His faithfulness. No creature can be compared with Jehovah. In His supreme glory as God there can be none likened to Him. In the assembly of His saints He is the object of reverent fear. Supreme in strength, as the Lord God of hosts, He acts in faithfulness on every side.

(vv. 9-10) The godly recall the exercise of Jehovah's power, when at the Red Sea He broke the power of Egypt (“Rahab”), and scattered His enemies with His strong arm.

(vv. 11-14) Moreover, Jehovah is the possessor of heaven and earth by His rights as Creator, and, if He overthrows the power of the world, as represented by Egypt, it is that He, by His mighty arm, may establish His own throne, marked by justice and judgment, mercy and truth.

(vv. 15-18) Furthermore, His throne is established in order that He may dwell in the midst of a praising people, who rejoice in His favour, and are exalted in righteousness. A people of whom Jehovah is their glory, their strength, their defence, and their King.

(vv. 19-28) The verses that follow present in detail the covenant made with David, and the assurance of God's faithfulness to His covenant. God had spoken in vision to Nathan ( 2Sa_7:4-17 ) of David, the one who is chosen from the people and exalted; anointed as the servant of the Lord (v. 20); triumphant over all his enemies (vv. 21-23); established by God's faithfulness and mercy, to reign over the full extent of the land as given to Abraham, from the sea (the Mediterranean) to the rivers (the Euphrates and the Nile). The one appointed to rule in dependence upon God as his might and his salvation (v. 26); and thus pre-eminent over the kings of the earth (v. 27). For him God's mercy will be kept for evermore; and “with him” God's covenant will stand fast (v. 28).

In this fine description of the glories of David we are surely intended to see Christ the true Anointed King of Israel, of whom David was but a type.

(vv. 29-37) The following verses present the seed of David. With the seed there is the possibility of failure and the governmental consequences that follow (vv. 30-32). Nevertheless, God will not utterly take from them His loving-kindness, nor suffer His faithfulness to fail. God will not break His covenant, nor alter the word that has gone out of His lips (vv. 33-34). The holiness of God is a witness that God cannot alter His word by which blessing is secured to David and his seed.

(vv. 38-45) Alas! the seed of David entirely broke down. They forsook the law, and walked not in God's judgments; they broke His statutes and kept not His commandments (vv. 30-31). Thus the threatened rod (v. 32) has fallen upon the nation. They are cast off and, apparently, the covenant is made void. Their land is ruined, they themselves in reproach; their enemies exalted over them; their glory passed away; their throne brought down; they are covered with shame.

(vv. 46-52) Nevertheless, in the midst of their shame the faith of the remnant shines forth. They realize that there will be a limit to the chastening of the Lord. Hence they ask, “How long, Jehovah?” They ask God to remember the frailty of man (vv. 47-48). They plead the former lovingkindnesses which God had shown unto David. They plead the reproach of their enemies. However great their failure, they say, we are “thy servants,” and their enemies are “thine enemies,” and they have put to shame “thine Anointed.”

They wait for an answer, but, knowing it must come, for God's faithfulness cannot fail, they say “Blessed be the Lord for evermore. Amen, and Amen.”

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Bibliographical Information
Smith, Hamilton. "Commentary on Psalms 89". "Smith's Writings". 1832.