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Bible Commentaries

Trapp's Complete Commentary

Psalms 89

Verse 1

Psalms 89:1 « Maschil of Ethan the Ezrahite. » I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.

Maschil of Ethan the Ezrahite ] Who having out lived Solomon, and seen both the defection of the ten tribes from the house of David, and the woeful work made by Shishak, king of Egypt, in the kingdom of Judah, 2Ch 12:1-9 composed this psalm (as it may seem), and left it for an eruditive or instruction to all succeeding ages what to do in such dismal changes and concussions. That Jewish doctor mentioned by Aben Ezra was more ignorent than wise, who would neither read nor hear this psalm, Quia videtur dura de Deo proferre, because it seemeth to speak harshly of God, Psalms 89:39 .

Ver. 1. I will sing of the mercies of the Lord ] God’s mercies moved him to promise, his faithfulness bindeth him to perform; Ethan promiseth to celebrate both, were the times never so bad, their case never so calamitous.

I will make known thy faithfulness ] Which yet I am sometimes moved to make question of. Thus the psalmist insinuateth before he complaineth, Ut faciendum docent rhetores in causis invidiosis; wherein he showeth himself a right rhetorician.

Verse 2

Psa 89:2 For I have said, Mercy shall be built up for ever: thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens.

Ver. 2. For I have said ] I believed, therefore have I spoken it; I dare say it shall be so, because thou hast said it (so the Greek here hath it). What God saith we may write upon it, because all the words of his mouth are in righteousness, neither is there anything froward or perverse in them, Proverbs 8:8 .

Mercy shall be built up for ever ] Till the topstone be laid, and judgment be brought forth into victory, Matthew 12:20 ; the sure mercies of David fail not.

Thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the heavens ] Or, with the very heavens; that is, so sure as they are established. If that martyr could say, The heavens shall sooner fall than I will forsake the truth I have learned; how much more may we say so of God’s unfailable faithfulness! See Psalms 89:33 .

Verse 3

Psa 89:3 I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant,

Ver. 3. I have made a covenant with my chosen ] i.e. With Christ (who is God’s elect one, Isa 42:1 ), and in him with all his people, Ephesians 1:4 .

I have sworn unto David ] The father and figure of Christ, who is frequently called David, and is here chiefly to be understood. O happy we, for whose sake God hath sworn! saith Tertullian; and O most wretched, if we believe him not thus swearing!

Verse 4

Psa 89:4 Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations. Selah.

Ver. 4. Thy seed will I establish for ever ] David’s for a long time, but Christ’s for ever and aye.

And build up thy throne to all generations ] Christ’s kingdom hath no end, Isa 9:7 Luke 1:33 . This is very comfortable. The Jews understanding this promise of David’s kingdom, have oft attempted the restoration of it; but in vain, and to the ruin of their nation.

Verse 5

Psa 89:5 And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O LORD: thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints.

Ver. 5. And the heavens shall praise thy wonders ] Heb. thy miracle, viz. in their circumgyration (which showeth a first mover), in their embroidery, influences, &c., yielding matter and occasion of praise. And thus, All thy works praise thee, O Lord; but thy saints bless thee, Psalms 145:10 . And so by heavens here we may understand the angels of heaven (as they are called, Mat 24:36 ), as by the congregation of saints the Church universal in heaven and earth, by whom God is highly praised for the covenant of grace.

Verse 6

Psa 89:6 For who in the heaven can be compared unto the LORD? [who] among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the LORD?

Ver. 6. For who in the heaven can be compared? &c ] Thou far transcendest the brightest cherub, all Whose excellence is but derivative, a drop of thine ocean, a spark of thy flame.

Who among the sons of the mighty ] Inter chores Angelorum, saith the Chaldee: What angel, what man?

Verse 7

Psa 89:7 God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all [them that are] about him.

Ver. 7. God is greatly to be feared in the assembly, &c. ] Heb. Daunting terrible in the secret of the saints very much. The holy angels make their addresses unto him with greatest reverence and self-abasement; for they know that he humbleth himself to behold things in heaven, Psalms 113:4-6 . How much more, then, should we set ourselves to serve him with reverence and godly fear, since our God is a consuming fire! Hebrews 12:28-29 .

Verse 8

Psa 89:8 O LORD God of hosts, who [is] a strong LORD like unto thee? or to thy faithfulness round about thee?

Ver. 8. Who is a strong Lord, like unto thee ] Heb. Who is like thee, mighty Jah? This is to magnify God, when we get above all creatures, in our conceptions of him.

Or to thy faithfulness round about thee? ] To those that are round about thee; or, thou art full of faithfulness.

Verse 9

Psa 89:9 Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them.

Ver. 9. Thou rulest the raging of the sea ] That it overwhelm not the earth: this work of God’s power is often celebrated, as well it may, all things considered.

Verse 10

Psa 89:10 Thou hast broken Rahab in pieces, as one that is slain; thou hast scattered thine enemies with thy strong arm.

Ver. 10. Thou hast broken Rahab in pieces ] i.e. Egypt, which is called Rahab for its strength and pride.

As one that is slain ] Or, as one deadly wounded; as such a one is soon despatched, so here, Vox Halal vulneratum lethaliter designat.

Thou hast scattered, &c. ] See Isaiah 25:11 , See Trapp on " Isa 25:11 "

Verse 11

Psa 89:11 The heavens [are] thine, the earth also [is] thine: [as for] the world and the fulness thereof, thou hast founded them.

Ver. 11. The heavens are thine, the earth also is thine ] Thou madest them by thy power, and thou maintainest them by thy providence; thou doest whatsoever thou wilt in both, Psalms 115:3 .

As for the world, &c. ] See Psalms 24:1 ; Psalms 50:12 .

Verse 12

Psa 89:12 The north and the south thou hast created them: Tabor and Hermon shall rejoice in thy name.

Ver. 12. Tabor and Hermon ] That is, the west and east of Judaea, but put here for the west and east of the world. Judaea was the world of the world, as Athens the Greece of Greece, as Solon the epitome of Athens.

Verse 13

Psa 89:13 Thou hast a mighty arm: strong is thy hand, [and] high is thy right hand.

Ver. 13. Thou hast a mighty arm ] Men should, therefore, both tremble before God, and trust in him, 1 Peter 2:6 .

Strong is thy hand ] Even thy left hand, q.d. tu polles utraque manu, thou hast both hands alike powerful.

Verse 14

Psa 89:14 Justice and judgment [are] the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face.

Ver. 14. Justice and judgment are the habitation (or basis) of thy throne] These are the supporters and pillars.

Mercy and truth, &c. ] These are the forerunners, or satellites; I should much fear justice and judgment, saith Austin, were it not that mercy and truth comfort me: "Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ," John 1:17 .

Verse 15

Psa 89:15 Blessed [is] the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of thy countenance.

Ver. 15. Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound ] Iubilationem, the sound of thy word, the free use of thine ordinances; serving thee with cheerfulness, and giving thee thanks with exaltation of heart, and rapture of spirit. Scias unde gaudeas quod verbis explicate non possis, saith Austin. Accipe quod sentitur antequam discitur , saith Cyprian, writing to Donatus, concerning the joy of his conversion.

They shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance ] In the fear of the Lord, and in the comforts of the Holy Ghost.

Verse 16

Psa 89:16 In thy name shall they rejoice all the day: and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted.

Ver. 16. In thy name shall they rejoice all the day ] Or, every day. Bonis semper feriae , Aνηρ αγαθος πασαν ημεραν εορτην ηγειται , saith Diogenes in Plutarch. God crowneth the calendar of good men’s lives with many festivals.

Verse 17

Psa 89:17 For thou [art] the glory of their strength: and in thy favour our horn shall be exalted.

Ver. 17. For thou art the glory of their strength ] And hence it is that they are filled top full with comfort, and do over abound exceedingly with joy in all their tribulation, 2 Corinthians 7:4 .

Verse 18

Psa 89:18 For the LORD [is] our defence; and the Holy One of Israel [is] our king.

Ver. 18. For the Lord is our defence ] Heb. our shield; the body cannot be wounded, but through the shield.

And the Holy One of Israel is our king ] How, then, can any one cry aloud? Micah 4:9 .

Verse 19

Psa 89:19 Then thou spakest in vision to thy holy one, and saidst, I have laid help upon [one that is] mighty; I have exalted [one] chosen out of the people.

Ver. 19. Then thou spakest in vision to thy holy one ] i.e. To Samuel, thy priest and prophet, 1 Samuel 16:12 , one of those few that lived and died with glory.

I have laid help upon one that is’ mighty] I have called David to the kingdom, and qualified him for the purpose; but the person chiefly intended here is Christ, ‘able to save them to the uttermost who come to God by him,’ Hebrews 7:25 .

I have exalted one chosen out of the people ] One of mean parentage, or one of singular parts, drained from the dregs, and sifted from the brans of the vulgar.

Verse 20

Psa 89:20 I have found David my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him:

Ver. 20. I have found David ] The Father seeketh such as worship him in spirit and in truth, John 4:23 . The whole Trinity agreed upon Christ for a mediator.

With my holy oil have I anointed him ] How Christ was appointed and anointed to the mediatorship. See Trapp on " Psa 45:7 "

Verse 21

Psa 89:21 With whom my hand shall be established: mine arm also shall strengthen him.

Ver. 21. With whom my hand shall be established ] I will conduct and carry him through all conditions with comfort. See Ezra 8:22 , See Trapp on " Ezr 8:22 "

Mine arm also shall strengthen him ] i.e. Omnipotentia mea et opitulatio , the arm hath more strength than the hand.

Verse 22

Psa 89:22 The enemy shall not exact upon him; nor the son of wickedness afflict him.

Ver. 22. The enemy shall not exact upon him ] Or, shall profit nothing, not prosper at all, as the Chaldee and Greek have it.

Nor the son of wickedness ] Heb. of injurious evil, one that is set upon mischief, as Aaron said, this people is wholly set upon wickedness, Exodus 32:22 .

Verse 23

Psa 89:23 And I will beat down his foes before his face, and plague them that hate him.

Ver. 23. And I will beat down his foes, &c. ] Victory over enemies is of the Lord; he may better say than any mortal monarch, Cui adhaereo, praeest, He whom I take part with is sure to prevail.

That hate hint ] That secretly malign him, though they can do him no mischief.

Verse 24

Psa 89:24 But my faithfulness and my mercy [shall be] with him: and in my name shall his horn be exalted.

Ver. 24. But my faithfulness and my mercy ] My power without him according to promise, and my peace within him that passeth all understanding, shall guard his heart and mind in Christ Jesus, Philippians 4:7 .

Shall his horn be exalted ] He shall be eminent and eximious.

Verse 25

Psa 89:25 I will set his hand also in the sea, and his right hand in the rivers.

Ver. 25. I will set his hand also in the sea ] He shall be a vice-god, Dan 12:7 Revelation 10:1 . Herodotus saith that the Aeginetae gave the Persians earth and water, in token of subjection to Darius, their king. Christ is the true κοσμοκρατωρ , a title anciently usurped by Sesostris, king of Egypt.

Qui Pharos currus regum cervicibus egit.

Verse 26

Psa 89:26 He shall cry unto me, Thou [art] my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation.

Ver. 26. He shall cry unto me, Thou art my Father ] This was a royalty above all the rest, John 1:12 1 John 3:1 , and applied to Christ, the only begotten Son of God; it sets him above all the angels, Hebrews 1:4-8

My God ] This is the beehive of heavenly honey.

Verse 27

Psa 89:27 Also I will make him [my] firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth.

Ver. 27. Also I will make him my firstborn ] Christ is the firstborn of every creature, and in all things hath the pre-eminence. David also shall be the highest prince on earth, blessed aud accepted far beyond any of them: O nimimn dilecte Deo, &c. O excessively esteemed God.

Verse 28

Psa 89:28 My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him.

Ver. 28. My mercy will I keep for hint ] It shall be ready at all times for his relief, even the sure mercies of David, neither will I utterly take it from him, as I did from Saul.

And my covenant shall stand fast with him ] Faster than the mountains, Isaiah 54:10 , firmer than the courses of sun and moon, day and night, Jeremiah 31:35-36 ; Jeremiah 33:20-21 .

Verse 29

Psa 89:29 His seed also will I make [to endure] for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven.

Ver. 29. His seed also, &c. ] This is chiefly meant of Christ and his kingdom.

And his throne as the days of heaven ] i.e. As the kingdom of heaven, eternal; for the aspectible heaven is corruptible.

Verse 30

Psa 89:30 If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments;

Ver. 30. If his children forsake my law, &c. ] If they fall into sins of commission; if they shoot beyond the mark.

And walk not in my judgments ] If they fall into sins of omission, and shoot short. Where note, that every transgression and disobedience (that is, every commission and omission) receiveth a just recompence of reward, Hebrews 2:2 .

Verse 31

Psa 89:31 If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments;

Ver. 31. If they break my statutes ] Heb. If they profane or make void; q. d. be their sins never so heinous, I will forgive them; though I take vengeance (temporal) of their inventions, Psalms 99:8 .

And keep not my commandments ] Not-serving of God, not-sacrificing is a sin, Mal 3:18 Ecclesiastes 9:2 . See Psalms 89:30 .

Verse 32

Psa 89:32 Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes.

Ver. 32. Then will I visit their transgression with the rod ] The sins of the saints are transgressions, yea, they are treacheries, and shall be visited with the rod; yea, with the rod of men, 2 Samuel 7:14 , of weak, sickly, frail men, as the word there signifieth, that have but weak hands, and can give no hard blows; such shall rather see God’s care than feel his power in their sufferings. Only they shall see that he will not pass by their sins without a sensible check.

Verse 33

Psa 89:33 Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail.

Ver. 33. Nevertheless my lovingkindness, &c. ] For that were to break covenant: I will correct him in mercy, and in measure. Sinite virgam corrigentem, ne sentiatis malleum conterentem, saith Bernard.

Nor suffer my faithfulness to fail ] Non mentiar in veritate mea, God is very careful to keep touch with his.

Verse 34

Psa 89:34 My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.

Ver. 34. My covenant will I not break ] Heb. I will not profane my covenant, though they have profaned my statutes, Psalms 89:31 .

Nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips ] But will pardon their failings, and cause them to keep my commandments.

Verse 35

Psa 89:35 Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David.

Ver. 35. Once have I sworn by mine holiness ] Which is as deep an oath as I know how to take; for my holiness is myself, who am most holy, and the fountain of all holiness. By this I have sworn once, that is, once for all, immobiliter, immutabiliter.

Verse 36

Psa 89:36 His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me.

Ver. 36. His seed shall endure for ever ] Christ "shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days; and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hands," Isaiah 53:10 filiabitur nomine eius, Psalms 72:17 . See there.

Verse 37

Psa 89:37 It shall be established for ever as the moon, and [as] a faithful witness in heaven. Selah.

Ver. 37. It shall be established for ever as the moon ] If his sons be good they shall shine as the sun in his strength, saith Kimchi; as, if they be not, yet they shall be as the moon that shineth, though for a time obscured or eclipsed. A fit resemblance, saith Ainsworth, of the throne or Church of Christ, which hath not always one face or appearance in the world, though it be perpetual. The Papists would have this moon always in the full; and if she show but little light to us they will not yield she is the moon. And yet, except in the eclipse, astronomers demonstrate that the moon hath at all times as much light as she hath in the full; but oftentimes a great part of the bright side is turned to heaven, and a lesser part to the earth: and so the Church is ever conspicuous to God’s eye, though it appear not always so to us.

And as a faithful witness in heaven ] As oft, then, as we see the sun and moon in heaven let us think of the constance of God’s covenant, and the perpetuity of Christ’s kingdom. By this "faithful witness" some understand the rainbow, Genesis 9:13-17 .

Verse 38

Psa 89:38 But thou hast cast off and abhorred, thou hast been wroth with thine anointed.

Ver. 38. But thou hast cast off and abhorred ] So it seemed to the psalmist through infirmity of the flesh (though his faith did ubique micare, appear ever and anon amidst his complaints), and so the enemies reported and insulted.

Thou hast been wroth with thine anointed ] sc. Out of love displeased. And here, as likewise in the verses following, omnia sunt Asyndeta, ad vehementiam.

Verse 39

Psa 89:39 Thou hast made void the covenant of thy servant: thou hast profaned his crown [by casting it] to the ground.

Ver. 39. Thou hast made void the covenant ] This passage a certain Spanish Rabbi stumbled at (as hath been noted on the title of this psalm), but without cause; for all these things are spoken κατα δοξαν , and not κατ αληθειαν , according to opinion, and not according to the truth of things. And, therefore, Kimchi saith well here, Many wonder at this psalmist, and I do as much wonder at their wondering, &c.

Thou hast profaned his crown ] By rendering his regal dignity contemptible. The Greek rendereth it, his sanctuary, αγιασμα αυτου ..

Verse 40

Psa 89:40 Thou hast broken down all his hedges; thou hast brought his strong holds to ruin.

Ver. 40. Thou hast broken down all his hedges ] Or, walls. The walls of Sparta were their militia, of England are their ships, of all lands their laws, Ecclesiastes 10:8 .

Thou hast brought his strong holds to ruin ] Or, to consternation and deadly fright.

Siqua manet gelida formidine concutis arcem


Verse 41

Psa 89:41 All that pass by the way spoil him: he is a reproach to his neighbours.

Ver. 41. All that pass by the way spoil him ] They rob and rifle him: such havoc was made by Shisbak, and is still by the Church’s enemies, Hebrews 10:34 .

He is a reproach to his neighbours ] Who now look upon him as a king of clouts, and ask, Where is his invincible majesty?

Verse 42

Psa 89:42 Thou hast set up the right hand of his adversaries; thou hast made all his enemies to rejoice.

Ver. 42. Thou hast set up ] Thou seemest to be on their side.

Thou hast made all his enemies ] To revel in his ruins.

Verse 43

Psa 89:43 Thou hast also turned the edge of his sword, and hast not made him to stand in the battle.

Ver. 43. Thou hast also turned the edge ] Disarmed and disabled him.

And hast not made him, &c. ] But turned his courage into cowardice.

Verse 44

Psa 89:44 Thou hast made his glory to cease, and cast his throne down to the ground.

Ver. 44. Thou hast made his glory to cease ] Heb. his brightness, the splendent glory and dignity of the kingdom. Some understand it of the priesthood, and the following words of the kingdom.

Verse 45

Psa 89:45 The days of his youth hast thou shortened: thou hast covered him with shame. Selah.

Ver. 45. The days of his youth hast thou shortened ] Thou hast nipped him in the bud, snatched him away by an untimely end, as a young man is sometimes in his prime and pride.

Thou hast covered him with shame. Selah ] Thou hast wrapped him up in the winding sheet of shame. Lord, this is true.

Verse 46

Psa 89:46 How long, LORD? wilt thou hide thyself for ever? shall thy wrath burn like fire?

Ver. 46. How long, Lord? &c. ] Here faith prevaileth against flesh, and falleth a praying, and at length a praising God.

Verse 47

Psa 89:47 Remember how short my time is: wherefore hast thou made all men in vain?

Ver. 47. Remember how short ] See Psalms 39:5 .

Wherefore hast thou, &c. ] As thou mayest seem to have done, unless they may cheerfully serve thee and enjoy thee.

Verse 48

Psa 89:48 What man [is he that] liveth, and shall not see death? shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave? Selah.

Ver. 48. What man is he that liveth, &c. ] q.d. Since die we must, let us live while we may, to some good purpose.

Selah ] q.d. Mark it, and meditate well and oft on this savoury subject.

Verse 49

Psa 89:49 Lord, where [are] thy former lovingkindnesses, [which] thou swarest unto David in thy truth?

Ver. 49. Lord, where are, &c. ] q.d. Thou seemest to have lost them, and we would fain find them again for thee.

Verse 50

Psa 89:50 Remember, Lord, the reproach of thy servants; [how] I do bear in my bosom [the reproach of] all the mighty people;

Ver. 50. Remember, Lord ] Thou seemest to have forgotten us and our sufferings, and we would fain remind thee.

Verse 51

Psa 89:51 Wherewith thine enemies have reproached, O LORD; wherewith they have reproached the footsteps of thine anointed.

Ver. 51. The footsteps of thine anointed ] Heb. The heels or soles of the foot, that is, his doings and sufferings. The Chaldee and others render it, tarditares, moras Christi tui, the delays of thy Christ in coming, whom, therefore, they taunt us with, velut tardigradum vel loripedem et claudum, and say, Where is the promised Messiah?

Verse 52

Psa 89:52 Blessed [be] the LORD for evermore. Amen, and Amen.

Ver. 52. Blessed be the Lord, &c. ] sc. For a Christ; or for adversity as well as for prosperity; and this not formally and slightly, but earnestly, and with utmost affection, Amen, and Amen.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 89". Trapp's Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.