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Psalms 89:1-52. Title. Many learned men are of opinion, that this psalm was written during the Babylonish captivity, when, the family of David being entirely dethroned, the promises of God seemed to be made void : but if it were composed at so late a period ; no account can possibly be given why it was ascribed to Ethan the Ezrahite. (Marg. -Ref a.) Indeed, it seems to contain internal evidence, that it belongs to earlier times : for none of the deliverances vouchsafed to the kings or people of Judah, after the days of David, are mentioned in it : and the Psalmist, in complaining of the degraded and deplorable condition of David’s family, is silent as to any desolations of Jerusalem and the temple, and the captivity and dispersion of the people ; which the psalms evidently relating to Nebuchadnezzar’s devastations particularly insist upon. It seems therefore to have been written on occasion of some events, in which the honour and power of the kings of David’s race were fallen, and apparently ruined; but, without either the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, or the captivity of the people : and what period so exactly suits this view of the subject, as the reign of Rehoboam ? Ten of the tribes of Israel had revolted from him ; Jeroboam, the king placed over them, was his powerful adversary ; and Shishak, king of Egypt, so entirely reduced and impoverished him, that he only seems to have retained the kingdom, by ’the clemency, and perhaps contempt, of his haughty conqueror.
Notes, 1 Kings 12:16-24
V. 1- 4. The Psalmist, being about to deplore the apparent failure of the covenant made with David, begins with declaring his determined purpose of praising for ever the mercies and faithfulness of God, which he desired to make known to all future generations. (Notes, Psalms 145:1-2. Psalms 146:2.) Indeed he was assured that his words, being dictated by the Holy Spirit, would continue through all generations, as a testimony to this effect. For he had said, and he would not retract it, however appearances might then be ; that the mercy, of which the foundation had been laid in the covenant with David, would be " built up for " ever;" and that the faithfulness of God to his promises would be " established in the heavens ; " or like them, that is, above the reach of the changes which take place in this lower world. These emphatical expressions are literally verified in the kingdom of Christ, the promised Seed of David, whose throne is established in heaven, and whose true subjects will all be exalted thither. The Psalmist then introduces JEHOVAH himself declaring the purport of this covenant made with his chosen servant David arid his posterity. ’ The covenant relates to David’s " seed ; " and to ’ the " establishment of his throne in that seed," literally ’ in Solomon for a time ; spiritually in Christ, for ever " When thy days shall be fulfilled, ... 1 will set up thy ’ " seed after thee. . . . He shall build an house for my ’ " name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ’ " ever. I will be his Father, and he shall be my son." ’ These last words are cited by the apostle, Hebrews 1:5, as ’ spoken of Christ, to evince his superiority over the an( gels. Yet that the whole passage does, in the letter, ’ relate to Solomon, can admit of no doubt ; he being the ’"seed "and immediate " successor" of David, and appointed to " build an house for God’s name." Here then we have an incontestable proof that the covenant with n>"’id had Mcssir.h for its object; that Solomon was a figure of Mm ; and that the Scripture hath sometimes a double sense.’ Bp. Home. (Marg. Ref. Notes, 19- 37. 2 Samuel 7:8-16.)
V. 5. Notwithstanding present difficulties, the Psalmist was confident that God would perform such wonders in fulfilling his covenant, as would excite the praises of all the inhabitants of heaven ; as well as cause his saints on >arth in their assemblies to celebrate his faithfulness.
(Notes, 6-12. Psalms 50:4-6. Psalms 97:3-7. Psalms 44:23-26. Luke 2:8-14. Ephesians 3:9-12. 1 Peter 1:10-12. Revelation 5:8-14
V. 6- 12. The majesty, holiness, wisdom, and power of God, infinitely excelling all the endowments of the noblest creatures, demand the reverential fear of all the assembled saints on earth, and of the angels who surround his throne in heaven ; and accordingly " the assembly of his " holy ones," all the holy worshippers in heaven stand in awe of him, abhor whatever would offend him, and worship him with the most profound veneration of his manifested glory : and his saints on earth ought, in the same spirit, to wait the event of their difficulties and trials. The word rendered " to be feared," is translated reverend Psalms 111:9. The Lord, by his "power" would certainly manifest his faithfulness: as he rules and bounds the raging ocean, which none else can govern ; so would he restrain the progress of those enemies, who seemed about to swallow up his church with irresistible force and fury. ’ The extent of the ocean, the ’ multitude of its waves, and their fury, when excited by ’ a storm, render it in that state, the most tremendous ’ object in nature : nor doth any thing, which man beholds, ’ give him so just an idea, of human impotence, and of ’ that divine poxver, which can excite and calm so boisterous an clement, at pleasure.’ Bp. Home.
The God of Israel had formerly broken Rahab, (or Egypt,) and delivered his people, and afterwards crushed the nations of Canaan ; and with his strong arm he was able to scatter their present enemies. (Note,
V. 13, 14. (Marg.Ref.) JEHOVAH’S throne is established in justice and judgment : his almighty power and sovereign authority are always exercised in perfect justice and wisdom, and in entire consistency with his mercy and truth ; and these mark out the path in which he walks with his people. ’ Thou dost not rule the world merely by thy ’ absolute power ; but hast placed thy principal glory in ’ justice and equity, mercy and fidelity, from which thou ’ never swervest.’ Bp. Patrick. ’ After this model should ’ the thrones of princes, and the tribunals of earthly magistrates be constituted in justice and judgment, adorned ’ with mercy and truth.’ Bp. Horne. (Notes, Psalms 25:10. Psalms 45:6-7
V. 15-18. (Notes, Leviticus 25:8-13. P.O. Numbers 10:1-10.) The sound of the sacred trumpets, calling the people to their solemn feasts, and announcing the year of jubilee, seems here alluded to. If the difference between that typical dispensation and the clear light of Christianity be duly considered; it will be allowed, that those who attentively hear, who understand, believe, and obey the gospel, who experience its efficacy upon their hearts, and bring forth the fruits of it in their lives, are " the people " that know the joyful sound." Such persons are happy : they walk in the comfort of God’s manifested presence and favour ; they rejoice in his name, or perfections, as their security and felicity ; they are " made the righteousness of God in Christ," and even the justice of God ensures their exaltation ; they glory in him as their Strength, and give him the glory of all that they are enableu to do ; and his favour will exalt them above all their enemies, as it is their ornament and honour : for they are now the subjects of the Holy One of Israel, their King, and entitled lo his omnipotent protection. (Notes, Psalms 1:1-3. Psalms 32:1-2
V. 19-37. Samuel may be meant, as " the holy one," or the saint and prophet of God, to whom He spake in vision respecting David ; for " holy men of God spake as " they were moved by the Holy Ghost." (Notes, 1 Samuel 13:13-15
(Notes, Psalms 72:1-20
V. 38- 45. ’ Because of the horrible confusion of things, ’ the prophet complaineth unto God, as though he saw not ’ the performance of his promise; and thus discharging ’ his cares on God, he resisteth doubt and impatience.’ ’ He meaneth the horrible dissipation, and renting of the ’ kingdom, which was under Jeroboam.’ ’ He sheweth ’ that the kingdom fell before it came to perfection or was ’ ripe.’ ’ In joining prayer with his complaints, he sliew’ eth that his faith never failed.’ When the calamities above-mentioned (Note, title,) befell Rehoboam, it seemed as if the Lord had been provoked to abhor and cast off his anointed king : the covenant with David appeared to be made void, his crown trampled upon in disgrace, and the divine protection withdrawn. The Israelites spoiled and reproached the house of David ; the Egyptians were victorious and triumphant ; and in the early days of that royal race, it was put to shame and reduced to the brink of ruin : and how could this consist with the faithfulness of God to his covenant ? Doubtless the Psalmist meant to urge this as a plea with him, to return in mercy, and restore the family of David to prosperity ; and likewise to propose it to the distressed prince and people of Judah, for their instruction ; that they might consider the dispensation as a chastisement for their sins, and so be led by it to repentance. Probably he also meant to lead their thoughts to the promised Seed of David, whom the covenant principally respected. (Marg. Ref.) ’ When the faithful few ’ beheld the true Son of David, and Anointed of JEHOVAH, in the days of his sufferings ... delivered over to a ’ shameful as well as painful death ; they then began to ’ think " the covenant made void," and the promises at ’ an end. " We trusted," said they, " that it had been ’ " he which should have redeemed Israel." ’ Bp.
The early corruption of Christianity by " damnable here" sies," the lamentable schisms which have rent it, and the oppressive persecutions and multiplied corruptions, to which it has so long been exposed, have precisely the same effect on Christians in general, in respect of the promises and predictions, contained in the scriptures, concerning a universal propagation and triumph of the gospel. (Note, Revelation 20:4-6.)
V. 46- 48. (Marg. Ref.) The Psalmist here seems to have personated the family of David, or one of the kings of that race, or to have formed the psalm for the use of his afflicted prince. The reigns of David and Solomon were soon over ; the glory of their kingdom had been very transient, if it were thus to terminate ; and they seemed almost to be made in vain : for the short glimpse of Israel’s prosperity was now extinguished ; and indeed as every one must die, if the prosperity of the church depended upon the life of any man, it would soon be buried in his grave. " Wherefore hast thou made in vain all the sons of Adam ? " Probably the prophet looked forward to " the second Adam, " the Lord from heaven," who indeed saw death, and went down into the grave, and the unseen state ; (Note, Psalms 16:8-11 ;) yet was able to deliver his life from the power of it ; and who rose again, and lives from age to age, to perpetuate the safety and provide for the happiness of his people. (Note, 1 Corinthians 15:45-49.) With this he might also endeavour to comfort himself, under the prospect of his own death ; though he had survived the external glory of David’s kingdom, and expected soon to die, and leave it in disgrace and distress. (Notes, Psalms 90:3-17)
V. 49. (Marg. Ref. Notes, 19-37. Psalms 77:5-12;
V. 50, 51. (Marg. Ref.) ’ They laugh at us who wait ’ patiertly for the coming of thy Christ.’ The enemies of the family of David invidiously traced the footsteps of those princes ; that is, they examined every part of their conduct, in order to find matter of accusation against them ; they overlooked all their eminent services, and aggravated every slip which they made, and even reproached them with such tilings as they had never done : and thus they slandered the anointed of God. (Notes, 1 Kings 12:4-16.) Perhaps they also ridiculed the expectations, which were formed, of returning prosperity to the family of David, and of the Messiah as descending from him. The rulers and scribes and chief priests of the Jews, in like manner, watched our Lord’s footsteps; they sought for false witness to put him to death ; Herod and Pontius Pilate agreed in setting him at nought ; and Romans combined with Jews in insulting and reviling him, as he hung upon the cross. Thus did he " bear the reproach of all the " mighty people," who " reproached the footsteps of the " Lord’s Anointed." And men of the same character always have reviled, and always will revile, those who tread in the Saviour’s footsteps.
(Notes, Matthew 26:57-68
V. 52. ’ But let them laugh on ; neither their scoffs ’ nor our calamity shall hinder us from praising the Lord, ’ and speaking good of him continually, in assured hope ’ that he will at last deliver us. Let it be so, we beseech ’ thee, let it be so as we desire and hope, that we may ’ ever praise thee for our happy restoration.’ Bp. Patrick.
(Notes, Psalms 34:16. Psalms 41:11-13
When the dispensations of Providence seem contrary to the promises of God, and we venture to state our difficulties and discouragements before him ; we should always recur to first principles, and take it for granted that he is doing right, though we are not able to discern it. (P. O. John 13:17 -) Faith, resting on the boundless and ever- lasting mercy and truth of God, brings comfort into the heart, and fills the mouth with praise, even in the deepest scenes of adversity : and while we are assured, that " mercy " shall be built up for ever," and " faithfulness established " in the heavens ; " we should seek and pray that all men, through successive generations, may be acquainted with these perfections of our God, and praise him for them. His covenant with the seed of David his servant, is immutably ratified ; for the throne of David " is buildcd to all " generations," yea, for ever and ever : and all the inhabitants of Heaven, as well as the congregations of saints on earth, will continually praise the wonders of his power, displayed in performing the engagements of his word. We should be careful never to speak or act, as if we thought any of the angels in heaven, or " any of the sons " of the mighty " on earth, fit to be compared unto the Lord. He is not limited to such methods as we can conceive, or to such operations as creatures can perform. His thoughts and ways are infinitely above our comprehension ; and it is our part to adore the depths which we cannot fathom, and to expect covenanted blessings, when we can see no way in which they can be communicated. Our " God is greatly to be feared, even in the assembly of his " saints, and to be had in reverence of all them, that are " about him." Nor should our filial confidence in his love abate our awful veneration of his Majesty ; for then, our worship on earth would bear no resemblance to that of angels in heaven. (Notes
The Lord has spoken to his prophets and apostles, in diverse times and various ways, with an especial purpose of making known to sinful men, that he " hath laid help " upon one that is mighty, and exalted one chosen out " of the people : " who, being infinite in power and love, as the eternal Son of God, and having become one of us by assuming our nature, " is not ashamed to call us bre" thren." This is the Redeemer, whom JEHOVAH himself has appointed for us, and who alone is adequate to the arduous work of our salvation. Having been anointed immeasurably with the Holy Spirit, and strengthened by the power of God, he, in our nature, withstood and repelled the combined assaults of earth and hell ; and " is " now exalted by the right hand " of the Father " to be a " Prince and Saviour, to give repentance, and forgiveness of sins,’’ and to beat down and destroy all who hate his disciples. In the name of JEHOVAH his horn is exalted, and mercy and truth come, through and by him, to the ruined sons of men ; and his kingdom shall extend throughout the whole earth. He, in a peculiar sense, could cry unto the Lord, " Thou art my Father, my God, " and my strong Salvation : " being indeed his first-begotten, his only begotten Son, and made, even in our nature, lar higher than the kings of the earth. With him the everlasting covenant is ratified for evermore, and through him alone is mercy exercised towards the guilty. " His dominion shall be for ever, and his throne as the " days of heaven." While he invites sinners to incline their ear and come to him, that he may make with them this everlasting covenant; (Note,
Notwithstanding the security of the covenant of grace, it is also very plainly foretold, that damnable heresies, and grievous scandals and corruptions, would take place among professed Christians ; and when these predictions are compared with what we read and witness, they may serve to confirm our faith, though they must deeply grieve our hearts. Indeed even true Christians offend in many things. Hence it is, that corrections become necessary, in order to the performance of the covenant to the honour of God. When this is the case, the Lord " will visit their trans- " gressions with the rod, and their iniquities with scourges : " nevertheless he will not utterly take away his loving- " kindness from them, nor suffer his truth to fail." The records of the Lord’s dealings with the family of David, are set before us as an emblem of his dealings with his church, and with believers. Grievous may be the afflictions which they endure ; great the disgrace and distress of soul which come upon them : but the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church, neither will God finally forsake or abhor the true believer. We should then rejoice in this security ; but we should " rejoice with " trembling : " many self-deceivers pervert the doctrine ; and even those who are interested in the blessing may notwithstanding, by their misconduct, bring" themselves into such darkness and distress as can scarcely be conceived. We ought, therefore, to rely on it for our en- couragement in the path of duty, and in bearing the cross ; and not when yielding to sloth and self-indulgence. Neither should we give way to despondency, while we witness the success of idolatry, superstition, heresy, or infidelity, against the religion of Christ. These early began to corrupt or to oppose the church : and their success seems often to make void the covenant, and profane the Redeemer’s crown, to break down the strong holds of his royal city, and to expose his religion to reproach. But though his cause may appear to suffer loss, and his glory to be eclipsed, and his enemies to conquer and triumph ; yet this will be only for a time. The Lord will not " hide " himself for ever," nor suffer " his wrath to burn like " fire ; " whatever his people fear, or his enemies expect. But when his purposes are effected, he will return, cause his servants to rejoice, and put his enemies to silence and shame. For the Saviour ever liveth to effect his grand designs, and a thousand years are in his sight but as one day : and, though one instrument after another die, and effect very little ; though we all must shortly drop into the grave, and may perhaps leave the church under a thick cloud ; and though all the sons of Adam seem made in vain ; yet the Lord himself will surely arise and plead his own cause, and fulfil his largest promises in their fullest meaning. If then, we can do little else, during our few remaining days on earth, let us give ourselves unto prayer : let us plead with the Lord his former mercies to his people, and the promises of his word : let us humbly represent before him, the reproach cast upon his servants by his enemies, through the prevalence of impiety in the visible church, and through the apparent delay of his making his truth universally triumphant. And though our hearts must needs be grieved by the blasphemies and slanders of the proud and mighty, who revile or ridicule those who expect the coming of the Lord’s anointed King, and who walk in his foot-steps ; yet let us still hope for the commencement of a more glorious scene on earth, as well as for eternal felicity in heaven ; and, in the prospect of these approaching seasons of joy and praise, let us now mix our tears and prayers with hallelujahs, and still say from our hearts, " Blessed be the LORD for evermore, Amen, and " Amen."
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Scott, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 89". Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/
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