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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
Psalms 89

 

 

Verses 1-37

Psalms 89:1-2. I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations. For I have said, Mercy shall be built up for ever: thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens.

So far, the gracious man declares the resolution of his heart to praise his God for ever, and gives the reason for that resolve. Now he quotes the Lord’s covenant with David —

Psalms 89:3-4. I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations. Selah.

That covenant, as you well know, was not only made with David, but it had a higher spiritual bearing, for it related to that great and glorious Son of David who still reigns, and shall reign for ever, and in whom every covenant blessing is secured.

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

It is often very profitable, when we are enjoying fellowship with God, for us to speak to God, and then wait for God to speak to us. It is so here you see. First the psalmist says that he will praise God for ever, then God tells him of his covenant, and explains to him the reason why mercy shall be built up for ever, and then the man of God begins to praise God again. That will give you a hint for your own private devotion. Sometimes you feel that you cannot praise God, and cannot pray to him. Well, then, if you cannot speak to God, sit still, and let him speak to you. Read a portion of Scripture, and then, perhaps, some suggestive verse or word in it will set you praying; and then, when you have prayed, stop a little while, and read again; and so a blessed conversation shall be carried on between you and your God. Thus the psalmist takes his turn again: “And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O Lord: thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints.”

Psalms 89:6-7. For who in the heaven can be compared unto the LORD? Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the LORD? God is greatly to be feared —

That is, reverenced, —

Psalms 89:7-9. In the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him. O LORD God of hosts, who is a strong LORD like unto thee? or to thy faithfulness round about thee? Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them.

He lets them arise, and he bids them sink down again. All the providential dealings of God seem to be illustrated in the ever-varying phenomena of the sea. The Lord sometimes lets tempests arise in our circumstances, and anon with a Word he stills them, and there is a great calm.

Psalms 89:10. Thou hast broken Rahab in pieces as one that is slain; —

The great crocodile of Egypt; —

Psalms 89:10-12. Thou hast scattered thine enemies with thy strong arm. The heavens are thine, the earth also is thine: as for the world and the fullness thereof, thou hast founded them. The north and the south thou hast created them: Tabor and Hermon shall rejoice in thy name.

Oh, what a blessed spirit the spirit of true devotion is! There is such life in it that it seems to quicken all inanimate creation, and make the rocks and mountains to sing, and the trees of the wood to clap their hands, and the waves of the sea to praise the great Creator. So the whole world is like a great organ, and man, guided by God’s Spirit, puts his fingers on the keys, and wakes the whole to the thunder of adoration and praise. Oh to be taught of God to have a praiseful heart, for then all around us will be more likely also to praise Jehovah.

Psalms 89:13-14. Thou hast a mighty arm: strong is thy hand, and high is thy right hand. Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face.

There are wells of joy in this verse to those who know how to draw it up. It is a great delight to every man who is oppressed to know that justice and judgment stand, like armed sentinels, on either side of the throne of God and to every human soul, conscious of unworthiness, it is an unspeakable delight that mercy and truth, like royal heralds, go before God wherever he goes. It has been well said that a God all mercy would be a God unjust; but a God all justice without mercy would be terrible indeed.

Psalms 89:15-21. Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of thy countenance. In thy name shall they rejoice all the day: and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted. For thou art the glory of their strength: and in thy favour our horn shall be exalted. For the LORD is our defence; and the Holy One of Israel is our king. 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. I have found David my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him: with whom my hand shall be established: mine arm also shall strengthen him.

David was a great blessing to the nation over which God made him king. Among the choicest gifts that God ever gives to men are men; and therefore we read, concerning Christ, “When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men;” and those gifts were men, for “he gave some, apostles, and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.” These were the choice ascension gifts of Christ. Yet, while these verses primarily refer to David the king of Israel, we must believe that a greater than David is here, even Christ, who deigns to call himself God’s servant, who has been anointed by the Spirit of God, with whom God’s hand is always established, and who is ever strengthened by the arm of Omnipotence.

Psalms 89:22-25. The enemy shall not exact upon him; nor the son of wickedness afflict him. And I will beat down his foes before his face, and plague them that hate him. But my faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him: and in my name shall his horn be exalted. I will set his hand also in the sea and his right hand in the rivers.

Do not believe, dear friends, any of the prophecies that some men make concerning the destruction of the kingdom of Christ and the failure of his Church; but be certain that the Lord will not suffer Christ to fail or be discouraged, and rest assured that the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hands. The history of the Church of Christ is a history of conflict, but it shall be a history of victory before it is completed: “I will set his hand also in the sea, and his right hand in the rivers.”

Psalms 89:26-34. He shall cry unto me, Thou art my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation. Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth. My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him. His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven. If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, or alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.

If, then, you are in the covenant, you will have the rod; you may rest sure of that. If you do not walk in God’s ways, but break his statutes, you will not be allowed to go unchastened. If a father saw some boys in the street breaking windows or otherwise misbehaving themselves, and he gave one of the boys a box on the ears, you may be pretty certain that the boy is his own son. And when God sees men doing wrong, he often permits the wicked to go unpunished in this life; but as for his own people, it is written, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” Our heavenly Father’s hand still holds the rod, and uses it when necessary; but it is in love that he corrects us. Let us, therefore, when he chastens us, plead the covenant that is here recorded, and say to him, “Thou hast said, ‘Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.’”

Psalms 89:35-37. Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me. It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven. Selah.


Verses 1-52

Psalms 89:1-2. I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations. For I have said, Mercy shall be built up for ever: thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens.

Here is an eternal song concerning eternal mercy. The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting, so the saints’ praise for the never-ending mercy must itself be without end. The psalmist has made known God’s faithfulness to all generations, not only by speaking of it, but especially by writing of it, for that which is written abides when that which is merely spoken is soon forgotten. God’s faithfulness concerns heaven as well as earth, and he will establish it “in the very heavens.”

Psalms 89:3-4. I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations. Selah.

The complete fulfillment of this glorious covenant promise concerns, not only David and his seed, but “great David’s greater Son” and his spiritual seed, the chosen people with whom the Lord has made “an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure.”

Psalms 89:5-7. And the heavens shall praise thy wonders O LORD: thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints. For who in the heaven can be compared unto the LORD? who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the LORD? 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.

A holy reverence is becoming in all who draw near to the thrice-holy Jehovah, whether in the upper sanctuary or in the congregation of the saints on earth. In his gracious condescension, he allows his people wondrous familiarity in their approaches to him, yet this must never make them forget the infinite distance that separates the Creator from even the highest and holiest of his creatures.

Psalms 89:8-10. O LORD God of hosts, who is a strong LORD like unto thee? or to thy faithfulness round about thee? Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them. Thou hast broken Rahab in pieces, as one that is slain; thou hast scattered thine enemies with thy strong arm.

The ruling of the raging of the sea, the stilling of the stormy waves, and the breaking and scattering of the might of Egypt are used by the psalmist to illustrate the omnipotence of Jehovah, before which the mightiest monarchy on earth had no more power than if it had been a corpse.

Psalms 89:11-12. The heavens are thine, the earth also is thine: as for the world and the fullness thereof, thou hast founded them. The north and the south thou hath created them: Tabor and Hermon shall rejoice in thy name.

The psalmist rejoices in the Lord as the Creator and Possessor of the heavens above and the earth beneath. “All things were created by him, and for him.”

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

Amid all the varying expressions that the psalmist uses, he continues to admire and magnify God’s majestic might. Whether for the defense of his people or the overthrow of his enemies, his arm is mighty, yea, more than that, for it is almighty. No human language can adequately describe that glorious hand which has only to be opened to satisfy the desire of every living thing.

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

What blessed heralds does the Lord employ! “Mercy and truth shall go before thy face.” It is these gracious attributes, especially as they are displayed in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, that enable us even to welcome those sterner attributes, “justice and judgment,” which are the habitation of God’s throne.

Psalms 89:15. Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound:

There are many that hear it, but perhaps not one out of a thousand of them that really know it. The hearing of the joyful sound is not sufficient to make people blessed, though faith cometh by hearing; it is the understanding of what is meant by the glad tidings, it is the reception of the gospel message which brings immediate and eternal blessedness.

Psalms 89:15. They shall walk, O LORD, in the light of thy countenance.

The practical effect of a saving knowledge of the gospel is a holy walk, a walk of communion with God. Dear friends, do you walk in that way? Do you know the joyful sound? Can you discern the difference between the true and the false gospel? Can you distinguish the contrast between the harmonies of the one and the discords of the other? Do you know the inner secret of the heavenly music? Has it ever vibrated in your own souls? Happy are ye if this be the case with you. The psalmist goes on to show how such people are blessed.

Psalms 89:16. In thy name shall they rejoice all the day:

They shall not have mere passing fits of joy, but they shall be glad from morning to night.

Psalms 89:16. And in thy righteousness shall they be exalted.

They shall mount to a higher platform of joy than that on which the men of the world are standing; they shall be lifted up in soul and spirit by the righteousness of God, especially as they see how that great attribute guarantees their eternal salvation.

Psalms 89:17-19. For thou art the glory of their strength: and in thy favour our horn shall be exalted. For the Lord is our defense; and the Holy One of lsrael is our king. 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.

This is the very marrow of the gospel; this is indeed “ the joyful sound “ which makes us truly blessed,-the feet that God did, of old, exalt “One chosen out of the people,” with whom he entered into an eternal covenant, pledging himself to bless us through him.

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

David was the means of bringing great blessings to the people over whom he ruled. God blessed the whole nation through him, and the covenant made with David was virtually a covenant made with all the people of Israel. In like manner, he covenant made with “great David’s greater Son” is virtually made with all those for whom he stood as Surety and Representative. The essence of the gospel lies in the covenant which God has made with his Son, Jesus Christ, on behalf of all his chosen people. Notice that God found David, and anointed him as king, even as he has taken the Lord Jesus, and anointed him with the oil of gladness above his fellows.

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

The omnipotence of God is manifested in Christ, for he is “the power of God” as well as “the wisdom of God.”

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

“The son of wickedness” did afflict David for a while, but afterwards he came to the throne, and ruled gloriously over God’s ancient people. So is it with our covenant Lord and King. The wicked cannot now exact upon him, nor afflict him; he sits upon the throne in glory far beyond their reach.

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

Who can ever stand up in opposition to Christ? He is that stone of which he himself said, “Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.”

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

God is ever with his Son, Jesus Christ, in the plenitude of his faithfulness and mercy, to make him a continual blessing to his people.

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

Our King is a great King, and he rules over sea and land; there is no bound to his dominions, and there will be no end to his righteous rule.

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

All God’s children are a praying family, and his only-begotten and well-beloved Son sets a noble example in this respect as well as in everything else. He is still the great Intercessor before the throne of his Father.

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

Christ is indeed “higher than the kings of the earth,” for he is “King of kings and Lord of lords.” Do not your hearts rejoice as you think of this blessed King with whom God has entered into a covenant to bless all who are trusting in him, even the very poorest and feeblest of them? What a joy it is to us to see Jesus striking hands with the Eternal, and entering into an everlasting covenant on our behalf!

Psalms 89:28-29. My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him. His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven.

There can never be an end to the throne of Christ, for his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom; and there can never be an end to the family of Christ, for his seed shall endure for ever.

Psalms 89:30-32. If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; then-

“Then”-what? “I will destroy them, and sweep them away for ever”? Oh, no! “Then”-

Psalms 89:32. Will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes.

There is no sword in God’s hand to be used against his own children, but he does hold a rod, and that rod makes us smart, and causes the blueness of the wound which cleanseth away evil. We are grieved when we feel its strokes, yet there is covenant mercy in them. The rod of the covenant is one of the best things that ever comes to us, since it whips our folly out of us. God grant us grace to kiss the rod whenever we transgress against him, and he visits our iniquity with stripes!

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

Notice the use of the word “him” here, as if it was intended to teach us that God’s love to his dear Son, and to his people in him, is so great that though he may chasten us for our transgressions, he will never cast us away.

Psalms 89:34-37. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me. It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven. Selah.

In the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, the dynasty of David shall endure for ever, and the spiritual seed of Christ shall also never come to an end. By the most binding covenant, and the most solemn pledge, and the most saved oath, Jehovah has guaranteed the everlasting kingdom of his Son and the eternal endurance of “his seed.”

Psalms 89:38-45. But thou hast cast off and abhorred, thou hast been wroth with thine anointed. Thou hast made void the covenant of thy servant: thou hast profaned his crown by casting it to the ground. Thou hast broken down all his hedges; thou hast brought his strong holds to ruin. All that pass by the way spoil him: he is a reproach to his neighbours. Thou hast set up the right hand of his adversaries; thou hast made all his enemies to rejoice. Thou hast also turned the edge of his sword, and hast not made him to stand in the battle. Thou hast made his glory to cease, and cast his throne down to the ground. The days of his youth hast thou shortened: thou hath covered him with shame. Selah.

Spiritually, this sad description reveals the sorrowful state of the professing church of Christ in the times in which we live.

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

That was the wisest thing for the psalmist to do, and it is our best course also; in the darkest days of the most sinful age we can always resort to prayer, let us do so.

Psalms 89:47-48. Remember how short my time is: wherefore hast thou made all men in vain? What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death? shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave? Selah.

The brevity of life makes it all the more important that we should waste none of it, and that we should appeal to the Lord to interpose, speedily on the behalf of the truth and those who love it.

Psalms 89:49-52. Lord, where are thy former lovingkindnesses, which thou swarest unto David in thy truth? Remember, Lord, the reproach of thy servants; how I do bear in my bosom the reproach of all the mighty people; wherewith thine enemies have reproached, O LORD wherewith they have reproached the footsteps of thine anointed. Blessed be the LORD for evermore. Amen and Amen.

The Psalm ends upon its keynote of praise unto Jehovah. There had been much to sadden the writer, as there is much to sadden us in these days; but we can unite with him in saying, “Blessed be the Lord for evermore. Amen and Amen.”

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Psalms 89:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/psalms-89.html. 2011.


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Monday, December 10th, 2018
the Second Week of Advent
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