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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Psalms 89:13

You have a strong arm; Your hand is mighty, Your right hand is exalted.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Arm;   Church;   Power;   Thompson Chain Reference - Arm, Divine;   Divine;   God;   God's;   Hand, Divine;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Power of God, the;  
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Ethan;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Covenant;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Arm;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Covenant;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Ethan;   Ezrahite;   Lovingkindness;   Priests and Levites;   Psalms;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Psalms the book of;  
Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Arm;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Tabor;  

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

Psalms 89:0 Remember the covenant with David

Apparently Israel had suffered some military setback that threatened its existence. This caused some people to think that God had forsaken his anointed king. The psalmist therefore recalls the covenant promise God made to David to preserve his dynasty for ever, and on the basis of this he claims God’s help (1-4; see 2 Samuel 7:8-10.7.16).

Before speaking further of the covenant, the psalmist praises God for his majesty and greatness. None among the multitudes of glorious heavenly beings can compare with him (5-7). On the earth also he is all-powerful, crushing his foes, working wonders and administering justice (8-14). This one is the God of the people of Israel. He is their glory, joy and strength, the one who gave them their king (15-18).
Assured of God’s perfection and sovereignty, the psalmist turns to consider the covenant that God made with Israel. He outlines how God chose David to be his anointed king (19-20), gave him victory over all his enemies (21-23), enlarged his kingdom beyond the borders of Israel (24-25) and gave him power and glory (26-27). Above all, God made a covenant with David to establish his dynasty permanently (28-29). Even if some kings proved unworthy, God promised that he would not alter his plans. He had chosen the dynasty of David as the means of bringing the Messiah (30-37).
It seems now, however, that their great and powerful God has left them. Their covenant Lord appears to have forgotten his promises (38-39). The kingdom has been ruined, the city destroyed, the land plundered (40-41). Enemies are allowed to conquer as they please. The Davidic king has lost his throne and been openly disgraced (42-45). Why, then, does God not act? Certainly, some must die, but is he going to allow these enemies to conquer and kill until the king and his people are eventually wiped out (46-48)? The psalmist prays that God will remember his covenant promise to David, save his people from their present shame, and give them freedom under the rule of their Davidic king again (49-52).

BOOK 4: PSALMS 90-106

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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Psalms 89:13". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". 2005.

Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Thou hast a mighty arm - Margin, as in Hebrew,” an arm with might.” That is, Thou hast great power - the arm being the instrument by which we accomplish our purposes.

Strong is thy hand - The hand, too, is an instrument by which we execute our plans. Hence, God is so often represented a having delivered his people with a strong hand.

And high is thy right hand - It is by the right hand particularly that we carry out our purposes. We lift it high when we are about to strike with force. All this is expressive of the divine omnipotence.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Psalms 89:13". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

Smith's Bible Commentary

Psalms 89:1-19.89.52

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. 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 ( Psalms 89:1-19.89.4 ).

Now in verse Psalms 89:3 , actually, the psalm begins with the psalmist declaring, "I will sing praises to the Lord; sing of His mercies. My mouth will make known His faithfulness." Now God responds to that. And verse Psalms 89:3 is God's response. And God's response goes actually clear on down to verse Psalms 89:37 . So God is speaking now. It's a prophecy as the psalmist now is speaking forth for God. "I have made a covenant with My chosen, I have sworn to David my servant." What did He swear to David? "Thy seed will I establish forever, and build up thy throne to all generations."

And the heavens shall praise thy wonders ( Psalms 89:5 ),

And now the psalmist comes back. Selah ends God's voice there. God will begin speaking again down a little ways further. So now the psalmist takes it up again. "And the heavens shall praise Thy wonders,"

O LORD: thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints. For who in heaven can be compared unto the LORD? who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto Jehovah? God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints ( Psalms 89:5-19.89.7 ),

Or reverenced, actually, in the assembly of the saints.

and to be had in reverence of all of them that are about him ( Psalms 89:7 ).

I think that we can learn quite a bit from the Jewish people concerning the reverence of God. I think that there is a tendency sometimes within the church circles of really not having the proper reverential attitude towards God. Sometimes we begin to get a little flippant about God. And we talk about the man upstairs and we begin to speak of God in irreverent kind of terms even. And I think that we need to be careful about this. We need to become aware and conscious of the greatness of God, the vastness of God. And to be always really just sort of in awe before Him.

There are some people that just by their very position command respect. Because Ronald Reagan has been elected as the next President of the United States, you wouldn't go up, you know, if you were at the airport and you saw him getting off the plane, you wouldn't go running up and say, "Well, Ronnie, all right man. Glad to see you made it, you know." Because of the position as President of the United States you would treat him with respect. You would have respect for the position that the man now has.

We have... living in a society that seems to try to break down this respect for authority. And it is a common thing among our society now of not really showing proper respect for authority. But that is a whole social breakdown. Not showing respect to police officers. Not showing respect to those that are in authority. It just shows a part of the whole social breakdown that is taking place. But it is tragic, because sometimes people also carry that disrespectful attitude over to God. And we should always, actually, hold God in the very highest of respect and reverence.

Now the Jews had such reverence for God that when the scribes would copy the scriptures, every time they came to the name Eloihim, God, in their text, they would take their pen and they would wash it. And then they would dip it in fresh ink to write the letters for God. If they came to the Adonai, the Lord, then they would take and get a fresh pen to write Adonai in the text. If they came to the consonants that stood for that holy name of God, the Y-H-V-H, they would go in and take a bath, change and put on fresh clothes and get a total fresh pen and dip it in ink and write the consonants. But they wouldn't put in the vowels because they felt that the name of God was so holy that they shouldn't even pronounce it in their minds and it should never be uttered from the lips of a person. They wouldn't dare even utter the name.

Now that I think is carrying it perhaps further than God intended, and yet, it does show a degree of reverence towards God that I think that somewhere in the middle of the pendulum we'll find the truth. They may be a little extreme on the one end of legalism, but I think that we tend towards an extreme on the other end, and that in the middle here we need ourselves to come more to the middle of a greater reverence and respect for God. That we don't just speak lightly of God, but we hold Him in highest esteem and respect. God is greatly to be reverenced in the assembly of the saints and to be had in reverence of all of them that are about Him.

O Jehovah God of hosts, who is a strong LORD like unto thee? or to thy faithfulness round about thee? For you rule the raging of the sea: when the waves arise, you still them. You have broken Rahab in pieces, as one that is slain; you have scattered your enemies with your strong arm. The heavens are yours, and the earth also is yours: as for the world and the fulness thereof, you have founded them. The north, the south you've created them: Tabor and Hermon shall rejoice in thy name. You have a mighty arm: strong is your hand, and high is your right hand. Justice and judgment are your habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face. Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of thy countenance. And in thy name shall they rejoice all the day: and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted. For you are the glory of their strength: and in thy favor our horn shall be exalted. For the LORD is our defense; and the Holy One of Israel is our King ( Psalms 89:8-19.89.18 ).

Now God responds to this. The psalmist declares of the greatness of God, declaring why He should be reverenced because of the fact that He rules over the earth, over the heavens, created the earth.

Then you spake in vision to the holy one, and said, I have laid up help upon one that is mighty; I have exalted one that is 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: my arm shall also strengthen him. The enemy shall not exact upon him ( Psalms 89:19-19.89.22 );

That is, will not collect a tribute. He will not be paying tribute to the enemies. He will not be defeated and have to pay tribute to the enemies.

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 ( Psalms 89:22-19.89.24 ).

The horn is a symbol of strength, and so the name of the Lord will be his strength.

I will set his hand also in the sea, and his right hand in the rivers. 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 eaRuth ( Psalms 89:25-19.89.27 ).

This, no doubt, has a double fulfillment not only in David, but also in that Seed that should come from David that will rule as King of kings and Lord of lords, even a prophecy of Jesus Christ.

My mercy will I keep for him for ever, 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 allow my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Once I have 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 ( Psalms 89:28-19.89.36 ).

Which, of course, goes on to the prophecy of Christ, "Who will sit upon the throne of David to order it and to establish it in righteousness and in judgment from henceforth, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this" ( Isaiah 9:7 ). So God has sworn that Christ will sit upon the throne of David forever and ever.

It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as the faithful witness in heaven ( Psalms 89:37 ).

And the Selah brings us to the end of God's response to the psalmist. Now the psalmist declares:

But you have cast off and abhorred, you have been angry with your anointed. You have made void the covenant of your servant: you have profaned his crown by casting it to the ground. You have broken down all of his hedges; you have brought his strongholds to ruin. All that pass by the way spoil him: he is a reproach to his neighbors. 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. You have made his glory to cease, and cast his throne down to the ground. The days of his youth have you shortened: and you've covered him with shame. How long, LORD? will you hide yourself for ever? shall thy wrath burn like fire? Remember how short my time is: wherefore hast thou made all men in vain? What man is he that lives, and shall not see death? shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave? Lord, where are thy former lovingkindnesses, which you swore to David in thy truth? Remember, Lord, the reproach of your servants; how I do bear in my bosom the reproach of all the mighty people; Wherewith your enemies have reproached, O LORD; wherewith they have reproached the footsteps of thine anointed ( Psalms 89:38-19.89.51 ).

And then the close of the third book of the psalms.

Blessed be Jehovah for evermore. Amen, and Amen ( Psalms 89:52 ).

I have mentioned before that each of the books of the psalms closes with a benediction, with the Amen, and Amen. That brings us to the end of the third book. And Psalms 90:1-19.90.17 begins the fourth book of the psalms. "

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Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Psalms 89:13". "Smith's Bible Commentary". 2014.

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

Psalms 89

The writer of this royal psalm was Ethan, another wise Levitical musician in David’s service (1 Kings 4:31; 1 Chronicles 15:17-18). The occasion of writing is unclear. Judging from the content of the psalm it appears to have been a time after David had suffered defeat and some severe affliction.

Ethan interceded for the king, claiming the Davidic Covenant promises (cf. 2 Samuel 7:5-16; 1 Chronicles 17). Why was God afflicting David so severely since He had promised to bless him so greatly? Ethan called on God to honor the Davidic Covenant and send the king relief.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 89:13". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". 2012.

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

These verses exalt the uniqueness of Yahweh. Ethan praised Him for His attributes (Psalms 89:5-8) and works (Psalms 89:9-14). Outstanding among His attributes are His faithfulness and His might. The "holy ones" (Psalms 89:7) are the angels. The works he cited were subduing the flood, defeating Egypt (Rahab, cf. Psalms 87:4) at the Exodus, and creating the heavens and earth. He personified Mt. Tabor and Mt. Hermon rejoicing in God’s great power.

"Tabor and Hermon are possibly paired as works of God which praise Him in different ways: the lowly Tabor (1,900 ft.) by its history, as the scene of Deborah’s victory, and the giant Hermon (9,000 ft.) by its physical majesty. The Creator’s hand is both strong and high (13)." [Note: Kidner, Psalms 73-150, p. 321.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 89:13". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". 2012.

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

2. The character of God 89:5-18

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 89:13". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". 2012.

Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Thou hast a mighty arm,.... Christ is the arm of the Lord, and a mighty one he is, and so is the Gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation; here it seems to design the almighty power of God, displayed in the works of creation and providence; see Isaiah 51:9

strong is thy hand; thy "left hand", as some, it being distinguished from his right hand, mentioned in the next clause; the Targum adds,

"to redeem thy people;''

the work of redemption was put into the hand of Christ, and it prospered in his hand, and his own arm brought salvation to him; and his hand is strong to keep and preserve his people, where they are put, and where they are safe; and the hand of the Lord is strong to correct and chastise them, and sometimes his hand lies heavy upon them, and presses them sore, when it becomes them to humble themselves under his "mighty hand": and it also strong to punish his and their enemies:

and high is thy right hand; when it is lifted up in a way of judgment against wicked men, and for the defence of his people, then may it be said to be exalted: and it is high enough to reach the highest and most powerful of his adversaries; see Psalms 118:16. The Targum adds,

"to build the house of thy sanctuary.''

Some render c these two last clauses as a wish or prayer; "let thy hand be strong, and let thy right hand be lifted up".

c So Paginus, Montana, and V. L.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Psalms 89:13". "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

The Divine Power and Justice; The Glory of God Celebrated.

      5 And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O LORD: thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints.   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?   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.   8 O LORD God of hosts, who is a strong LORD like unto thee? or to thy faithfulness round about thee?   9 Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them.   10 Thou hast broken Rahab in pieces, as one that is slain; thou hast scattered thine enemies with thy strong arm.   11 The heavens are thine, the earth also is thine: as for the world and the fulness thereof, thou hast founded them.   12 The north and the south thou hast created them: Tabor and Hermon shall rejoice in thy name.   13 Thou hast a mighty arm: strong is thy hand, and high is thy right hand.   14 Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face.

      These verses are full of the praises of God. Observe,

      I. Where, and by whom, God is to be praised. 1. God is praised by the angels above: The heavens shall praise thy wonders, O Lord!Psalms 89:5; Psalms 89:5; that is, "the glorious inhabitants of the upper world continually celebrate thy praises." Bless the Lord, you his angels,Psalms 103:20. The works of God are wonders even to those that are best acquainted and most intimately conversant with them; the more God's works are known the more they are admired and praised. This should make us love heaven, and long to be there, that there we shall have nothing else to do but to praise God and his wonders. 2. God is praised by the assemblies of his saints on earth (praise waits for him in Zion); and, though their praises fall so far short of the praises of angels, yet God is pleased to take notice of them, and accept of them, and reckon himself honoured by them. "Thy faithfulness and the truth of thy promise, that rock on which the church is built, shall be praised in the congregation of the saints, who owe their all to that faithfulness, and whose constant comfort it is that there is a promise, and that he is faithful who has promised." It is expected from God's saints on earth that they praise him; who should, if they do not? Let every saint praise him, but especially the congregation of saints; when they come together, let them join in praising God. The more the better; it is the more like heaven. Of the honour done to God by the assembly of the saints he speaks again (Psalms 89:7; Psalms 89:7): God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints. Saints should assemble for religious worship, that they may publicly own their relation to God and may stir up one another to give honour to him, and, in keeping up communion with God, may likewise maintain the communion of saints. In religious assemblies God has promised the presence of his grace, but we must also, in them, have an eye to his glorious presence, that the familiarity we are admitted to may not breed the least contempt; for he is terrible in his holy places, and therefore greatly to be feared. A holy awe of God must fall upon us, and fill us, in all our approaches to God, even in secret, to which something may very well be added by the solemnity of public assemblies. God must be had in reverence of all that are about him, that attend him continually as his servants or approach him upon any particular errand. See Leviticus 10:3. Those only serve God acceptably who serve him with reverence and godly fear,Hebrews 12:28.

      II. What it is to praise God; it is to acknowledge him to be a being of unparalleled perfection, such a one that there is none like him, nor any to be compared with him, Psalms 89:6; Psalms 89:6. If there be any beings that can pretend to vie with God, surely they must be found among the angels; but they are all infinitely short of him: Who in the heaven can be compared with the Lord, so as to challenge any share of the reverence and adoration which are due to him only, or to set up in rivalship with him for the homage of the children of men? They are sons of the mighty, but which of them can be likened unto the Lord? Nobles are princes' peers; some parity there is between them. But there is none between God and the angels; they are not his peers. To whom will you liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One,Isaiah 40:25. This is insisted on again (Psalms 89:8; Psalms 89:8): Who is a strong Lord like unto thee? No angel, no earthly potentate, whatsoever, is comparable to God, or has an arm like him, or can thunder with a voice like him. Thy faithfulness is round about thee; that is, "thy angels who are round about thee, attending thee with their praises and ready to go on thy errands, are all faithful." Or, rather, "In every thing thou doest, on all sides, thou approvest thyself faithful to thy word, above whatever prince or potentate was." Among men it is too often found that those who are most able to break their word are least careful to keep it; but God is both strong and faithful; he can do every thing, and yet will never do an unjust thing.

      III. What we ought, in our praises, to give God the glory of. Several things are here mentioned. 1. The command God has of the most ungovernable creatures (Psalms 89:9; Psalms 89:9): Thou rulest the raging of the sea, than which nothing is more frightful or threatening, nor more out of the power of man to give check to; it can swell no higher, roll no further, beat no harder, continue no longer, nor do any more hurt, than God suffers it. "When the waves thereof arise thou canst immediately hush them asleep, still them, and make them quiet, and turn the storm into a calm." This coming in here as an act of omnipotence, what manner of man then was the Lord Jesus, whom the winds and seas obeyed? 2. The victories God has obtained over the enemies of his church. His ruling the raging of the sea and quelling its billows was an emblem of this (Psalms 89:10; Psalms 89:10): Thou hast broken Rahab, many a proud enemy (so it signifies), Egypt in particular, which is sometimes called Rahab, broken it in pieces, as one that is slain and utterly unable to make head again. "The head being broken, thou hast scattered the remainder with the arm of thy strength." God has more ways than one to deal with his and his church's enemies. We think he should slay them immediately, but sometimes he scatters them, that he may send them abroad to be monuments of his justice, Psalms 59:11. The remembrance of the breaking of Egypt in pieces is a comfort to the church, in reference to the present power of Babylon; for God is still the same. 3. The incontestable property he has in all the creatures of the upper and lower world (Psalms 89:11; Psalms 89:12): "Men are honoured for their large possessions; but the heavens are thine, O Lord! the earth also is thine; therefore we praise thee, therefore we trust in thee, therefore we will not fear what man can do against us. The world and the fulness thereof, all the riches contained in it, all the inhabitants of it, both the tenements and the tenants, are all thine; for thou hast founded them," and the founder may justly claim to be the owner. He specifies, (1.) The remotest parts of the world, the north and south, the countries that lie under the two poles, which are uninhabited and little known: "Thou hast created them, and therefore knowest them, takest care of them, and hast tributes of praise from them." The north is said to be hung over the empty place; yet what fulness there is there God is the owner of it. (2.) The highest parts of the world. He mentions the two highest hills in Canaan--"Tabor and Hermon" (one lying to the west, the other to the east); "these shall rejoice in thy name, for they are under the care of thy providence, and they produce offerings for thy altar." The little hills are said to rejoice in their own fruitfulness, Psalms 65:12. Tabor is commonly supposed to be that high mountain in Galilee on the top of which Christ was transfigured; and then indeed it might be said to rejoice in that voice which was there heard, This is my beloved Son. 4. The power and justice, the mercy and truth, with which he governs the world and rules in the affairs of the children of men, Psalms 89:13; Psalms 89:14. (1.) God is able to do every thing; for his is the Lord God Almighty. His arm, his hand, is mighty and strong, both to save his people and to destroy his and their enemies; none can either resist the force or bear the weight of his mighty hand. High is his right hand, to reach the highest, even those that set their nests among the stars (Amos 9:2; Amos 9:3; Obadiah 1:4); his right hand is exalted in what he has done, for in thousands of instances he has signalized his power, Psalms 118:16. (2.) He never did, nor ever will do, any thing that is either unjust or unwise; for righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne. None of all his dictates or decrees ever varied from the rules of equity and wisdom, nor could ever any charge God with unrighteousness or folly. Justice and judgment are the preparing of his throne (so some), the establishment of it, so others. The preparations for his government in his counsels from eternity, and the establishment of it in its consequences to eternity, are all justice and judgment. (3.) He always does that which is kind to his people and consonant to the word which he has spoken: "Mercy and truth shall go before thy face, to prepare thy way, as harbingers to make room for thee--mercy in promising, truth in performing--truth in being as good as thy word, mercy in being better." How praiseworthy are these in great men, much more in the great God, in whom they are in perfection!

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Psalms 89:13". "Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". 1706.