Psalm 89: Lessons about God’s Promises from His Davidic Covenant

Introduction: After God allowed King Nebuchadnezzar II to take the Jews into captivity, many Jews felt despondent. Some questioned whether God would free His rebellious people. Here, the psalmist Ethan appealed to God to remember His eternal covenant with David. Ethan further reveals seven reasons to praise God. He is a God of: (1) loving grace, (2) sovereignty, (3) righteousness, (4) faithfulness, (5) loving correction, (6) mercy, and (7) deliverance.

First, the psalmist gave thanks for God’s eternal covenant with David. God’s covenant was based upon His loving grace. Neither the Jews nor David had done anything to deserve it. His grace also extends to believers through Jesus. Second, the psalmist celebrated God’s awesome and sovereign power. There is no promise that God is unable to keep. Third, the psalmist celebrated God’s righteous and just character. Because He is righteous and just, God will keep His promises. Fourth, the psalmist celebrated God’s faithfulness. He is faithful to keep His promises even when we are unfaithful. Fifth, the psalmist lamented that God had to discipline His unfaithful people. But God disciplined His people out of love to correct them. Sixth, the psalmist appealed to God to forgive His unfaithful people. Thankfully, God is filled with mercy and compassion for His people. Finally, the psalmist urged God to deliver His people after the enemy taunted them. God will also be faithful to keep His promises to deliver His people.

1. Loving Grace: God’s Promises to You Are Based on Loving Grace. Ps. 89:1-4

  • Out of grace, God made a covenant with an unfaithful people and a lowly shepherd. The psalmist Ethan celebrated God’s grace in establishing His eternal covenant with David: “A Maskil of Ethan the Ezrahite. 1 I will sing of the graciousness of the Lord forever; to all generations I will make Your faithfulness known with my mouth. For I have said, ‘Graciousness will be built up forever; in the heavens You will establish Your faithfulness.’ ‘I have made a covenant with My chosen; I have sworn to My servant David, I will establish your descendants forever and build up your throne to all generations.’ Selah” (Ps. 89:1-4). “Many psalms that begin with complaint and prayer end with joy and praise, but this begins with joy and praise and ends with sad complaints and petitions; for the psalmist first recounts God’s former favors, and then with the consideration of them aggravates the present grievances. It is uncertain when it was penned; only, in general, that it was at a time when the house of David was woefully eclipsed; some think it was at the time of the captivity of Babylon, when king Zedekiah was insulted over, and abused, by Nebuchadnezzar, . . .” (Matthew Henry on Ps. 89).1

  • Praise God for His loving grace. According to the NASB translation, Ethan celebrated God’s “graciousness.” (Ps. 89:1). According to the NKJ translation, he celebrated God’s “mercies.” (Ps. 89:1). According to the NIV translation, he celebrated God’s “love”: “I will sing of the LORD’s great love forever; . . .” (Ps. 89:1(a)). Trying to argue which translation is correct is the wrong question. Regardless of whether Ethan praised God’s grace or His mercy, God was motivated by His love for His people. Other similar verses in the NIV substitute the word “love” where other words appear in the NASB and NKJ translations: “for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.” (Ps. 26:3) (NIV). “Within your temple, O God, we meditate on your unfailing love.” (Ps. 48:9) (NIV). “Then I said: “LORD, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments,” (Neh. 1:5) (NIV). If we combine the NASB and NKJ translations for this psalm, Ethan celebrated God’s “loving grace.” God’s promises to you are based upon His loving grace. That is one of the many reasons to praise Him.

  • God selected David out of grace and love. In the NIV, it also states that God selected David out of “love”: “He gives his king great victories; he shows unfailing love to his anointed, to David and to his descendants forever.” (Ps. 18:50). God also selected David out of grace. He was the youngest member of his house (1 Sam. 17:12-14). And he was employed as a lowly shepherd (1 Sam. 17:34). God also selected you and predestined you to adoption before you were even born because He loved you: “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters;” (Ro. 8:29). Out of love for you, God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for you: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.” (Jo. 3:16). God showed you this love out of grace. Like David, you did not do anything to earn His love. That is another reason for you to praise Him.

  • Out of love for you, Jesus offers to protect you forever as your Lord and Savior. At a time when the Jews had lost their earthly king, Ethan repeated God’s promise that a descendant of David would rule over God’s people “forever”: “I will establish your descendants forever and build up your throne to all generations.’ Selah” (Ps. 89:4). “He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. . . Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.” (2 Sam. 7:13, 16). Jesus came to fulfill this promise’s promise of an everlasting covenant: “There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of armies will accomplish this.” (Is. 9:7). “and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” (Lk. 1:33; Matt. 12:23). Because Jesus is filled with love and grace, you can trust Him. He will protect you forever.

2. Sovereignty: God is All-Powerful and Able to Keep His Word. Ps. 89:5-13.

  • God is the sovereign, all-powerful, and able to keep His promises. Because of God’s awesome might, the psalmist Ethan knew that God could and would keep His promises: “The heavens will praise Your wonders, Lord; Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the holy ones. For who in the skies is comparable to the Lord? Who among the sons of the mighty is like the Lord, a God greatly feared in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all those who are around Him? Lord God of armies, who is like You, mighty Lord? Your faithfulness also surrounds You. You rule the surging of the sea; when its waves rise, You calm them. 10 You Yourself crushed Rahab like one who is slain; You scattered Your enemies with Your mighty arm. 11 The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours; the world and all it contains, You have established them. 12 The north and the south, You have created them; Tabor and Hermon shout for joy at Your name. 13 You have a strong arm; Your hand is mighty, Your right hand is exalted.” (Ps. 89:5-13). “Earth and heaven are one in admiring and adoring the covenant God: Saints above see most clearly into the heights and depths of divine love, therefore, they praise its wonders; and saints below, being conscious of their many sins and multiplied provocations of the Lord, admire his faithfulness. . . 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.” (Charles Spurgeon on Ps. 89).2

  • Praise God that He is sovereign and in control. Ethan declared that the “heavens will praise Your wonders.” (Ps. 89:5). David also stated that the heavens declared His glory: “For the music director. A Psalm of David. The heavens tell of the glory of God; and their expanse declares the work of His hands.” (Ps. 19:1). God is all powerful and in full control: “But God is the Judge; He puts down one and exalts another.” (Ps. 75:7). “The LORD makes poor and rich; He humbles, He also exalts.” (1 Sam. 2:7). Everything happens because He either plans it or allows it to happen as part of His perfect plan: “It is He who changes the times and the periods; He removes kings and appoints kings; He gives wisdom to wise men, and knowledge to people of understanding.” (Dan. 2:21). Thus, you can trust that God is capable and willing to fulfill all of His promises.

Psalm 89

God is both capable and trustworthy to keep all His promises3

  • God has no rival to His power. Ethan also asked the rhetorical question: “For who in the skies is comparable to the Lord? . . . Lord God of armies, who is like You, mighty Lord? ” (Ps. 89:6, 8). Other passages throughout the Bible proclaim God’s uniqueness: “Who is like You among the gods, LORD? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, Awesome in praises, working wonders?” (Ex. 15:11). “All my bones will say, ‘LORD, who is like You, Who rescues the afflicted from one who is too strong for him, and the afflicted and the poor from one who robs him?”’ (Ps. 35:10). “For Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens, You who have done great things; God, who is like You?” (Ps. 71:19). “Who is like the LORD our God, who is enthroned on high,” (Ps. 113:5). “so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God; there is no one else.” (1 Kgs. 8:60). “You were shown these things so that you might know that the LORD, He is God; there is no other besides Him.” (Dt. 4:35). Thus, you can rest assured that Satan has no power to stop God from keeping His promises.

  • Those who oppose God will one day bow before Him. Ethan declared “a God greatly feared in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all those who are around Him?” (Ps. 89:7). Those who rebel against God will one day fear Him: “For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; He also is to be feared above all gods.” (1 Chr. 16:25). “You, You indeed are to be feared, and who may stand in Your presence, once You are angry?” (Ps. 76:7). “so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, so that you may fear the LORD your God forever.” (Josh. 4:24). When Baal worshippers observed God’s power through Elijah, they bowed before Him: “When all the people saw this, they fell on their faces; and they said, ‘The LORD, He is God; the LORD, He is God!”’ (1 Kgs. 18:39). Every knee will one day bow and declare before Him: “I have sworn by Myself; the word has gone out from My mouth in righteousness and will not turn back, that to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance.” (Is. 45:23). This also applies to Jesus (Ro. 14:11; Phil. 2:10).

  • Jesus’ control over nature shows that He is part of the triune God. Ethan also stated that God alone can control the oceans: “You rule the surging of the sea; when its waves rise, You calm them.” (Ps. 89:9). “Who stills the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the turmoil of the nations.” (Ps. 65:7). Jesus later demonstrated that He is God by controlling the oceans: “He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?’ Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm.” (Matt. 8:26; Mk. 4:39). Thus, you can also trust Jesus to fulfill His promises.

  • God will one day crush Satan with His power. Ethan also celebrated that God crushed “Rahab,” which is defined as “the proud one:” “10 You Yourself crushed Rahab like one who is slain; You scattered Your enemies with Your mighty arm.” (Ps. 89:10). Job also stated that Rahab would first cower and later be crushed by God’s power: “God will not turn back His anger; beneath Him the helpers of Rahab cower.” (Job 9:13). “With His power He quieted the sea, and by His understanding He shattered Rahab.” (Job 26:12). Some believe that “Rahab” was Egypt. Yet, in the book of Isaiah, “Rahab” is revealed to be the dragon, Satan: “Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the LORD; awake as in the days of old, the generations of long ago. Was it not You who cut Rahab in pieces, who pierced the dragon?” (Is. 51:9). Thus, Satan is no match for God’s power.

3. Righteousness: Because God is Righteous and Just, You Can Trust Him to Keep His Promises. Ps. 89:14-18.

  • God is righteous and just to keep His promises. The psalmist Ethan also celebrated God’s righteous and just character in keeping His promises: “14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; mercy and truth go before You. 15 Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! Lord, they walk in the light of Your face. 16 In Your name they rejoice all the day, and by Your righteousness they are exalted. 17 For You are the glory of their strength, and by Your favor our horn is exalted. 18 For our shield belongs to the Lord, and our king to the Holy One of Israel.” (Ps. 89:14-18). “The psalmist here rises to a higher level - from that of might to that of right. God is not merely strong to do whatever he wills; but all that he wills is consonant with right and justice.” (Pulpit Commentary on Ps. 89).4 Thus, you can trust in God’s promises.

  • Praise God for His righteousness. As an example for believers to follow, the psalms repeatedly praise God for His righteousness: “The heavens declare His righteousness, and all the peoples have seen His glory.” (Ps. 97:6). “And the heavens declare His righteousness, for God Himself is judge. Selah” (Ps. 50:6). “He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.” (Ps. 33:5). “For the LORD is righteous, He loves righteousness; the upright will see His face.” (Ps. 11:7). “For You have maintained my just cause; You have sat on the throne judging righteously.” (Ps. 9:4). “God is a righteous judge, and a God who shows indignation every day.” (Ps. 7:11). “I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart; I have spoken of Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed Your mercy and Your truth from the great congregation.” (Ps. 40:10). “Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole Law which I am setting before you today?” (Dt. 4:8). “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will also help you, I will also uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Is. 41:10). Because God is righteous, you can trust Him to keep His promises.

  • God’s righteousness will bless His undeserving people. Because mankind is sinful and sin cannot be in God’s presence (Habakkuk 1:13), some believers might fear His righteousness. Yet, out of mercy and grace, He will bless His people with His righteousness: “15 Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! Lord, they walk in the light of Your face.” (Ps. 89:15). For God to show His face without the people being destroyed was a sign of His favor: “The LORD lift up His face to you, and give you peace.” (Nu. 6:26). “Many are saying, ‘Who will show us anything good?’ Lift up the light of Your face upon us, LORD!” (Ps. 4:6). Again, God is worthy of your praise.

Psalm 89:15 | Psalms, Devotional books, Jesus calling

Praise God for sharing His blessings and favor with undeserving, sinful people5

  • Jesus makes believers righteous and able to be in God’s presence through His sacrifice. Ethan declared: “17 For You are the glory of their strength, and by Your favor our horn is exalted. 18 For our shield belongs to the Lord, and our king to the Holy One of Israel.” (Ps. 89:17-18). This was a foreshadow of Jesus. The “horn” was a symbol of Jesus’ power and His ability to save believers: “And has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David—” (Lk. 1:69). “Then Hannah prayed and said, ‘My heart rejoices in the LORD; my horn is exalted in the LORD, My mouth speaks boldly against my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation.”’ (1 Sam. 2:1). Ethan directed this praise to the Messiah: “our king to the Holy One of Israel.” (Ps. 89:18). This was God Himself: “For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; He will save us—” (Is. 33:22). Jesus is revealed to be our “King of Kings”: “which He will bring about at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords,” (1 Tim. 6:15; Rev. 9:16). Though Him, you are made righteous and able to stand in God the Father’s presence: “But it is due to Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,” (1 Cor. 1:30). Thus, Jesus is worthy of your praise.

4. Faithfulness: God is Faithful to Keep His Promises to You. Ps. 89:19-29.

  • God is faithful and trustworthy to keep His promises. The psalmist Ethan further celebrated God’s faithfulness in keeping His promises, when the Jews were unfaithful: “19 Once You spoke in vision to Your godly ones, and said, ‘I have given help to one who is mighty; I have exalted one chosen from the people. 20 I have found My servant David; with My holy oil I have anointed him, 21 With whom My hand will be established; My arm also will strengthen him. 22 The enemy will not deceive him, nor will the son of wickedness afflict him. 23 But I will crush his adversaries before him, and strike those who hate him. 24 My faithfulness and My favor will be with him, and in My name his horn will be exalted. 25 I will also place his hand on the sea, and his right hand on the rivers. 26 He will call to Me, ‘You are my Father, My God, and the rock of my salvation.’ 27 I will also make him My firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth. 28 I will maintain My favor for him forever, and My covenant shall be confirmed to him. 29 So I will establish his descendants forever, and his throne as the days of heaven.” (Ps. 89:19-29). Solomon’s prayer of dedication for the Temple included a similar tribute to God’s faithfulness to His eternal covenant with David: “LORD God, do not turn away the face of Your anointed; remember Your faithfulness to Your servant David.” (2 Chr. 6:42).

  • God would be faithful to keep His eternal covenant with David. God chose David as a lowly shepherd: “He also chose His servant David and took him from the sheepfolds;” (Ps. 78:70; 1 Sam 16:11). “Now then, this is what you shall say to My servant David: ‘This is what the LORD of armies says: “I Myself took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be leader over My people Israel.” (2 Sam. 7:8). “[W]ith My holy oil, God then had Samuel “anoint[] him,” (Ps. 89:20; 1 Sam 16:13). As a sign of his faithfulness, God then strengthened David “My arm also will strengthen him.” (Ps. 89:21). David confirmed this in his psalms: “The God who encircles me with strength, and makes my way blameless? . . . You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, and Your right hand upholds me; and Your gentleness makes me great.” (Ps. 18:32, 35). As a further sign of His faithfulness, God protected David from his many enemies “23 But I will crush his adversaries before him, and strike those who hate him.” (Ps. 89:23). The story of David’s life is filled with Saul, Absalom, and the Philistines’ attempts to kill him. David’s survival can only be attributed to God’s miraculous hand of protection, just as God proclaimed: “And I have been with you wherever you have gone, and have eliminated all your enemies from you; I will also make a great name for you, like the names of the great men who are on the earth.” (2 Sam. 7:9). David later thanked God for His faithfulness: “You have also made my enemies turn their backs to me, . . .” (Ps. 18:40). God kept His promises to David because He is faithful: “24 My faithfulness and My favor will be with him, and in My name his horn will be exalted.” (Ps. 89:24). “He is a tower of salvation to His king, and shows favor to His anointed, to David and his descendants forever.” (2 Sam. 22:51). You should also thank Him for His faithfulness.

  • Because God showed His faithfulness to David, you can trust Him to be faithful to you. One commentator observes that, in this section of the psalm, “God described the many blessings He placed upon David, the man after His own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). · The blessing of help (I have given help). · The blessing of exaltation (I have exalted). · The blessing of election (one chosen from the people). · The blessing of anointing (I have anointed him). · The blessing of security (with whom My hand shall be established. · The blessing of God’s own strength (My arm shall strengthen him). · The blessing of protection (the enemy shall not outwit him, nor the son of wickedness afflict him). · The blessing of vindication (I will beat down his foes before his face, and plague those who hate him). · The blessing of ongoing faithfulness and mercy (My faithfulness and My mercy shall be with him). · The blessing of exalted strength (in My name his horn shall be exalted).” (David Guzik on Ps. 89).6 Because God kept His promises to David, you can trust Him to keep His promises to you.

  • Jesus the Rock of your salvation and Lord over all is faithful to keep His promises. Ethan further praised God as the “rock” of his “salvation”: “He shall cry unto me, thou art my Father, My God, and the rock of my salvation.” (Ps. 89:26). Other psalms make similar claims: “For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God,” (Ps. 18:31). “He alone is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I will not be greatly shaken.” (Ps. 62:2). These proclamations all foreshadowed Jesus: “and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.” (1 Cor. 10:4). Through Ethan, God also praised “My firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.” (Ps. 89:27). God would also confirm His covenant with David through this King: “I will maintain My favor for him forever, and My covenant shall be confirmed to him.” (Ps. 89:28). This also foreshadowed Jesus: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation:” (Col. 1:15). “And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written: ‘King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.” (Rev. 19:16). He is also the promised Messiah to come through the line of David (Matt. 1:1; Rom. 1:3). Because He is the Rock and King of Kings, you can trust in Jesus’ promises.

Jesus came to fulfill God’s covenant with David as our Savior and King of Kings7

  • Jesus’ covenant with you is eternal. Through Ethan God promised that the King to come through David would have an eternal covenant: “So I will establish his descendants forever, and his throne as the days of heaven.” (Ps. 89:29). Through Jeremiah, God repeated this promise: “I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts, so that they will not turn away from Me.” (Jer. 32:40). Jesus came to fulfill this eternal covenant: “Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, that is, Jesus our Lord,” (Heb. 13:20). “and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” (Lk. 1:33). Thus, you can praise Him because His promises last forever.

  • Praise Jesus for His faithfulness. Throughout the Bible, God is praised for His faithfulness: “Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His faithfulness to a thousand generations for those who love Him and keep His commandments;” (Dt. 7:9). “Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His faithfulness to a thousand generations for those who love Him and keep His commandments;” (Dt. 7:9). “Your mercy, LORD, extends to the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.” (Ps. 36:5). “But as for me, I will sing of Your strength; Yes, I will joyfully sing of Your faithfulness in the morning, for You have been my refuge and a place of refuge on the day of my distress.” (Ps. 59:16). “Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His faithfulness is everlasting.” (1 Chr. 16:34). “Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will do it.” (1 Thess. 5:24). “But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” (2 Thess. 3:3). Thus, you trust Jesus’ promises to you. In your prayers and your worship, are you praising Jesus for His faithfulness?

5. Correction: God Will Keep His Promises, Even When He Disciplines You Because of Sin. Ps. 89:30-45.

  • Out of love, God disciplines His people to correct them and make them holy. Although Jews were unworthy, the psalmist knew that God would correct and not forsake His people: “30 ‘If his sons abandon My Law and do not walk in My judgments, 31 if they violate My statutes and do not keep My commandments, 32 then I will punish their wrongdoing with the rod, and their guilt with afflictions. 33 But I will not withhold My favor from him, nor deal falsely in My faithfulness. 34 I will not violate My covenant, nor will I alter the utterance of My lips. 35 Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David. 36 His descendants shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before Me. 37 It shall be established forever like the moon, and a witness in the sky is faithful.’ Selah 38 But You have rejected and refused, You have been full of wrath against Your anointed. 39 You have repudiated the covenant of Your servant; You have profaned his crown in the dust. 40 You have broken down all his walls; You have brought his strongholds to ruin. 41 All who pass along the way plunder him; He has become a disgrace to his neighbors. 42 You have exalted the right hand of his adversaries; You have made all his enemies rejoice. 43 You also turn back the edge of his sword, and have not made him stand in battle. 44 You have put an end to his splendor and cast his throne to the ground. 45 You have shortened the days of his youth; You have covered him with shame. Selah” (Ps. 89:30-45). The story of David’s successors is a story of God’s faithfulness in the face of ongoing rebellion: “Solomon himself began the falling away (1 Kings 11:1-8). He was followed by Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 12:1), Ahaziah (2 Kings 8:27), Joash (2 Chronicles 24:17-24), Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:16-20), Ahaz (2 Kings 16:2-18), Manasseh (2 Kings 21:2-16), Amon (2 Kings 21:20-22), Jehoahaz (2 Kings 23:32), Jehoiakim (2 Kings 23:37), Jehoiachin (2 Kings 24:9), and Zedekiah (2 Kings 24:19), all of whom ‘did evil in the sight of the Lord’ - forsook his Law, and walked not in has judgments.” (Pulpit Commentary on Ps. 89).8 God disciplined these kings out of love to correct them.

  • God would discipline the descendants of David out of love.  God warned David that His promise of an eternal kingship would not exempt the Jews from discipline: “32 then I will punish their wrongdoing with the rod, and their guilt with afflictions.” (Ps. 89:32). But this would be no different than the way a loving father disciplines a wayward son:  “I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men,”  (2 Sam. 7:14). In a similar way, God disciplines His people out of love:  “Thus you are to know in your heart that the LORD your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son.” (Dt. 8:5).  “It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” (Heb. 12:7).  “But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.”  (1 Cor. 11:32).  If God has disciplined you, pray about how and why you have sinned. God wants you to then repent and change your ways by renewing your mind daily (Ro. 12:2).

  • God will not break His promises or forsake you when He disciplines you.  Here, God stated that He would not terminate His promises because of the sins of His people: “But I will not withhold My favor from him, nor deal falsely in My faithfulness.  I will not violate My covenant, nor will I alter the utterance of My lips. 35 Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David.” (Ps. 89:33-35).  God also promised that He will never leave or forsake His people.  “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you.  He will not fail you or forsake you.”  (Dt. 31:6; Heb. 13:5).  God removed the kingship from Saul’s line because of his rebellion (1 Sam. 15:23).  Yet, even though God would discipline David’s descendants, He promised never to forsake them or remove their right to the kingship:  “but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you.”  (2 Sam. 7:15).  Sin would, however, limit the extent of their blessing to the land of Judah:  ‘“However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son for the sake of My servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen.”’  (1 Kgs. 11:13).  “So the LORD was very angry with Israel and removed them from His sight; none was left except the tribe of Judah.”  (2 Kgs. 17:18). But, like David’s descendants, sins may prevent you from experiencing the fullness of God’s blessings.  If you have sinned, repent, and never lose hope.  But don’t engage in open rebellion and squander the fullness of His blessings.

  • Allow God to humble you so that He can also exalt you without pride.  Ethan lamented: “39 You have repudiated the covenant of Your servant; You have profaned his crown in the dust . . .You have exalted the right hand of his adversaries; You have made all his enemies rejoice. ” (Ps. 89:39, 42). “You cause us to turn back from the enemy; And those who hate us have taken spoils for themselves. . . You make us an object of reproach to our neighbors, of scoffing and ridicule to those around us.” (Ps. 44:10, 13; Dt. 28:37). God had to humble David as a servant before He could exalt him.  He did this so that David would serve without pride.  He also wants you to allow Him to humble you through your suffering so that He can exalt you in heaven without any pride.  “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.”  (Matt. 23:12; Lk. 14:11; 18:14).  “He has brought down rulers from their thrones, and has exalted those who were humble.”  (Lk. 1:52).  “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.”  (Ja. 4:10).  “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,”  (1 Pet. 5:6).  “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.”  (Matt. 5:5; KJV).  Your suffering is one way for God to humble you.  Are you staying humble so that God can later exalt you?

6. Mercy: Because God is Merciful, He Allows You a Path to Atone For Your Sins and Enjoy His Full Covenant Promises to You. Ps. 89:46-48.

  • God is merciful and forgiving to allow sinners to receive His covenant promises. The Jews were unworthy of God’s covenant. Thus, the psalmist appealled to God to be merciful: “46 How long, Lord? Will You hide Yourself forever? Will Your wrath burn like fire? 47 Remember what my lifespan is; for what futility You have created all the sons of mankind! 48 What man can live and not see death? Can he save his soul from the power of Sheol? Selah” (Ps. 89:46-48). But God’s people also needed patience: “Sometimes it is not easy to reconcile God's providences with his promises, yet we are sure that God's works fulfill his word. When the great Anointed One, Christ himself, was upon the cross, God seemed to have cast him off, yet did not make void his covenant, for that was established forever. The honor of the house of David was lost. Thrones and crowns are often laid in the dust; but there is a crown of glory reserved for Christ's spiritual seed, which fadeth not away. From all this complaint learn what work sin makes with families, noble families, with families in which religion has appeared. They plead with God for mercy. God's unchangeableness and faithfulness assure us that He will not cast off those whom he has chosen and covenanted with.” (Matthew Henry on Ps. 89).9

  • David frequently cried out for God’s mercy and presence in his time of trouble.  Ethan cried out: “46 How long, Lord? Will You hide Yourself forever?” (Ps. 89:46). The psalmist Asaph many a similar cry: “How long, LORD? Will You be angry forever? Will Your jealousy burn like fire?” (Ps. 79:5). David frequently made similar laments to God: “ How long, Lord?  Will You forget me forever?  How long will You hide Your face from me?”  (Ps. 13:1).  “Why do You stand far away, Lord?  Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?” (Ps. 10:1).  “Lord, how long will You look on? Rescue my soul from their ravages, My only life from the lions . . . You have seen it, LORD, do not keep silent; Lord, do not be far from me.”  (Ps. 35:17, 22).  “Why do You hide Your face and forget our affliction and oppression?”  (Ps. 44:24).  “God, do not be far from me; My God, hurry to my aid!”  (Ps. 71:12).  “LORD, why do You reject my soul?  Why do You hide Your face from me?”  (Ps. 88:14).  When you feel alone, God also wants you to share your burdens with Him. Cry out for relief but also be patient for His timing.

  • Jesus’ atoning death made God’s mercy possible. Ethan also asked how God’s people could escape death: “48 What man can live and not see death? Can he save his soul from the power of Sheol? Selah” (Ps. 89:48). Jesus provided the answer to this question. He atoned for our sins to give us mercy and the opportunity for eternal life: “and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 Jo. 2:2). “Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brothers so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” (Heb. 2:17). “Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38). He is worthy of your praise.

  • Praise Jesus for His mercy. Throughout the Bible, God is also praised for His mercy: “Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in faithfulness and truth;”’ (Ex. 34:6). “For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting and His faithfulness is to all generations.” (Ps. 100:5). “For Your mercy is great above the heavens, and Your truth reaches to the skies.” (Ps. 108:4). Jesus made God’s mercy possible. You can thank Him both with your praise and by making yourself a living sacrifice (Ro. 12:1).

7. Deliverance: God is Faithful To Keep His Promises to Deliver You When You Turn to Him in Faith. Ps. 89:49-52.

  • God is faithful to deliver His people and keep His promises. God’s enemies taunted His people. Thus, the psalmist prayed for God to deliver His people and fulfill His promises: “49 Where are Your former acts of favor, Lord, which You swore to David in Your faithfulness? 50 Remember, Lord, the taunt against Your servants; how I carry in my heart the taunts of all the many peoples, 51 with which Your enemies have taunted, Lord, with which they have taunted the footsteps of Your anointed. 52 Blessed be the Lord forever! Amen and Amen.” (Ps. 89:49-52). This marks the end of the third of five books of the Psalms. Each of the five books within the Psalms ends with a similar benediction that blesses Yahweh “forever” and concludes with “Amen”.  These include Book One (Ps. 41), Book Two (Ps. 72), Book Four (Ps. 106) and Book Five  (Ps. 150).

  • God will be faithful to deliver His people. Ethan concluded with an urgent call for God to deliver His people (Ps. 89:50-51). Other psalmists made similar pleas: “Arise, God, and plead Your own cause; remember how the foolish person taunts You all day long.” (Ps. 74:22). “Judge me, LORD my God, according to Your righteousness, and do not let them rejoice over me.” (Ps. 35:24). “Vindicate me, God, and plead my case against an ungodly nation; Save me from the deceitful and unjust person!” (Ps. 43:1).

  • All things are possible with God when you have faith. Freeing the Jews from captivity required nothing short of a miracle. But, when you have faith, there is no miracle that is too big for God: “Is anything too difficult for the LORD?” (Gen. 18:14(a)). “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?” (Jer. 32:27). “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2). “‘With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”’ (Matt. 19:26(b); Mk. 10:27(b); Lk. 1:37). “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” (Ro. 8:31). Turn to God when you need deliverance.

  • If a nation repents and turns back to God, He will deliver it.  God promises to deliver any nation trapped in sin if it repents:  “and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”  (2 Chr. 7:14).  It is the role of the Church to pray and be His salt and light in leading the nation to repent.  Is your church fasting and praying for your nation to repent?

  • Turn to prayer and fasting for God’s deliverance.  Any time that you are in need of deliverance or face an important need, God wants you to seek him through prayer and fasting.  Jesus revealed that He can provide believers with great power when they pray and fast (Mk. 9:28-29).  For example, an elderly prophetess named Anna turned to God with prayer and fasting during her hour of need (Lk. 2:37).  As another example, Paul and Barnabas prayed and fasted for God to guide the elders of a church in the church’s hour of need:  “When they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.”  (Acts 14:23).  If you are in need for any matter, whether great or small, turn to God in prayer and fasting.

  • Give thanks that God is faithful, even when your faith fails you.  God answered these prayers and freed the Jews from captivity. In 538 B.C., God influenced the Persian King Cyrus II to issue a decree to allow the Jews to return from their Babylonian captivity to the Promised Land (Ezra 1:1-2; 5:13-17). God’s fulfillment of His promises to the Jews shows that you also trust His promises as well. “Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass”  (1 Thess. 5:24). “Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments;”  (Dt. 7:9).  “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”  (1 Cor. 1:9).  He is faithful even when you are not:  “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.”   (2 Tim. 2:13).  Have you given thanks that you can trust in His faithfulness in your life?

  • Respond to God’s faithfulness by praising Him.  The end of each of the five books of the psalms are filled with joyful praises for God:  “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and Amen.” (Ps. 41:13). “Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, who alone works wonders.  And blessed be His glorious name forever; and may the whole earth be filled with His glory.  Amen and Amen.” (Ps. 72:18-19).  “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, From everlasting to everlasting.  And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’  Praise the LORD!”  (Ps. 106:48).  “Everything that has breath shall praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!”  (Ps. 150:6).  In heaven, joyful praise will go on forever:  “My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD, and all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever.”  (Ps. 145:21).  This praise will not be a burden or forced upon you.  In heaven, it will spring naturally from your eternal joy. 

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