Psalm 89:  My covenant I will not break.

My covenant I will not break, Nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips.  Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David: Psalm 89:34, 35

God’s Covenant with David

 

Psalm 89 begins as a psalm of praise but ends as a psalm of lament.  It celebrates God’s covenant with David (2 Sam. 7) and then laments how David’s descendants had not remained faithful to the provisions of that covenant (see 2 Sam. 7:14),  Yet even in the face of unfaithfulness, this psalm reaffirms God’s faithfulness to His covenant and its ultimate fulfillment in David’s greater Son, the Messiah (vv. 33-37).  The title attributes the psalm to Ethan, who was also known as Jeduthun (1 Chr. 25:1, 3, 6).

This psalm honors God’s covenant promise to establish King David’s line forever.  The psalmist praises God’s faithfulness, His power, and His righteousness, each of which is expressed in the Davidic covenant.  Based on God’s character and covenant, the psalm calls for Israel’s restoration.  This messianic psalm is quoted in Acts 2:30.

“Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.  Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, Acts 2:29, 30

The Davidic Covenant.  The basic structure of the O.T. is covenantal.  The OT echoes and reechoes the conviction that God made specific promises to human beings which not only shape the covenant people’s identity but also outline the future of humankind.  The core covenant promises given to Abraham set aside his descendants through Isaac and Jacob, the Jews, as a special people.  Later covenant promises were given to the Jews through Moses.  These were intended to show each generation of Jews the way to experience God’s blessing in their lifetime, while awaiting the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promises.

Still later, special covenant promises were given to David.  These promises revealed the fact that God intends to keep His promises to Abraham through the agency of a Ruler who will be one of David’s physical descendants.  Until the birth of that King, commonly called the Messiah, or Anointed One, David would always have a descendant on the throne of Israel, or qualified to sit on that throne.  These promises, stated in 2 Sam 7, are celebrated in this psalm and given fresh expression here.  Thus:

89:20-25.  The king will be strengthened and sustained by God and his kingdom established.

20  I have found My servant David; With My holy oil I have anointed him, 21  With whom My hand shall be established; Also My arm shall strengthen him. 22  The enemy shall not outwit him, Nor the son of wickedness afflict him. 23  I will beat down his foes before his face, And plague those who hate him. 24  “But My faithfulness and My mercy shall be with him, And in My name his horn shall be exalted. 25  Also I will set his hand over the sea, And his right hand over the rivers.

89:26, 27.  God will maintain a father-son relationship with the king and appoint him His heir (“firstborn”).

26  He shall cry to Me, ‘You are my Father, My God, and the rock of my salvation.’ 27  Also I will make him My firstborn, The highest of the kings of the earth.

89:28-29.  God will establish the king’s line forever and maintain His covenant forever.

28  My mercy I will keep for him forever, And My covenant shall stand firm with him. 29  His seed also I will make to endure forever, And his throne as the days of heaven.

89:30-37.  If kings in David’s line turn from God they will be disciplined, but the covenant promises will never be withdrawn.

30  “If his sons forsake My law And do not walk in My judgments, 31  If they break My statutes And do not keep My commandments, 32  Then I will punish their transgression with the rod, And their iniquity with stripes. 33  Nevertheless My lovingkindness I will not utterly take from him, Nor allow My faithfulness to fail. 34  My covenant I will not break, Nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips. 35  Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David: 36  His seed shall endure forever, And his throne as the sun before Me; 37  It shall be established forever like the moon, Even like the faithful witness in the sky.” Selah

Faithfulness This is a concept related to the Heb. Idea of truth.  A person is faithful if her words are true: that is, if her actions match her words.  God is a faithful person; that means what He says He will surely do.  Thus, God’s covenant promises are rock solid:  They are fully guaranteed by the very character of God Himself.

Love. The Hebrew word is hesed, which means covenant loyalty or steadfast love.  Again, the covenant promises given David are guaranteed by the character of God who gave them.

Covenant.  A covenant is a formal, legally binding agreement between two or more parties.  Often covenants called for promises to be made by all parties in the agreements.  Biblical covenants, however, are commitments by one person, God, to do what He promises a person or group to do.

Forsake (89:30-37).  The strong term, ‘azab, used here indicates willful rejection, a conscious choice ot reject God.  This is typically used when speaking of man abandoning or forsaking God.  But it’s typically not used of God.  He may discipline us, but instead of rejecting us chooses to keep on loving.

How Long?  (89:46).  The psalmist at last asks the right question.  It’s simply a matter of how long.  For some of us the answer will be “tomorrow.”  For others, “not in this life.”  But whether the blessings we yearn for are to be ours in the next 24 hours or in eternity, God’s promises still ring true.  He loves us faithfully and He will keep every commitment made to us in Christ.  For long centuries Israel waited for the promised messianic King to appear.  At last, a full 1,000 years after David, He did!  Today too we are waiting.  In God’s own time, Jesus will come again, and the covenant promises granted David will be kept in full.

 


 

89:3, 4 Ethan quoted God’s words to David in 2 Sam. 7.  David is referred to as My chosen and My servant (v. 20) – names that describe his intimate relationship with the Lord (see 2 Sam. 7:7).  Your seed… your throne:  God had promised David a line of descent and an enduring throne (2 Sam. 7:12, 13).

3  “I have made a covenant with My chosen, I have sworn to My servant David: 4  ‘Your seed I will establish forever, And build up your throne to all generations.’ “

89:9, 10 Rahab is a title for Egypt.  The sea and Rahab refer to God’s great victories:  In the beginning, His control of His creation; in the historic past, His victory over Egypt; and in the future, His complete triumph over Satan, sin and death (Is. 27:1; 51:9).  The psalmists regularly asserts God’s complete control of creation (see 24:1).  Nothing can challenge God’s majestic rule over the entire universe.

9  You rule the raging of the sea; When its waves rise, You still them. 10  You have broken Rahab in pieces, as one who is slain; You have scattered Your enemies with Your mighty arm.

89:13, 14 God is the great Deliverer; He brandished His arm and hand in delivering His people from Egypt.  Righteousness and justice means “utter righteousness.”  Mercy and truth may be rephrased as “unbreakable loyalty.”

13  You have a mighty arm; Strong is Your hand, and high is Your right hand. 14  Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Mercy and truth go before Your face.

89:15-18 Blessed, the same word used in 1:1, means “manifest happiness.”  To exalt the horn of the people means to give them power and eventual triumph.  The Holy One of Israel is the title Isaiah uses to describe God, following his experience of God’s holiness in his memorable vision of God’s throne (Is. 6).

15  Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! They walk, O Lord, in the light of Your countenance. 16  In Your name they rejoice all day long, And in Your righteousness they are exalted17  For You are the glory of their strength, And in Your favor our horn is exalted. 18  For our shield belongs to the Lord, And our king to the Holy One of Israel.

89:19 The psalm recounts God’s remarkable intervention in the life of David and the specifics of His covenant with David.  Your holy one:  David has been singled out as holy to the Lord.  Yet his beginnings were not spectacular, for he was from the people; he had been an ordinary shepherd.  In these repects and in many others, David was a type, or a divinely intended portrait, of the Savior.  In a similar way, Jesus came from humble origins as the son of a carpenter.  Yet He was the Holy One, the Son of the Most High.

19  Then You spoke in a vision to Your holy one, And said: “I have given help to one who is mighty; I have exalted one chosen from the people

89:24, 25 My faithfulness and My mercy:  God will remain true to His word and demonstrate His love to His servant.  Sea… rivers:  The possible reference here is to Israel’s expansion of its borders.  But note the language used to describe God’s control over creation.  The Lord is extending to His servant the authority He has over creation.

“But My faithfulness and My mercy shall be with him, And in My name his horn shall be exalted. 25  Also I will set his hand over the sea, And his right hand over the rivers.

89:26-30 Father… firstborn:  This wording is derived from god’s covenant with David (2 Sam. 7:14).  Seed… throne:  These words are repeated from v. 4.  His sons”  The provisions of the Davidic covenant in 2 Sam. 7 included the discipline of errant sons.

 26  He shall cry to Me, ‘You are my Father, My God, and the rock of my salvation.’ 27  Also I will make him My firstborn, The highest of the kings of the earth. 28  My mercy I will keep for him forever, And My covenant shall stand firm with him. 29  His seed also I will make to endure forever, And his throne as the days of heaven. 30  “If his sons forsake My law And do not walk in My judgments, 31  If they break My statutes And do not keep My commandments,

89:34 The words my covenant I will not break and the wording of v. 35 are strong, so as to assure the reader that the will of the Lord is quite settled in this matter.  The people might become faithless, but God cannot deny Himself.  In spite of errors, rebellions, sins, and apostasies in the lives of many of the kings of Judah, God is determined to complete, fulfill, and accomplish His grand plan for David’s dynasty (2 Sam. 7:1-24).

34  My covenant I will not break, Nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips. 35 Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David: 36  His seed shall endure forever, And his throne as the sun before Me; 37  It shall be established forever like the moon, Even like the faithful witness in the sky.”

89:39 After the long recital of the details of the Lord’s covenant with David and god’s sworn statement that He would not revoke it, the psalmist questions whether the covenant had really been honored.  Most likely the occasion of this psalm was the defeat of Israel’s armies, accounting for the psalmist’s strong sense of consternation before the Lord.  With the repeated use of the pronoun You, he addresses his complaint directly to GodYou have renounced the covenant of Your servant:  As in the case of Ps. 60, the military defeat that likely sparked this psalm was a temporary situation; a victory was still to come.  Nonetheless, the poet presses his claim to God:  This is the covenant that the Lord has established, that He has sworn Himself to uphold.

39  You have renounced the covenant of Your servant; You have profaned his crown by casting it to the ground

89:40-45 As a result of the military defeat, the people were despondent and disillusioned.  The psalmist voices their feelings and thus allows the process of healing to begin, even as the people wait for their deliverance from the Lord.

40  You have broken down all his hedges; You have brought his strongholds to ruin. 41  All who pass by the way plunder him; He is a reproach to his neighbors. 42  You have exalted the right hand of his adversaries; You have made all his enemies rejoice. 43  You have also turned back the edge of his sword, And have not sustained him in the battle. 44  You have made his glory cease, And cast his throne down to the ground. 45  The days of his youth You have shortened; You have covered him with shame.

89:49-51 The writer complains that God has not been keeping His promises to David (2 Sam. 7:1-24).  As a result, His people are experiencing undeserved reproach from their enemies.  There is no resolution to this psalm; it ends with the people, the king, and the psalmist in distress.  Yet the inclusion of this psalm among the praises of Israel suggests that God did answer this prayer of His beleaguered people.

49 Lord, where are Your former loving kindnesses, Which You swore to David in Your truth? 50 Remember, Lord, the reproach of Your servants– How I bear in my bosom the reproach of all the many peoples, 51 With which Your enemies have reproached, O Lord, With which they have reproached the footsteps of Your anointed.

** A promise spoken by God would have been sufficient.  But God bound Himself by entering into a covenant with us.  A covenant that will hold up in court.  It is the covenant that we can go to bank with.  When He says, “My covenant I will not break,” I believe him.

 

 

 

89 1  A Contemplation of Ethan the Ezrahite. I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever; With my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations. 2  For I have said, “Mercy shall be built up forever; Your faithfulness You shall establish in the very heavens.” 3  “I have made a covenant with My chosen, I have sworn to My servant David: 4  ‘Your seed I will establish forever, And build up your throne to all generations.’ ” Selah

5  And the heavens will praise Your wonders, O Lord; Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the saints. 6  For who in the heavens can be compared to the Lord? Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened to the Lord? 7  God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, And to be held in reverence by all those around Him. 8  O Lord God of hosts, Who is mighty like You, O Lord? Your faithfulness also surrounds You. 9  You rule the raging of the sea; When its waves rise, You still them. 10  You have broken Rahab in pieces, as one who is slain; You have scattered Your enemies with Your mighty arm. 11  The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours; The world and all its fullness, You have founded them. 12  The north and the south, You have created them; Tabor and Hermon rejoice in Your name. 13  You have a mighty arm; Strong is Your hand, and high is Your right hand. 14  Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Mercy and truth go before Your face.

15  Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! They walk, O Lord, in the light of Your countenance. 16  In Your name they rejoice all day long, And in Your righteousness they are exalted. 17  For You are the glory of their strength, And in Your favor our horn is exalted. 18  For our shield belongs to the Lord, And our king to the Holy One of Israel.

19  Then You spoke in a vision to Your holy one, 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 shall be established; Also My arm shall strengthen him. 22  The enemy shall not outwit him, Nor the son of wickedness afflict him. 23  I will beat down his foes before his face, And plague those who hate him. 24  “But My faithfulness and My mercy shall be with him, And in My name his horn shall be exalted. 25  Also I will set his hand over the sea, And his right hand over the rivers. 26  He shall cry to Me, ‘You are my Father, My God, and the rock of my salvation.’ 27  Also I will make him My firstborn, The highest of the kings of the earth. 28  My mercy I will keep for him forever, And My covenant shall stand firm with him. 29  His seed also I will make to endure forever, And his throne as the days of heaven. 30  “If his sons forsake My law And do not walk in My judgments, 31  If they break My statutes And do not keep My commandments, 32  Then I will punish their transgression with the rod, And their iniquity with stripes. 33  Nevertheless My lovingkindness I will not utterly take from him, Nor allow My faithfulness to fail. 34  My covenant I will not break, Nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips. 35  Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David: 36  His seed shall endure forever, And his throne as the sun before Me; 37  It shall be established forever like the moon, Even like the faithful witness in the sky.” Selah

38  But You have cast off and abhorred, You have been furious with Your anointed. 39  You have renounced the covenant of Your servant; You have profaned his crown by casting it to the ground. 40  You have broken down all his hedges; You have brought his strongholds to ruin. 41  All who pass by the way plunder him; He is a reproach to his neighbors. 42  You have exalted the right hand of his adversaries; You have made all his enemies rejoice. 43  You have also turned back the edge of his sword, And have not sustained him in the battle. 44  You have made his glory cease, And cast his throne down to the ground. 45  The days of his youth You have shortened; You have covered him with shame. Selah 46  How long, Lord? Will You hide Yourself forever? Will Your wrath burn like fire? 47  Remember how short my time is; For what futility have You created all the children of men? 48  What man can live and not see death? Can he deliver his life from the power of the grave? Selah 49  Lord, where are Your former lovingkindnesses, Which You swore to David in Your truth? 50  Remember, Lord, the reproach of Your servants– How I bear in my bosom the reproach of all the many peoples, 51  With which Your enemies have reproached, O Lord, With which they have reproached the footsteps of Your anointed. 52  Blessed be the Lord forevermore! Amen and Amen.