PSALM 89 - The Davidic Covenant: will be fulfilled in Messiah
Like Psalm 72, this psalm is not directly quoted in the NT. However, because it closely parallels the many OT and NT passages which speak of the Messiah's kingdom, this psalm is regarded as Messianic by Jews and Christians alike.
89:1 Maschil {ie., instruction} of Ethan the Ezrahite.
Ethan- probably a wise & godly contemporary of both David & Solomon (1Kin 4:30,31).
(Ethan will be mentioned again in the notes at v.38.)
The psalm may be divided as follows:
  1. The Surety of the Covenant: The LORD who is faithful. vs. 1-4
  2. The Glories of the Covenant God. vs. 5-14
  3. The Blessings of the Covenant People. vs. 15-18
  4. The Distinctives of the Covenant King. vs. 19-29
  5. The Immutability of the Covenant. vs. 30-37
  6. The Apparent Lapse of the Covenant. vs. 38-45
  7. A Prayer for the Restoration of the Covenant. vs. 46-52
A. The Surety of the Covenant: The LORD who is faithful. vs. 1-4
I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever:
with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.
mercies - benefits bestowed upon the undeserving.
faithfulness - This attribute of God is mentioned 8x in this psalm.
It is truly something to sing about.
Consider: If God were unfaithful...
- - would His grace help in time of need?
- - would His promise fail those who trust Him?
- - would we tell our children that He is our Rock?
89:2 For I have said, Mercy shall be built up for ever:
thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens.
In vs.1-2, the psalmist, using his own words, acknowledges that God's faithfulness is sure.
cp. Mat 24:35
In vs.3-4, the psalmist quotes God's Word to the same purpose:

89:3 I have made a covenant with my chosen,
I have sworn unto David my servant,
89:4 Thy seed will I establish for ever,
and build up thy throne to all generations. Selah.
{cp. 2Sam 7:8-17}
I have... I will...- Since the LORD takes full responsibility for its fulfillment,
the "Davidic Covenant" is sure & everlasting. Isa 55:3; Acts 13:34
forever... all generations.- The promise extends far beyond David's lifetime, and
beyond his wildest imaginations: his Seed would be Son of man & Son of God.
Luke 1:30-33
thy seed- It is evident that the Messiah (rather than David, Solomon, or other
earthly king) is the focus of this Psalm (see v.27).
thy throne- The covenant has two enduring elements: the Seed & the Throne.
Both are fulfilled in Christ. (See also vs.29,36.)
B. The Glories of the Covenant God. vs. 5-14
89:5 And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O LORD: {cp. Psa 19:1}
thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints.
saints- ie., holy ones. The whole family of God in earth & heaven:
cp. Luk 2:10-15; Eph 3:14-21
[He is Praiseworthy.]
89:6 For who in the heaven can be compared unto the LORD?
[who] among the sons of the mighty
{ie., men} can be likened unto the LORD?
[He is beyond compare.]
cp. 1Sam 2:2-4; Psa 40:5; Psa 71:19; Psa 86:8; Psa 113:5
89:7 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.
[He is to be feared.]
"Holy, Holy, Holy, All the saints adore thee..." cp. Rev 15:3,4
89:8 O LORD God of hosts, who [is] a strong LORD like unto thee?
alternate reading: "Jehovah God of Hosts, who is like thee, Mighty Jah?" [CHS]
[He is the Almighty ever-living One.] cp. Rev 1:8
or to thy faithfulness round about thee? {ie., He is girded with faithfulness.}
cp. Psa 35:10; Ex 15:11; Isa 11:1,5
[He is faithful.]
89:9 Thou rulest the raging of the sea:
when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them.
{see Mark 4:37-41}
89:10 Thou hast broken Rahab in pieces, as one that is slain;
thou hast scattered thine enemies with thy strong arm.
Rahab- The HB name means 'insolence, pride, violence.'
It is symbolic of Egypt & evil. Isa 51:9,10; Ezek 29:3
[He has controlling power over the powers of nature and the powers of darkness.]
89:11 The heavens [are] thine, the earth also [is] thine:
[as for] the world and the fulness thereof, thou hast founded them.
89:12 The north and the south thou hast created them:
Tabor and Hermon shall rejoice in thy name.
Tabor and Hermon- are mountains in the land of Israel.
From the Sea of Galilee, Tabor is about 10 miles southwest, and Hermon is about 30 miles northeast. Together, they represent the whole land. Isa 49:13
[He is Creator of all.]
[He is Creator of the Promised Land, including both the Northern and Southern kingdoms.]
89:13 Thou hast a mighty arm:
strong is thy hand, [and] high is thy right hand.
{cp. Dan 4:34,35}
[He has the power to accomplish His purposes.]
89:14 Justice {righteousness} and judgment {justice} [are] the habitation of thy throne:
mercy and truth shall go before thy face.
{cp. Deut 32:4; Rev 15:3,4}
[His reign is characterized by righteousness and justice, and by mercy and truth.]
C. The Blessings of the Covenant People. vs. 15-18
89:15 Blessed [is] the people that know the joyful sound:
the joyful sound- The sound of God's Word announcing the Anointed One and His kingdom.
Isa 52:7,8; Luk 2:10-11; Rom 10:15,18
they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of thy countenance.
Isa 2:2-5; 1Joh 1:4-7
89:16 In thy name shall they rejoice all the day:
and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted.
89:17 For thou [art] the glory of their strength:
and in thy favour our horn shall be exalted.
horn - symbolic of dominion, power & prominence. cp. 1Sam 2:1,8-10
In view are: (a) the dominion of the chosen people (v.15-17), and
(b) the dominion of the Chosen One (v.24). cp. Luk 1:68,69
89:18 For the LORD [is] our defence;
and the Holy One of Israel [is] our king.
Gen 15:1; Deut 33:27-29; Isa 33:22; Isa 43:3,14
D. The Distinctives of the Covenant King. vs. 19-29
89:19 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.
in vision - God communicated the covenant to David via Nathan's prophetic vision.
2Sam 7:4,5
But the prophecy looked beyond David to Christ. In the descriptions of this section,
David pales in comparison to Christ. For example:
one that is mighty - David was a mighty man.
But Christ is the Almighty, Mighty to save. Isa 9:6; Isa 63:1; Heb 7:25
chosen from the people- David was chosen from among his brothers.
Christ also. Isa 42:1; Heb 2:9-17
89:20 I have found David my servant;
with my holy oil have I anointed him:
The name, David, refers prophetically to the Messiah (Jesus Christ).
Jer 30:9; Ezek 34:23; Hos 3:5
- - 'David' means "beloved".
God called Jesus "My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Mat 3:16-17
- - David was both king & prophet. Acts 13:22,23
Christ fulfills the offices of prophet, priest & king.
anointed - HB= mashach, the root of the word 'Messiah', the Anointed One.
oil - symbolic of the Holy Spirit. Luk 4:18; Joh 3:34
89:21 With whom my hand shall be established: {or, shall be ever present [CHS]}
mine arm also shall strengthen him.
Psa 18:32-39; Isa 49:8
89:22 The enemy shall not exact upon him;
nor the son of wickedness afflict him.
exact - to charge with debt.
Note that vs.22-29 are future tense (from the time of writing).
Christ once paid our debt through His afflictions. Isa 53:4-8
But now He is exalted above His enemies, including:
the son of wickedness {evil} - ultimately the man of sin & Satan himself.
2Thes 2:3,4,8,9
89:23 And I will beat down {ie., crush to pieces, shatter} his foes before his face,
and plague
{ie., smite with a fatal blow} them that hate him.
The absolute dominion which God gave David over his realm foreshadows that of Christ.
2Sam 22:40-43; Psa 110:1; Luk 19:14,27
89:24 But my faithfulness and my mercy [shall be] with him:
and in my name shall his horn be exalted.
My name - God's name envelops the attributes of His character,
upon which the covenant rests (v.2-5).
His horn - ultimately refers to the dominion of the Messiah in His Millennial Kingdom. (see v.17)
89:25 I will set his hand also in the sea,
and his right hand in the rivers.
sea... rivers...- His dominion is without coasts or boundaries.
Psa 2:6,8; Psa 72:8; Rev 11:15
89:26 He shall cry unto me,
Thou [art] my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation.
my father - cp. Joh 11:41; Joh 17:1; Mat 26:39; Luk 23:46; Heb 1:5
the rock of my salvation - cp. Psa 62:2-7; Isa 50:6-9
89:27 Also I will make him [my] firstborn,
firstborn - This term, which the NT applies to Christ,
refers to His resurrection and to His preeminence.
Psa 2:7; Rom 1:3,4; Col 1:15-19
higher than the kings of the earth.
Psa 2:10-12; Isa 7:13,14; 9:6,7; Mic 5:2; Rev 19:11-16
89:28 My mercy will I keep for him for evermore,
and my covenant shall stand fast with him.
89:29 His seed also will I make [to endure] for ever,
and his throne as the days of heaven.
Seed & Throne- the dual enduring elements of the covenant. (See v.4,36.)
E. The Immutability (unbreakable nature) of the Covenant. vs. 30-37
These verses amplify this aspect of the Davidic Covenant (cp. 2Sam 7:4-17).
89:30 If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments;
89:31 If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments;
The kings of Israel, that came after David, did depart from the LORD.
But the LORD did not abandon the Davidic line leading to Christ.
if...- Compare the "if's" of Israel's propensity to break the Covenant (vs.30,31) with
the "I will's" of the Lord's determination & power to preserve His Covenant (vs.32-37).
89:32 Then will I visit their transgression with the rod,
and their iniquity with stripes.
rod...stripes - tools of correction & chastening
(as opposed to the sword, an instrument of death, destruction, and final judgment).
visit - God's chastening is purposeful, but not permanent.
2Sam 7:14; 2Chr 7:17-22; Prov 3:11,12
89:33 Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him,
nor suffer my faithfulness to fail.
If the covenant rested upon man's ability to endure, it would have failed long ago.
But it rests upon God's unfailing character. 2Sam 23:5
89:34 My covenant will I not break,
nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.
'It is His own covenant. He devised it, drew it up and voluntarily entered into it.' [CHS]
'Alterations... belong to short-sighted beings who meet with unexpected events...
but the Lord, who sees everything from the beginning, has no such reason for shifting His ground. His Word is immutable.' [CHS]
Num 23:19; Mal 3:6
89:35 Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David.
He could swear by no greater (Heb 6:13). The promise is secured by two immutable things:
(1) the fact that God cannot lie (v.34), and by
(2) His oath. (At stake is all that He is.) Heb 6:16-20
89:36 His seed shall endure for ever,
and his throne as the sun before me.
God promised to make good these dual enduring elements of the covenant (cp. v.4,29),
though Israel, in their rebellion, would have derailed them both.
  1. There can be no future Seed of David.
    The records of the Davidic genealogy were destroyed with Jerusalem in 70 AD.
  2. There can be no succession to the Throne by Solomon's descendants through Jeconiah.
    Jer 22:28-30
But Jesus Christ is:
  1. The Seed of David, through his son Nathan, by Mary's lineage.
    Luk 3:23-31 Rom 1:3
  2. The Heir to the Throne, through Solomon's royal line, by Joseph's lineage
    (but not his seed). Mat 1:6-16; Luk 1:30-33
89:37 It shall be established for ever as the moon,
and [as] a faithful witness in heaven. Selah.
Psa 72:5,17 Jer 33:20,21
witness in heaven- ie., and by whatever else in the heavens speaks of God's faithfulness.
cp. James 1:17
F. The Apparent Lapse (or Cancellation) of the Covenant. vs. 38-45
89:38 But thou hast cast off and abhorred,
thou hast been wroth with thine anointed.
The Psalmist turns to lament the condition of the kingdom & the loss of covenant blessings. Ethan may have lived long enough to see the glory of the kingdom under David & Solomon, and also to see the decline & division of the kingdom under Solomon's son Rehoboam. (1Kings ch. 11-12)
1Chr 28:9; 1Kin 11:6,9-11; Lam 2:7
The Davidic Throne was eventually discontinued, due to defilement by its kings.
It continues in this state, awaiting the return of Christ. Hos 3:4,5
89:39 Thou hast made void the covenant of thy servant:
thou hast profaned his crown [by casting it] to the ground.
{cp. v.44}
made void- cf. vs.34-36. The covenant may be temporarily suspended, but never cancelled.
The condition of Israel without her King is primarily in view here (in vs.38-45).
But some commentators draw parallels to the condition of the Church without her Head.-
  • Crown to the ground- Christ's authority usurped by popes & leaders for earthly purposes.
  • Hedges broken down- Separation compromised between the Church & the world.
  • Strongholds ruined- Doctrine confused due to heresy & neglect.
  • Reproach to neighbors- The salvation message shamed by the church's moral depravity.
  • Sword's edge turned- Ineffectiveness in spiritual battle & in the use of the Word.
    In the letters to the seven churches (Rev ch. 2-3), the Lord Jesus addressed similar problems.
89:40 Thou hast broken down all his hedges;
thou hast brought his strong holds to ruin.
Isa 5:5,6
89:41 All that pass by the way spoil him:
he is a reproach to his neighbours.
Deut 28:37; Jer 24:9; Dan 9:16
89:42 Thou hast set up the right hand of his adversaries;
thou hast made all his enemies to rejoice.
Deu 28:25,43; Lam 2:17
89:43 Thou hast also turned the edge of his sword,
and hast not made him to stand in the battle.
Lev 26:36,37
89:44 Thou hast made his glory to cease,
and cast his throne down to the ground.
1Kin 12:16-20; 1Kin 14:25-28; Lam 4:1,2
89:45 The days of his youth hast thou shortened:
thou hast covered him with shame. Selah.
Israel's historic condition, under judgment, is often lamented in scripture.
Isa 5:1-7; Lam 5:1-22; Mic 7:7-13
G. A Prayer for the Restoration of the Covenant. vs. 46-52
Points 1.- 8., below, may be read in the following ways:
89:46 How long, LORD? wilt thou hide thyself for ever?
Hos 5:15
shall thy wrath burn like fire?
1. He humbles himself before the LORD {the ever-living One}: (vs. 46-48)
Your wrath is justified. You are eternal. My life is brief.
If only your wrath could be turned aside & your promises be fulfilled, in my lifetime.
89:47 Remember how short my time is:
wherefore hast thou made all men in vain?
Psa 39:5,6; James 4:14
89:48 What man [is he that] liveth, and shall not see death?
shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave? Selah.
89:49 Lord {HB= Adonai, Master}, where [are] thy former lovingkindnesses,
[which] thou swarest unto David in thy truth?
2. He submits himself to God. You are my Master.
3. He pleads the promises of God (which He gave to David, cp. vs.3,4,35).
4. He pleads the character of God (eg., His mercy & truth).
89:50 Remember, Lord, the reproach of thy servants;
[how] I do bear in my bosom [the reproach of] all the mighty people;
5. He pleads the Condition of God's people. Psa 69:9,19,20
89:51 Wherewith thine enemies have reproached, O LORD;
wherewith they have reproached the footsteps of thine anointed.
6. He pleads the Honor of God's Name. Psa 75:1-10
7. He pleads the Honor of God's Anointed One, the Messiah, the King,
whose coming is certain. 2Pet 3:3,4
89:52 Blessed [be] the LORD for evermore.
Amen, and Amen.
8. He praises the LORD, who is the Surety of the Covenant (cp. vs.1-4).
The Covenant rests with the Amen, whose promises are sure & final.
Hab 3:17-19; 2Cor 1:20; Rev 3:14

This Concludes the study in Psalm 89.
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