Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Believing God’s Promise

Psalm 89:1-52

Maschil of Ethan the Ezrahite.

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.” (Psalm 89:1-2)

The Psalmist commits to singing God’s praises and sharing how dependable God is in every situation.  God’ mercy is eternal and infinite, and he demonstrates repeatedly how faithful he is.    

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

God had made a contract or covenant with David that his throne would be forever.   II Samuel 7:12-13 describes the covenant God made with David.   “And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.   He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.”  David praised God for his promises.  II Samuel 7 gives a brief summary of David’s response to God’s covenant.  Tradition credits this Psalm to Ethan, but this first part  records David’s expression of his appreciation.

“And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O LORD: thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints.  For who in the heaven can be compared unto the LORD? who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the LORD?  God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him.

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

The heavens are thine, the earth also is thine: as for the world and the fulness thereof, thou hast founded them.  The north and the south thou hast created them: Tabor and Hermon shall rejoice in thy name.  Thou hast a mighty arm: strong is thy hand, and high is thy right hand.  Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face.” (Psalm 89:5-14)

God is the ruler of the universe, and never changes.   There is no one who can be compared to him, who can always be depended on to accomplish what he promises.  He has infinite power, and is able to control the waves of the sea or destroy a mighty empire .  He is the creator of the universe and his land rejoices to hear his name.  His kingdome is characterized by justice and fairness to everyone, yet he is merciful in its administration, flexible enough to recognize the truth.  He deserves total respect and awe. 

“Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of thy countenance.  In thy name shall they rejoice all the day: and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted.  For thou art the glory of their strength: and in thy favour our horn shall be exalted.  For the LORD is our defence; and the Holy One of Israel is our king.” (Psalm 89:15-18)

Because God is so merciful and fair, those who know him are blessed to have him as their ruler.  They will be treated with respect, simply because they are his servants and he stands behind them.
“Then thou spakest in vision to thy holy one, and saidst, I have laid help upon one that is mighty; I have exalted one chosen out of the people.  I have found David my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him: With whom my hand shall be established: mine arm also shall strengthen him.  The enemy shall not exact upon him; nor the son of wickedness afflict him.  And I will beat down his foes before his face, and plague them that hate him.  But my faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him: and in my name shall his horn be exalted.  I will set his hand also in the sea, and his right hand in the rivers.

He shall cry unto me, Thou art my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation.  Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth.  My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him.  His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven.” (Psalm 89:19-30)

God had chosen David, an ordinary man, and anointed him as king, giving him His protection and help.  He would help and strengthen him when needed, and destroy those who opposed him.  He would experience God’s faithfulness and mercy, sand he would be well known and respected because of his faith in God.  His kingdom would become a sea power as well.  God’ covenant would never be broken, and his family would reign for eternity. 

“If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes.  Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail.  My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.  Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David.  His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me.  It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven. Selah.” (Psalm 89:30-37)

Even if David’s descendants turn away and break their part of the covenant, God will not break his, but he will Judge and punish them for violating it.  No matter how they might violate it God will not break his promise.  It will be as permanent as the moon or one of the stars or planets.   

“But thou hast cast off and abhorred, thou hast been wroth with thine anointed.  Thou hast made void the covenant of thy servant: thou hast profaned his crown by casting it to the ground.  Thou hast broken down all his hedges; thou hast brought his strong holds to ruin.   All that pass by the way spoil him: he is a reproach to his neighbours.

Thou hast set up the right hand of his adversaries; thou hast made all his enemies to rejoice.   Thou hast also turned the edge of his sword, and hast not made him to stand in the battle.  Thou hast made his glory to cease, and cast his throne down to the ground.  The days of his youth hast thou shortened: thou hast covered him with shame. Selah.” (Psalm 89:33-45)

Considering the promises to David, and believing he would keep them, it was hard to understand the things Judah was going through.  The entire kingdom was destroyed by the Babylonians, and other countries just took whatever they wanted.  All of the fortified cities were destroyed and Jerusalem was burned.  It was an embarrassment to admit one was a Jew.  The covenant seemed to have been forgotten. 

“How long, LORD? wilt thou hide thyself 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 liveth, and shall not see death? shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave? Selah.

Lord, where are thy former lovingkindnesses, which thou swarest unto David in thy truth?  Remember, Lord, the reproach of thy servants; how I do bear in my bosom the reproach of all the mighty people;  Wherewith thine enemies have reproached, O LORD; wherewith they have reproached the footsteps of thine anointed.” (Psalm 89:46-51)

Ethan asks how long will they remain in this state?  People have only short lifespans, and all of them die, so if God is going to keep his promise, and he is to see it, it needs to happen soon.  It really hurt to see the enemies making fun of their faith in God.  

“Blessed be the LORD for evermore. Amen, and Amen.” (Psalm 89:52)

Even though he felt totally forsaken and it looked like there was no hope, the Psalmist still believed God would keep his promise.  Right here we see where his faith kicks in.   It is that faith that assures we will receive the blessings, even if we don’t see them in this life.  Hebrews 11 describes the importance of that faith, illustrating it with the example of Old Testament saints.  Hebrews 11:6 tells us, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

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