Psalms 89


The psalmist shows God's great mercy to the house of David,

and the promises which he had given to it of support and

perpetuity, 1-37;

complains that, notwithstanding these promises, the kingdom of

Judah is overthrown, and the royal family nearly ruined, 38-45;

and earnestly prays for their restoration, 46-52.


It is most probable that this Psalm was composed during the

captivity. Of Ethan and Heman we have already seen something in

the introduction to the preceding Psalm; Ps 88:1 see also the

parallel places in the margin. The title should probably be

translated,-To give instruction to Ethan the Ezrahite. The Chaldee

has, "A good instruction, delivered by Abraham, who came from the

east country." The Septuagint and AEthiopic have Nathan the

Israelite; the Arabic has Nathan the Israelite.

The Psalm divides itself into two grand parts; the first

extends, Ps 89:1-37, in which the psalmist shows God's mercy to

the house of David, and the promises which he has given to it of

support and perpetuity. The second part begins with verse 38, and

ends with the Psalm; Ps 89:38-52 and in it the author complains

that notwithstanding these promises, the kingdom of Judah is

overthrown and the royal family ruined; and he entreats the Lord

to remember his covenant made with that family, and restore them

from their captivity.

Verse 1. I will sing of the mercies of the Lord] I will

celebrate the mercy of God to the house of Jacob; the mercy that

has been shown to our fathers from time immemorial.

To all generations] What I say concerning thy mercy and

goodness, being inspired by thy Spirit, is not only true, but

shall be preserved by the Divine providence for ever.

Verse 2. Mercy shall be built up for ever] God's goodness is the

foundation on which his mercy rests; and from that source, and on

that foundation, acts of mercy shall flow and be built up for ever

and ever.

Thy faithfulness shalt thou establish] What thou hast promised

to do to the children of men on earth, thou dost register in

heaven, and thy promise shall never fail.

Verse 3. I have made a covenant with my chosen] I have made a

covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and renewed it with Moses

and Joshua in reference to the Israelites in general: but I have

made one with David in especial relation to himself and posterity,

of whom, according to the flesh, the Christ is to come. And this

is the covenant with David:-

Verse 4. Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy

throne to all generations.] And this covenant had most

incontestably Jesus Christ in view. This is the seed, or

posterity, that should sit on the throne, and reign for ever and

ever. David and his family are long since become extinct; none of

his race has sat on the Jewish throne for more than two thousand

years: but the Christ has reigned invariably since that time, and

will reign till all his enemies are put under his feet; and to

this the psalmist says Selah. It will be so, it is so; and it

cannot be otherwise; for the Lord hath sworn that he shall have an

everlasting kingdom, as he has an everlasting priesthood.

Verse 5. The heavens shall praise thy wonders] The works that

shall be wrought by this descendant of David shall be so plainly

miraculous as shall prove their origin to be Divine: and both

saints and angels shall join to celebrate his praises.

Thy faithfulness also] All thy promises shall be fulfilled; and

particularly and supereminently those which respect the

congregation of the saints-the assemblies of Christian


Verse 6. For who in the heaven] shachak signifies the

ethereal regions, all visible or unbounded space; the universe.

Who is like Jesus? given in his human nature none of the sons of

the mighty can be compared with him. He atones for the sin of the

world, and saves to the uttermost all who come unto God through


This may also be considered a reproof to idolaters. Is there any

among the heavenly hosts like to God? Even the most glorious of

them were made by his hands. Can the stars, or the more distant

planets, or the moon, or the sun, be likened unto God most high?

Who among the sons of the mighty] Instead of elim, mighty

ones, four of Kennicott's and De Rossi's MSS. have eil,

strength:-sons of strength, strong persons. Several of the

Versions seem to have read Elohim, GOD, instead of

elim, strong ones. So my old Psalter, following the Vulgate.-For

wha in the clowdes sal be evened to Lorde; like sal be to God in

sons of God! which it paraphrases thus: "Emang al haly men nane

may be evened to Ihu Crist: and nane may be like to hym in God's

sons: for he is God's son be kynde, and thai thrugh grace."

Verse 7. God is greatly to be feared] In all religious

assemblies the deepest reverence for God should rest upon the

people. Where this does not prevail, there is no true worship.

While some come with a proper Scriptural boldness to the throne of

grace, there are others who come into the presence of God with a

reprehensible, if not sinful, boldness.

Verse 8. O Lord God of hosts] Thou who hast all armies at thy

command, and canst serve thyself by every part of thy creation,

whether animate or inanimate.

Who is a strong Lord] See Ps 89:6.

Thy faithfulness round about thee?] Or, more properly, thy

faithfulness is round about thee. Thou still keepest thy promises

in view. God's truth leads him to fulfil his promises: they

stand round his throne as the faithful servants of an eastern

monarch stand round their master, waiting for the moment of their

dismission to perform his will.

Verse 9. Thou rulest the raging of the sea] Whoever has seen the

sea in a storm, when its waves run what is called mountain high,

must acknowledge that nothing but omnipotent power could rule its


When the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them.] Thou

governest both its flux and reflux. Thou art the Author of storms

and calms. There may be a reference here to the passage of the Red

Sea, and the strong wind that agitated its waves at that time; as

the next verse seems to indicate.

Verse 10. Thou hast broken Rahab] Thou hast destroyed the power

of Egypt, having overthrown the king and its people when they

endeavoured to prevent thy people from regaining their liberty.

As one that is slain] The whole clause in the original is,

attah dikkitha kechalal Rahab, "Thou, like a

hero, hast broken down Egypt." Dr. Kennicott has largely proved

that chalal, which we render wounded, slain, &c., means a

soldier, warrior, hero; and it is certain that this sense agrees

better with it than the other in a great number of places. Mr.

Berlin translates, Tu contrivisti ut cadaver AEgyptum; "Thou hast

bruised down Egypt like a dead carcass." The whole strength of

Egypt could avail nothing against thee. Thou didst trample them

down as easily as if they had all been dead carcasses.

Verse 11. The heavens are thine] Thou art the Governor of all

things, and the Disposer of all events.

The world] The terraqueous globe.

And the fullness] All the generations of men. Thou hast founded

them-thou hast made them, and dost sustain them.

After this verse, the Editio Princeps of the Hebrew Bible,

printed at Soncini, 1488, adds:-

lailah lecha aph yom lecha

vashamesh maor hachinotha attah

To thee is the day; also to thee is the night:

Thou hast prepared the light and the sun.

But these same words are found in Ps 74:16.

Verse 12. The north and the south] It is generally supposed that

by these four terms all the four quarters of the globe are

intended. Tabor, a mountain of Galilee, was on the west of Mount

Hermon, which was beyond Jordan, to the east of the source of

that river.

Verse 14. Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne]

The throne-the government, of God, is founded in righteousness and

judgment. He knows what is right; he sees what is right; he does

what is right; and his judgments are ever according to

righteousness. His decisions are all oracles, no one of them is

ever reversed.

Mercy and truth shall go before thy face.] These shall be the

heralds that shall announce the coming of the Judge. His truth

binds him to fulfil all his declarations; and his mercy shall be

shown to all those who have fled for refuge to the hope that is

set before them in the Gospel.

See Clarke on Ps 85:10; "Ps 85:11".

Verse 15. Blessed is the people] "O the blessednesses of that

people ( ashrey haam) that know the joyful sound;" that

are spared to hear the sound of the trumpet on the morning of the

jubilee, which proclaims deliverance to the captives, and the

restoration of all their forfeited estates. "They shall walk

vigorously ( yehallechun) in the light of thy countenance"

( beor paneycha)-the full persuasion of the approbation

of God their Father, Redeemer, and Sanctifier.

Verse 16. In thy name shall they rejoice] Or, "greatly exult,"

yegilun; "all that day," haiyom, the jubilee,

referred to above.

And in thy righteousness] In the declaration of thy

righteousness for the remission of sins that are past,

Ro 3:25, 26.

Shall they be exalted.] They shall be justified freely from all

things, be purified from all unrighteousness, grow in grace, and

in the knowledge of Jesus Christ here below, and at last be

exalted to his right hand to reign with him for ever. The jubilee

was a type of the Gospel, and under that type the psalmist here

speaks of the glorious advent of the Lord Jesus, and the great

happiness of believers in him. Let it be observed that the letters

in the above Hebrew words called paragogic, as nun in

yehallechuN, and yegiluN, always increase and deepen the

meaning of the words to which they are attached.

Verse 17. For thou art the glory of their strength] They are

strong in faith, and give glory to thee, because they know that

their strength cometh from the Lord of hosts.

And in thy favour our horn shall be exalted.] Instead of

tarum, "shall be exalted," tarim, "thou shalt exalt," is

the reading of several MSS.: but tarum, "shall be exalted,"

is supported by forty-four of Kennicott's MSS., and sixty of De

Rossi's, as well as by several ancient editions, with the

Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate, and Arabic Versions. In the

enjoyment of the Divine favour they shall grow more wise, more

holy, more powerful, and, consequently, more happy.

Verse 19. Then thou spakest in vision to thy holy one] Instead

of chasidecha, "thy holy one," chasideycha,

"thy holy ones," is the reading of sixty-three of Kennicott's and

seventy-one of De Rossi's MSS., and a great number of editions


If we take it in the singular, it most probably means Samuel,

and refers to the revelation God gave to him relative to his

appointment of David to be king in the stead of Saul. If we take

it in the plural, it may mean not only Samuel, but also Nathan

and Gad.

For what God revealed to Samuel relative to David, see 2Sa 7:5,

&c.; 1Ch 11:2, 3; and for what he said to

Nathan on the same subject, see 1Ch 17:3, 7-15. All the

Versions have the word in the plural.

Verse 20. I have found David my servant] This is the sum of what

God had said in prophetic visions to his saints or holy persons,

Samuel, Nathan, and Gad; see the parallel places in the margin.

Here the psalmist begins to reason with God relative to David, his

posterity, and the perpetuity of his kingdom; which promises

appear now to have utterly failed, as the throne had been

overturned, and all the people carried into captivity. But all

these things may have reference to Christ and his kingdom; for we

are assured that David was a type of the Messiah.

Verse 22. The enemy shall not exact upon him] None of his

enemies shall be able to prevail against him. It is worthy of

remark that David was never overthrown; he finally conquered every

foe that rose up against him. Saul's persecution, Absalom's

revolt, Sheba's conspiracy, and the struggle made by the partisans

of the house of Saul after his death, only tended to call forth

David's skill, courage, and prowess, and to seat him more firmly

on his throne. The Philistines, the Ammonites, the Syrians, &c.,

united all their forces to crush him, but in vain: "God beat down

all his foes before his face," and variously plagued those who

opposed him, Ps 89:23.

Verse 25. I will set his hand also in the sea] This was

literally fulfilled in David. Hand signifies power or authority;

he set his hand on the sea in conquering the Philistines, and

extending his empire along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea,

from Tyre to Pelusium. All the coasts of the Red Sea, the Persian

Gulf, and the Arabic Ocean, might be said to have been under his

government, for they all paid tribute to him or his son Solomon.

His right hand in the rivers] First, the Euphrates: he subjected

all Syria, and even a part of Mesopotamia; 2Sa 8:3; 1Ch 18:3. He

also took Damascus, and consequently had his hand or authority

over the river Chrysorrhoes, or Baraddi; and in his conquest of

all Syria his hand must have been on the Orontes and other rivers

in that region. But if this be considered as referring to the

typical David, we see that He was never conquered; he never lost a

battle; the hosts of hell pursued him in vain. Satan was

discomfited, and all his enemies bruised under his feet. Even over

death he triumphed; and as to his dominion, it has spread and is

spreading over all the isles of the sea, and the continents of the


Verse 27. I will make him my first-born] I will deal with him as

a father by his first-born son, to whom a double portion of

possessions and honours belong. First-born is not always to be

understood literally in Scripture. It often signifies simply a

well-beloved, or best-beloved son; one preferred to all the

rest, and distinguished by some eminent prerogative. Thus God

calls Israel his son, his first-born, Ex 4:22. See also

Ecclus 36:12. And even Ephraim is called God's first-born,

Jer 31:9. In the same sense it is sometimes applied even to

Jesus Christ himself, to signify his supereminent dignity; not

the eternal Sonship of his Divine nature, as inveterate prejudice

and superficial thinking have supposed.

Verse 29. His seed also will I make to endure for ever] This can

apply only to the spiritual David. The posterity of David are long

since extinct, or so blended with the remaining Jews as to be

utterly indiscernible; but Jesus ever liveth, and his seed

(Christians) are spread, and are spreading over all nations; and

his throne is eternal. As to his manhood, he is of the house and

lineage of David; the government is upon his shoulders, and of its

increase there shall be no end, upon the throne of David and on

his kingdom to order it and to establish it with judgment and

justice, from henceforth even for ever. Isa 9:7.

Verse 30. If his children forsake my law]

See Clarke on 2Sa 7:13,

where this and some of the following verses are explained.

Verse 34. My covenant will I not break] My determination to

establish a spiritual kingdom, the head of which shall be Jesus,

the son of David, shall never fail. My prophets have declared

this, and I will not alter the thing that is gone out of my mouth.

Verse 35. Once have I sworn] I have made one determination on

this head, and have bound myself by my holiness; it is impossible

that I should change, and there needs no second oath, the one

already made is of endless obligation.

Verse 36. His throne as the sun] Splendid and glorious!

dispensing light, heat, life, and salvation to all mankind.

Verse 37. As the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven.]

That is, as long as the sun and moon shall endure, as long as time

shall last, his kingdom shall last among men. The moon appears to

be termed a faithful witness here, because by her particularly

time is measured. Her decrease and increase are especially

observed by every nation, and by these time is generally

estimated, especially among the eastern nations. So many moons is

a man old; so many moons since such an event happened; and even

their years are reckoned by lunations. This is the case with the

Mohammedans to the present day. Or the rainbow may be intended;

that sign which God has established in the cloud; that faithful

witness of his that the earth shall no more be destroyed by water.

As long therefore as the sun, the moon, and the rainbow appear

in the heavens, so long shall the spiritual David reign, and his

seed prosper and increase.

Selah.] It is confirmed; it shall not fail.

Verse 38. But thou hast cast off] Hitherto the psalmist has

spoken of the covenant of God with David and his family, which led

them to expect all manner of prosperity, and a perpetuity of the

Jewish throne; now he shews what appears to him a failure of the

promise, and what he calls in the next verse the making void the

covenant of his servant. God cannot lie to David; how is it then

that his crown is profaned, that it is cast down to the ground;

the land being possessed by strangers, and the twelve tribes in

the most disgraceful and oppressive captivity?

Verse 40. Thou hast broken down all his hedges] Thou hart

permitted the land to be stripped of all defence; there is not

even one strong place in the hands of thy people.

Verse 41. All that pass by the way spoil him.] The land is in

the condition of a vineyard, the hedge of which is broken down, so

that they who pass by may pull the grapes, and dismantle or tear

down the vines. The Chaldeans and the Assyrians began the ravage;

the Samaritans on the one hand, and the Idumeans on the other,

have completed it.

Verse 42. Thou hast set up the right hand of his adversaries]

Thou hast given them that strength which thou didst formerly give

to thy own people; therefore these are depressed, those exalted.

Verse 43. Thou hast also turned the edge of his sword.] The arms

and military prowess of thy people are no longer of any use to

them; THOU art against them, and therefore they are fallen. In

what a perilous and hopeless situation must that soldier be who,

while defending his life against his mortal foe, has his sword

broken, or its edge turned; or, in modern warfare, whose gun

misses fire! The Gauls, when invaded by the Romans, had no method

of hardening iron; at every blow their swords bended, so that they

were obliged, before they could strike again, to put them under

their foot or over their knee, to straighten them; and in most

cases, before this could be done, their better armed foe had taken

away their life! The edge of their sword was turned, so that they

could not stand in battle; and hence the Gauls were conquered by

the Romans.

Verse 44. Thou hast made his glory to cease] The kingly dignity

is destroyed, and there is neither king nor throne remaining.

Verse 45. The days of his youth hast thou shortened] Our kings

have not reigned half their days, nor lived out half their lives.

The four last kings of Judea reigned but a short time, and either

died by the sword or in captivity.

Jehoahaz reigned only three months, and was led captive to

Egypt, where he died. Jehoiakim reigned only eleven years, and

was tributary to the Chaldeans, who put him to death, and cast his

body into the common sewer. Jehoiachin reigned three months and

ten days, and was led captive to Babylon, where he continued in

prison to the time of Evilmerodach, who, though he loosed him from

prison, never invested him with any power. Zedekiah, the last of

all, had reigned only eleven years when he was taken, his eyes put

out, was loaded with chains, and thus carried to Babylon. Most of

these kings died a violent and premature death. Thus the days of

their youth-of their power, dignity, and life, were shortened, and

they themselves covered with shame. Selah; so it most

incontestably is.

Verse 46. How long, Lord?] The promise cannot utterly fail. When

then, O Lord, wilt thou restore the kingdom to Israel?

Verse 47. How short my time is] If thou deliver not speedily,

none of the present generations shall see thy salvation. Are all

the remnants of our tribes created in vain? shall they never see


Verse 48. What man is he that liveth] All men are mortal, and

death is uncertain and no man, by wisdom, might, or riches, can

deliver his life from the hand-the power, of death and the grave.

Verse 49. Lord, where are thy former lovingkindnesses] Wilt thou

not deal with us as thou didst with our fathers? Didst thou not

swear unto David that thou wouldst distinguish him as thou didst


Verse 50. I do bear in my bosom] Our enemies, knowing our

confidence, having often heard our boast in thee, and now seeing

our low and hopeless estate, mock us for our confidence, and

blaspheme thee. This wounds my soul; I cannot bear to hear thy

name blasphemed among the heathen. All these mighty people

blaspheme the God of Jacob.

Verse 51. They have reproached the footsteps of thine anointed.]

They search into the whole history of thy people; they trace it up

to the earliest times; and they find we have been disobedient and

rebellious; and on this account we suffer much, alas, deserved

reproach. The Chaldee gives this clause a singular turn: "Thy

enemies have reproached the slowness of the footsteps of the feet

of thy Messiah, O Lord. We have trusted in him as our great

Deliverer, and have been daily in expectation of his coming: but

there is no deliverer, and our enemies mock our confidence." This

expectation seems now wholly abandoned by the Jews: they have

rejected the true Messiah, and the ground of their expectation of

another is now cut off. When will they turn unto the Lord? When

shall the veil be taken away from their hearts?

"Bend by thy grace, O bend or break

The iron sinew in their neck!"

Verse 52. Blessed be the Lord for evermore.] Let him treat us as

he will, his name deserves eternal praises: our affliction, though

great, is less than we have deserved.

This verse concludes the THIRD BOOK of the PSALTER; and, I

think, has been added by a later hand, in order to make this

distinction, as every Masoretic Bible has something of this kind

at the end of each book. The verse is wanting in one of

Kennicott's and one of De Rossi's MSS.; in another it is written

without points, to show that it does not belong to the text, and

in three others it is written separately from the text. It is

found, however, in all the ancient Versions. The Chaldee finishes

thus: "Blessed be the name of the Lord in this world. Amen and

Amen. Blessed be the name of the Lord in the world to come. Amen

and Amen." And the reader will find no difficulty to subscribe his

Amen, so be it.


In this Psalm the stability and perpetuity of Christ's kingdom,

of which the kingdom of David was but a type, are excellently

described and foretold.

The parts of this Psalm are these:-

I. The argument and sum of the whole; the loving-kindness and

the truth of God, Ps 89:1, 2.

II. The particular instance of God's goodness and truth in

making a covenant with David, Ps 89:3, 4.

III. A doxology in which God is praised for his wonders,

faithfulness, power, providence, justice, judgment, mercy, and

truth, Ps 89:3-15.

IV. The happy state of God's people, Ps 89:15-19.

V. A special example of God's goodness towards his Church,

exemplified in David, but verified in Christ, Ps 89:20-28.

VI. How David's posterity should be dealt with, on their

disobedience, Ps 89:29-38.

VII. An expostulation on the contrary events, where the psalmist

deplores the ruined state of the Jewish kingdom, Ps 89:38-47.

VIII. A petition for mercy and restoration, Ps 89:48-51.

IX. The conclusion, in which the psalmist blesseth God for the

hope he has in his favour, in all states, Ps 89:52.

I. The argument or sum of the Psalm set down in the first verse,

and amplified by the reason in the second.

1. "I will sing." I will set this forth in a song; because, 1.

It is the fittest way to express joy for any thing. 2. It will be

best inculcated in this way. 3. It will be more easily remembered;

and, 4. More easily delivered to others, in order to be

remembered. Many ancient histories had not been preserved at all,

had they not been delivered in poetry.

2. "Of thy mercies." Plurally, for they are many; and a song of

this kind should be of all.

3. "For ever." Intentionally, not in himself, not actually; for

as a wicked man, could he live always, would sin always; so a good

man, could he live here for ever, would sing for ever of the

mercies of the Lord.

4. "With my mouth will I make known," &c. While I live I will

make them known, and when I am dead they shall be known by the

record which I leave behind. His reason for it is, because God's

mercy is everlasting; it is therefore proper to be the subject of

everlasting song.

1. "For I have said." This is an indubitable truth.

2. "Mercy shall be built up for ever." It is not exhausted in

one age, but, as a house built on a strong foundation, it shall be

firm, and last from age to age.

3. "Thy faithfulness shalt thou establish." As is thy mercy, so

is thy faithfulness, perpetual as the heavens.

II. For the proof of God's goodness and truth he produces the

instance of the covenant made with David, where he brings in God


1. "I have made a covenant with my chosen." I have made this

covenant through my mere mercy, not on account of their merits. I

have chosen David, not because he deserved it, but because he is

fit for it.

2. "I have sworn." In compassion to the weakness of men, I have

condescended to bind myself by an oath; and the covenant and the

oath are extant. 2Sa 7:11.

3. The tenor of the covenant is, "Thy seed will I establish for

ever, and build up thy throne to all generations." Thy seed-this

is true of Christ only, who was of the seed of David, and of whose

kingdom there shall be no end. The words are not to be understood

of David's earthly kingdom, but of Christ's spiritual kingdom, for

that alone will be established for ever.

III. A Doxology. What the psalmist undertook in the first part

he now performs, and thus he begins: "The heavens shall praise."

By these some understand the Church, and the preachers in the

Church; others, the angels: both are true. GOD'S followers and his

angels praise him; and the subject of their praise is:-

1. God's wondrous works, and his truth. 2. the manner in which

he showed his works and his truth, in promising the Messiah, and

in so faithfully keeping that promise.

And now he sings praise to his majesty, setting forth his power

in three respects:-

1. By way of comparison; there is nothing in heaven or earth

equal to it, Ps 89:6-8.

2. By his agency in governing the world: as, for example, the

sea, Thou stillest the raging of it, &c.

3. The creation of all things; the world and its fulness.

The other part of the praise, sung both by the prophets and the

angels, is taken from his attributes, summed up in Ps 89:14:

"Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne; mercy and

truth shall go before thy face."

He represents God as a great King sitting in his throne; the

basis of which is, 1. Justice and Judgment. 2. The attendants

are mercy and truth.

1. Justice, which defends his subjects, and does every one


2. Judgment, which restrains rebels, and keeps off injuries.

3. Mercy, which shows compassion, pardons, supports the weak.

4. Truth, that performs whatsoever he promiseth.

IV. And in regard that God is powerful, just, merciful,

faithful, he takes an occasion to set out the happy condition of

God's people, who live under this King.

"Blessed are the people that know the joyful sound:" that is, do

know that God is present with them, and his kingly Majesty is at

hand to protect them. The phrase is taken from Moses. For the law

was given by sound of trumpet. The calling of the feasts was by

sound of trumpet: at that sound they removed; at that sound they

assembled. Balaam said, "The sound of a king is among them."

Happy, then, are the people that know the joyful sound. God

presents their King speaking, ruling, defending, pardoning therm.

Or it may refer to the year of jubilee, (see the notes.) That they

are happy, the effects do evince; which are:-

1. "They shall walk in the light of thy countenance," i.e.,

though beset with troubles, yet they shall walk confidently, being

assured of God's favour.

2. "In thy name shall they rejoice all the day long." Their joy

is firm.

3. "In thy righteousness shall they be exalted." They shall get

a name, strength. In their union and communion with God they shall

be happy.

Confident, yea, joyful and strong they are in all temptations;

which yet they have not from themselves. All is from God. For

"thou art the glory of their strength, and in thy favour our horn

shall be exalted. For the Lord is our defence, the Holy One of

Israel is our King."

V. The doxology being now ended, and the happiness of God's

people expressed and proved, the prophet now enlarges himself upon

the covenant formerly mentioned. Ps 89:4, 5, exemplified in

David, but truly verified in Christ. Which he continues to verse

30. Ps 89:6-30

1. "Then," i.e., when David was chosen to be king, and invested

with the regal robe.

2. "Thou spakest in vision to thy Holy One." To Samuel for his

anointing; and saidst,

3. "I have laid help upon one that is mighty; I have exalted one

chosen out of the people." That is, David in type, but Christ in

the antitype. So explained, "I have found David my servant; with

my holy oil have I anointed him."

To which there follow the promises made to him:-

1. For his establishment and confirmation in the throne: "With

whom my hand shall be established; mine arm also shall strengthen


2. For protection against his enemies: "The enemy shall not

exact upon him, nor the son of wickedness afflict him."

3. A conquest over his enemies: "And will beat down his foes

before his face, and plague them that hate him."

4. And that there be no doubt of the performance of these ample

promises, nor yet those that follow, the prophet interposes the

cause, viz., the faithfulness and mercy of God. In mercy he said

it, and it should so come to pass: "But my faithfulness and mercy

shall be with him." And now he goes on:-

5. "His horn shall be exalted." His power shall be greatly


And this his exaltation appears:-

1. In the dilatation of his empire: "I will set his hand also in

the sea, and his right hand in the rivers," i.e., from the sea to

Euphrates, 2Sa 8:3.

2. In the honour done him, to call GOD Father, his God, his

Rock: "He shall call to me, Thou art my Father, my God, and the

Rock of my salvation."

3. Then that God asserts and fixes this prerogative upon him,

acknowledging him to be his Son; his first-born Son: "Also I will

make him my first-born, higher than the kings of the earth."

4. In the perpetuity of his kingdom, which is rightly attributed

to God's mercy; as Ps 89:25: "My mercy will I keep for him for

evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him."

5. In the promise made to his seed: "His seed also will I make

to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven."

VI. And next the prophet puts a case, and answers it: But what,

if David's seed transgress God's covenant, break his laws, violate

his statutes, become rebels and disobedient; will God then keep

covenant with them! shall his seed endure for ever? and his throne

as the days of heaven? To this doubt God answers, Ps 89:30-38;

showing us how David's seed, if they transgress, shall be dealt


1. "If his children forsake my law;" that is, my whole doctrine

of worship, religion, faith, &c.

2. "And walk not in my judgments;" i.e., in those laws which set

out rewards and punishments.

3. "If they break my statutes." Those statutes I have set down

for my service, the rites, ceremonies, new moons, Sabbaths,

sacrifices, circumcision, passover, &c.

4. "And keep not my commandments;" that is, the decalogue and

moral law. In a word, if they become vicious in their morals, and

profane, and rebels in my worship and religion.

This then shall happen unto them,-escape they shall not, but

shall soundly smart for it. They shall feel,-1. The rod; and, 2.

The scourge. Then,

1. "I will visit (that is, punish) their transgression with the


2. "And their iniquity with stripes." Which was often done by

the Babylonians, Antiochus, &c. And yet in judgment I will

remember mercy. I will remember my covenant, my promise, my word,

my oath, and will make that good. I will not totally cast off

David's seed; which I mean not after the flesh, for that is long

since cast off, but after the Spirit. Christ, which was of the

seed of David, and those which are his seed, viz., the Church,

shall enjoy the benefit of my covenant and oath for ever:

"Nevertheless, my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from

him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not

break, nor alter the thing gone out of my lips."

And that there be no doubt of this, he brings in God repeating

his oath and covenant.

1. His oath: "Once have I sworn by my holiness;" that is, by

myself, who am holy.

2. His covenant: "That I will not lie unto David; for 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." As the sun and moon are not liable to any

ruinous mutations no more is this covenant: they must endure to

the end of the world; and so must this covenant. They are faithful

witnesses in heaven; and so we are to seek for the performance of

this covenant in heaven; not in the earth the covenant being about

a heavenly kingdom, not an earthly; it being evident that the

kingdom of David on earth has failed many ages since: but that of

Christ shall never fail.

VII. Now that David's kingdom did fail, or at least was brought

to a low ebb, is the complaint in the following words, which flesh

and blood considering, gave a wrong judgment upon it, as if God

did nothing less than perform his oath and covenant. This is what

the prophet lays to God's charge: "But thou hast cut off and

abhorred, thou hast been wroth with thine anointed." Both king and

people are cast aside, than which nothing seems more contrary to

thy covenant.

Thou hast made void the covenant of the servant, of which there

are many lamentable consequences:-

1. "His crown is cast to the ground." The glory of his kingdom

trampled upon.

2. "His hedges broken down." His strongholds brought to ruin.

3. "All that pass by the way spoil him." He is exposed to all

rapine and plunder.

4. "He is a reproach to his neighbour." Exposed to all contumely

and disgrace.

5. "Thou hast set up the right hand of his enemies, and made all

his adversaries to rejoice." Thou seemest to take part with the

enemy against him, and makest him to exult and rejoice in

oppressing him.

6. "Thou hast also turned the edge of his sword, (blunted his

sword that was wont to slay,) and hast not made him to stand in

the battle," but to fly and turn his back.

7. "Thou hast made his glory (the glory dignity, authority of

his kingdom) to cease, and cast his crown to the ground."

8. "The days of his youth hast thou shortened;" cut him off in

the prime and strength of his years. "Thou hast covered him with

shame;" made his opulent, glorious kingdom ignominious; which was

true in divers of David's posterity, especially Jehoiakim.

These were the sad complaints which the prophet pours out; but

he quickly recovers and recalls his thoughts; and that he may move

God to help, he falls to prayer, which is very pathetic.

VIII. He considers the nature of God as kind, loving, merciful,

slow to anger; and asks:-

1. "How long, Lord? wilt thou hide thyself for ever?" Hide thy


2. "Shall thy wrath burn like fire?" An element that hath no


He then uses other arguments, pathetically expressed, to move

God to pity:-

1. Drawn from the brevity of man's life: "Remember how short my

time is."

2. From the end for which man was created; not in vain, but to

be an object of God's goodness and favour.

3. From the weakness and disability of man. His life is short;

and can he lengthen it? "What man is he that liveth, and shall not

see death?" Yea, though he live long, yet he is a mortal creature:

"Shall he deliver his soul from the grave?"

4. From the covenant, of which he puts God in mind: "Lord, where

are thy former lovingkindnesses, which thou swarest to David in

thy truth?"

5. From the ignominy, scorns, sarcasms, by enemies cast upon

them, which he desires God to look upon. 1. "Remember, Lord, the

reproach of thy servant." 2. "And how I do bear in my bosom." Not

spoken afar off, but in my hearing, and to my face, as if poured

and emptied into my bosom; the rebukes not of this or that man,

but of many people.

6. And lastly, that these reproaches, in effect, fall upon God.

For they who reproach God's servants are his enemies: "Remember

the reproaches"-1. "Wherewith thine enemies have reproached, O

Lord." 2. "Wherewith they have reproached the footsteps of thine

anointed," i.e., either whatsoever he says or does; or else by

footsteps is to be understood the latter end of David's kingdom,

which was indeed subject to reproach. 3. But the Chaldee

paraphrast by footsteps understands the coming of the Messiah in

the flesh; which, because it was long promised and men saw not

performed, many derided, mocked, and reproached, as vain.

IX. The close of this long Psalm is a benediction, by which the

prophet, after his combat with flesh and blood about the

performance of the covenant, composes his troubled soul, and

acquiesces in God; blessing him for whatever falls out, breaking

forth into:-

1. "Blessed be the Lord for evermore:" Blessed be his name, who

does and orders all things for the best of his people, although in

the midst of calamities and troubles he seems to desert them.

2. And that we may know that he did this from his heart, he

seals it with a double Amen. "Amen, Amen." So I wish it; so be it.

Copyright information for Clarke