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Deeper Commentary

 

Psa 89:1

A contemplation by Ethan, the Ezrahite-
"By" can as well be "for"; the author seems clearly to be David, so it may be that Ethan was the one responsible for publishing it or setting it to music.


I will sing of the grace of Yahweh forever. With my mouth I will make known Your faithfulness to all generations-
This Psalm is originally David's reflection upon the promises to him in 2 Sam. 7, and his struggles with believing and understanding parts of them. But it has been reworked by later inspired hands in the context of the exiles, struggling to believe that the Davidic covenant still has meaning. Yet the Psalm is introduced as being about grace. For that is what those promises reveal; and it begins and ends with praise, despite David's struggle with how God was apparently fulfilling them. We can therefore note that David’s greatest insight into the promises was at the time he doubted them the most. Those who have these crises know the love of God in the way that the prodigal son knew it far more than the son who stayed at home, living in obedience each day. And for all his doubts and struggles, David wishes to declare God's faithfulness to all and for all time. And he chose this song to do so.

Psa 89:2

I indeed declare, Love stands firm forever because You established the skies; Your faithfulness is in them-
The solid existence of all creation is seen as evidence enough that the love of God, as expressed through the Davidic covenant, would remain firm likewise. We need only look at the natural creation for evidence that God is going to keep the promises found in the Bible. The same idea is found in :37.

Psa 89:3

I have made a covenant with My chosen one, I have sworn to David My servant-
It's hard to know whether this is a direct revelation from God, or whether these words are as it were put in God's mouth by the poetry of the psalmist. David was clearly the "chosen one... My servant" (Ps. 89:3), but these very terms are applied to Israel as a whole (Ps. 105:6,43; 106:5) and to the "servant" of later Isaiah, who refers to both Israel and their Messiah as their embodiment (Is. 42:1; 45:4). David's path of sin, repentance and restoration was intended to be that of all God's people, as he himself recognizes in Ps. 32. But the exiles refused to repent and therefore their restoration was precluded. They were not therefore treated as His "chosen one".


Psa 89:4 ‘

I will establish Your seed forever, and build up Your throne to all generations’. Selah-
This was true, but only if his seed had the characteristics of David. As noted on :3, David's path of sin, repentance and restoration was intended to be that of all God's people, as he himself recognizes in Ps. 32. But the exiles refused to repent and therefore their restoration was precluded. And so the eternal establishment of his throne didn't come true as it could have done at the time of the exiles.


Psa 89:5

The skies will praise Your wonders, Yahweh; Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the holy ones-
This is a reference to the court of Heaven. Although the exiles on earth couldn't see the progression of God's purpose according to His covenant with David, the Angels in heaven perceived it and rejoiced. And our perspective is to be theirs.


Psa 89:6

For who in the skies can be compared to Yahweh? Who among the sons of the heavenly beings is like Yahweh-
Here again we seem to have a criticism of idolatry. The idols are often not baldly stated to be non-existent, but rather Yahweh is so highly exalted and powerful that effectively they have no real existence. Likewise the Lord Jesus didn't specifically state that demons don't exist; rather the supreme power of His miracles showed that effectively they don't, as they have no real power even if they do exist. Idolatry was an abiding problem in Israel at David's time, and also at the start of the exile, as Ezekiel makes clear.


Psa 89:7

a very awesome God in the council of the holy ones, to be feared above all those who are around Him?-
The awesome nature of the court of heaven is stressed, into which we have a glimpse in 1 Kings 22. God has a "council", discussing His plans with the Angels. This is because although the exiles on earth couldn't see the progression of God's purpose according to His covenant with David, the Angels in heaven perceived it and rejoiced. And our perspective is to be theirs.

Psa 89:8

Yahweh, God of Armies, who is a mighty one like You? Yah, Your faithfulness is around You-
The Angels around the throne in :7 are here equated with God's faithfulness. They would surely bring about the fulfilment of the Davidic covenant, in their time and way. The apparent lack of fulfilment of the covenant was not therefore because of any inability on God's part; which leaves the implication that it was due to failure on Israel's part on earth.


Psa 89:9

You rule the pride of the sea; when its waves rise up, You calm them-
As so often in the Psalms, in times of doubt and depression concerning why God doesn't come through as we think or hope He should, thoughts turn to how God has acted mightily in the past, and the Red Sea deliverance is the favourite of the psalmists; and of how His constant activity is seen in the natural creation. If He rules the sea, thought by the ancients to be the home of mysterious powers and Satan-like monsters, then how much more can He control the movements of the nations, represented by the seas.


Psa 89:10

You have broken Rahab in pieces, like one of the slain. You have scattered Your enemies with Your mighty arm-
As noted on :9, the appeal is to the fact that God had destroyed the might of Egypt ("Rahab") and scattered the tribes of Canaan. Faith continues that He can do the same again with Babylon.

 
Psa 89:11

The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours; the world and its fullness; You have founded them-
The fact that "the earth is the Lord's" is used to highlight the wonder of the fact that therefore how much moreso do His people belong to Him, and are cared for by Him with such sensitivity (Ex. 19:5; Dt. 10:14; Ps. 50:12; 89:11). Just as the eretz / earth / land promised to Abraham is Yahweh's, so is in fact the entire planet (Ps. 24:1), and His purpose was perceived by David as incorporating the entire planet and not just Israel. The 'founding' of the physical planet is compared to how God has 'founded' Zion Is. 14:32). Zion had apparently been removed; but that meant that it must be founded again eternally. But the response of the exiles was to think that if Zion had been removed, then God's purpose was over. They failed to appreciate that just as Abraham was promised eternal inheritance of the land but didn't receive that in his lifetime, so likewise the fulfilment of God's promises requires a future time of restoration and resurrection.

Psa 89:12

The north and the south, You have created them; Tabor and Hermon rejoice in Your name-
LXX "North and the west", which would better fit Tabor and Hermon as the great mountains of the west and north. AV "shall rejoice..." reflects faith that finally the land and kingdom would be restored, and rejoice instead of mourning.


Psa 89:13

You have a mighty arm, Your hand is strong and Your right hand is exalted-
God's apparent inaction was never to be interpreted as meaning that He was too weak to fulfil His purpose. God's power remains permanent and ultimate, even in the face of our defeats and before death itself. Again, the logic of this demands that the apparent lack of progress with God's purpose isn't due to any deficiency on His part; and therefore it means that we are the reason for that lack of progress.


Psa 89:14

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; grace and truth go before Your face-
Never should Israel think that because the throne of David was apparently cast down, so therefore was God's throne. His throne is eternal, and before His face, always in His awareness, is "grace and truth", a phrase often used of His promises to Abraham and David.  


Psa 89:15

Blessed are the people who learn to acclaim You; they shall walk in the light of Your face, Yahweh-
David often asks for forgiveness and restored fellowship with God in terms of walking again in the light of God's face. As noted above, his path of repentance and restoration was to be that of the exiles; if they acclaimed God in repentance, which the exiles generally didn't.

Psa 89:16

In Your name they rejoice all day. In Your righteousness, they are exalted-
This again alludes to how David was forgiven for his sins through the imputation of God's righteousness. The exiles were to follow his path to restoration; and like David, rejoice in this imputation of righteousness. But they refused.


Psa 89:17

For You are the glory of their strength. In Your favour, our horn will be exalted-
The idea of the horn of the righteous being exalted is used about what David envisaged happening for God's people in this life (s.w. Ps. 148:14), although the final fulfilment was to be at the last day, when the horn of the wicked is cut off (Ps. 75:10). But there are potential foretastes of the last day in this life. Jeremiah appears to struggle with the Psalms which taught that the horn of the righteous would be lifted up, lamenting that instead the horn of their enemies had been lifted up (s.w. Lam. 2:17). The truth was that the horn of God's people would only be lifted up if they were identified with the lifting up of the horn which was Messiah (Ps. 89:17,24). And because this didn't happen, their horn was not exalted.


Psa 89:18

For our shield belongs to Yahweh; our king to the Holy One of Israel-
This may be commentary upon the fact that the Davidic line had been temporarily overthrown. God was the ultimate king of Israel, and so there was no need to think that Israel were left without a king. "Shield" is a metaphor for "king" (as in Ps. 47:9). Even in exile, Israel were not without a king who would protect them.


Psa 89:19

Then You spoke in vision to Your saints and said, I have bestowed strength on the warrior. I have exalted a young man from the people-
The bestowal of strength refers to David (Ps. 20:2; 21:5). The "chosen man" (AV) is clearly David (Ps. 78:70; 89:3; 1 Kings 8:16). The "saints" or "holy one[s]" who were told of the choosing of David were the Angels in the court of heaven (see on :5-7), and was reflected upon earth by Samuel the prophet being told to choose and anoint David whilst still a young man. We appear to have here the record of a vision given to Samuel, on the basis of which he went seeking for David to anoint him.   


Samuel appeared to have assumed that Eliab must be Yahweh's anointed, seeing he was tall and handsome (1 Sam. 16:7). But he had not learnt the lesson he should've learnt from his experience with Saul, who was exceptionally tall, and yet was no true leader of God's people. God tries to remind Samuel of this by saying of Eliab: "I have rejected him"; God had used the very term about Saul very recently (1 Sam. 16:1,7 RV). Ps. 89:19,20 imply that God had specifically told Samuel to anoint David- so his desire to anoint tall, handsome Eliab appears to have been a failure on Samuel's part, rooted in simply not joining the dots. And even when David was brought in, Samuel seems to have somewhat failed in his judgment- for he was impressed by David's fair appearance (1 Sam. 16:12), when God had just laboured the point to Samuel that the choice of a ruler was not to be based upon his appearance (1 Sam. 16:7).

However, the account of this "vision" about David then goes on later to repeat and expand parts of the promises to David given to him by Nathan the prophet in 2 Sam. 7. So it could be that here we are being given an account of a vision given to Nathan which included parts of what Samuel had been told. Or it could be that we are reading here the inspired commentary of the psalmist upon those visions, which are largely unrecorded in the historical records.


Psa 89:20

I have found David My servant, I have anointed him with My holy oil-
The Bible reveals that God is in search of man. "Like grapes in the wilderness, I found Israel" (Hos. 9:10); "He found him in a desert land...he encircled him, he cared for him" (Dt. 32:10); "I have found David my servant" (Ps. 89:20). Jeremiah's search for believers was a reflection of God's: "Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, look and take note! Search her squares to see if you can find a man, one who does justice and seeks truth" (Jer.  5:1). God hunts for us like a lion, Job came to realize; and in this "You show yourself wonderful to me" (Job 10:16). And we are searching for God. God is not indifferent to our searching for Him. Those awestruck moments of wonder, of radical amazement, are where God finds us at the time we are searching for Him. Both sides are seeking each other; and in those moments, they meet. As a Jewish poet put it: "And going out to meet thee / I found thee coming toward me". In those moments, heaven and earth kiss each other. There is a click, a flash, between Almighty God and us- as we stand at a bus stop, turn left into Acacia Avenue, lay there on our bed meditating.

Psa 89:21

with whom My hand shall be established; My arm will also strengthen him-
This hand of God made a specific branch "strong". This branch was the Lord Jesus (Is. 11:1; Jer. 23:5; Zech. 3:8;6:12). The psalmist perceives that the restoration will come through an individual Messianic figure, who would as it were be a spiritual reincarnation of the historical David. There were various possible potential fulfillments of this, such as Zerubabbel and Joshua, but they all let the baton drop. The final fulfilment is therefore in the Lord Jesus, who allowed Himself to be made strong by God's hand (s.w. Ps. 80:17). Whilst His utter moral perfection was in a sense His own achievement, and that must never be taken away from the Lord, the path there involved allowing God to make Him strong for Himself. And this is our pattern too, in allowing the work of the Holy Spirit to do likewise with us, paralleled here with God's hand being upon us, making us strong. The prophecy could have had an earlier fulfilment in Hezekiah, 'made strong by Yah', but he too disallowed it and went off to this present world. The lead characteristic of Jacob was that he and his descendants would be 'made strong' (s.w. Gen. 25:23), even though they were so spiritually weak. So many times Israel are encouraged to be "of good courage", s.w. "made strong" (Dt. 31:6,7 etc.), so that they might inherit the promised kingdom. But they generally didn't make use of this potential strengthening. The exiles likewise were potentially "made strong" but they refused to make use of that, remaining in Babylon for the most part (s.w. Is. 35:3; 41:10).

Psa 89:22

No enemy will tax him, no wicked man will oppress him-
The initial reference was to the terrible taxation of Saul, which David avoided through killing Goliath (1 Sam. 17:25). The reminder is that despite this interpretation or implication of the promises to David, the "wicked man" Saul did indeed "oppress" him; for these phrases are used throughout the wilderness Psalms about Saul. But the point was, the Davidic covenant did come finally true for David, despite periods when apparently it failed for him. And the exiles were bidden likewise look to the end of things, rather than demand immediate and constant experience of God's promises coming true in this life. This is a lesson for all those tempted to believe the "prosperity Gospel".


Psa 89:23

I will beat down his adversaries before him, and strike those who hate him-
This again only came true for David in the longer term and not immediately. Absalom and Saul both died from being 'struck down' but this was only after they had appeared to be in the ascendancy over David. And so it was to be true for all in covenant relationship with God.  


Psa 89:24

But My faithfulness and My grace will be with him; in My name, his horn will be exalted-
It was in this exaltation of the Messianic horn that the horn of the people would be exalted (s.w. :17). There existed even in these earlier days the idea of being "in Christ", the Messiah, and those in Him being blessed with the experience of His exaltation and glory. But the various possibilities of a Messiah figure in the period of the restoration all came to nothing.
Knowing this openness of God, women like Hannah clearly hoped and prayed that their sons would be Messiah (1 Sam. 2:10 = Ps. 89:24); for they perceived that God’s purpose was open to such a thing. But finally the fulfilment was to come in the person of the Lord Jesus, after all the other potential fulfillments had let the baton drop. 


Psa 89:25

I will set his hand also on the sea and his right hand on the rivers-
"The rivers" can be understood as an intensive plural, referring to the great river, Euphrates. From the sea to the Euphrates was the territory promised to Abraham. The fulfilment of the Davidic covenant was to be understood as involving the complete fulfilment of the promises made to Abraham. This didn't happen in David's time, but this was the promise. We appear to have here an extension of the promises to David, perhaps given to the psalmist by direct revelation from God, although the promises recorded in 2 Sam. 7 are alluded to and expanded.


Psa 89:26

He will call to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, and the rock of my salvation!’-
The Lord Jesus appears to allude to this in calling God his Father and his God (Jn. 20:17); hard proof against the "Jesus = God" theology of Trinitarians. We note too the need for salvation of David's Messianic seed; hardly appropriate if that seed were to be God Himself.  


Psa 89:27

I will also appoint him My firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth-
The fulfilment of the Davidic covenant was to be primarily in a person, who would rule over all kings and would be God's firstborn; the first child He ever had. 2 Sam. 7:12-14 implies this would have to be through a woman in David's line becoming pregnant not from man but from God Himself, through His Spirit. And this was to have ultimate fulfilment in the virgin birth (Lk. 1:31-35). But the exiles focused instead upon a visible restoration of the Davidic throne and kingdom before their eyes at that time. We too must be Jesus centered more than Kingdom centered. Otherwise we too will start to complain that God appears not to be coming through for us personally in this life.


Psa 89:28

I will keep My grace for him forever. My covenant will stand firm through him-
The exiles were complaining that the Davidic covenant wasn't being fulfilled in their experience. But they failed to perceive that it required the appearance of a Messianic seed for this covenant to be realized in practice. And those who might have partially fulfilled it in their time (especially Zerubbabel) had all failed. The fulfilment was to be "through him" and not simply through the exile being ended.


Psa 89:29

I will also make his seed endure forever and his throne as the days of heaven-
Again the point is made as on :28, that the Davidic covenant didn't promise immediate blessing for the kingdom of David. It was primarily focused upon an individual seed of David who would have an eternal throne; and personal blessing and salvation was only to be found through association with this seed, becoming "in Him". See on :24.


Psa 89:30

If his children forsake My law and don’t walk in My ordinances-
I have noted on :24,28,29 that the blessings of the covenant were to come particularly and specifically upon the singular seed of David; blessings for the rest of Israel would depend upon their association with this seed. This is why the promises about the seed in the singular (the Lord Jesus) are now applied to God's people in the plural (2 Sam. 7:14 cp. Ps. 89:30-35). This is now realized through baptism into the Lord Jesus. Baptism is not an initiation into a church. It isn't something which just seems the right thing to do. And even if because of our environment and conscience, it was easier to get baptized than not- now this mustn't be the case. We really are in Christ, we are born again; now we exist, spiritually! And moreover, we have risen with Him, His resurrection life, His life and living that will eternally be, is now manifest in us, and will be articulated physically at the resurrection.

But this plan of salvation through identification with the seed was conditional. Both he personally and those "in him" had the possibility of sinning and thereby nullifying the covenant. And the exiles had done just this. We note that the Lord Jesus had the possibility of sinning [otherwise His temptations were fake]. This again disproves any idea that He was God Himself in person.


Psa 89:31

if they break My statutes and don’t keep My commandments-
The covenant was broken (:34 s.w.) because they had broken the laws which were part of that covenant. The law repeatedly stated that if Israel didn't keep God's commandments, they would be exiled from their land (Lev. 20:22 s.w.). After centuries of patience with them, this finally happened. Any complaint at the consequence for sin was therefore unreasonable. It would be as unreasonable as Adam complaining that he had been exiled east of Eden.

This is the development of the clause about David's individual seed in 2 Sam. 7: "If he [Jesus] commit iniquity...". Here in Ps. 89, the individual seed is spoken of as the community. There are many connections with Is. 53, in this case to the way that "the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all". The Lord Jesus was so identified with the sinful seed of Abraham and David that He bore the curse for their sins, despite being personally innocent.


Psa 89:32

then I will punish their sin with the rod-
This is the equivalent of "I will chasten him with the rod of men" in 2 Sam. 7. Ultimately this connection between the singular seed and the community of God's people led to the Lord's death on the cross: "For the transgression of my people was he stricken" (Is. 53).

And their iniquity with stripes-
This is the equivalent of "And with the stripes of the children of men" in 2 Sam. 7, resulting in the final truth of what was achieved on the cross: "With his stripes we are healed" (Is. 53).

The point of all this is to show how our sins were somehow born by Jesus, to the extent that He suffered for them. But how was this actually achieved? It is one thing to say it, but we must put meaning into the words. I suggest it was in that the Lord  so identified with us, His heart so bled for us, that He felt a sinner even though He of course never sinned. The final cry “My God, why have You forsaken me?” clearly refers back to all the many passages which speak of God forsaking the wicked, but never forsaking the righteous. The Lord, it seems to me, felt a sinner, although He was not one, and thus entered into this sense of crisis and fear He had sinned. He so identified with us. In the bearing of His cross, we likewise must identify with others, with their needs and with the desperation of their human condition… and this is what will convert them, as the Lord’s identification with us saved us.


Psa 89:33

But I will not completely take My grace away from him, nor allow My faithfulness to fail-
I have noted on :31,32 that the promises of 2 Sam. 7 about the singular seed of David are interpreted as applying to the entire community of God's people, and therefore the singular in 2 Sam. 7 is changed to the plural here in Ps. 89. But now there is a reversion to talking about "him", the singular seed. He personally would always receive God's faithful covenant grace; and the implication is that God's sinful people must therefore identify with Him. We now do this by baptism into the Lord Jesus, but until He came, it was impossible for God's people to make this connection with the seed.


Psa 89:34

I will not break My covenant, nor alter what My lips have uttered-
LXX "profane my covenant". The covenant was broken (:31 s.w.) because they had broken or profaned the laws which were part of that covenant. But there had been no change on God's side, as they perhaps imagined. God on His side had not broken covenant. Their complaint that He had broken covenant (:39 s.w.) was completely overlooking that it was they and not Him who had broken the covenant. The exiles are specifically described as breaking the covenant in Mal. 2:10,11 s.w. We note the intimacy of God in saying that the covenant was uttered by His "lips". The words of the covenant were from His very mouth and lips.


Psa 89:35

Once have I sworn by My holiness that I will not lie to David-
To claim that God has broken His side of the covenant is tantamount to calling God a liar. This is what we are doing if we doubt our ultimate salvation. Paul seems to have this in mind in his reasoning in Rom. 3:3-7. The fact some like the exiles didn't want to believe Him doesn't make Him a liar, because His promises to them weren't experienced by them. That was their choice, and they as it were put God in the dock and accused Him of being a liar. And in the revelation of God's final judgment, all who have done so will be revealed as liars.


Psa 89:36

His seed will endure forever, his throne like the sun before Me-
The emphasis is upon "will". The promises to David will come true. His Messianic seed would indeed have an eternal throne and kingdom. The fact that was not being immediately fulfilled in the experience of the exiles at their time didn't mean that God was a liar (:35) or incapable of doing what He has said. Rather the problem was with the exiles, in that they didn't want to believe that at some point, fulfilment would come. A demand that God's promises must come fully true for us in this life is really a lack of faith in His future Kingdom. Faith in the things of the Kingdom and the name of the Lord Jesus is faith in a future reality as well as a present one. If all the focus is upon our immediate blessing, then like the exiles we will have a crisis of faith.


Psa 89:37

It will be established forever like the moon, the faithful witness in the sky. Selah-
The solid existence of all creation is seen as evidence enough that the love of God, as expressed through the Davidic covenant, would remain firm likewise. We need only look at the natural creation for evidence that God is going to keep the promises found in the Bible. The same idea is found in :2.


Psa 89:38

But you have rejected and spurned, You have been angry with Your anointed-
This may originally have begun with David in depression feeling that although he had been anointed king, his persecution by Saul and later by Absalom indicated that God had changed His plans. These thoughts of David are now developed by the exiles and exaggerated and expanded to refer to the breaking up of Zion.

 
Psa 89:39

You have renounced the covenant of Your servant; You have defiled his crown in the dust-
The covenant was broken (:31 s.w.) because they had broken or profaned the laws which were part of that covenant. But there had been no change on God's side, as they perhaps imagined. God on His side had not broken covenant. Their complaint that He had broken covenant (:39 s.w.) was completely overlooking that it was they and not Him who had broken the covenant. The exiles are specifically described as breaking the covenant in Mal. 2:10,11 s.w.


Psa 89:40

You have broken down all his hedges, You have brought his strongholds to ruin-
The vineyard of Israel was indeed broken down by God and its protective wall removed by Him (Is. 5). But this was because they had refused to bring forth fruit to Him, and had themselves introduced the Gentiles into that vineyard, worshipping their idols in His temple. The complaint against God focuses upon the consequences of sin, rather than recognition of sin and repentance.


Psa 89:41

All who pass by the way rob him-
The same word for "rob" is used to the exiles in warning them that even the restored Jerusalem is to fall and the houses robbed (Zech. 14:2). God's purpose with David's seed was no guarantee that in this life, that seed would not suffer. The exiles were refusing to understand that what they were complaining about was merely the consequence of their sins, and not due to God's unfaithfulness. These same exiles had been reminded that they had committed fornication with all those who "pass by the way" (s.w. Ez. 16:15,25). It was as if they had hardened their hearts against all these prophetic messages.

He has become a reproach to his neighbours-
This Psalm may have originated in David's complaint that he had become a reproach to his neighbours and family after his sin with Bathsheba (s.w. Ps. 22:6; 31:11). But such complaints were a wilful disregard for Nathan's prophetic word to David about the consequence of his sins. And it seems that the exiles were making the same mistake in refusing to accept that their situation was a result of consequence of sins.


Psa 89:42

You have exalted the right hand of his adversaries, You have made all of his enemies rejoice-
This seems an intentional repost to the statement in :13 that God's own right hand is exalted (s.w.). The exiles refused to see that God's hand can be exalted even in His apparent silence; and went further to imply God was being somehow vindictive and unreasonable. This is the classic mistake made by all who stumble at the problem of evil.


Psa 89:43

Yes, you turn back the edge of his sword and haven’t supported him in battle-
This however was exactly what was promised as a consequence of breaking the covenant. Israel had signed up to that, and God had been patient in bringing those consequences for centuries. And when it came, finally, they accuse Him of hating them. Again, all stumbling over the problem of evil results is rooted in a denial of the consequences of human sin [whether it be our own or the sin of others]. And as a result, God ends up being falsely accused.


Psa 89:44

You have ended his splendour, and cast his throne down to the ground-
This again fails to factor in the reality that God can fulfil His promises at a later date, even through resurrection from the dead. Abraham died in full faith that the promises to him would be fulfilled at the resurrection, although he didn't receive them in this life (Heb. 11:13,39,40). But the exiles didn't have this faith; they considered God was only any good if they had it all now. And they went further to almost mock God when they didn't get what they expected, with no account of their own sins and the consequence of sin. They also failed to consider that David's throne was the throne of Yahweh; and He remained enthroned as king in heaven, with the earth [s.w. "ground"] as His footstool (Is. 66:1).   


Psa 89:45

You have shortened the days of his youth, You have covered him with shame. Selah-
LXX "the days of his throne". This reflected a total lack of faith and wilful lack of understanding of the fact that the promises of an eternal throne depended upon the revelation of the individual Messianic seed of David. He had not come at that point, but the exiles still demanded the blessings promised to Him. 


Psa 89:46

How long, Yahweh? Will You hide Yourself forever? Will Your wrath burn like fire?-
The answer was that God had hidden His face from His people because they had hidden their faces from Him. They were as Cain, exiled from Eden [the promised land] to the east, hidden from God's face (Gen. 4:14). This was the specific curse for breaking the covenant (Dt. 31:17).
Is. 40:27; 45:15 specifically rebuke the exiles for saying that "My way is hid from Yahweh", because they should rather have faith that ultimately God's face would in due time shine forth. It was their sins which had hidden God's face from them (Is. 59:2; Jer. 33:5; Ez. 39:23; Mic. 3:4). Again there is a focus simply upon removing the consequence of sin, rather than repenting of sin.


Psa 89:47

Remember how short my time is! For what vanity have You created all the children of men!-
This may well have been based upon an original prayer of David, lamenting the brevity of his life as in Ps. 39:5 (s.w.). But the exiles are reasoning as if this life is all we have; and therefore to not see the restoration in their lifetime was tragic. And they considered God somehow cruel to not bring about the restored kingdom in their lifetimes. Because life is short, they therefore expected Him to act very quickly; or else, they accused Him of creating people for "vanity". This is the kind of unreasonable talk which comes from all who stumble over the problem of evil. David's perspective was that it is "men of the world" who have "their portion [s.w. "short"] in this life" (Ps. 17:14). The exiles were totally devoid of the hope of resurrection and final fulfilment then. This lack of faith in the things of the future Kingdom of God, sometimes encouraged by theological misunderstandings, is often at the root of stumblings over the problem of evil. If the perception is that man only has this life, then the problems of evil within that life will indeed weigh heavy, as life then appears a mere lottery, with some people getting a better deal than others.   


Psa 89:48

What man is he who shall live and not see death, who shall deliver his soul from the power of Sheol? Selah-
This continues the false argument of :47; that because life is short and there is only hope for this life and no further, therefore God should hurry up and restore their kingdom.
David's temporary crisis of faith in God's power to resurrect is repeated by the exiles, in stronger terms. They seem to have no sense of any future fulfilment of the covenant; they wanted to see it all now, just as many do today.

It is in the context of God promising David eternity that he questions: "Shall He (God) deliver his soul from the grave? What man is he that liveth and shall not see death?" (AV). He goes so far as to feel that God's "former graces (a word often used about the promises), which You swore to David" had been at best suspended (Ps. 89:49 AV).

Psa 89:49

Lord, where are Your former graces which You swore to David in Your faithfulness?-
Surely David is close to the edge here; there almost seems to be a sense of mocking in his comments on the promise that his throne would endure for ever as the sun: "His throne (shall endure) as the sun... but... Thou hast cast his throne down to the ground", rather than it being like the sun (Ps. 89:36,44 AV). Yet truly in the spirit of Job, he was able to praise God in this very same context: "Blessed be the Lord for evermore. Amen, and amen" (Ps. 89:52). Presumably this Psalm was written (or thought out) whilst fleeing from Absalom, or possibly during one of the later rebellions, when it seemed that all hope of holding on to the throne was lost. Here is David in depression, making hasty comments about the faithfulness of God, reacting to the position of the moment. This is surely an indication of his mental make up. One cannot be persuaded that the Lord Jesus did not experience the temptations which go along with this kind of personality. "My God, why have You forsaken me?" (Mt. 27:46) and the following thoughts in Ps. 22 seem to be Christ's equivalent of David's crisis in Ps. 89.  


Psa 89:50

Remember, Lord, the reproach of Your servants, how I bear in my heart the taunts of all the mighty peoples-
This is the language of earlier Psalms concerning how David so took to heart the words of his enemies at the time of Saul and Absalom's rebellion. But his feelings are now reapplied by the exiles to the taunts of the "peoples", the Gentiles, such as those recorded in Ps. 137:1-3.


Psa 89:51

with which Your enemies have mocked, Yahweh, with which they have mocked the footsteps of Your anointed one-
LXX "wherewith they have reviled the recompense of thine anointed" could imply that David's enemies mocked the promises to David as now having no chance of fulfilment. And the exiles felt that the mocking of their captors in Ps. 137 was a mocking of David, seeing they considered themselves to be his seed. Their "steps" may refer to their steps from Judah to Babylon, mocked at every step. 

These things had application to the Lord Jesus, the "Christ", the "anointed one", who bore Israel's judgment. Every step of the way along the Via Dolorosa, Yahweh's enemies reproached every stumbling footstep of His anointed, just as they did every step of Judah as they were marched into captivity.


Psa 89:52

Blessed be Yahweh forever. Amen, and Amen-
As noted on :1, despite all the doubts and struggles of the psalmist, the Psalm concludes with praise to God. This is a great challenge to us, no matter what struggles we have with God. We are to all the same love and praise Him. This is where the problem of evil, the difficulty of understanding the apparently harder side of God, is designed to elicit humility and tenacity of love for Him.