Daybreak: Psalm 89:1-52
“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.” (Psalm 89:33-34)
All of us believe in many things. Even people who deny God’s existence believe in God’s natural laws! We are confident the sun will rise in the morning, though it may be covered by clouds. We know that the earth will continue to spin on its axis at just the right angle to bring summer, fall, winter, and spring each year. We anticipate that although the leaves fall after turning color, the trees are still alive, buds will form, and new leaves will appear in the spring.
Our beliefs extend beyond nature. In our society, we presume that restaurants will provide what we order, grocery stores will stock food for purchase, and contractors will follow through by doing their promised work. We do not wonder whether the elevator will go up when we press the button for the floor above us. When we flick the light switch, we assume the light will go on. When we turn the key in our car’s ignition, we expect to hear the engine start.
It’s true that our expectations regarding man and his inventions are sometimes disappointed. At times, trust is broken and assumptions are proven faulty. However, God always keeps His word. He never breaks a promise; He never fails or disappoints. He is faithful whether man believes Him or not.
Psalm 89 is all about God’s covenant faithfulness, proved over the centuries of time. The word “faithfulness” appears fourteen times in the Book of Psalms, and almost half of those instances are in this chapter. In our focus verse, the psalmist pronounced God’s own assurance that He would not break His covenant nor change what He had spoken regarding David. Although David’s descendants, the Children of Israel, failed God and the kingdom was taken from them, the promises He made concerning them are still true. Someday Jesus Christ — the seed of David — will rule over all the earth. God’s everlasting Kingdom will be eternal and His covenant with David will be everlastingly fulfilled. And even if one fails God today, His promises of redemption and help still are available if one turns back to them.
What a comfort it is to know that we can rely on God’s promises, no matter what happens around us! That assurance is the solid ground of our faith. Trials will come, and we will face times when the enemy of our souls will wage an all-out attempt to overthrow our confidence in God. Yet even when our faith wavers, God is unchanging, because faithfulness is part of His character. We can always trust Him to remain faithful.
Challenges and trouble do not last forever, and in the midst of such times, our most sustaining hope is the faithfulness of our Heavenly Father. God can be trusted with every situation of life!
This psalm was a Maschil (Hebrew for “to instruct” or “causing to understand”), indicating it was designed to teach. The final psalm in Book III, it is attributed to Ethan the Ezrahite. Bible scholars offer various suggestions regarding the date and setting of its writing. Some propose that the psalmist’s expression of grief over the perceived annulment of the Davidic covenant indicates that he composed the psalm during a time of captivity, such as after the fall of Jerusalem. Others suggest a period when the Davidic line was merely threatened and not dethroned. Whatever the date, commentators agree that this psalm is Messianic, based upon its use in the New Testament in reference to Christ (see Luke 1:51 and Acts 13:22).
The psalm is divided into three segments: a consideration of God’s past blessings and promises to David (verses 1-37), a lament over present circumstances and God’s seeming abandonment (verses 38-45), and a plea for God to once again honor His covenant with David (verses 46-51). It concludes with a doxology of praise (verse 52).
In verses 3-4, the author spoke of God’s covenant words to David. The Hebrew word b‘rit, translated covenant, was likely derived from a word meaning “to clasp or fetter,” thus indicating the strength of the bond. “Tabor” and “Hermon,” referred to in verse 12, were conspicuous mountains in Israel and were used poetically to indicate the universality of God’s creation. Verses 20-29 are Messianic promises related to God’s eternal covenant with David. Through Jesus, a descendant of David, David’s seed and throne will be eternally established.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines – Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. Book I (1:1 — 41:13)
II. Book II (42:1 — 72:20)
III. Book III (73:1 — 89:52)
IV. Book IV (90:1 — 106:48)
V. Book V (107:1 — 150:6)
A Closer Look
- In verse 7, where did the psalmist say that God was to be feared (viewed with great awe)? Why do you think he specified this location?
- Why do you think the author of Psalm 89 (as well as the authors of many of the other psalms) chose to illustrate his points with examples from nature?
- What circumstances or events in your life remind you of God’s faithfulness?
Our greatest source of assurance and security is the fact that God is faithful. He always keeps His promises!