Read Psalm 89:1-18
1 I will sing of the LORD’s great love forever;
with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known
through all generations.
2 I will declare that your love stands firm forever,
that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.
3 You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to David my servant,
4 ‘I will establish your line forever
and make your throne firm through all generations.’ ”
5 The heavens praise your wonders, LORD,
your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones.
6 For who in the skies above can compare with the LORD?
Who is like the LORD among the heavenly beings?
7 In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared;
he is more awesome than all who surround him.
8 Who is like you, LORD God Almighty?
You, LORD, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.
9 You rule over the surging sea;
when its waves mount up, you still them.
10 You crushed Rahab like one of the slain;
with your strong arm you scattered your enemies.
11 The heavens are yours, and yours also the earth;
you founded the world and all that is in it.
12 You created the north and the south;
Tabor and Hermon sing for joy at your name.
13 Your arm is endowed with power;
your hand is strong, your right hand exalted.
14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne;
love and faithfulness go before you.
15 Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you,
who walk in the light of your presence, LORD.
16 They rejoice in your name all day long;
they celebrate your righteousness.
17 For you are their glory and strength,
and by your favor you exalt our horn.
18 Indeed, our shield belongs to the LORD,
our king to the Holy One of Israel.
How does it feel to be betrayed ?
What promises did the psalm writer make to the Lord? (Psalm 89:1-2)
What two character traits of the Lord’s did the psalm writer emphasize? (Psalm 89:5-18)
Whom did the psalm writer call “blessed”? (Psalm 89:15)
What can we learn from the psalm writer’s example?
In what specific ways should we follow the psalm writer’s example to get through difficult times?
How can you remind yourself of God’s promises throughout the week?
Confidence in God’s Unfailing Love and Faithfulness (89:1–37). Psalm 89 opens on a remarkably high note of praise to God for his unfailing love and faithfulness: “I will sing of the LORD’s unfailing love forever! Young and old will hear of your faithfulness” (89:1). This praise is followed by an equally remarkable note of confidence: “Your unfailing love will last forever. Your faithfulness is as enduring as the heavens” (89:2).
Not only the psalmist, but also “myriads of angels” will praise God for his faithfulness. These myriads, mighty though they may be, do not compare with the Lord: None are as mighty as he whose very character is faithfulness. This faithfulness has been displayed in a number of ways.
God has been faithful in the exercise of his power (89:9–13). This power was displayed at the time of creation when God subdued the waters that would have prohibited life (see 104:6–9). God’s crushing “the great sea monster” (Rahab) alludes to ancient mythology to affirm that it was the Lord God of Israel and no other god who brought initial order to the world in which humans now live. This order is seen in the heavens and the earth, in the north and the south, on Mount Tabor and Mount Hermon. This order was brought about and is currently maintained by God’s powerful arm and hand as well as his unfailing love. It is no wonder that those who hear the joyful call to worship and walk in the light of the Lord’s presence are “happy”—i.e., they experience total well-being. …………………
Doubts about God’s Unfailing Love and Faithfulness (89:38–51). The depths of the doubts are signaled by the words “But now” (89:38). All the evidence from life’s experiences indicated that God had in fact rejected the Davidic dynasty and renounced the covenant. The Davidic crown had been trampled in the dust. Jerusalem, the Davidic capital, lay in ruins. The enemies, who were supposed to never defeat David (89:22), were rejoicing in having the upper hand in battle after battle (89:42–43). David’s throne had been completely overturned (89:44).
Thus the agonizing cry, “O LORD, how long will this go on? Will you hide yourself forever? How long will your anger burn like fire?” (89:46). And even more painful is the question, “Lord, where is your unfailing love?” (89:49). All of your promises, all that you have purportedly done in the past, all this talk of power and praise—what good is it in the real world in which I live? Does what I believe make any difference in my world, or is it all just pious platitudes that serve to numb the pain?
Perhaps no other psalm articulates with more pathos the agony of soul that is felt when life’s experiences call into question the unfailing love and faithfulness that are “God’s very character.” Perhaps no other psalm can bring as much balm to the soul as does this one. That balm is brought in part by the freedom this psalm grants to be brutally honest with ourselves and with God in admitting the deep doubts we have at times, doubts that God is faithful, that God is love. When faith and experience conflict, pretending that all is well will not do. Denial lacks integrity and indicates shallow spirituality. Honest wrestling is the path to growth and to God.
It may not comfort some to be confronted with the fact that the question raised in 89:49 finds no explicit answer in the psalm itself. True, the psalm’s first and last words are words of praise, but the tension between faith and experience is left ringing in our ears with the question, “Lord, where is your unfailing love?” The psalmist had to wait for an answer—and in his own historical experience he never got the answer. We, too, often must wait. But while we wait, with doubts arising from our own experience, we also wait with confidence, because we have seen the answer to the psalmist’s question in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, the son of David (Matt 1:1) and the King of Israel (Mark 15:26–32).
Futato, Mark D. “The Book of Psalms.” Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, Vol 7: The Book of Psalms, The Book of Proverbs. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2009. 289–291.
Lord, my heart often resents your power and questions your righteousness. But when I think I know better than you, I sink under anxiety. How truly “Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, LORD. ” (verse 15)! The more I accept your goodness and control of things, the more I can let go of worries and resentments, and live confidently. Lead me to trust you more and more, and to cling to Jesus, your son, and my rescuer, in whose name I pray. Amen.