The Psalms of David

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Psalm 89: 1 - 4

(This is) a *maskil of Ethan the Ezrahite.

v1      I will always sing about the kind love of the *LORD.
     I will tell (my) children and (my) grandchildren
       that you will do what you have promised.

v2      Yes! I will say that nothing will ever stop your kind love (for us).
     You will do the things that you promised in *heaven.

v3      (God had said in *heaven)
     "I have made a *covenant with the man that I chose.
     I have made special promises to my servant David.

v4      Someone from your family will always be king.
     And there will always be a place where they (will rule) as king".      *SELAH

The Story of Psalm 89

God made special promises to David. They are in 2 Samuel 7:12-17. The important promise is that someone from David’s family would always be king. Ethan wrote Psalm 89 many years after this. He called it a *maskil, a psalm that teaches us something.

In the psalm, Ethan sings about a problem. God had promised that there would always be a king in David’s family. But now there was no *Jewish king! The army from Babylon had beaten the *Jewish army. They took the *Jewish king to Babylon and the King of Babylon (Nebuchadnezzar) became king of the *Jews. How could anyone explain this?

Christians have sung this psalm on Christmas Day for many centuries. This is because Jesus is a king from David’s family, he will always be king and he was born at Christmas. That is how we explain the problem ... but Ethan did not know this!

What Psalm 89: 1 - 4 means

In verse 3 the *covenant is what God and the *Jews agreed. If the *Jews would love and obey God, then he would keep them safe. The *Jews had a special *covenant name for God: *Yahweh. We translate it *LORD, with 4 capital letters. In this part of the psalm, Ethan says that he still believes that God will do what he had promised. Ethan was right! We think that *SELAH means a place to stop and pray, or think, or listen to music.

The *Kingdom of *Heaven

Psalm 89: 5 - 18

v5      In *heaven, they *praise the *wonderful things that you have done, *LORD.
     Also, the *holy *angels that meet together
       (know that) you will do what you have promised.

v6      For who is there in *heaven that is *like the *LORD?
     Which of the *sons of God is *like the *LORD?

v7      God frightens very much the *holy ones that meet together.
     He makes them more afraid than anyone else does.

v8      Most Powerful *LORD God, who is as strong as you are, *LORD?
     And you do everything that you have promised!

v9      You are the ruler of the boiling sea.
     When the water rises up, you make it quiet again.

v10    You broke Rahab and killed it!
     With your strong arm, you destroyed your enemies.

v11    The skies belong to you and so does the earth.
     You made the world and everything that is in it.

v12    You made (places in) the north and in the south.
     Tabor and Hermon *praise you when they hear your name.

v13    You have a strong arm; your hand is powerful;
       you have lifted up your right hand (to use your power).

v14    You have built your *kingdom doing what is right and fair.
     Your kind love and the fact that you keep your promises go in front of you.

v15    The people are very happy when they know how to *praise you.
     *LORD, they will walk in the light from your face.

v16    They will *praise your name all day
       and talk about your *righteousness.

v17    Your *glory will make them strong
     and by your *grace you will lift up our *horn.

v18    Yes! Our *shield is the *LORD’s
       and our king belongs to the *Holy One of Israel.

What Psalm 89: 5 - 18 means

In verses 5 and 7 the *angels/ones are *holy because they live with God. *Holy means "very, very good". Only God is really *holy. In verse 6, "*sons of God" is another name for "*holy *angels" or "*holy ones". They are not people from earth, but God’s servants in *heaven. The answer to the two questions is "Nobody". The *angels are not *like God (or as good and powerful as God). In verse 8,it may mean "who on earth is as strong as you are?" The answer again is "Nobody", not even the "*sons of God" and "the *holy ones", verses 6-8.

In verses 9-14, the *psalmist comes "down to earth". He has talked about God as the most powerful person in *heaven in verses 5 to 8. Now he talks about God’s power on earth. In verse 9, God can make an angry ("boiling") sea quiet. This means he can make the loudest sea quiet. Jesus did this when he stopped the storm at sea. Jesus could do this because he was God. In verse 10, Rahab was either a sea-*monster, or a name for Egypt. In verse 12, Tabor and Hermon are the names of mountains in Israel. When we see great hills and mountains, we remember that God made (*created) them. That makes us *praise God. Mountains do not *praise God, they make us *praise God!

In verses 15-18, we read about God’s people. They are people that *praise God. In verse 15 "walk" means "live". "The light of your face" means "God being good" or "God showing the way". God’s face is where God is. Verse 17 is full of special Christian words. (Some people call them "*jargon"!) Some Bible students think it means:

   ·    because you are great and powerful you will make them strong

   ·    because you are kind you will make us strong

"Lift up our *horn" is *jargon for "make us strong". Note that the *psalmist changes from "them" to "our" in this verse. He has been talking about God’s people all the time. Now he says so! In verse 18, "the *Holy One of Israel" is a name for God.

A *Kingdom on Earth
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