Christ in the Psalms - Psalm 89

The beginning of Psalm 89 reads as a prayer of thanks for God's faithfulness to his promises, especially God's promise to King David. The book of Samuel describes how peace came about and David conceived: "I live in a palace of cedar wood, while the ark of God is in a tent." (2 Samuel 7: 2). David wants to build a 'house' (a temple) for God and then gets a promise from God that He will build a house for him, so a royal house a royal dynasty.



"When your life is over ... I'll let you be followed by your own son ... He'll build a house for my name, and I'll make sure his throne never waveres. I will be a father to him, and he a son to me "(2 Samuel 7: 12-14).

These words speak first of David's son Solomon but have a broader fulfillment as also David himself has understood. The promise ends with the words about that son:

*" I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands. But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever."(2 Samuel 7: 14-17).


God's loving faith


The word translated here as "favor" (from the favor), or in the NBG'51 with "loving-kindness" occurs countless times, translated in various ways: beneficence, loyalty, affection, goodness, love, faithfulness. Chesed is based on a covenant between two parties and describes the way in which the alliance partners deal with each other. Loyalty reflects that in part, but it goes beyond that: there is also affection in the game. It describes a relationship that goes far beyond what would be required on the basis of that covenant. If someone outside chesed a covenant would ask, he would beg for 'grace'. But if there is a covenant, he appeals to the chesed of it. God's chesed leads to visible acts, such as the exodus from Egypt, but also the forgiveness He gave when the people, despite God's promise, Moses did not dare to enter the promised land, even though they had so often seen how trustworthy He was. It does not surprise us that chesed in connection with God is often used when an appeal is made to God's grace on the basis of a covenant He has made with the people. During the desert journey, He makes such a covenant with the people and makes his name known. We read as an explanation "A God who is loving and gracious, patient, loyal ( chesed) and truly, those thousands of generations prove his love ( chesed ). "(Exodus 34: 6-7) But we also see the same on the basis of the promise that God gave to David.


Chesed in Psalm 89


This is also apparent from the use of chesed here. "My love ( chesed ) will always protect him, my covenant is with him" (Psalm 89:29). Chesed also regularly occurs in combination with loyalty: faithful to the covenant, the fulfillment of promises. We see how the psalmist regularly appeals to God chesed and faithful to his promises to David. Both words occur seven times in this psalm. In the NBV, chesed is always translated with love. It starts with the words:

"Of your love, O LORD, I will sing eternally, of your faithful witnesses, after generation. I confess: your love lasts forever, your faithfulness has been established in heaven. "I have made a covenant with my chosen one, swear to my servant David: I will establish your dynasty forever, and will keep your throne alive after generation" (Psalm 89: 2-5).

Before the psalmist goes further into that covenant with David, he first praises God's greatness and omnipotence as seen in the creation and in the protection of his people. In addition to the covenant with David, the psalmist also refers to God's covenant with the people and his love for it:

"Happy the people who testify of your glory and live, LORD, in the light of your countenance. They cry out your name, day by day, by your righteousness, they turn to themselves "(Psalm 89: 16-17).

But then he comes back to the covenant with David. He, as it were, allows God Himself to speak about it. He also goes into God's words to David, how He will chastise his sons if they wander:

"If his sons turn away from my law, not live according to my precepts, violate my laws, not follow my orders, then I will chastise them for their crimes, and punish their sins with blows" (Psalm 89: 31-33).

But still, God remains chesed.

'But I will not take my love away from him, I will not break my allegiance to him, I will not violate my covenant, I will not revoke my words. Once I swore to my holiness, I never break my word to David "(Psalm 89: 34-36).


An appeal to God


But then the psalm suddenly takes a different turn. The scene shifts until after the destruction of Jerusalem. The last king from the line of David, Jehoiakin, has been deposed. His uncle Zedekiah was placed on the throne by the Babylonians as a vassal, but eventually revolted. Jerusalem was then conquered and Zedekiah killed, and since then there has been no king from the line of David on the throne. The psalmist is only too aware that this is because the king, like the people, did not remain faithful to God, but yet God's promise seems to have been broken. "Yet you have rejected and rejected him, poured out your wrath upon your anointed one, spurned the covenant with your servant, and trampled and defiled his crown." (Psalm 89: 39-40). The psalmist, therefore, appeals to the chesed of God. "chesed" of old, Lord, have you not sworn allegiance to David? "(Psalm 89:50).


The application in the NT


The New Testament clearly shows how God shows chesed. The Greek translation of the Psalm uses for chesed the word eleos, which we find (as mercy) in Luke 1 both in the song of praise of Mary and in that of Zacharias. They praise God who has looked after his people. From Mary we read the words "He takes the fate of Israel, his servant, as he promised to our forefathers: he remembers his mercy to Abraham and his seed for ever" (Luke 1:54). With the promise that the angel made to Mary, it had already gone into the fulfillment of the promise to David:

"Listen, you will conceive and bear a son ... He will become a great man and be called Son of the Most High, and God, the Lord, will give him the throne of David his father. He will be king over the people of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will have no end "(Luke 1: 31-33).

Zacharias also explicitly refers to the house of David (Luke 1:68). In the first three gospels, we see Jesus referred to as 'Son of David'. In Matthew, which is about Jesus as the king, we see that on six different occasions. This implies that Jesus was the Messiah (anointed one, king) and that He was entitled to the throne. David is said to have reigned on the throne of God in Jerusalem, and it is that throne that Jesus claims by presenting himself as the son of David.


King in eternity


God's covenant with David seems to relate to a dynasty, a succession of kings from father to son, all from the line of David. Nevertheless, David also understood that the promise was mainly on one offspring in particular. Peter says on the day of Pentecost:

"But because he [David] was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that one of his descendants would ascend the throne, he foresaw the resurrection of Christ, and said that these would not be abandoned to Hades and his body would not proceed to dissolution "(Acts 2: 30-31).

The psalm also emphasizes that this is one descendant in particular:

"He will call to me: 'You are my father, my God, the rock that saves me!' I make him my firstborn, to be the highest of the kings of the earth "(Psalm 89: 27-28).

Jesus is indeed the first to address God directly as Father, and he also teaches us to do so. Moreover, this psalm is also cited as a description of Jesus in Revelation:

"... Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth" (Revelation 1: 5).

The promise fulfilled


Yet the prayer of the Psalmist is not yet fully answered. God has indeed shown mercy to the people. He has brought salvation from which the people still did not sufficiently realize that it was necessary. The Jews had a strong desire to make Jesus king, to be an independent kingdom again. But the realization of the need for a savior was still insufficiently present. The message of Isaiah had not penetrated sufficiently into Jesus' own disciples so that they became confused when He first became the suffering servant. After his death and resurrection, they fully understood it.

But even then they were always looking forward to a restoration of the kingdom, especially now that salvation was there (Acts 1: 6). They looked forward to the fulfillment of the prayer of the psalmist, but also to the fulfillment of the prayer that Jesus taught them. After sanctifying God's name, the most important thing is "let your kingdom come" (Matthew 6:10). The king was there, the founding of his empire still had to be waited for. It is ironic that many today have understood the need for salvation, but that few are begging God to fulfill his promise to David.

Thanks for reading.


You can read:

Christ in the Psalms. The introduction.

Christ in the Psalms - Psalm 2

Christ in the Psalms - Psalm 18

Christ in the Psalms - Psalm 22

Christ in the Psalms - Psalm 34

Christ in the Psalms - Psalm 41

Christ in the Psalms - Psalm 45

Christ in the Psalms - Psalm 69

Christ in the Psalms - Psalm 72


Remain blessed.


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