Ep.198: Psalm 89: God’s Failed Promise to David.

Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray with Me”.

Psalm 88 ended on the note, “Darkness is my closest friend.” Today, let’s consider Psalm 89, which also ends in an unresolved state, saying,
    How long, Lord? Will you hide yourself forever? (v. 46)
    Where is your former great love,
      which in your faithfulness you swore to David? (v. 49). 

The poet’s problem is that God promised David his heirs would rule forever on the throne of Israel. But at the time the poet was writing, the kingship of Israel and the Davidic line had been demolished in the brutal march of history. God’s love and faithfulness disappeared. His unconditional promise to David has failed.  

Let’s see how the poet came to this painful conclusion. He doesn’t start the psalm in despair, but with a song of praise:
    I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever;
      I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.
    I will declare that your love stands firm forever (vv. 1-2a). 

The poet praises the forever love of God, and then continues with God’s forever promise to David. God said:
        I have sworn to David my servant,
    “I will establish your line forever
        and make your throne firm through all generations” (vv. 3a-4). 
Certainly, no sign here of disappearing love and faithfulness!

The poet goes on to recount how God stilled the primal waters of chaos, creating the world and everything in it. God continued to be the strong king. ruling over earth, sitting on his throne of righteousness and justice, ruling with love and faithfulness (vv. 9-18). The poet loves this grand picture of God on the throne. This is how history is supposed to work out.

And then God made his good creation even better by choosing David as king of Israel, and promising to love David and support his kingship by:
-crushing his enemies (v. 22-23)
-expanding his territory (v. 25)
-and making David the greatest king in all the earth (v. 27)

And God went even further. promising that David’s heirs would be kings of Israel as long as the sun and moon endure (vv. 36-37). 

And to cap off the enduring promise, God added a clause about what he would do if David’s sons failed to worship God and keep his laws. God said he would punish the evildoers, but he would ensure David’s kingly line continued (vv. 30-35). This completes the poet’s joy. God made an unbreakable and forever promise to David. What’s left to say? What could possibly go wrong?

Then, unexpectedly, out of the blue, the poet’s glad recital turns to bitter recrimination. He turns from looking at God and God’s promise to looking at current events. And what he sees discredits all God’s promises, and all his faithfulness and love. He says to God,
    But you have rejected, you have spurned,
        you have been angry with your anointed one,
    You have renounced the covenant with your servant,
          you have defiled his crown in the dust (vv. 38-39).
      You have. . .cast his throne to the ground (v. 44).  
      You have exalted his foes;
          you have made all his enemies rejoice (v. 42).

So much for the poet’s joy. Now he asserts that God has been unfaithful. The poet says that the disappearance of the Davidic line was no accident of history, nor a coincidence of evolution, nor a failure of military strength. It is God who guides the events of history, it is God made the unbreakable promise to David. So it’s his fault that promise lies broken, that David’s throne is cast down and his line has ended. The orderly, reliable, loving world God made has turned to darkness and chaos. What is God doing? Where has he disappeared to?

Let’s pray. 

Our father, like the poet, we live by a clear promise of the everlasting rule of our king, who is Christ, an heir of David. But when we look at two thousand years of history or even a week of current events, we do not see his kingdom. We see earthly powers rise and fall, we see justice and mercy fail. We feel the absence of Christ and the chaos of the world. With the poet, we pray, 
   Lord, where is your great love?
      Where is your promise that Christ will reign on earth?


I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.