God’s Power, Loyal Love, and Faithfulness
Samuel Lesson #181
July 30, 2019
“Father, we are so thankful we can come together this evening to be refreshed by Your Word, to be encouraged and strengthened… to come to understand You better, Your plan for history better, the way in which You work to bring about our so great salvation through the line of David—understanding Your faithfulness, Your loyalty to those with whom You have entered into covenant.
“And Father, to understand the significance of this, that You stand by Your promises no matter how unfaithful we may be. Father, we pray as we study tonight You’ll help us to understand these tremendous thoughts that have been penned for us under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit, that we might be encouraged and strengthened even today in our spiritual lives. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.”
Open your Bibles with me to Psalm 89, and we will begin when we get into our study about Psalm 89:21. But the focus in this section Psalm 89:21–33, (if God is willing and we make it that far) is, again, on the faithfulness of God. And again, we see this word chesed several times. Sometimes it’s translated mercy, sometimes lovingkindness. It’s God’s loyal love, and it emphasizes God’s faithfulness.
So, you have these two words chesed and emunah, which we have studied as we’ve gone through this, that emphasize God’s loyalty to His Word, loyalty to His covenant, and even in spite of failure, God remains faithful. That just is a theme that runs through this entire Psalm.
It is a reflection on the Davidic Covenant, but it’s more than simply a reflection or meditation. It is actually a prayer.
It is designed to call God in prayer to act and intervene on behalf of the Davidic dynasty, on the basis of His promises in His covenant.
We have looked at what the Bible teaches about the Davidic Covenant. I’m just putting this chart back up here because I want to remind you of what is said in 2 Samuel 7. In 2 Samuel 7, beginning down around verse 12, God gives the core of this Covenant to David.
There are basically three elements that are developed in the Davidic Covenant in 2 Samuel 7:12–16, that God will establish an eternal house. The context was David wanted to build a house for God, and God says, “No. That’s not My plan for you, but I will build a house for you.” By that He meant a dynasty, a ruling dynasty, that would rule over His people, Israel.
Second, it involved an eternal kingdom. And that the kingdom of Israel, as per the Covenant with Abraham and now with David, this kingdom would go on not just through the Millennial Kingdom, but on into eternity.
Then third, that there would be an eternal throne. And that would mean a ruler that sat on that throne, the throne being a metaphor for the ruler, the administration of that kingdom.
What’s interesting, if we were to take the time to go back and look at 2 Samuel 7, is that a lot of what is said in Psalm 89:21–26 is not really stated in the Covenant per se in 2 Samuel 7. So, this is new information, or additional information, about what undergirds that Covenant. Then, when we get down to Psalm 89:26, there are going to be statements that expand a little bit on similar statements that are in the Covenant. But this is just to remind you of the core Covenant, and 2 Samuel 7:12–16.
Let’s remember where we are in the outline or structure of Psalm 89. Psalm 89 has fifty-four verses. You just can’t run through that very quickly, especially when you have some of the things like the whole issue with Rahav that we studied just to understand it, and to be able to track down these metaphors.
I’ve read too many people who just throw out an interpretation without having done all of the work, and even though they might get close, they don’t quite get it in the black inner circle of the target. So, the first eighteen verses focus on the character of God.
When we talk about the faith-rest drill, we’re always grounding it on the character of God, the essence of God. In fact, as we get into this passage, it is going to talk again about by God’s name and that indicates by His essence. So, it’s important to understand the essence, the attributes of God.
Not only are God’s love and faithfulness emphasized at the beginning, but also His omnipotence, His might, His power. So, all of that is important. It lays the groundwork for the eventual petition.
Then in the second division, which is where we are, God’s promise to David becomes the foundation for understanding the psalmist’s petition. So, it tells us that if we really want to have well-crafted prayers, we have to have a thorough understanding of the Scripture. We have to have it just be part of our souls.
If you remember last year when we were studying through worship, and I read to you some of the things that were written in the little book on the private devotions of Sir Lancelot Andrewes. That in the copy that I had, in each line in those prayers that he wrote, there was a Scripture reference in about six-point type off to the side.
But it would tell you that he was so saturated with all of the Scripture—so much that he had memorized and was in his soul—that his prayers, his devotions were just Bible verses. He was just praying God’s Word back to Him, and this just shows the richness of his spiritual life.
I was in a conversation in the last couple of weeks with some people about music, and pointing out that when you have generations of mature believers that dominate a culture—and by that I mean men not only like Lancelot Andrewes, but many of the Puritan pastors over the seventeenth century all the way up to Isaac Watts and many in the 1700s, as well as 1800s—and you read just the lyrics of the good hymns, the really great hymns, you see the richness of their spiritual lives.
Compare that to about 99.9% of contemporary Christian poetry, and you just see how shallow and superficial most Christians are today. We have shallow superficial contemporary music because we have shallow superficial Christians today.
It reflects the fact that the spiritual life of modern Christians in America is pretty anemic, and this is a major problem.
So, you can’t produce great literature if you don’t have people who understand what great literature is, because they’ve been exposed to great literature and they think deep thoughts.
The same thing is true with music and poetry. So, this is a real problem.
We see how the psalmist here goes back, and he is putting into poetic form thoughts under divine inspiration, thoughts about the Covenant with David—so that’s Psalm 89:19–37.
We spent a couple of weeks bringing us up to Psalm 89:19–20. Last time we talked about David as a man after God’s own heart, the essence of humility, and this time—that’s [verses] 19 and 20, that’s the starting point introduction to this section—we won’t make it all the way to verse 37 tonight just because it’s almost impossible no matter how fast you go to get there, to cover anything substantive.
Then next time we’ll finish it up, and we’ll look at the petition. God is petitioned to remain faithful to His promises, and the things that are said here don’t quite fit any historical situation. There may be some hyperbole here, or he may be thinking under the ministry of God the Holy Spirit of something yet future that would come to Israel that would truly threaten the monarchy …
Which it did in 586 BC when they were conquered by Nebuchadnezzar, and the second to last king is carted off as a prisoner to Babylon. It looks like it’s all over with.
So, it’s a great prayer because many times in life we think things are all over with, things that happen, we think, “That’s it, that’s over with.” We look out at contemporary events. We can’t see hope for the future. But even in the darkness of contemporary life there is hope because God is still on His throne. God still rules.
So, we look at these basic elements of the faith-rest drill to claim a promise, to think through the rationales of the promise, and to appropriate the doctrinal conclusion. What we’re seeing here in this section, in the first step, is thinking through the promise of the Davidic Covenant … And thinking through, in step two, the rationales that are embedded there. That’s all part of this second section.
What we see in the last part of Psalm 89:21–37 makes up three sections: The first section is God’s choice. He says He finds David. His eyes are searching to and fro on the earth looking for someone totally committed to Him.
God chooses David to be His anointed king in Psalm 89:19–20, and then in Psalm 89:21-25, we see God’s promise to David to protect, preserve, and bless David. We’ll see five things that God promises in that section from verses 21 to 25.
Then under 3B (slide) we’ll see God promise an intimate relationship with David through an eternal covenant. That’s in Psalm 89:26–29, and there will be three things there that we look at.
In the last part, in Psalm 89:30–37, God reiterates the fact that this is an eternal, unconditional Covenant … That no matter how much failure there will be among David’s descendants—and there will be failure—that God would not annul His Covenant. He won’t cancel it, and He will always be faithful to it.
We’ll look now at this first promise in Psalm 89:21. God promises that His omnipotence, His strength, His character, His essence is what will stabilize and strengthen David.
In the New King James Version, it says [Psalm 89:21]: “With whom—the whom refers back to David in verse 20, the anointed one, His servant David. He says—With whom My hand shall be established; also My arm shall strengthen him.” So, it is with His hand that he’s established, and with His arm he will be strengthened.
The two verbs are “established” and “strengthened”, and these have been translated different ways by some different translations.
We need to look at those verbs. They’re important. We understand from our past studies that when it talks about “hand” and “arm”, it’s talking about God’s power, God’s omnipotence. They are anthropomorphisms to express the power, the omnipotence, the might of God.
Psalm 89:21. TNK stands for the Tanakh. This is the Hebrew, the Jewish Publication Society translation of 1918. T is for the Torah, the Law, the first five Books of Moses. The N is for the Nevi’im, the prophets, and that includes the early prophets as well as the latter prophets. And then K is the Ketuvim, the writings and that’s the wisdom literature: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Daniel. These are all part of the writings, the wisdom literature.
So, the Tanakh translates it, “My hand shall be constantly with him.” What they pick up that’s positive is constantly. The sense of the Hebrew verb is that this is something that is continual. It’s not just he will be established as a one-shot deal. He will continue to be. So, that’s positive, “My arm shall strengthen him.”
The second is from the King James Version— “With whom My hand shall be established; Mine arm also shall strengthen him.”
Then, the last one is the way I have translated it, “My hand will constantly stabilize him, and My arm will strengthen him.” It’s an ongoing act of God stabilizing David.
The verb there translated as “established” is the Hebrew word kun. “Establish” is one of its meanings. One of the English words used to translate, it has the idea of “making something firm, making it stable, preparing, it.” The New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis lists “stable, secure, something that is lasting, something that is durable.” These are the ideas that are present in “something that is established.”
God establishes a foundation. That means it’s not going to be shaken.
That’s the idea here. God’s power, His omnipotence will continuously stabilize David. He is the ground on which David stands, so that he will not be shaken in his spiritual life, and the Covenant itself in his reign will not be shaken because God is the One who stabilizes him.
The second line: “Also My arm shall strengthen him.” This is the Hebrew word amatz. It is in the piel stem, which means it’s intensive. So it intensifies the basic qal meaning, and it’s the idea of “being strong, being alert, being bold, being courageous.”
It has to do with his mental attitude. God is going to strengthen David’s mental attitude. He will have courage and boldness because of his relationship with God. God is the One who will strengthen him.
This also carries with it ideas of protection, ideas of defense. It has the idea of protecting and defending him mentally from whatever assaults, doubts are thrown his way—hostility … Whenever anything like that threatens him.
When we see these words kun and amatz, it takes us back to an earlier part of Psalm 89. I think this is fascinating how this is constructed, that when we go through those first 18 verses, we talked about the essence of God, His power, there are a lot of different words that are used …
Many of those words and statements are now picked up again in this section that’s dealing with what God promised He would do for David. So, we see that it transfers from God’s essence, that He is the One who establishes all things.
We have these metaphors, “arm” and “right hand” in Psalm 89:13, “You have a mighty arm; Strong is Your hand and high is Your right hand.” The psalmist is thinking about God’s omnipotence, and he expresses and talks about that omnipotence in Psalm 89:13. It comes out of this preceding section from about verses 8 to 12 that talks about God’s power in His Creation.
Then, this is sort of a summary statement there, so it emphasizes His omnipotence as part of His attributes. In the second section of the of the psalm, it applies it to God and His ability to establish and stabilize David.
If God was able to create the heavens and the earth and all that is in them, you look at the magnificence of the universe and all the stars and galaxies, and the solar system and all the things that go into it … and all of the macrocosm down to the microcosm … And if God is able to do all that by just speaking it into existence, then there’s nothing that David’s going to face that God can’t solve, that God doesn’t have the power to handle.
So you see how the thinking of the writer can influence our thinking when we’re facing challenges and problems. We think about the essence of God—His omnipotence, His omniscience, His omnipresence—and then we can apply that to a particular situation.
Also, in Psalm 89:14, we ha ‘eve the phrase: “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Mercy and truth …” (That’s chesed. And here it’s ‘emet, it’s not emunah.)
So ‘emet has more the idea of “truth” rather than “faithfulness,” but they both come from the same vocabulary, the same cognates. So it’s God’s omnipotence that secures this.
In Psalm 89:8, the psalmist says, “O LORD God of hosts…” That’s interesting, it’s Yahweh Elohim Sabaoth. So it has Yahweh and Elohim together.
I don’t know if you noticed this as you were reading through Haggai on Sunday morning when Jim [Myers] was teaching, how many times Haggai addresses the Lord as Yahweh Sabaoth, the Lord of the Army. Why is that? What is significant about that title for focusing us on an attribute of God?
It emphasizes His might and His power because He’s the God of the armies of the angels, of all the hosts.
The psalmist says, “Who is mighty like you O LORD? Your faithfulness also surrounds You.” So, the emphasis is on God’s omnipotence again, that He’s more powerful, He’s more mighty than anything that we can possibly imagine.
He’s the God who created all things. He’s the God—remember the whole thing with His defeat of Rahav—He’s the God who brought order out of chaos in the angelic revolt. He’s the God who laid the foundation of the earth.
Certainly He can stabilize us and He can provide for our security and our happiness. So that’s the first promise. That first promise focuses on the fact that God is going to establish and stabilize David.
In the second promise, which comes in Psalm 89:22–23, God will further explain this as protection from David’s enemies. So, verses 22 and 23 are the consequence of the promise in verse 21. Psalm 89:21 says that My hand will strengthen you (or stabilize you) and My arm will strengthen you.
This goes then into a result of that. And the result of that, he says in the text [Psalm 89:22], “The enemy shall not outwit him, Nor the son of wickedness afflict him.”
And then when we get to Psalm 89:23: “I will beat down his foes before his face, and plague those who hate him.” That’s not quite the meaning in the Hebrew. It’s just limitations on their knowledge of Hebrew when they translated the King James.
What we see here, the two verbs are “outwit”, which isn’t bad, but it can be refined, and “afflict”. Then we have the phrase “son of wickedness”. It’s not “wickedness” in the Hebrew as we’ll see. It’s really the “son of violence, the violent one.” So, the enemy shall not outwit him.
This is the verb on the left, shua‘. It is a hiphil, which is a causative stem, so it’s the idea the enemy shall not cause him to be deceived. That’s the idea there. He’s not going to be outwitted or deceived, and it’s also related to a word that is sometimes translated into “something done in vain”, like taking the Lord’s name in vain.
Remember that command? We covered this a couple times. It doesn’t mean to use the name of Jesus or the name of God in some sort of a curse statement. It is when you swear an oath in the name of God … Or you say, “As God is my witness” and that’s followed by a lie. It’s when you’re claiming, “God spoke to me and God told me to do X, Y, or Z” and God did no such thing.
It is using God’s name in a trivial or like manner in order to deceive people, in order to convince them that God is backing your play.
So, that’s the idea here, “The enemy shall not deceive him.” Why? Because God is stabilizing him. God is strengthening him.
“The enemy shall not deceive him, nor the son of violence …” Remember we have synonymous parallelism here, so the enemy is “the son of violence”. Remember we studied these Hebrew idioms where … They think concretely about a lot of characteristics of a person.
So if you are a violent person, then that adjective—that attribute—characterizes you, so you are “a son of violence.” If you’re a murderer, you’re called “a son of a murderer.” That doesn’t mean your daddy was a murderer. It means that you exhibit in your life those characteristics.
If you are destructive and wild and rebellious and you get thrown in jail for being drunk or on drugs or whatever over and over again, you are an S.O.B.—you are a Son Of Belial. Belial is a term for destruction, and you are “a son of destruction.” It doesn’t mean your father was destructive. It means you exhibit the characteristics of that noun.
So, if you are “the son of God,” that’s an idiom for the fact that you are God. You are deity. If you’re “the son of man,” that emphasizes the fact that you are a human being, you exhibit those attributes.
[Psalm 89:22] “The enemy shall not deceive him, nor the son of violence—which is his enemy—humiliate him.” That’s the verb ‘anah, which means “to oppress or to humiliate; humiliate through deception.”
There are going to be examples in the Davidic line of kings who will be deceived by idolatry. They will be deceived by the promises of the king in the north. I’m thinking about Ahab and Jezebel and the introduction of Baal worship and the Asherah, and this deceives the Southern Kingdom. But that’s not going to happen to David because God’s power is lifting him up and strengthening him.
These others that come along of his sons fit the category when we get into the cursing later on in the chapter. There’s going to be a section where we get down into Psalm 89:30, “If his sons forsake My law and do not walk in My judgments, If they break My statutes and do not keep My commandments, …” That’s the cursing section.
This first section from Psalm 89:21–29 is expressing the positives, the way God is going to bless the Davidic seed.
Then we have the last part of this, as I’ve translated it [Psalm 89:22]: “The enemy shall not deceive them, nor the son of violence humiliate him.” He is going to rule. He’s not going to be defeated, He’s not going to have to pay tribute to foreign kings. He is going to establish the high watermark of the kingdom, the Jewish kingdom, in the Old Testament. Now how is God going to do this?
This is explained in Psalm 89:23, “I will beat down his foes before his face, and plague those who hate him.” These again are interesting words. The word for “beat down” is the word katat on the left of the slide. It means “to beat, to crush, to grind down,” and it is used about the golden calf in Deuteronomy 9:21, that it’s just melted down and completely destroyed and ground up.
“I will beat down his foes ...” So God is going to completely defeat them, crush them, grind them down.
Then the next word is translated “plague”, which isn’t plague at all. It is the Hebrew word nagaph, which simply means “to strike down” or “to smite down.” This is what God’s promise is. It’s on the basis of His power.
On the one hand, He is going to allow David not to be deceived and humiliated. On the other hand, He is going to grind up David’s enemies, which happened in David’s lifetime, and He’s going to plague those who hate him.
When we get back into 2 Samuel in a of couple weeks, we’re going to come to 2 Samuel 9 and 10, and in there, and we’ll go over those chapters pretty quickly because it’s basically a list of all of the enemies that David defeated. It’s just almost a grocery list of his conquests. So we’ll move through that pretty quickly.
So, David is going to defeat his enemies because of God’s power over him.
The NET Bible translates it very well. It says [Psalm 89:23], “I will crush his enemies before him; I will strike down those who hate him.”
We do see an example of this in terms of David’s seed later on. The greatest king in the Davidic line in the Old Testament after the breakup of the kingdom, the greatest king of Judah, was Hezekiah.
Hezekiah failed in some ways, but Hezekiah is considered the greatest king next to David or Solomon because he destroyed all the high places, he destroyed all the idol worship, he had the temple cleansed, and he reinstituted the Passover, which had not been observed in many years.
There were many years that went by in Israel in the Old Testament where they didn’t observe the Passover, and they forgot all about it. They didn’t know what it was about.
He brought all of that back and reestablished the temple worship and reestablished, reorganized, the priesthood, and reorganized the worship in the temple.
But his greatest challenge was when the Assyrian invasion occurred, and Sennacherib came down and there were sieges to many cities, and that lasted a long time. One of the most famous is Lachish because of the engravings that were made—that some of you’ve been to Israel and you’ve seen.
The original, I believe, is in in the museum in Britain, but you have a replica there in the Israel Museum. It’s just phenomenal to look at that and all the siege engines, and everything that was used.
Sennacherib had Jerusalem surrounded. Then one night, “the Angel of the LORD went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses—all dead.”
So, Sennacherib woke up and sent his aide-de-camp out to see what was going on. He came back and said, “Everybody’s dead but us!” So, they went away and went home, and it wasn’t long after he returned to Nineveh that his sons executed a coup against him and had him assassinated.
So, God shows how He destroys and crushes the enemies of the line of David.
We come now to the third promise. The third promise is in Psalm 89:24. In the first part of verse 24, God states that the basis for His defending David, what has just been described in the previous three verses, that the basis is going to be God’s faithfulness, His emunah again, and His loyal love, chesed.
That’s how we can again see those words brought in from the beginning of the psalm.
There are a couple of other things that show up in the section that take us back to the first four or five verses in the psalm.
Psalm 89:24 reads, “But My faithfulness—that is My Emunah—and My mercy—My loyal love, My covenant loyal love, My chesed—shall be with him, and in My name—that is … We know what that idiom means: on the basis of My essence, on the basis of My character—his horn—that is, His kingdom, His power. Horn represented power. The horn of an animal was that with which he was able to defeat his enemies. So it came to be a metaphor for power and might, and the establishment of the kingdom—He says, “… in My name—that is on the basis of My essence—his horn shall be exalted.” This is “exalted”, but that’s the second part. That’s the next point.
We’re just looking at the first part, the statement: “My faithfulness and My mercy shall be shall be with him,”
This takes us back to the beginning. The first verse in Psalm 89:1, “I will sing of the mercies—I will sing of the chesed, the loyal love—of the LORD forever; with my mouth will I make known—Your Emunah—Your faithfulness to all generations.”
Then again in Psalm 89:14, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Mercy—that is chesed—and truth—‘emet, another form of the word focusing on truth is that which is the foundation for stability—go before Your face.” That is, they represent who You are. That’s the third promise.
The fourth promise comes up in the second half of the verse [Psalm 89:24b], “And in My name, his horn shall be exalted.” God’s purpose is to demonstrate the utter necessity of His presence and His power. That it is in His name, in His name alone, on the basis of His character, His essence, and His essence alone, that David’s kingdom and David’s dynasty is going to be established. It is the person, the attributes of Yahweh, that will go before David and give him the victory.
The victory is the Lord’s. The battle cry of David against Goliath [1 Samuel 17:47] is the battle is the LORD’s, and so the Lord is the One who’s going to give him that victory, because of God’s power in his life.
So this is Psalm 89:24, “But My faithfulness and My mercy shall be with him, and in My name, his horn shall be exalted.”
This phrase “our horn” also goes back to the earlier section, that introductory section, focusing on the essence of God, where the psalmist (focusing on God’s glory) says, [Psalm 89:17b], “And in Your favor our horn—our kingdom, our power—is exalted.” So, it’s on the basis of God’s essence once again.
Now we come to the fifth promise. God promised to expand David’s territory and control over the sea and the rivers. At this point … There’s a certain sense in a number of the statements where I think that there are allusions, I don’t know if they’re directly Messianic, but they certainly apply to David’s greatest son, Who is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Here it is simply the promise that [Psalm 89:25], “I will set his hand over the sea, And his right hand over the rivers.” He’s going to expand David’s territory, which certainly happened under David’s reign.
But if you remember the promise to Abraham that related to the Abrahamic Covenant and the promise to the Land, that the borders would be the river of Egypt (which is not the Nile but is the Wadi el-Arish, which is down in the northwest of the Sinai), that from there to the river Euphrates and from the Mediterranean Sea. So, this the whole section that would take in today a lot of Lebanon and Syria, Jordan, as well as Israel, is all in this territory. And that eventually …
You know, David never fulfilled that. He conquered about maybe seventy-five percent of it, but it’s the Lord Jesus Christ who is going to fully conquer it when He comes to establish His Kingdom. And He will set David on the throne in Jerusalem, and the Lord will be ruling over all of the earth, and David will be the prince that rules over Israel, in his resurrection body.
This also alludes to part of what God says in the set up for the Davidic Covenant in 2 Samuel 7:10 where God said, “Moreover, I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own and move no more; nor shall the sons of wickedness oppress them anymore, as previously.”
So where is this place? It’s the place that Abraham was promised, the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Euphrates. So again, we see these great promises.
Now that wraps up the second part of this last section going from Psalm 89:19–25. In Psalm 89:26–29, God’s going to make three statements that promise an intimate relationship with Himself.
Not only is His power going to establish David, not only is He going to expand David’s borders, not only is He going to give David the ability to defeat all of his enemies and not be defeated by them, or be humiliated by them by paying tribute, or something of that nature … But now God is going to ratchet it up even more, and part of the Covenant is to promise a more intimate relationship between David and Himself.
There are three things that we’re going to see here in Psalm 89:26—that David will acknowledge that Yahweh is his Father in a much more intimate sense than is used in the Old Testament. He is God, and He’s the rock of his salvation. Then in verse 27, God promises to make David His firstborn.
We’ve been studying on Sunday morning about inheritance, and I pointed out a couple weeks back when we were studying that in the Old Testament you have the principle of the older serving the younger in God’s plan.
In human tradition, it’s the law of primogeniture where the first, the one who is born first chronologically, is the one who would get the primary inheritance. That was normal. But in the ancient world, a father could designate some other son as the firstborn.
It’s a title. It doesn’t mean “first in order.”
We get into the New Testament. Jesus is called the firstborn. It doesn’t have anything to do with being born or first. It is a word that indicates preeminence, the one who receives the double portion of the inheritance.
As I pointed out before, Ishmael’s born first in time. He was born before Isaac, but Isaac becomes the heir—he is the firstborn.
Then Isaac through Rebecca has twins. Esau comes first, and then Jacob, but Jacob is the designated heir. He’s the younger, but the elder Esau will serve the younger, so Jacob is the one who gets the double portion.
Then among Jacob’s twelve sons, Reuben is the firstborn, but he does not get the firstborn blessing. That goes to Joseph. He’s designated the firstborn. He gets the double portion, and so it goes through his line and down in that way.
So, you have these different statements where one of the sons is designated the preeminent one. God promises to make David His firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth. It is a title that is reminiscent of the fact that Jesus will be called the King of kings and Lord of lords, but this applies to David in the Kingdom—that he will reign and he will have a position that is above all the other kings of the earth in the Millennial Kingdom.
Then the third statement is that God declared that this Covenant with David would be eternal, and that’s in Psalm 89:28–29. This is emphasizing that it cannot be broken. It cannot be annulled. It is a Covenant that will endure forever.
So, let’s look at this first statement. David will acknowledge Yahweh as his Father, God, and the rock of his salvation.
Psalm 89:26 says, “He shall cry to Me,—God is speaking about David. David shall cry to Me—‘You are my Father, my God, and the rock of my salvation.’ ” So, the Lord is establishing a special relationship with David, that David will refer to the Lord as his Father.
This was often found in covenants in the ancient world where the King would designate an heir by adoption, and so he would become adopted at the time of his coronation.
This is what’s happening here. It has a very strong royal concept indicating God has adopted David, and David is His heir, God is his portion.
There’s a special relationship with God as his Father. He is his God, and He is the rock of his salvation.
Now this is a term that we find many times, but what’s interesting, is if you do a word study, you’ll discover that this phrase “God is the rock,” although it is used many times in the psalms, it goes back to Deuteronomy 32:4.
But also, this whole statement is reminiscent of 2 Samuel 7:14a where God says, I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. So, it’s expanded in Psalm 89:26-27. This is very helpful.
Deuteronomy 32, in this one chapter, as Moses is giving his final sermon to the Jewish people, he prays to God. He says, “He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He.”
Now he says God is a Rock. He’s not talking about going out here somewhere and finding a rock that you can hold in your hand.
This is the idea of an enormous rock outcropping, a huge boulder that would be beyond anybody’s ability to lift, and it points to God as immovable. He is unshakable. It’s a metaphor for His faithfulness, His stability.
It comes not only to where it is used in sort of a metaphor here, but it becomes a name for God in Deuteronomy 32, as well as in the psalms. We see this in Deuteronomy 32:18, “Of the Rock who begot you …—See, he just calls God the Rock. He doesn’t say, “Oh God the rock begot you.” He just says—Of the Rock who begot you, you are unmindful, And have forgotten the God who fathered you.”
Then in Deuteronomy 32:30, he says, “How could one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight,—unless … These are the way they won their battles. They were overpowered, they were out-manned, out-gunned, out-maneuvered by many armies, and here Moses says]—unless their Rock had sold them.”
So again, he’s just calling God “the Rock.” We worship the Rock. I think this is what Jesus is talking about [Matthew 16] when He asked Peter, “Well, who do men say that I am?” And some of the disciples said, “Well, some people think you’re Elijah and some, John the Baptist.” And He says to Peter, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter said, “You are the Messiah, the Christ of God,” and Jesus said, “On this rock, I will build My church.”
Some people think that he’s talking about what Peter said, or is talking about Peter.
No, Jesus is talking about the fact that He’s the Messiah, He is God. On that Rock is what He will build His church on. He’s the Rock. He’s the stumbling stone [Matthew 21:44]. He’s the cornerstone [Ephesians 2:20]. So He’s talking about Himself.
So Rock is a name for God, which would apply to the Father and the Son.
Deuteronomy 32:31, “For their rock—talking about the gods of the pagans, the Canaanites—is not like our Rock.” He’s different. He’s one-of-a-kind.
Then we get into the psalms, and we have passages like Psalm 18:2, “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” He’s my rock. That’s the first thing listed.
Psalm 18:31 again, “For who is God, except the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God?”
Then finally at the end of Psalm 18 [Psalm 18:46], “The LORD lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let the God of my salvation be exalted.”
This is a great, great psalm to be familiar with.
So, God is his Father. He has a more intimate relationship. He is the Rock of his salvation. And then in Psalm 89:27, God promised to make him His firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.
In Psalm 89:27, He says, “I will appoint him to be my firstborn son, the most exalted of the earth’s kings.” That word for firstborn is the Hebrew word bekor, which means “the firstborn.” It’s the one who has the birthright, who receives the double portion, the double inheritance.
The first to be identified as God’s firstborn was the nation.
In Exodus 4:22, when God is instructing Moses as to what he will say to Pharaoh, He says, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Israel is My son, My firstborn.’ ” So now David, the ruler of the firstborn nation, is designated the one who has the double portion, the double inheritance.
Then the third point, the third statement God makes in terms of establishing an intimate relationship with Himself, is that He declares that this Covenant with David is going to be eternal.
In these two verses, Psalm 89:28–29, again the psalmist goes back to using these, our favorite words, chesed and emunah. “My mercy—that is my chesed—I will keep for him forever, And My covenant shall stand firm with him. His seed also—See, He promised to David an eternal kingdom, throne, and eternal house, that’s the seed that goes back to the promise to Abraham of a seed: descendants—His seed also, I will make to endure forever, And his throne as the days of heaven.”
So, this clearly is now picking up more language that was in the immediate context of 2 Samuel 7:12–16. It also reminds us, the fact that “I will keep for him forever” in verse 28 repeats “forever” again, in verse 29. He compares it to “the days of heaven”.
Sometimes the word ‘olam as it’s translated can be just “a long time,” but in other passages, it’s clear from parallel phrases that it means “forever.” It’s forever as “the days of heaven”, without end.
It takes us back to Psalm 89:1–4. Notice here, you have three times that the word “forever” is used, and two times it is in synonymous parallelism to a phrase—l’dor va’dor, the word for “generations,” meaning “from generation to generation, ad infinitum.”
So [Psalm 89:1–2], “I will sing of the mercies of the LORD forever; With my mouth I will make known Your faithfulness to all generations—from generation to generation without end—For I have said, ‘Mercy shall be built up forever;’ ”
Then down in Psalm 89:4, “Your seed I will establish forever, And build up your throne to all generations.”
So, this brings it to an end, those three statements, promising an intimate relationship with God through an eternal Covenant.
Next time, we’ll come back and look at the last part starting in Psalm 89:30, that God’s promises would never be canceled though they would be hindered by sin and disobedience.
So, what we covered tonight from Psalm 89:21–29 focuses on God’s blessing, and then we’re going to see that there is going to be discipline, so, there’s going to be judgment on the house of David for disobedience, but God will not cancel or annul the Covenant.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to study these things this evening and to be reminded of Your faithfulness, Your faithful loyal love, Your loyalty to David as exhibited in the greatness of the dynasty that he established, culminating in our Lord Jesus Christ, the greater Son of David, born in Bethlehem, the city of David, and He claimed to be the King of the Jews as the Son of David.
Father, it gives us great hope to know that You are true to Your Word, You work things out in history. And as a result of that, when we face trials, challenges, and chaos in our lives, it is You that stabilizes us. It is You that bring us strength and ability and courage to our souls to be able to face the challenges and the problems that we face in life, and to surmount them on the basis of Your power and Your promises. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”