Psalm 89

The Word Made Fresh

(A hymn of Ethan the Ezrahite.)

1I will sing of your unfailing love forever, LORD.
I will announce your faithfulness to young and old.
2I will tell others that your love and faithfulness never fails,
but is as certain as the sky surrounding us.
3You have said, “I made an agreement with the one I have chosen,
and gave my servant David my assurance.
4I told him, ‘I will establish your children after you
and preserve your throne for generations.’”
5The heavens above declare your magnificence, LORD.
And your faithfulness is declared in the sacred gathering.
6Who in the world can compare to God?
Who even among heavenly beings is like the LORD?
7God is respected by all the heavenly beings,
for God is terrifying above all to those gathered around.
8LORD, God of multitudes, who is as mighty as you?
You are surrounded by faithfulness.
9Your power is over the raging seas,
and when the waves rise you make them still again.
10You conquered the sea monster, Rahab, as if it was already dead.
Your strong arm scattered all your enemies.
11The heavens belong to you. The earth belongs to you
along with everything they contain, because you created them.
12You created the north and the south,
and both Mt. Tabor and Mt. Hermon praise you.
13Your arm is strong, and you hold your right hand high.
14Goodness and justice form the base of your throne,
and steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.
15The people who know how to praise you are grateful,
for they live in the light of your presence.
16They rejoice in your name all day long
and proclaim your goodness.
17After all, you are the source of their strength,
and our lives are enriched as a favor from you.
18Our protection comes from the LORD,
and our king belongs to the Holy One of Israel.
19For you spoke in a vision to your follower and said,
“I have given the crown to a strong one
and have raised up one from among the people.
20He is my servant David,
and I have anointed him with the sacred oil.
21I will always support him and give him strength.
22Enemies will never outsmart him
and the wicked shall never get the best of him.
23I will defeat every foe that confronts him
and strike down all who hate him.
24My faithfulness and my constant love will always be with him,
and in my name his authority will be exalted.
25I will give him rule over the sea and over the rivers.
26He will call me, ‘My Father! My God! The rock of my salvation!’
27I will make him preeminent among all the kings of the earth.
28I will always love him, and my covenant with him will be unshakeable.
29I will establish his rule through the generations to follow,
and his throne will be established from now on.
30If his children turn away from my law,
and if they do not live by my rules,
31if they break my rules and forsake my commandments,
32I will punish them with the rod,
and scourge them for their sinfulness.
33But my constant love will never forsake him,
and my faithfulness will never fail.
34I will not break my word,
or make any changes to the promises I have made.
35By my holiness I have sworn once and for all
that I will not lie to David.
36His line shall continue from now on
and his throne shall be before me as surely as the sun.
37It shall endure, and the moon will be a constant witness in the sky.”
38But now you people have rejected him
and are angry with the one you have anointed.
39You have turned your backs on the agreement with him
and have treated his crown like it was no more than dust.
40You have broken through the walls
and ruined his fortresses.
41All who come through the land rob him
and his neighbors have forsaken him.
42You have strengthened the hand of his enemies
and given them all cause to celebrate.
43You have even made his weapons dull
and have not taken his side in the battles.
44You have weakened his authority
and have tossed his throne to the ground.
45You have ruined his youth and covered him with shame.
46How long, LORD? How long will you hide from us?
How long will your anger burn against us like a fire?
47Remember how fleeting is my life.
Everyone’s life is vain and futile.
48No one can live forever. No one can escape the grave.
49Where, LORD, is the constant love you gave us in days gone by?
Where is the love you promised to David?
50Remember, LORD, how I am taunted
and suffer the insults of all the nations.
51Your enemies have no respect for us, LORD,
and they make fun of the history of your anointed one.
52Praise to the LORD forever! Amen and amen.


Superscription: Ethan the Ezrahite was apparently known for his wisdom for he is one of those to whom Solomon is compared (1 Kings 4:31). A companion and perhaps kinsman of Heman and Asaph, he is mentioned often in the books of Kings and Chronicles as having a special place among the musicians in the early temple. This psalm ends the third collection within the Book of Psalms.

1-4: This psalm is a celebration of the Davidic dynasty, but it was not thought to be one of David’s own psalms and as we read through it, we pass through the good years of David’s reign to the decline resulting in the sentiments expressed in the latter part of the Psalm.

5-18: God is praised as Lord of creation and ruler of the nations. Rahab in verse 10 is in Jewish mythology the personification of the chaos that existed when God began the work of creation. Tabor and Hermon in verse 12 are prominent peaks in the Holy Land, although Tabor is hardly comparable to Hermon. Hermon is located in southern Lebanon not too far from Damascus and rises over nine thousand feet above sea level. Mt. Tabor rises less than 2000’ above sea level but is the lone hill on a wide plain which makes it quite prominent. It is the site of a number of battles in the Old Testament and is a traditional site for the story of the Transfiguration of Jesus (see Matthew 17:2).

19-37: A recitation is given of the promise God gave to David as recorded in 2 Samuel 7 and elsewhere.

38-45: Now the complaint: God has turned aside and allowed their enemies to prevail.

46-48: How long will this last, he wonders?

49-51: The lament ends with wondering where God’s steadfast love has gone.

52: Then an abrupt sign-off in the last verse, which is the typical transition between the different collections within the book of Psalms from “Book” to “Book” (compare 41:13, 72:19, and 106:48).


The psalmist is wrong for accusing God of turning away from Israel, because it was Israel who turned away. That is often true of problems cropping up in the course of our lives; our problems don’t represent God failing us, but rather our failing God. Consider that when things get difficult in life, and you find yourself wondering why God has ‘turned away’ from you.