Think about living an ideal life filled with stability and contentment. To learn how this life is possible, listen to what Psalm 89 teaches us. See first that believers must study God’s Word to learn about His character because the fulfillment of God’s promises to us are based on His essence. Find out how to praise God and present your petitions in prayer. See that being obedient to God leads to a life filled with joy and happiness as we walk with God in the light of His Word.
God’s Integrity Behind His Promise
Samuel Lesson #178
July 9, 2019
“Father, we rejoice that we can know You, that we can develop a relationship with You based upon Your Word. It is through Your Word that we learn about You and through Your Word that we are strengthened spiritually. It is through Your Word that we are enlightened to reality, that we are enlightened about You and that as the light of Your Word shines in our souls, then we are able to see the errors of our thinking and the errors of our way and that we can then be transformed by the renewing of our mind so You can use that to conform us to the image of Christ.
“Then Father, we pray that as we study this evening it won’t be simply an academic exercise, but it will be an opportunity for us to understand some spiritual dynamics of how we are to trust You and how we are to pray to You and how we are to grow spiritually, trusting in Your Word and Your promises. We pray this in His name, Amen.”
Open your Bibles with me to Psalm 89. As we go forward, I’ll remind you that one of the things we have seen is that this is a very lengthy psalm of 52 verses and in those verses we see an approach, one of many we find in the psalms, to trusting God.
It is based on a promise. The promise is the Davidic Covenant, which we have studied in its context in 2 Samuel 7. It is based on the character of God. That’s what underlies His promises. A promise has no more value than the character or the integrity of the person who makes the promise.
That is why it is so important in prayer to take time to reflect on the character of God, to reflect upon His essence and reflect upon that which undergirds and is the foundation for His Word and for His promise. It is God’s integrity that we see that underlies His promise. It is His righteousness and His justice which have been emphasized throughout this passage as well as His chesed, which is translated sometimes as mercy, sometimes as lovingkindness, other times it’s got that idea of a steadfast, loyal love.
Whenever we read that word in the Scripture, particularly in the psalms, you understand what lies behind it, and when you run across words like mercy and lovingkindness, if you don’t have a way to look it up and determine what the Hebrew is, it’s more than likely chesed. It refers to God’s loyalty even when we are not loyal.
It refers to God’s faithfulness to His promises, faithfulness to His Word, and faithfulness to His covenants. That word “faithful” is also used in parallelism. For example, when we look at the first verse in Psalm 89 the psalmist writes “I will sing—which is an exercise of his vocal chords with his mouth—I will sing of the mercies—which is chesed—of the Lord forever.”
Then the second stanza is a parallel, synonymous parallelism. See “With my mouth” is parallel to “I will sing”. So “With my mouth I will make known” is all parallel to singing “Your faithfulness.” That’s parallel to chesed, God’s loyal love, “to all generations”—that is literally from generation to generation. This is the emphasis here that sets the tone for this entire psalm.
The emphasis is on God’s faithfulness, so when we pray, when we come before the Lord in prayer, that is our orientation. That’s the point of contact with God when we confess sin. It’s His Word and His loyalty to His Word. We admit or acknowledge our sin to Him on the basis of what He has said in His Word.
We know what 1 John 1:9 says. That’s only one of many passages that talk about cleansing. Cleansing is the key idea here. Often you hear people say, “Oh we don’t need to confess, and they emphasize the word “confess”, but that’s not the key word there. The key word is “cleansing”.
Throughout Scripture again and again, there’s this emphasis on cleansing. In the Old Testament you brought a sacrifice. Every time you came to the Temple there had to be a ritual cleansing to remind people that they were sinners and that sin needed to be dealt with ritually before they could ritually worship the Lord.
In terms of their individual spiritual life, if they were like David out in the pasture with the sheep and a good day’s hike from Jerusalem or several days hike from Jerusalem, they weren’t going to run to the Temple every time they needed to confess sin and sacrifice a lamb, which they would do the next time they went to the Temple ritually.
Individually they would confess sin. On that act they would be forgiven and cleansed and when they came to the Temple, there would be a ritual sacrifice. So, you have what I call a ritual cleansing and a real cleansing. All that prefigures is what happens in the New Testament.
We don’t have ritual cleansing anymore. We have positional cleansing which took place at the Cross when our debt of sin was cancelled, but each time we do sin, each time we violate God’s Word and God’s standard and God’s character, then what happens is we have to confess that sin. When we do, God is faithful and just.
Notice the language there. It’s the same language we have here in Psalm 89. It’s language related to God’s faithfulness. In the Hebrew that is used again and again that undergirds these promises. God is faithful and He is just.
His faithfulness is going to be related also to His righteousness as we get further into the passage. So, this is all part of the inner workings, the inner connections, and the inner dependence of God’s various acronyms. We see it as the integrity of God, His character, which lies behind each and every promise.
When we pray, we shouldn’t but we all do it by getting into these “ruts”. That means we use the same words and the same patterns, but we ought not do it. We ought to just say that we’re going to talk to God a little differently right now. He’s probably a little tired of me always using the same formulaic phrases and we should just talk to Him.
Reading the psalms is a good way to think through how to pray. Use the language of Scripture. It was interesting the other night. I was at an event and I sat next to a lady who has her PhD in Medieval art and history and literature. We had a lovely conversation. Part of the conversation was that you can’t have many real conversations with people anymore.
The number one reason for this is that everyone gets so upset because if you don’t agree with them, then they take offense, and everyone backs into a corner and gets into an argument. Or you find that due to the deficiencies you can’t have quality talks with people because they don’t know what you’re talking about anymore and they don’t have the education to back it up.
We had a lovely conversation. We were talking about John Milton and talking about Chaucer and Isaac Watts and we got to talking about music and hymns. This led to the language of the King James Version and I asked her if she was familiar with Sir Lancelot Andrewes.
She was and she said, “Wasn’t he marvelous?” We had a whole conversation on Sir Lancelot Andrewes. Because of what you’ve learned in the last couple of years as we covered worship and talked about Sir Lancelot, you would have a basis for a conversation. You would know at least who was being discussed. A lot of people have no idea who he was.
He was the chief translator of the King James Bible. He was a polyglot. He mastered five or six languages before he was ten years old including biblical Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, as well as two or three languages that were spoken in Europe at that time.
He was just a genius in languages and God used that. He lived in the time when you didn’t have the distractions we have today, the distraction of Facebook and social media. Also, the distractions of e-mail and Internet and what you have on your cell phone. These take five to ten seconds to see if someone has responded to what you said. Other distractions include watching TV and movies or Netflix or whatever it may be. We have so many things to distract us.
All that was available in Sir Lancelot’s day was the Bible. They would read the Bible and think about the great words of these tremendous hymns that we sing that were written by the Wesleys, Isaac Watts, and many of the other writers of these hymns. You realize there was a richness in their soul that we don’t see too much of today.
That’s because we live in a very, very superficial time. We have a superficial education that thinks that we’re brilliant if we have a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Then we get one of those e-mails that has an eighth grade test, one of those tests of eighth graders from some school in Kansas in the 1870s, and you can’t answer the first five questions so you give up.
We don’t have that education now. You go back and read some of the things that are written in the 19th century and things written by the Founding Fathers. Some of them didn’t have more than an eighth or ninth grade education, but on the basis of their education they were able to write things and do things and say things in such a way that we can’t even come close to duplicating. They were truly educated.
They spent time to meditate on what they learned, and this really applies to Scripture. We had a lovely conversation talking about that. When you take the time to let the Word of God really saturate our souls then what happens is this eventually works itself out when we pray.
We come up with this phrase from this psalm or that phrase from that psalm from Scripture and we cobble those things together to relate to the prayer request we have. If you read through the psalms a lot then that’s going to impact the way you think. It’s fascinating to read phrases that occur over and over again in the psalms. They’re in slightly different ways and slightly different contexts, but they challenge us. That enriches our spiritual life, so we need to really be students of the Word.
I believe David was that way. We don’t know exactly what he had or what other believers at that time had in terms of the written Word. We know he had the Torah and perhaps had some other books, but we don’t know how much. Remember, David is living only four hundred years from the time that Moses wrote the Torah.
There was much of the Old Testament that wasn’t written then, but there was so much that was. Of course, he was composing Scripture, the psalms, under the inspiration of God.
Our starting point here has been on the Davidic Covenant and understanding the structure of this. You could spend a lot of time just thinking how this three-fold structure applies to your prayer life and how it applies to how to trust the Lord and how you claim promises.
It starts off talking about God’s love, His chesed love, His faithfulness, and praising God for that. That’s really the first eighteen verses of Psalm 89. It’s what we’ve just about covered. The focal point here is on the character of God.
It brings in His righteousness, His justice, and His faithfulness. It brings in so many different attributes and especially His might, His power. It shows that God is able to do that which He has promised. He is able to accomplish it.
When we are claiming one of God’s promises, we know that He can do it because He has that power. He is omnipotent. We looked at creation. We looked at His miracles in the past and that’s what the psalmist does. He talks about these historic events that have characterized God’s faithfulness.
Then in the second part, which we’ll begin tonight, we get into God’s promise to David, which is the basis of the psalmist’s petition. This is where he is claiming a promise. We’ll learn more about the Davidic promise than just reading the covenant itself. There is more that relates to God’s activity and promise.
Then at the end in the last fifteen verses or so there is a petition. He expresses his desire to God to remain faithful to the promises to David in the midst of what appears to be a national crisis. Now I know we don’t know too much about having a national crisis. Everything is just going along so well here.
Perhaps we can learn something from this that will affect how we pray. Now it’s a different dispensation. We don’t have anything like this as a ruler who is a descendant of David or has a promise of his right to the executive office.
We don’t have anything like that. We just have the promise of God in many different areas for stability, so we can go to those things and focus on the character of God. Now that’s the three-fold breakdown.
I was working through this text today and I began to see some connections that weren’t there and so I’m modifying how I’m breaking this down.
In this section it’s talking about the chesed and emunah, the love and the faithfulness of God. We looked at the first four verses which focus on God’s covenant loyalty and His faithfulness. Again and again that is repeated. These words are used in parallelism.
The writer is reflecting on the fact that God has made a covenant. He’s introducing this idea in verse 3, God is speaking, “I have made a covenant for my choice one.” It’s not the chosen one. We’ll get into that a little later on because we come on the same word when we get down into the passage.
“I have made a covenant with my choice one. I have sworn to my servant David …” “I have sworn” is parallel to “I have made a covenant”. Just a little reminder. It is the swearing of an oath that initiates a covenant, not a sacrifice. That will come into play at a future time when we study the New Covenant. When Jesus talks about the New Covenant of His blood, the sacrifice, it’s not the sacrifice that starts the covenant. It is the swearing of an oath that initiates the covenant.
The sacrifice may be a sacrifice for the covenant, but it is not the sacrifice that begins the covenant. That really is important for understanding whether or not we’re in any form of the Kingdom. The Kingdom comes because of covenant fulfillment, but if the covenant didn’t begin with the sacrifice of the Cross, if it doesn’t begin until God swears an oath to Israel in the Tribulation period, then we don’t have the initiation of the Kingdom until Jesus returns the second time.
The sacrifice of Christ on the Cross doesn’t start the Kingdom. We’re not in an “already but not yet form” of the Kingdom. The Kingdom is future and we’re not there yet. Those are just little tidbits we’ve pulled out of that and in Psalm 89:5–18 there’s a focus on God’s character.
All the way through here it just resonates with an emphasis on God’s power as exhibited in His creation, His power over the angels, and there’s a whole section there from Psalm 89:5–10 that shows the role of angels in the background of human history and the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant.
Starting in Psalm 89:11 there’s an emphasis on the power, the sovereignty, of God to rule over His creation. As we go through this section, there’s the praise of God for His creation, for His faithfulness, which is parallel to wonders. In Psalm 89:6–8 He’s praised for His awesome attributes and then in the third section, Psalm 89:9–13, the Lord is praised for His omnipotence and His sovereign rule over creation.
Then we get to this fourth division. I highlighted this because this is where I saw some differences and I modified the outline just a little bit. There is a significant shift here. “The Lord is the source of joy and happiness for those who walk with Him and glory in His righteousness and strength.” That’s Psalm 89:14–18.
I’m going to get into this in a little more detail when I get into the review, but I want you to notice in verse 14 there’s a shift from God’s omnipotence and now we’re talking about His righteousness and justice being the foundation of His throne and mercy and truth going before His face. This is chesed and emet. This is a form of emunah which has to do more with security and stability than it does with it translated as faithfulness.
It’s interesting that yesterday morning we went over and walked in Memorial City Mall. We got done walking before everything opened up. As we were pulling out from our parking place, I noticed an armored car that was sitting over by the side of the parking lot.
The name of the security firm was Malchi Emmett. Immediately I recognized that was Hebrew. Let’s work our way through it. Malchi is king from melik. Emet is what we’re studying. So I did a little searching on what Modern Hebrew adds to that term and it basically means that this company is calling itself the “king of security”. It’s not an Israeli company, but I’m betting that whoever founded it is Jewish and knew some Hebrew.
That was just fascinating to see that and that’s the idea here. The emphasis is on security, “I go before your face.” If you have a pen and your Bible there, you ought to underline “before your face” and then in the next verse it says, “Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound.”
In the New King James Version the next line, the second strophe in verse 15 is, “They walk, O Lord, in the light of Your countenance.”
Once again, I always have a little pet peeve there because the word is the exact same form, identical, to what is translated as “face” at the end of verse 14. But in English we want to jazz things up a little bit and don’t want it to appear like we’re using the same words over and over again, when God the Holy Spirit very clearly used the same word over and over again to bring out a point. That should be translated, “They walk O Lord in the light of Your face.”
We’re going to see what that means and then at the beginning of verse 16 it says, “In Your name” which connects to the idea of “In Your face”. They’re very similar but they’re different because “in Your name” focuses on God’s character and “the light of Your countenance” has to do with the revelation of Your character. Light often indicates illumination. Psalm 89:16 starts with, “In Your name they rejoice all day long, And in Your righteousness they are exalted.”
In the beginning of verse 17 you have the word “for”, which usually indicates an explanation. Maybe it could be translated “because”. It’s the same word in the Hebrew. That tells you that verse 17 is explaining something in addition and in relation to previous verses. And then verse 18 starts with a “for” also. That connects it also so you can’t break up an outline in between any of those verses. So, Psalm 89:14–18 all hang together and they’re talking about God’s character being the source of happiness for those who walk with Him.
There’s an element of this that is clearly talking about an intimate fellowship of God and it’s not just talking about seeing God face-to-face. Even Jacob when he is at Peniel and wrestles with the Angel of the Lord and he called the place Peniel, which means he saw God face-to-face. He really didn’t see God face-to-face. It is an idiom for “I was in the presence of God.”
All of that is part of our understanding. We look at the Faith-Rest Drill which is claiming the promise, thinking through the promise to see the doctrinal rationale. That is asking what is the logic structure behind the promise. How is it structured? We come to understand those rationales. This is a rationale that’s related to the essence of God.
We are thinking through God’s essence and applying this in relation to promises to a situation and then coming to conclusions. That’s part of what happens at the end when the psalmist is making his petition.
Another aspect of this is that it gives us a foundation for prayer. It starts with praise for who God is. When we pray we need to take time praising God. I have set up an acronym for the different parts of prayer.
I refer to it as CATS. The “C” is for confession. The “A” is for adoration. Adoration is focusing on who God is. We’re just taking the time to reflect upon the attributes of God and how they relate to our circumstances. If it’s a prayer of thanksgiving and praise, then how do those attributes come into play during the answer to prayer?
If we are petitioning God to intervene in a set of circumstances in a person’s life or something like that, then we are looking at God’s character in terms of His ability to resolve the problem and resolve the situation. We praise God for who He is and we think through that.
One of the exercises you can do when you’re reading through your Bible and you’re reading through the Psalms, is to have a notebook and make notes. I’ve never been a one big on journaling, but I usually just jot down notes in the margins of my Bible.
Notice the progression that you find in different psalms and in some verses related to the character of God. We’ve break God’s essence down to about ten attributes, but you can categorize these words in terms of those ten attributes so you come to understand what the writer is doing.
As we think through the essence of God, then, as this psalmist has, starting in verse 5 going all the way down through verse 18, what he’s doing is building a case. He hasn’t gotten to the core of the case yet, but he’s laying the foundation for his case, his petition that will come at the end.
The first part of the case that he’s writing down is God’s character. God is faithful. He’s faithful to His Word. He’s faithful to His promise. He’s able to fulfill it. He has the power, the omnipotence, and the might to do this. He has done this in different ways.
In Psalm 89:8 he says, “O Lord God of hosts, who is mighty like You, O Lord? Your faithfulness also surrounds You.” There he correlates God’s omnipotence, His might, with God’s faithfulness. Those are tied together whereas in the first verse he connected mercy with faithfulness. He gives examples of God intervening in events and bringing about a victory.
As we think through the essence of God, then we can mentally relate those attributes to the promise that we are claiming. In the third step of the Faith-Rest Drill, from that foundation, then we frame our requests or our petition, which is what happens in the last part of this psalm from verse 38 down through verse 52.
Let’s look back at the text now. Psalm 89:12, “The north and the south, You have created them. Tabor and Hermon rejoice in Your name.” It’s important to notice here that you have a parallelism. There’s always parallelism in the language. What usually happens is you have a statement.
This is more emblematic parallelism. It’s not totally synonymous. Some writers will call it a synthetic parallelism. I think they’re pretty close but what you have is the statement “the north and the south”. Then it says, “You have created them”. Bara is the word there translated “create”. Only God creates, bara.
Bara does not inherently mean ex nihilo creation, but it always describes something that only God can do. The north and the south You have created them and then, “Tabor and Hermon rejoice in Your name.” “Rejoice in Your name” is not parallel to “have created them” but it expands on the idea.
So, if “north and south” is “A”, then you the second statement is “B”. The third statement is A prime and it is parallel to “north and south”. Then “rejoice in Your name” is the conclusion, “C”. That’s how it’s structured.
The point of it is to drive us from God’s creation to the joy that it produces, and we are to rejoice over God’s creation and its significance. One of the reasons I say “north and south” and “Tabor and Hermon” are parallel to each other is that when you look at Galilee on this map you see that if you are in Galilee, Tabor is roughly in the south and Mount Hermon is in the north.
Everything in between has been created by God. This is the land God has created for Israel so we are to rejoice in it. This is the land God promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This land is the land that David and the Davidic kings will rule over so we can rejoice over God’s provision of this land for us.
I pointed out last time a picture I have of Mount Tabor. It’s an odd shape. You can always find it and always picture it whenever you’re in the Esdraelon Valley. It’s just this funny looking little bump out there. Some writers talk about the fact that these are the most significant mountains. That’s obviously written by someone who has never actually been there. Mount Tabor isn’t that high. It’s relatively short, only about 1,700 feet above sea level whereas Hermon is like 9,000 feet above sea level.
You can see the difference between the two mountains. Mount Hermon has snow-capped peaks. It’s their geographical reference that is being referred to in this psalm. They bound the northern part of the Promised Land and the southern part.
It’s just a reference to the attributes of God, taking us through His power to create this land, His power to give this land to the Davidic king.
The other thing I want to point out here is that as we transition then into Psalm 89:14, we see the emphasis on His righteousness, His justice, His love, and His truth. Truth is His veracity so we see those elements emphasized.
We also see His omnipotence emphasized in Psalm 89:13. Whenever we have phrases like arm and hand referring to God, that’s an anthropomorphism related to the power of God. Nothing is more powerful than God.
That brought us down to verse 14, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne …” The idea there is that which undergirds and gives stability to God’s rule. “Throne” is a figure of speech standing for God’s rule just as we might talk about some announcement that came from the White House today. The White House stands for the administration of the executive branch of the country, the administration of the President of the United States.
When we read this about the “throne”, that’s talking about the administration of God’s rule, His sovereignty over His creation. We have to understand the terms righteousness and justice. I was really amazed as I was studying through this and looking at how different translations handle the second line, the “before Your face” line, how many translations retranslated tzedek instead of saying righteousness. There was a wide range of what I thought were some inappropriate words that were used.
Tzedek is a primary, key word throughout the Old Testament, referring to God’s righteousness. To add some of the phrases that are seen in some of the parallel texts was, I thought, inappropriate. For example, the NET Bible in Psalm 89:14 translates it “equity”. That sounds a little too social justice for me.
It has nothing to do with equity. Righteousness is the standard of God’s character. It is that by which all things are evaluated. It is that which is right, that which is absolute. It’s the standard of God’s character and the Hebrew word for justice is mishpat, which is the application of that standard to situations in life, situations that occur under God’s rule.
The foundation of His throne, that which gives it stability, are His righteousness, His standards, and the application of those standards to what He rules. Then in the second line it says, “Mercy and truth …”
Mercy is chesed, His loyal, faithful love, and truth is emet. What does it mean to “go before Your face”? Last time I said this is what goes forth from the Throne. I want to refine that just a little bit. On the slide you see all five verses. I highlighted some things in color as I want you to see some of the parallelism here.
The term “righteousness” or tzedek, which is used in verse 14 and it’s used again in verse 16. In verse 14 you have the word for face, which is paniym. When Jacob was near Bethel and sleeping, he had a theophany of the Angel of the Lord coming. He wrestled with the Angel of the Lord and he is struck on the hip, so he has a limp after that, he names the place Peniel, which is the word for face.
What this means is that he saw the face of God there. This is the presence of God. This word, this imagery of face, is an imagery of the presence of God usually. What this is talking about in verse 14 where it says, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation—the stability that secures the bedrock of God’s rule, and then—mercy and truth go before Your face.”
Mercy and truth characterize God’s presence. That’s a much stronger way of talking about this than what I said last time. Then in the next verse in the New King James translation it says face. In most translations they change the word to countenance, but I don’t know why they do that.
“Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound. They walk, O Lord, in the light of Your face.” They walk in the light of God’s presence. Is that talking about getting saved or is that talking about how you live after you’re saved? That’s talking about how you live after you’re saved.
This is clearly talking about sanctification or spiritual life. The walking with the Lord there has to fit within that metaphor is used all the way through Scripture.
I’m going to slip this picture in here. Can anyone read this? It says metaphor. It’s transportation, which is Modern Greek on this truck. It’s a metaphor. What does a metaphor do? It transports meaning from one object to an unlike object. That’s what a metaphor does.
So, the spiritual life is pictured through this metaphor of “walking”. Each day we take it step-by-step. If you try to take two steps at the same time you’re going to trip and fall down, so you just take step after step. It’s just talking about the progression of life, so whenever you read the metaphor “walking” in Scripture, it’s a metaphor for the spiritual life. We go through it step-by-step.
We look at the first verse, verse 14, which says that “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your rule”. Throne is put for rule, so that’s another form of a figure of speech. It’s word substitution, a metonymy for the source, for the action. Then it continues that “Mercy and truth go before Your face”.
Because God rules on the basis of His righteousness, justice, loyal love, and truth, the people who are walking with Him are blessed. This is an interesting word, ’asre, which has the idea more of happiness than blessing per se, which is the Hebrew word rakah. It’s not rakah here. It is ’asre, which has the idea more of experiencing the blessing of God, so that brings joy into the life.
“Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound.” What’s the joyful sound? Sometimes this word is used for the blast of the trumpet to warn of the attack of enemies. It’s the blast of the trumpet used to give bugle calls in the middle of a battle so the troops know what to do.
It’s also used positively to relate to the blast of the trumpet calling the people to worship on the feast days. What do they do? They begin by singing psalms as they are ascending the Temple Mount. There are a number of psalms called the “Ascent psalms”. These were the psalms that were used by the worshippers as they’re coming to the Temple to worship God.
Who are the people who know the joyful sound? These are people who have an intimate relationship with God and are going to the Temple. They’ve been going through the rituals, applying the Law, and they hear the sound of the trumpet and they realize that all of this is really God’s blessing on Israel. It is His unmerited promises and they have been given to them.
They are blessed. They walk, which means they are living out the spiritual life in the Old Testament, in the light of God’s face. We could rephrase this a little. Light speaks of two things in Scripture. God is Light and this has on the one hand the idea of purity. In Him there is no darkness at all.
It also is frequently used of illumination. We walk in the light of God’s Word. So, the idea here is the light of God’s face is His presence. We don’t ever see the presence of God. Even Moses didn’t truly see God face-to-face, but it’s an idiom for the presence of God.
Where do we find the presence of God? We find it in His Word. When we study His Word, we learn about who God is, what He has done for us, what He’s provided for us, and what His promises are for us. When we walk in the light of His face, we’re walking in the illumination of His character, His person, Who He is, and His presence.
That makes a natural progression to verse 16, “And in Your name—that phrase often refers to character or who a person is in their essence—we rejoice all the day long.” We rejoice in God’s character, His righteousness, His justice, His mercy, and His truth. They rejoice all day long. “And in Your righteousness they are exalted.”
Often when we look in the parallelism we have, this first line is a little more general and the second line is a little more specific. The second line here is not just in God’s essence, but specifically the psalmist is talking about God’s righteousness. That’s the foundation of His Throne. They are exalted. The people have joy there.
Next the psalmist explains in Psalm 89:17–18 with the beginning of the Hebrew preposition, which is the letter “ki” or “k”, which means to give an explanation. It’s the idea of cause. It’s like the Greek word GAR in the New Testament. It’s explaining why something has been said.
Why do they exalt in God’s righteousness? Why do they rejoice in the essence of God? It explains, “Because God is the glory of their strength.” Once again they’re bringing in the idea of omnipotence. It’s not their power. It’s God’s power that they’re glorying in. That’s what they want to boast about, is what God has done for them and not what they’ve done for themselves.
They go on to say that God’s provision of His strength is His favor or His goodness. It’s unmerited favor. “In Your favor our horn is exalted.” Let’s break out the parallelism here. Glorying in something is exalting in it. So, those two words are parallel.
“For You are the glory of their strength” here is parallel to horn. The horn of an animal is used to depict their strength or their power. So both stanzas in verse 17 are talking about the fact that it is God who is the Source of our power and our strength and that’s the One in whom they are exalting. He freely gives it to them as part of His favor. Favor is a word that is often used in relation to God’s blessing in those kinds of context.
The second reason they exalt is in verse 18, “Because our shield belongs to the Lord, and our king to the Holy One of Israel.” Again, we have synonymous parallelism that helps us understand the passage. “Our shield belongs to the Lord, And our king to the Holy One of Israel.” The word for Holy One here, and the reason I point this out is because you’re going to see holy show up again in verse 19.
There it is chasiyd related to chesed. We talk about the Hasidim today, the Hasidic Jews, the pious ones or the righteous or the morally pure. That the idea of chasiyd. It’s translated as holy in the New King James Version in verse 19 where it says, “And You spoke in a vision to Your Holy One.” That’s a totally different word. It’s not qadosh here.
It’s talking about God, who is the Holy God, the One who is set apart and is unique and distinct as the Creator God of the universe. We read it as “For our shield—our magen who—belongs to Yahweh, And our king to the Holy One of Israel.” Because of the way it’s been structured in the English, you lose the parallelism that’s really there in the Hebrew.
That’s why I put it here at the bottom of the slide: “For to the Lord [belongs] our shield.” There isn’t a word for belongs here but it’s implied. So, Yahweh is our shield. He’s the One who protects us. He’s the One who defends us. The second line reads, “And to the Holy One of Israel …” So Holy One of Israel is synonymous with Lord and our king is synonymous to shield.
How does God protect a nation? Through a godly ruler. Through the rulers who are discerned as ministers of righteousness. Under the Davidic Covenant, the Davidic king was given to Israel to rule over Israel, to protect Israel, and that was not occurring at this time.
There was some kind of problem. I think we can identify this as during the time of King Rehoboam as he was a spiritual failure initially. But later, after the invasion of King Shishak, Rehoboam is going to humble himself before the Lord because God disciplined him.
This passage, as I pointed out, was not written because of the threat of King Shishak. I think it was written because of the threat of foolishness of Rehoboam. Because he was young and foolish, he did not respond appropriately to the request of the ten northern tribes to reduce their taxes. He listened to the young men on his council that wanted him to increase the taxes and increase the burden on the ten northern tribes. That created a tax revolt and the ten tribes split off from the south.
This threatens the unity of the nation and consequently threatens the survival of the Davidic king. We went through that earlier. What it is talking about here it that the Davidic king should be the one who protects the nation, and that’s not happening at this time. In fact, it looks like the nation may be destroyed.
That’s what was happening during the next several rulers. Now all of the rulers of Israel following Solomon were divided into two groups: some were godly and some were not. Some were said to be evil.
We use the word evil in different ways, but if you trace through the word “evil” in 1 and 2 Kings, it primarily describes someone who has given themselves over to idolatry. Solomon gave himself over to idolatry. He did that which was evil. You had Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, who was the first ruler who led the tax revolt against the Southern Kingdom. He sets up two idols and two worship centers, one in the north near Dan. He sets up a temple there. You can go there now and it’s a fascinating sight.
Then go south to Bethel and that’s where he set up the second idol worship center. It’s said for every king in the north after that, that they did what was evil in the sight of God and followed in the sins of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat. It’s over and over and over again.
David committed a lot of sins. There are a lot of Christians who would condemn David, except God doesn’t do that. God never accuses David of evil. David committed adultery. He conspired to have Bathsheba’s husband killed. David numbered the people and caused a great divine discipline. Apparently he’s tempted by Satan to do that. He doesn’t know it, but he disobeys God.
He does all this, but God never says he’s evil. He sins, but that’s not evil. Evil is when you’re disloyal to God in a sense where you are no longer worshipping God. David was a man after God’s own heart. He sinned. We’re the same way. We can be loyal to God, but we’re still sinners. We’re not going to avoid that. We’re still going to sin, but David is never called evil. But there are some in his lineage that are called evil because they succumbed to the sins of Ahab in the north and Ahaz, who was also an idolater. This was a major problem.
“Our shield belongs to the Lord, And our king to the Holy One.” This is stating an ideal, that the king of Israel should be the one that God has given them to protect them.
That brings us to the next part of the psalm. God’s promise to David as the foundation of the psalmist petition in Psalm 89:19–37. Then of course, the third part is going to be the petition to God to remain faithful to His promises to David.
Just as an introduction. What we’ll see here is a listing of basically the things God promised David. He chose David to be His anointed king in verses 19–20. God promised an intimate relationship with Himself through an eternal covenant in verses 26–29.
It’s interesting the things that are listed there that are not in 2 Samuel 7. Fourth God promises His promises will never be cancelled though they would be hindered by sin and disobedience. One thing I want to bring out before we wrap it up tonight is that what’s important to think about is why God gave this promise and this covenant to David?
In the text, as we’ll see, it called David a choice one. It shouldn’t be translated a chosen one. It’s a piel participle, but a participle is often used as a noun and David is the choice one. What makes him choice is the fact that he was a man after God’s own heart.
The Abrahamic Covenant is classified as a type called a Royal Grant Treaty in the Old Testament. A Royal Grant Treaty is a special, gracious, beneficial treaty that often the king, who let’s say is an emperor who has conquered some different regions, tribes, or countries, and they are serving him. The people there have certain requirements they must perform as the vassals to his rulership.
If they do well, then he may reward them with something special. Abraham, as we have studied many, many times was saved before Genesis 12:3 according to the tenses in Genesis 15:6. Abraham had already believed in God and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
Abraham had believed God. He was a faithful, loyal servant. Everywhere he went he set up an altar and called upon the name of the Lord. As a reward, God graciously gave him the Abrahamic Covenant. It is an aspect of grace. The same thing is true with David. David has been faithful to God and near the end of his reign, God gives him a covenant.
We know it’s a Royal Grant covenant because the royal grant treaty of Abraham promised three things. What were they? You need to say this in your sleep. Land, seed, and blessing. The seed refers to David. It’s going to be expanded in the Davidic Covenant. So, if the Abrahamic Covenant is a Royal Grant covenant, then the Davidic Covenant has to be a Royal Grant covenant.
It’s not a suzerain-vassal covenant like the Mosaic Law. It is a reward for David’s faithful service and his loyalty, which tells us, as I’ve taught in Ephesians when we were going through the idea of election, that this idea of choice has to do with selecting those who meet a qualification. We went to Matthew 22 and we looked at those invited to the wedding feast. At the end of that parable this phrase here “many are called but few are chosen”.
No one in the parable chooses the people who are coming to the banquet. The people who are coming to the banquet chose to go to the banquet. The invitation goes out to many and many just throw it away. They don’t want to go. Then there’s some who go.
There’s one who shows up who has the wrong clothes on. The others are choice because they have the right clothes on. Choice means they have a quality about them that makes them qualified to be at the banquet. As I’ve been reading through the Old Testament, there’s so many places where you have this word translated as “chosen” related to, for example, David’s mighty men who were chosen.
That word is often used to refer to unconditional election. But they’re choice men. David didn’t just point and say, “I’m going to take you and not you and you and not you and you, you, and you, but not you. He didn’t do that. They had to be qualified to be in his elite corps.
What’s the qualification when we transfer that to the spiritual element? That qualification is possessing the righteousness of Christ. We don’t earn it or deserve it. God gives it to us when we trust in Christ as Savior. In John 3:18 we’re told that “he who does not believe in the name of the God is condemned already, because he has not believed in the Son of God”.
He doesn’t have righteousness. But when we trust in Christ, we have His righteousness that qualifies us. That makes us choice. It’s not an act where God is choosing who’ll be saved and who will not be saved.
When this is applied in the Old Testament, that act of choosing is based on a qualification. David and Abraham were qualified in that they had believed in the gospel. They had been given righteousness and they served God faithfully. It’s not a choice for salvation. It’s a choice for service in a special way.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to study these things and to come to a greater appreciation of Your character and the importance of that walk with You, walking in the light of Your countenance. Walking in the light of Your Word. Your countenance is just a figure of speech so we can relate to the way You have revealed Yourself to us.
“It’s a personal face-to-face relationship we can have with You through Your Word.
“Father, we pray that You would help us to understand these things and that we might be driven to be in Your Word more and to let Your Word transform our lives. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”