Psalm 89:1
Maschil of Ethan the Ezrahite. I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.
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(1) I will sing.—This lyric purpose soon loses itself in a dirge.

For ever.—The Hebrew (‘ôlam) has properly neither the abstract idea of negation of time, nor the concrete (Christian) idea of eternity, but implies indefiniteness, and looks either backwards or forwards.

With my mouthi.e., aloud, or loudly.

Psalm 89:1-2. I will sing of the mercies of the Lord — He speaks this by way of preface, lest the following complaints of present miseries should argue ingratitude for former mercies. I will make known thy faithfulness — Assuring posterity, from my own observation and experience, that thou art true to every word that thou hast spoken, and that whatsoever hath befallen us, it proceeded not from thy unfaithfulness. For I have said — That is, within myself. I have been assured in my own mind; Mercy shall be built up for ever — As thou hast laid a sure foundation of mercy to David’s family, by that everlasting covenant which thou hast made with it; so I concluded that thou wouldest carry on the same project of mercy toward it; that thou wouldest build it up, and not destroy it. Thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens — That is, in thy eternal counsels, which are above the changes of this lower region, and out of the reach of the opposition of earth and hell. Or, as the Hebrew may be rendered, with the very heavens; that is, as firmly and durably as the heavens themselves, as with the sun, in the Hebrew text, Psalm 72:5, is by most interpreters rendered, As long as the sun endureth, as it is in our translation. And so this phrase, in this last branch of the verse, answers to for ever in the former.

89:1-4 Though our expectations may be disappointed, yet God's promises are established in the heavens, in his eternal counsels; they are out of the reach of opposers in hell and earth. And faith in the boundless mercy and everlasting truth of God, may bring comfort even in the deepest trials.I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever - Particularly how the "mercy" was manifested in the promise made to David; the solemn covenant made with him in respect to the perpetuity of his throne. The appointment of David to the throne was an act of mere mercy or favor, since he was not in the royal line, and had no claim to the crown. It will be seen, also, that if it be supposed that the covenant with David, and the promise therein made to him, was intended to include the Messiah as descending from him, there was a still higher reason for celebrating the "mercies" of God, inasmuch as all mercy to our world comes through him.

With my mouth - Not merely in my heart, but with words. The meaning here is that he would make a record which might be used evermore as the language of praise.

Will I make known thy faithfulness - In the fulfillment of these promises. He felt assured that they would be fulfilled. Whatever appearances there might be to the contrary, the psalmist had no doubt that God would prove himself to be faithful and true. See the notes at Isaiah 55:3, on the expression, "the sure mercies of David."

To all generations - Margin, as in Hebrew, generation and generation. He would make a record which would carry down the remembrance of this faithfulness to all future ages.


Ps 89:1-52. Of Ethan—(See on [625]Ps 88:1, title). This Psalm was composed during some season of great national distress, perhaps Absalom's rebellion. It contrasts the promised prosperity and perpetuity of David's throne (with reference to the great promise of 2Sa 7:12-17), with a time when God appeared to have forgotten His covenant. The picture thus drawn may typify the promises and the adversities of Christ's kingdom, and the terms of confiding appeal to God provided appropriate prayers for the divine aid and promised blessing.

1. mercies—those promised (Isa 55:3; Ac 13:34), and—

faithfulness—that is, in fulfilling them.

1 I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.

2 For I have said, Mercy shall be built up for ever; thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens.

3 I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant,

4 Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations. Selah.

Psalm 89:1

"I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever." A devout resolve, and very commendable when a man is exercised with great trouble on account of an apparent departure of the Lord from his covenant and promise. Whatever we may observe abroad or experience in our own persons, we ought still to praise God for his mercies, since they most certainly remain the same, whether we can perceive them or not. Sense sings but now and then, but faith is an eternal songster. Whether others sing or not, believers must never give over; in them should be constancy of praise, since God's love to them cannot by any possibility have changed, however providence may seem to frown. We are not only to believe the Lord's goodness, but to rejoice in it evermore; it is the source of all our joy; and as it cannot be dried up, so the stream ought never to fail to flow, or cease to flash in sparkling crystal of song. We have not one, but many mercies to rejoice in, and should therefore multiply the expressions of our thankfulness. It is Jehovah who deigns to deal out to us our daily benefits, and he is the all-sufficient and immutable God; therefore our rejoicing in him must never suffer diminution. By no means let his exchequer of glory be deprived of the continual revenue which we owe to it. Even time itself must not bound our praises - they must leap into eternity; he blesses us with eternal mercies - let us sing unto him for ever. "With my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations." The utterances of the present will instruct future generations. What Ethan sung is now a text-book for Christians, and will be so as long as this dispensation shall last. We ought to have an eye to posterity in all that we write, for we are the schoolmasters of succeeding ages. Ethan first spoke with his mouth that which he recorded with his pen - a worthy example of using both means of communication; the mouth has a warmer manner than the pen, but the pen's speech lives longest, and is heard farther and wider. While reading this Psalm, such is the freshness of the style, that one seems to hear it gushing from the poet's mouth; he makes the letters live and talk, or, rather, sing to us. Note, that in this second sentence he speaks of faithfulness, which is the mercy of God's mercies - the brightest jewel in the crown of goodness. The grace of an unfaithful God would be a poor subject for music, but unchangeable love and immutable promises demand everlasting songs. In times of trouble it is the divine faithfulness which the soul hangs upon; this is the bower anchor of the soul, its holdfast, and its stay. Because God is, and ever will be, faithful, we have a theme for song which will not be out of date for future generations; it will never be worn out, never be disproved, never be unnecessary, never be an idle subject, valueless to mankind. It will also be always desirable to make it known, for men are too apt to forget it, or to doubt it, when hard times press upon them. We cannot too much multiply testimonies to the Lord's faithful mercy - if our own generation should not need them others will: sceptics are so ready to repeat old doubts and invent new ones that believers should be equally prompt to bring forth evidences both old and new. Whoever may neglect this duty, those who are highly favoured, as Ethan was, should not be backward.

Psalm 89:2

"For I have said, Mercy shall be built up for ever." His heart was persuaded of it, and he had affirmed it as an indisputable truth. He was certain that upon a sure foundation the Lord intended to pile up a glorious palace of goodness - a house of refuge for all people, wherein the Son of David should for ever be glorified as the dispenser of heavenly grace. "Thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens." This divine edifice, he felt assured, would tower into the skies, and would be turreted with divine faithfulness even as its foundations were laid in eternal love. God's faithfulness is no thing of earth, for here nothing is firm, and all things savour of the changes of the moon and the fickleness of the sea: heaven is the birthplace of truth, and there it dwells in eternal rigour. As the blue arch above us remains unimpaired by age, so does the Lord's truth; as in the firmament he hangs his covenant bow, so in the upper heavens the faithfulness of God is enthroned in immutable glory. This Ethan said, and this we may say; come what will, mercy and faithfulness are built up by "the Eternal Builder," and his own nature is the guarantee for their perpetuity. This is to be called to mind whenever the church is in trouble, or our own spirits bowed down with grief.

Psalm 89:3

"I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant." This was the ground of the Psalmist's confidence in God's mercy and truth, for he knew that the Lord had made a covenant of grace with David and his seed, and confirmed it by an oath. Here he quotes the very words of God, which were revealed to him by the Holy Spirit, and are a condensation of the original covenant in 2 Samuel 7. Well might he write in the former verse, "I have said," when he knew that Jehovah had said, "I have sworn." David was the Lord's elect, and with him a covenant was made, which ran along in the line of his seed until it received a final and never-ending fulfilment in "the Son of David." David's house must be royal: as long as there was a sepulchre in Judah, David's seed must be the only rightful dynasty; the great "King of the Jews" died with that title above his head in the three current languages of the then known world, and at this day he is owned as king by men of every tongue. The oath sworn to David has not been broken, though the temporal crown is no longer worn, for in the covenant itself his kingdom was spoken of as enduring for ever. In Christ Jesus there is a covenant established with all the Lord's chosen, and they are by grace led to be the Lord's servants, and then are ordained kings and priests by Christ Jesus. How sweet it is to see the Lord, not only making a covenant, but owning to it in after days, and bearing witness to his own oath; this ought to be solid ground for faith, and Ethan, the Ezra-bite, evidently thought it so. Let the reader and writer both pause over such glorious lines, and sing of the mercies of the Lord, who thus avows the bonds of the covenant, and, in so doing, gives a renewed pledge of his faithfulness to it. "I have," says the Lord, and yet again "I have," as though he himself was nothing loath to dwell upon the theme. We also would lovingly linger over the ipsissima verba of the covenant made with David, reading them carefully and with joy. They are thus recorded in 2 Samuel 7:12-16, "And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers. I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men, But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee. And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever." After reading this, let us remember that the Lord has said to us by his servant Isaiah, "I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David."

Psalm 89:4

"Thy seed will I establish for ever." David must always have a seed, and truly in Jesus this is fulfilled beyond his hopes. What a seed David has in the multitude which have sprung from him who was both his Son and his Lord. The Son of David is the Great Progenitor, the second Adam, the Everlasting Father, he sees his seed, and in them beholds of the travail of his soul. "And build up thy throne to all generations." David's dynasty never decays, but on the contrary, is evermore consolidated by the great Architect of heaven and earth. Jesus is a king as well as a progenitor, and his throne is ever being built up - his kingdom comes - his power extends.

Thus runs the covenant; and when the church declines, it is ours to plead it before the ever faithful God, as the Psalmist does in the latter verses of this sacred song. Christ must reign, but why is his name blasphemed and his gospel so despised? The more gracious Christians are, the more will they be moved to jealousy by the sad estate of the Redeemer's cause, and the more will they argue the case with the great Covenant-maker, crying day and night before him, "Thy kingdom come."

"Selah." It would not be meet to hurry on. Rest, O reader, at the bidding of this Selah, and let each syllable of the covenant ring in thine ears; and then lift up the heart and proceed with the sacred poet to tell forth the praises of the Lord. THE ARGUMENT

This Psalm manifestly treats of the declining and calamitous time and state of the house and kingdom of David, either, first, in Rehoboam’s reign, as a late judicious interpreter conceives; to which those expressions, Psalm 89:40-42, do not agree; or rather, secondly, in or about the time of tim Babylonish captivity.

Either, first, he who is mentioned 1 Kings 4:31. And then the Psalm is prophetical of things to come; which yet, after the manner of the prophets, he represents as present. And this prophetical Psalm might be left upon record as a cordial for David’s family in their future distresses, which Ethan by the Spirit of prophecy foresaw. Or, secondly, Some other person of the same name, and inspired by the same Spirit, Who had lived in the times of which the psalmist here speaketh.

The psalmist praiseth God for making and keeping covenant with David and his seed, Psalm 89:1-4; for his great power and care over his church, Psalm 89:5-18; for his favours to the kingdom of David, Psalm 89:19-22. The destruction of his enemies, Psalm 89:23. The faithfulness of God to them in covenant with him, Psalm 89:24-37. Complaining of contrary events, Psalm 89:38-45, he expostulateth with, prayeth unto, and blesseth the Lord, Psalm 89:46-52.

Intending to discourse of the doleful estate of David’s family and of his kingdom, he prefaceth this, partly lest the following complaints of present miseries should argue ingratitude for former mercies. Thy faithfulness; whatsoever hath befallen or shall befall David’s house, or any other, it proceeded not from thy unfaithfulness, but from some other causes.

I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever,.... Both temporal and spiritual, especially the latter, in which there is a large display of the rich and abundant mercy of God, from whence they are so called; as in the choice of men to everlasting life, who are said to be vessels of mercy; in the covenant of grace made with them, the blessings of which are the sure mercies of David; in the mission of Christ, whose coming, as the dayspring from on high, is owing to the tender mercy of our God; in redemption by him, in which mercy and truth have met together; in regeneration, which is according to abundant mercy; in the forgiveness of sins, which is according to the multitude of his tender mercies; and in the whole of salvation, which is not by works of righteousness, but by the mercy of God through Christ: the word may be rendered "graces, kindnesses, goodnesses" (l), and designs the abundance of grace; as in the heart of God, in the covenant, in the hands of Christ, as displayed through him, and in the several parts of salvation, and the whole of it: and these are a proper subject for a song; and a truly gracious soul, sensible of these things, thankful for them, cheerful on account of them, and seeing his interest in them, cannot but "sing" of them; and will determine to do it "for ever", every day, and all the day long, as long as he lives, and while he has any being, and which he will do to all eternity:

with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations; God is faithful to himself, to all the perfections of his nature, to his truth, holiness, and justice, he cannot deny himself; he is so to his Son, and to all engagements with him, and promises to him; to all his counsels, purposes, and decrees; all which are faithfulness and truth, or faithfully and truly performed; and to his covenant and promises made to his people in Christ, in whom they are all yea and amen: and that this glorious perfection of God might be made known to the saints in all successive generations, and be taken notice of by them, the psalmist spoke and sung this psalm with his mouth, and penned it with his hand; in which there is more mention made of the faithfulness of God than perhaps in any other passage of Scripture besides; see Psalm 89:2.

(k) Works, vol. i. p. 699, 700. (l) "bonitates", Tigurine version; "benignitates", Junius & Tremellius; "beneficia", Piscator; "gratias", Cocceius.

<> I will {a} sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.

(a) Though the horrible confusion of things might cause them to despair of God's favour, yet the manifold examples of his mercies cause them to trust in God though to man's judgment they saw no reason to.

1. God’s lovingkindnesses and faithfulness are an unfailing theme for grateful song. The past lovingkindnesses of God are unalterable facts; His faithfulness to His promises is beyond question: thus in these opening verses the poet’s faith rises triumphantly over the circumstances in which he is situated.

the mercies] Better, the lovingkindnesses, and so throughout the Psalm. ‘Lovingkindness’ and ‘faithfulness’ are its key-words, each occurring seven times. Cp. Isaiah 55:3, “the sure” (or “faithful”) “loving-kindnesses shewn to David.”

with my mouth] Aloud and openly.

1–4. The Psalmist states his theme: the lovingkindness and faithfulness of Jehovah, which he is persuaded can never fail; and the promise of eternal dominion to the house of David.

Verses 1-4 are introductory to the first section (vers. 1-37). They strike the keynote, which is, first, praise of God's faithfulness generally (vers. 1, 2), and secondly, praise of him in respect of the Davidical covenant (vers. 3, 4). Verse 1. - I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever. "Forever" is the emphatic phrase. The psalmist will commemorate God's mercies, not only when they are continuing, but always. With my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations; literally, to generation and generation. Psalm 89:1The poet, who, as one soon observes, is a חכם (for the very beginning of the Psalm is remarkable and ingenious), begins with the confession of the inviolability of the mercies promised to the house of David, i.e., of the הסדי דוד הנּאמנים, Isaiah 55:3.

(Note: The Vulgate renders: Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo. The second Sunday after Easter takes its name from this rendering.)

God's faithful love towards the house of David, a love faithful to His promises, will he sing without ceasing, and make it known with his mouth, i.e., audibly and publicly (cf. Job 19:16), to the distant posterity. Instead of חסדי, we find here, and also in Lamentations 3:22, חסדי with a not merely slightly closed syllable. The Lamed of לדר ודר is, according to Psalm 103:7; Psalm 145:12, the datival Lamed. With כּי־אמרתּי (lxx, Jerome, contrary to Psalm 89:3, ὅτι εἶπας) the poet bases his resolve upon his conviction. נבנה means not so much to be upheld in building, as to be in the course of continuous building (e.g., Job 22:23; Malachi 3:15, of an increasingly prosperous condition). Loving-kindness is for ever (accusative of duration) in the course of continuous building, viz., upon the unshakeable foundation of the promise of grace, inasmuch as it is fulfilled in accordance therewith. It is a building with a most solid foundation, which will not only not fall into ruins, but, adding one stone of fulfilment upon another, will rise ever higher and higher. שׁמים then stands first as casus absol., and בּהם is, as in Psalm 19:5, a pronoun having a backward reference to it. In the heavens, which are exalted above the rise and fall of things here below, God establishes His faithfulness, so that it stands fast as the sun above the earth, although the condition of things here below seems sometimes to contradict it (cf. Psalm 119:89). Now follow in Psalm 89:4-5 the direct words of God, the sum of the promises given to David and to his seed in 2 Samuel 7, at which the poet arrives more naturally in Psalm 89:20. Here they are strikingly devoid of connection. It is the special substance of the promises that is associated in thought with the "loving-kindness" and "truth" of Psalm 89:3, which is expanded as it were appositionally therein. Hence also אכין and תּכין, וּבניתי and יבּנה correspond to one another. David's seed, by virtue of divine faithfulness, has an eternally sure existence; Jahve builds up David's throne "into generation and generation," inasmuch as He causes it to rise ever fresh and vigorous, never as that which is growing old and feeble.

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