Psalm 89:38
But you have cast off and abhorred, you have been wroth with your anointed.
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(38) But thou.—The poem takes a new departure here. God is reproached for violating the covenant, and the contrast between the actual condition of things in Israel at present, and the glorious destiny promised, is feelingly set forth.

The boldness of this expostulation has scandalised the Jewish expositors. But see exactly similar language, Psalm 44:9; Psalm 44:22. The point of the poem, indeed, is gone if we soften down these expressions. The stronger the conviction of the inviolability of God’s promises, the more vehement becomes the sense of right to expostulate at their seeming violation, the delay of the fulfilment of the covenant. We may illustrate by the Latin poet’s

“Hic pietatis honos, sic nos in sceptra reponis?”

VIRGIL: Æn. 1:25.

Psalm 89:38-45. But thou hast cast off — Having hitherto declared the certainty of God’s promises, he now proceeds to show the unsuitableness of the present dispensations of God’s providence thereunto, and humbly expostulates with God about it. Thou hast been wroth with thine anointed — That person and family that thou hast invested with the kingdom. Thou hast made void, &c. — Which seems contrary to thy word given, Psalm 89:34. Thou hast profaned his crown — By exposing that sacred person, and family, and kingdom to contempt, and giving his sceptre and power into the hands of the uncircumcised. Thou hast broken down all his hedges — All the means of his protection and safety. He is a reproach to his neighbours — An object of their scorn and reproach. Is this the anointed of the Lord? Is this the everlasting family and kingdom? Thou hast set up the right hand of his adversaries — Thou hast given them courage, and power, and success. Thou hast turned the edge of his sword — So that he can neither offend his enemies nor defend himself. And hast not made him to stand — But to flee and fall before his enemies; for more is understood than what is expressed. The days of his youth hast thou shortened — The youthful and flourishing estate of David’s kingdom was very short, and reached not beyond his next successors, and it had been languishing, by degrees, till this time, when it seemed to be dead and buried.89:38-52 Sometimes it is not easy to reconcile God's providences with his promises, yet we are sure that God's works fulfil his word. When the great Anointed One, Christ himself, was upon the cross, God seemed to have cast him off, yet did not make void his covenant, for that was established for ever. The honour of the house of David was lost. Thrones and crowns are often laid in the dust; but there is a crown of glory reserved for Christ's spiritual seed, which fadeth not away. From all this complaint learn what work sin makes with families, noble families, with families in which religion has appeared. They plead with God for mercy. God's unchangeableness and faithfulness assure us that He will not cast off those whom he has chosen and covenanted with. They were reproached for serving him. The scoffers of the latter days, in like manner, reproach the footsteps of the Messiah when they ask, Where is the promise of his coming? 2Pe 3:3,4. The records of the Lord's dealings with the family of David, show us his dealings with his church, and with believers. Their afflictions and distresses may be grievous, but he will not finally cast them off. Self-deceivers abuse this doctrine, and others by a careless walk bring themselves into darkness and distress; yet let the true believer rely on it for encouragement in the path of duty, and in bearing the cross. The psalm ends with praise, even after this sad complaint. Those who give God thanks for what he has done, may give him thanks for what he will do. God will follow those with his mercies, who follow him with praises.But thou hast cast off - literally, Thou hast treated as a foul, offensive thing; thou hast treated him to whom these promises were made, as if he were a vile and detestable object - as that which one throws away because it is worthless or offensive.

And abhorred - Hast despised; that is, as if it were an object of aversion or contempt. Compare Psalm 60:1, Psalm 60:10.

Thou hast been wroth - literally, "Thou hast suffered (thine anger) to overflow," or to pour itself forth. See Psalm 78:21, Psalm 78:59.

With thine anointed - With him who had been anointed as king - anointed as thine own - to administer justice, and to rule for thee. 1 Samuel 16:1, 1 Samuel 16:13. This might seem to refer to the time of Absalom, when David was driven from his throne and his kingdom; see, however, the Introduction to the Psalm.

38-52. present a striking contrast to these glowing promises, in mournful evidences of a loss of God's favor.

cast off—and rejected (compare Ps 15:4; 43:2; 44:9).

38 But thou hast cast off and abhorred, thou hast been wroth with thine anointed.

39 Thou hast made void the covenant of thy servant: thou hast pro-faned his crown by casting it to the ground.

40 Thou hast broken down all his hedges; thou hast brought his strong holds to ruin.

41 All that pass by the way spoil him: he is a reproach to his neighbours.

42 Thou hast set up the right hand of his adversaries; thou hast made all his enemies to rejoice.

43 Thou hast also turned the edge of his sword, and hast not made him to stand in the battle.

44 Thou hast made his glory to cease, and cast his throne down to the ground.

45 The days of his youth hast thou shortened: thou hast covered him with shame. Selah.

46 How long, Lord? wilt thou hide thyself for ever? shall thy wrath burn like fire?

47 Remember how short my time is: wherefore hast thou made all men in vain?

48 What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death? shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave? Selah.

49 Lord, where are thy former lovingkindnesses, which thou swarest unto David in thy truth?

50 Remember, Lord, the reproach of thy servants; how I do bear in my bosom the reproach of all the mighty people.

51 Wherewith thine enemies have reproached, O Lord; wherewith they have reproached the footsteps of thine anointed.


Having hitherto declared the certainty of God’s promises, he now proceeds to show the unsuitableness of the present dispensations of God’s providence thereunto, and humbly expostulates with God about it. Thine anointed; that person and family which thou hast invested with the kingdom. But thou hast cast off,.... Here begin objections to what is before said, and swore to; even to the everlasting love of God, to Christ, and to his seed, to the unchangeableness and unalterableness of the covenant, and to the continuance and perpetuity of the kingdom and church of Christ, taken from the dealings of the Lord with the Messiah and his people; which were made either by the psalmist, under a spirit of prophecy, foreseeing what would come to pass; or by the apostles and church of Christ, about the time of his sufferings and death, and after; when he seemed to be "cast off", and rejected by the Lord, particularly when he forsook him, and hid his face from him, Matthew 27:46, as when he hides his face from his people, it is interpreted by them a casting them off; see Psalm 44:22,

and abhorred; not that he abhorred the person of Christ, who was his own Son, his beloved Son; nor his afflictions and sufferings, which were a sacrifice of a sweet smelling savour to him; see Psalm 22:24, though these might be interpreted by others as if the Lord abhorred or rejected him; because he suffered him to be used in the manner he was, and particularly to be abhorred by the Jews, even by the nation in general, Isaiah 49:7, though the sins of his people, which he had upon him, and for which he suffered, were an abhorring to the Lord; and when he was made sin, he was made a curse:

thou hast been wroth with thine Anointed; with thy Messiah; not Rehoboam, from whom the ten tribes were rent; nor Josiah, who was killed by Pharaohnecho; nor Zedekiah, carried captive into Babylon; but the true Messiah, the son of David, before said to be found by the Lord, and anointed with his holy oil, Psalm 89:20, which is to be understood of him, not as his own son, who was always the object of his love, but as the sinner's surety, bearing the sins of his people, and all the wrath and punishment due unto them; and so is reconcilable to the promise, that lovingkindness should not be taken from him, Psalm 89:33 and is no objection to it, though made one.

But thou hast cast off and abhorred, thou hast been wroth with thine anointed.
38. And THOU, thou hast cast off and rejected,

Hast been enraged with thine anointed.

The Psalmist has drawn out God’s promise in the fullest detail, and now he confronts God with it:—thou Who art omnipotent, faithful, and just; thou Who hast made this promise, and confirmed it with the most solemn oath; thou hast broken it! Some punishment might have been expected (Psalm 89:30 ff.), but not this total abandonment (Psalm 89:33 ff.). David’s heir has the same fate as Saul (1 Samuel 15:23; 1 Samuel 15:26), in spite of the express promise that it should not be so (2 Samuel 7:15).

The audacity of the expostulation scandalised many ancient Jewish commentators, and the famous Aben-Ezra of Toledo (d. 1167) relates that there was a certain wise and pious man in Spain, who would neither read nor listen to this Psalm. But the boldness is that of faith, not of irreverence: it finds a parallel in Psalm 44:9 ff., and in Habakkuk’s questionings (Habakkuk 1:2 ff., Habakkuk 1:13 ff.).

38–45. But present realities are in appalling contrast to this glorious promise: the king is rejected and dethroned, his kingdom is overrun by invaders, his enemies are triumphant.Verses 38-45. - A sudden and complete change here sets in. Rejoicing is turned into mourning, eulogy into complaint. Notwithstanding all the promises of God, notwithstanding his inherent and essential "faithfulness," the Davidical king and his kingdom are at the last gasp. Seemingly, every promise made has been broken, every hope held out of good turned into an actuality of evil. God is wroth with his anointed, has made void the covenant with him, profaned his crown and cast it to the ground, turned the edge of his sword, and made him not to stand in the battle; he has laid his land open to the enemy, broken down its defenses, brought its strongholds to ruin, given it as a spoil to all who pass by; he has set up the right hand of Israel's adversaries, caused them to rejoice and triumph in Israel's disgrace and suffering; he has covered the king with shame, and cut short the days of his youth. How is this? And what is to be the end of it? Verse 38. - But thou hast cast off and abhorred, thou hast been wroth with thine anointed. The first "thou" is emphatic - אתּה, THOU, "the faithful Witness;" THOU, who hast made all these promises, art the very One who has falsified them all - who hast "been wroth with thine anointed," abhorred (or rejected) him, and cast him off: Now follows the paraphrase of 2 Samuel 7:14, that the faithlessness of David's line in relation to the covenant shall not interfere with (annul) the faithfulness of God - a thought with which one might very naturally console one's self in the reign of Rehoboam. Because God has placed the house of David in a filial relationship to Himself, He will chastise the apostate members as a father chastises his son; cf. Proverbs 23:13. In 1 Chronicles 17:13 the chronicler omits the words of 2 Samuel 7:14 which there provide against perverted action (העוות) on the part of the seed of David; our Psalm proves their originality. But even if, as history shows, this means of chastisement should be ineffectual in the case of individuals, the house of David as such will nevertheless remain ever in a state of favour with Him. In Psalm 89:34 חסדּי לא־אפיר מעמּו corresponds to וחסדּי־לא־יסוּר ממּנּוּ in 2 Samuel 7:15 (lxx, Targum): the fut. Hiph. of פרר is otherwise always אפר; the conjecture אסיר is therefore natural, yet even the lxx translators (ου ̓ μὴ διασκεδάσω) had אפיר before them. שׁקּר בּ as in Psalm 44:18. The covenant with David is sacred with God: He will not profane it (חלּל, to loose the bonds of sanctity). He will fulfil what has gone forth from His lips, i.e., His vow, according to Deuteronomy 23:24 [23], cf. Numbers 30:3 [2]. One thing hath He sworn to David; not: once equals once for all (lxx), for what is introduced by Psalm 89:36 (cf. Psalm 27:4) and follows in Psalm 89:37, Psalm 89:38, is in reality one thing (as in Psalm 62:12, two). He hath sworn it per sanctitatem suam. Thus, and not in sanctuario meo, בּקדשׁי in this passage and Amos 4:2 (cf. on Psalm 60:8) is to be rendered, for elsewhere the expression is בּי, Genesis 22:16; Isaiah 45:23, or בּנפשׁו, Amos 6:8; Jeremiah 51:14, or בּשׁמי, Jeremiah 44:26, or בּימינו, Isaiah 62:8. It is true we do not read any set form of oath in 2 Samuel 7, 1 Chronicles 17, but just as Isaiah, Isaiah 54:9, takes the divine promise in Genesis 8:21 as an oath, so the promise so earnestly and most solemnly pledged to David may be accounted by Psalm-poesy (here and in Psalm 132:11), which reproduces the historical matter of fact, as a promise attested with an oath. With אם in Psalm 89:36 God asserts that He will not disappoint David in reference to this one thing, viz., the perpetuity of his throne. This shall stand for ever as the sun and moon; for these, though they may one day undergo a change (Psalm 102:27), shall nevertheless never be destroyed. In the presence of 2 Samuel 7:16 it looks as if Psalm 89:38 ought to be rendered: and as the witness in the clouds shall it (David's throne) be faithful (perpetual). By the witness in the clouds one would then have to understand the rainbow as the celestial memorial and sign of an everlasting covenant. Thus Luther, Geier, Schmid, and others. But neither this rendering, nor the more natural one, "and as the perpetual, faithful witness in the clouds," is admissible in connection with the absence of the כּ of comparison. Accordingly Hengstenberg, following the example of Jewish expositors, renders: "and the witness in the clouds is perpetual," viz., the moon, so that the continuance of the Davidic line would be associated with the moon, just as the continuance of the condemned earth is with the rainbow. But in what sense would the moon have the name, without example elsewhere, of witness? Just as the Book of Job was the key to the conclusion of Psalm 88, so it is the key to this ambiguous verse of the Psalm before us. It has to be explained according to Job 16:19, where Job says: "Behold in heaven is my witness, and my surety in the heights." Jahve, the אל נאמן (Deuteronomy 7:9), seals His sworn promise with the words, "and the witness in the sky (ethereal heights) is faithful" (cf. concerning this Waw in connection with asseverations, Ew. 340, c). Hengstenberg's objection, that Jahve cannot be called His own witness, is disposed of by the fact that עד frequently signifies the person who testifies anything concerning himself; in this sense, in fact, the whole Tra is called עדוּת ה (the testimony of Jahve).
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