Book 3: Psalms 73-89

Psalm 73‑89  •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 7
Overview. We have the deliverance and restoration of Israel (the whole nation) and God’s ways toward them as such. At the close Jerusalem is the center of His blessing and government. The sanctuary is prominent.
The general interests of Israel are in view in connection with the house of David. The house of David is distinct from Israel. Israel had failed in responsibility, and Israel, as Israel, was gone before David’s time. In the opening of 1 Samuel we see that the priesthood, which was the relationship between the people and God, had utterly failed. The ark of the covenant had fallen into the hands of the Philistines, and “Ichabod” (“the glory is departed”) was the sentence pronounced upon the people. Then we have prophecy, which is a sovereign way of God’s intervention to recall to relationship with Himself. The history of David is grace working in power in a sovereign way to bring in blessing and to renew God’s connection with Israel, resting now on the faithfulness of the house of David.
In this book we have less personal connection with Christ and more of the general ways of God going out to all people. Having failed in responsibility, Israel is now the object of divine goodness, but such only as are of “a pure heart.” All jealous and hostile nations come under judgment.
Divine Names. The divine names of Elohim and Jehovah are more mingled.
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Psalm 73. We find at once in this third book the less personal connection of the godly remnant with Christ: “Truly God is good to Israel.” The saint is perplexed at the prosperity of the wicked. The body of the people is in unbelief. We know from Isaiah 18 that the people will be brought back to their land in unbelief. In verse 4 the Lord keeps aloof, not acknowledging them. Then the beasts of the earth and the fowls of heaven possess them. It is the inroad of the nations, but in verse 7 the Lord owns them and the remnant inherits Mount Zion. When Israel is owned, you find in the prophets that the Assyrian is the enemy, and when Israel is disowned, it is the beast, as Nebuchadnezzar.
Psalm 74 complains of the hostile desolation of the sanctuary when rebuilt in the land. All public Jewish worship is laid low. The inquiry “How long?” is a technical term in the Psalms and the prophets; in those who say it, it is a proof of faith. They know Jehovah will not give up His people. In the trouble faith cries, “How long?” because it knows there must be an end. You find it in Isaiah 6: “Then said I, Lord, how long?” In Luke 18:88I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8) the Lord says, “When the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” Such will be the condition into which the testimony will have fallen that there will be scarcely any among the remnant with courage to say, “How long?” “Neither is there among us any that knoweth how long” (vs. 9). But these psalms are written to prevent faith failing.
We have the Assyrian coming up to Jerusalem in this psalm. He comes up twice; the first time he takes Jerusalem, and the second time he finds the Lord there. You will find both in Isaiah. In chapter 28 the Assyrian takes the city, and in chapter 29 he finds the Lord there.
Psalm 75. The Messiah is introduced as speaking, though the psalm commences with the remnant. The judgments of God introduce Messiah to the kingdom. He is introduced as delivering the remnant out of the difficulty. He receives the congregation. Then righteous judgment will be executed.
Psalm 76. By the intervention of Jehovah we get the deliverance from the assembled kings, which we read of in Isaiah 29.
Psalm 77 gives us the working of faith in this time of trouble. See verses 9-10.
In Psalm 78 the remnant look back over all the history of Israel and how sovereign grace was brought in by David and Mount Zion, which gives the principle of God’s grace delivering by power when both Israel and Judah had totally failed in responsibility.
Psalm 79 is the cry of the remnant in Israel when under the power of the hostile nations in the last days.
Psalm 80 is a striking example of how their minds go back to Israel of old in the wilderness. In verse 2 the three tribes, Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh, were nearest the ark, and when the camp moved these tribes were immediately next to the ark, behind the tabernacle, and the sanctuary went immediately before them on the march of the camp.
Have we any scripture to say when the ten tribes will return? No, Ezekiel 37 defines the circumstances of Israel’s return, but not the time. In Ezekiel we have Judah and Israel his companions as one stick, distinguished from the whole house of Israel in the other stick. At the Lord’s first coming Simeon and Anna of the tribe of Asher are among the godly remnant waiting for redemption in Israel (Luke 2).
How far do the remnant know Christ as the “Man of Thy right hand” (vs. 17)? I cannot tell. It is all for them, but probably, as is the case with us, it will differ according to the measure of spiritual intelligence in each one.
As a matter of revelation, the only things not in the Old Testament are the church and the heavenly priesthood of Christ.
The cry of the psalm is occasioned by the great distress of Israel (vss. 12-13). You must remember that Babylon and Assyria in the last days are against one another. Antichrist is the imperial Roman beast’s lieutenant in Judea. Assyria resists the beast, and all nations come up. Gog is the Assyrian of the last days, the territory now occupied by Russia. We have in Ezekiel the “Prince of Rosh” (translated “chief prince”), “Meshech and Tubal.”
Psalm 81 celebrates the coming in of God. The new (not full) moon is the symbol of Israel’s reappearing on the scene. It is their restoration before the day of atonement, not their full blessing.
In Leviticus 23, which records the seven feasts, there is a long interval after the Passover and the feast of Pentecost, when there is no feast at all. In the seventh month, which gives us complete fulfilled time, we find the feast of trumpets followed by the day of atonement and the feast of tabernacles, which last brings in the millennium.
In this psalm, then, we have Israel coming again on the scene. They had failed when redeemed out of Egypt of old. Still they would appear again to reflect the light of Jehovah’s countenance.
Psalm 82 is the Messiah judging among the authorities of the world. He judges among the gods of Israel and then the world. He inherits all nations.
Psalm 83. The last conspiracy is judged in Idumea; the Assyrian joins it, and then men know that Jehovah is “Most High over all the earth.”
Melchisedec gave Him this title, when he was His priest upon earth. It is not a title of proper relationship. He was the “Almighty” with the fathers and “Jehovah” with Israel; He is the “Father” with us. He will be the “Most High over all the earth” in the millennium. Up to this psalm, save when looking back or looking forward, the cry of the people is addressed to God, as not being in possession of covenant blessings.
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Psalm 84. As the result of verse 18 in the previous psalm, we see them in this psalm going to Jerusalem to worship. “Assur,” mentioned in verse 8 of the last psalm, is destroyed, and so they can come into Jerusalem again.
Psalm 85. In these psalms we are in a time of war and deliverance. Still the deliverance they celebrate is prophetic, for after all they are ushered into, in spirit they say, “Show us Thy mercy, O Lord, and grant us Thy salvation.” They are back in the land and yet are looking for full deliverance, prophetically.
In Psalm 86 the psalmist triumphs in Jehovah and is looking for Jehovah in the midst of his troubles.
In Psalm 87 he boasts in Zion in contrast with all the other places of man’s pride. God’s people are born there. Doubtless verse 6 refers to Christ Himself.
Is this the millennium? No. The millennium is prophesied of, but you never get it come in the Psalms, nor yet in Daniel. Prophecy is not needed when we are in the blessing!
Psalm 88. The remnant is in the depth of conviction of sin under the law.
Psalm 89 takes up God’s mercies, and we find Christ comes in and that these mercies all center in Him (vs. 19). “Then Thou spakest in vision to Thy holy one” — same word as that translated “mercies” in verse 1. In verse 18 the “Holy One” is really Jehovah and another word altogether.
It is here the cutting off of David’s house on the ground of failure under responsibility, and then the taking it up again in Christ. When Messiah came He ought to have been received, and so He would have established David’s house, but He was rejected, and the house of David was judged. But here it is set up in Christ, the center of God’s mercy, and so in the Acts we have Christ in resurrection as “the sure mercies of David.”