The Psalms Book 3: 86-89

Psalm 86‑89  •  10 min. read  •  grade level: 5
It may be noticed that the name of God rises to its covenant character toward the close of Psa. 83, and for anticipated enjoyment in that relationship, whether in His house or on the way there and for the land, in the two psalms that follow for the sons of Korah. Jehovah still appears in Psa. 86, but Adonai enters much into “the player of David,” which entreats and counts on His grace, being as good as He is great, Whom all nations shall worship, coming before Him. But this glorifying of His name is not without a token for good shown His beloved to put His haters to shame. Israel cannot enter on their promised blessings save through judgments on the quick.
Psalm 86
“A prayer of David. Incline thine ear, Jehovah, answer me; for I [am] poor and needy. Keep my soul, for I [am] godly. O thou my God, save thy servant that confideth in thee. Be gracious to me, O Lord, for unto thee do I call all the day. Gladden the soul of thy servant, for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. For thou, Lord, [art] good and forgiving, and great in mercy to all that call on thee. Give ear, O Jehovah, to my prayer, and attend to the voice of my supplications. In the day of my distress I will call upon thee, for thou wilt answer me. There is none like thee among the gods, O Lord, and there are none like thy works. All Gentiles whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord, and shall glorify thy name. For thou [art] great and doest wondrous things; thou [art] God, thou alone. Teach me, O Jehovah, thy way, I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name. I will thank thee, O Lord my Savior, with all my heart, and I will glorify thy name forever. For thy mercy [is] great unto me, and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell. O God, proud men rise against me, and an assembly of violent [men] sought my soul and set thee not before them. But thou, Lord, [art] a God (El) merciful and gracious, slow of rage and great in mercy and truth. Turn unto me and be gracious to me; give thy strength to thy servant, and save the son of thy handmaid. Show me a token for good; and my haters shall see and be ashamed, because thou, O Jehovah, hast helped me and comforted me” (vers. 1-17).
As Christ the Lord is the sole key to the preceding psalms, which bring together Israel poor and needy looking to Him, and all nations coming to worship before Him, so it explains the divine spring of Israel's patriotism. For all others it is self, the first man. Mere justice might and must have cut all down: grace counts that This man was born (not crucified!) there. But grace indeed can recall many an elder that obtained a good report through faith. Zion is Jehovah's foundation, He loves its very gates. In vain do the seats of the world's power, wisdom, and wealth, exalt themselves.
Psalm 87
“For the sons of Korah, a psalm, a song. His foundation [is] in the mountains of holiness. Jehovah loveth the gates of Zion more than all the tabernacles of Jacob. Glorious things [are] spoken of thee, O city of God. Selah. I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to those that know me. Behold Philistia, and Tire, with Cush: this [man] was born there. And of Zion it shall be said, [This] man and [that] man was born in her: and the most High himself shall establish her. Jehovah will count, in inscribing the peoples, This man was born there. Selah. And singers as well as pipers (or dancers) shall say, All my springs [are] are in thee” (vers. 1-7).
Next follows a psalm of profound sorrow and sense of wrath with no glimmer of light beyond the opening words. Israel to be blessed must pass through this, and have Christ's Spirit and sympathy with them in it. What could law do for those under it but press its terrors unto death?
Psalm 88
“A song, a psalm, for the sons of Korah. To the chief musician, upon Mahalath and Leannoth, an instruction of Heman the Ezrahite. O Jehovah, God of my salvation, [by] day have I cried, and in the night before thee. Let my prayer come before thee; incline thine ear to my cry. For my soul is full of troubles, and my life draweth nigh to Sheol. I am counted with those that descend to the pit, I am as a man without strength: among the dead free, as the slain that lie in the grave, whom thou rememberest no more, and they are cut off from thy hand. Thou hast laid me in the pit of abysses, in dark places, in depths. Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted [me] with all thy breakers. Selah. Thou hast put mine acquaintance far from me, thou hast made me abomination to them: [I am] shut up and cannot come forth. Mine eye wasteth because of mine affliction. I have called on thee, O Jehovah, every day, I have stretched out my hands toward thee. Wilt thou do a wonder to the dead? shall shades (Rephaim) arise? shall they praise thee? Selah. Shall thy mercy be declared in the grave? thy faithfulness in destruction (Abaddon)? Shall thy wonder be known in the darkness? and thy righteousness in a land of forgetfulness? But for me, I cry unto thee, O Jehovah, and in the morning my prayer corneth before thee. Why, O Jehovah, dost thou cast off my soul? Hidest thou thy face from me? Poor [am] I and expiring from youth; I have borne thy terror; I am distracted. Thy fierce angers have come over me; thy terrors have cut me off, they have surrounded me like the water all the day, and they have closed in upon me together. Thou hast put far from me lover and associate; mine acquaintances [are] darkness” (vers. 1-18).
In striking contrast, but morally connected closely with the preceding tone of depression and wrath under law, is the last psalm of this book; which is the expression of mercy and faithfulness in Christ, the object and securer of divine promises and especially of those to David. It was the dark night; now comes the dawn of the day when the Sun of righteousness arises with healing in His wings for the afflicted righteous, and He shall tread down the wicked as ashes. For it is in no way the gospel of grace, but the kingdom displayed in power and justice by Jehovah-Messiah on the earth.
Psalm 89
“An instruction of Ethan the Ezrahite. I will sing of the mercies of Jehovah forever, with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness [from] generation to generation. For I said, Forever shall mercy be built up; thou wilt stablish thy faithfulness in the heavens. I have made a covenant with mine elect [one], I have sworn to David my servant. Forever will I stablish thy seed, and build up thy throne [from] generation to generation. Selah. And the heavens shall confess thy wonder, O Jehovah, and thy faithfulness in the congregation of the saints. For who in the sky can compare with Jehovah? [who] among the sons of the mighty (pl.) can be likened to Jehovah? God (El) [is] greatly to be feared in the council of the saints and terrible above all those around him. Jehovah God of hosts, who [is] like thee, strong Jah, and thy faithfulness round about thee? Thou rulest in the pride of the sea, in the arising of its waves thou stillest them. Thou hast crushed Rahab as a slain [one]; with the arm of thy strength thou hast scattered thine enemies. Thine [are] the heavens, yea, thine the earth; the world and its fullness, thou hast founded them. The north and the south, thou hast created them: Tabor and Hermon triumph in thy name. Thine [is] an arm with might, strong is thy hand; exalted is thy right hand. Righteousness and judgment [are] the foundation of thy throne, mercy and truth go before thy face. Blessed the people that know the joyful shout! Jehovah, in the light of thy face they walk. In thy name they rejoice all the day, and in thy righteousness they are exalted. For thou [art] the honor of their strength, and in thy favor our horn shall be exalted. For to Jehovah [belongeth] our shield, and to the Holy one of Israel, our king. Then thou spakest in vision of thy Holy One,1 and saidst, I have laid help upon a mighty one, I have exalted one chosen from the people. I have found David my servant, with my holy oil have I anointed him; with whom my hand shall be established, yea, mine arm shall strengthen him. No enemy shall exact upon him nor son of wickedness afflict him. And I will beat down his adversaries before him, and will smite his haters. And my faithfulness and my mercy [shall be] with him, and in my name shall his horn be exalted. And I will set his hand in the sea, and in the rivers his right hand. He shall call upon me, My father [art] thou, my God (El) and the rock of my salvation. And for me, I will make him first-born, most high to kings of earth. My mercy will I keep for him, and my covenant [shall be] fixed for him. And I have set forever his seed, and his throne as the days of heaven. If his sons forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments, if they profane my statutes, and keep not my commandments, then will I visit their transgressions with a rod and their iniquities with stripes. But my mercy I will not utterly take from him, nor belie my faithfulness; nor will I profane my covenant, nor change what is gone out of my lips. Once have I sworn in my holiness, I will not lie to David; his seed shall be forever, and his throne as the sun before me, as the moon is established forever, as the witness in the sky [is] firm. Selah. But thou hast cast off and rejected; thou hast been wroth with thine anointed one; thou hast made void the covenant of thy servant; thou hast broken down all his hedges, thou hast brought his strongholds to ruin. All that pass by the way plunder him; he is become a reproach to his neighbors. Thou hast exalted the right hand of his adversaries. Thou hast made all his enemies to rejoice. Yea, thou turnest back the edge of his sword, and hast not made him stand in the battle. Thou hast made his brightness to cease, and his throne to the earth thou hast cast down. Thou hast shortened the days of his youth, thou hast covered him with shame. Selah. How long, O Jehovah, wilt thou hide thyself forever? Shall thy wrath burn as fire? Remember as to me what [is] life. Wherefore hast thou created all sons of man (Adam) vanity? What man (geber) liveth and shall not see death? Shall he deliver his soul from the hand of Sheol? Selah. Where [are] thy former mercies, Lord, thou swarest to David in thy faithfulness? Remember, Lord, the reproach of thy servants—I bear in my bosom all the mighty (or many) peoples—[with] which thine enemies have reproached, O Jehovah; [with] which they have reproached the footsteps (heels) of thine anointed one. Blessed be Jehovah forever. Amen and Amen” (vers. 1-53).
1. Carefully note that it is “Holy One” here as in Psa. 16. the Pious One, object of divine favor. In the verse before it is the One separate from evil, the usual force of a holy being.