For my weekly quiet time this week, I will blog about Psalm 89.
Psalm 89, we start with the Psalmist praising God and exalting God's
power and supremacy. Psalm 89 then moves on to discuss God's anointing
and strengthening of the Davidic dynasty, as well as God's covenant
faithfulness to it, whatever its transgressions (which God will
discipline). Psalm 89 then turns to the Psalmist asking where God's
faithfulness to the dynasty is, as God has severely undermined the
king's protective walls and strongholds, the king has been taunted and
scorned by enemies, God has not supported the king in battle (and, in v
51, the enemies may be mocking the king's retreat), God has thrown the
king's crown and throne to the ground, and the king has become impure
(see vv 39, 44).
Moreover, someone speaking in the first
person----perhaps the king, or an Israelite concerned about the
well-being of the Davidic dynasty (one reason being that Israel does
well when the Davidic dynasty does well)----reflects on mortality. He
feels that God has shortened his youth, and he then recognizes that life
is a mere vapor and that everyone is heading towards death. The
speaker may be wondering what the point is of God's faithfulness to the
Davidic dynasty when people do not even live long enough to enjoy it,
and when God does not appear to practice it consistently. Or the
speaker may be trying to get God to feel sorry for the king and Israel
by reminding God that they are mere vapors----that they do not live
long, and so God should help them to enjoy whatever years they have left
by reversing their horrible situation.
The Psalm ends by saying (in the KJV): "Blessed [be] the LORD for evermore. Amen, and Amen."
apply this Psalm to the aftermath of the events of 587 B.C.E., when
Jerusalem was destroyed and the authority of the Davidic monarchy was
brought to an end. But the Psalm is attributed to Ethan the Ezrahite,
who appears in I Kings 4:31 to have lived long before that time. Some
interpreters maintain that the Psalmist is not lamenting the destruction
of Jerusalem in 587 B.C.E., therefore, but rather the defeat of the
Davidic king in battle sometime before then.
agree with those who believe that Psalm 89 has different layers. I
think that the Psalm was originally praising the power and supremacy of
God as well as God's faithfulness to the Davidic dynasty, and a later
hand added a lament sometime after 587 B.C.E. because God did not appear
to be living up to God's promises or demonstrating God's supremacy over
the enemies of God and Israel. This later hand felt free to indicate
that he did not find the positive elements of Psalm 89 to be overly
believable. And yet, he wanted to believe in the promises and in God's supremacy, for those were the keys to his nation's restoration.