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John Gill’s Commentary of the Whole Bible: Psalm 89

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Psalms 89:1

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INTRODUCTION TO PSALM 89

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Maschil of Ethan the Ezrahite. Who this Ethan was is not certain. Kimchi takes him to be the same with Ethan the wise man, a grandson of Judah, 1Ki 4:31. But seeing he lived some hundreds of years before the times of David, it is not likely that he should be the writer of this psalm; for David is made mention of in it, which could not be, unless it can be thought to be by a spirit of prophecy; which indeed is the opinion of Doctor Lightfoot {k}, who takes this Ethan to be the penman of this psalm; and who

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“from the promise, Ge 15:1 sings joyfully the deliverance (of Israel); that the raging of the Red sea should be ruled, Ps 89:9, and Rahab, or Egypt, should be broken in pieces, Ps 89:10, and that the people should hear the joyful sound of the law, Ps 89:15, and as for the name of David in it, this, he says, might be done prophetically; as Samuel is thought to be named by Moses, Ps 99:6, which psalm is held to be made by him; or else might be put into it, in later times, by some divine penman, endued with the same gift of prophecy, who might improve the ground work of this psalm laid by Ethan, and set it to an higher key; namely, that whereas he treated only of bodily deliverance from Egypt, it is wound up so high as to reach the spiritual delivery by Christ; and therefore David is often named, from whence he should come.”

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There was another Ethan, a singer, in David’s time; and it is more probable that he is the person, who might live to the times of Rehoboam, and see the decline of David’s family, and the revolt of the ten tribes from it; or perhaps it was one of this name who lived in the times of the Babylonish captivity, and saw the low estate that David’s family were come into; to which agrees the latter part of this psalm; and, in order to comfort the people of God, he wrote this psalm, showing that the covenant and promises of God, made with David, nevertheless stood firm, and would be accomplished: the title of the Septuagint version calls him Etham the Israelite; and the Arabic version Nathan the Israelite: the Targum makes him to be Abraham, paraphrasing it

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“a good understanding, which was said by the hand of Abraham, that came from the east.”

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But whoever was the penman of this psalm, it is “maschil”, an instructive psalm, a psalm causing to understand; it treats concerning the covenant of grace, and the promises of it; and concerning the mercy and faithfulness of God, in making and keeping the same; and concerning the Messiah and his seed, his church and people; and the stability and duration of all these: many passages in it are applied to the Messiah by Jewish writers, ancient and modern; and Ps 89:20 is manifestly referred to in Ac 13:22.

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Ver. 1. 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:

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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 Ps 89:2.

{k} Works, vol. i. p. 699, 700. {l} ydox “bonitates”, Tigurine version; “benignitates”, Junius & Tremellius; “beneficia”, Piscator; “gratias”, Cocceius.

Psalms 89:2

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Ver. 2. For I have said,… That is, in his heart he had said, he had thought of it, was assured of it, strongly concluded it, from the Spirit and word of God; he believed it, and therefore he spoke it; having it from the Lord, it was all one as if he had spoke it:

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Psalms 89:3

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Ver. 3. I have made a covenant with my chosen,… Not with Abraham, as the Targum expresses it: but with David, as in the following clause; not David, literally understood, though he was chosen of the Lord to be his servant, and a covenant was made with him, and a promise made to him of the perpetuity of his throne and kingdom in his family, Ps 78:70 but mystical David, the Messiah, David’s son and antitype; after, on this account, called David in Scripture, Eze 34:23 and who is the Lord’s “chosen” One, foreordained to be the Redeemer of lost sinners, chosen to be the Mediator between God and them, to be the head of the church, and Saviour of the body; and his human nature was chosen to the grace of union to the Son of God, Ps 89:19, hence he is called God’s elect, Isa 43:1 and with him the covenant of grace was made from all eternity, and all the blessings and promises of it were put into his hands; he is the Mediator, surety, and messenger of it, and by his blood it is ratified and confirmed: the Septuagint render it, in the plural number, “with mine elect ones”; and it is a truth, that the covenant of grace is made with all the elect, considered in Christ, and is made with them as such, and not as believers, converted persons, &c. election is the foundation of the covenant, and the source of all covenant blessings:

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I have sworn unto David my servant: to the Messiah, called David, as before observed, and who is the Lord’s servant, as man and Mediator, of his choosing, calling, sending, and supporting, Isa 42:1, to whom he swore, and he will not repent; and which oath of his, joined to his covenant and promise, makes for the strong consolation of the heirs of promise; see Ps 89:35, the sum and substance of which covenant and oath follow.

Psalms 89:4

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Ver. 4. Thy seed will I establish for ever,… Meaning not the natural seed of David, at least not only them; whose family was indeed preserved, though in very low circumstances, until the Messiah came, who sprung from thence, Lu 1:27, but the spiritual seed of Christ, to whom it was promised that he should have a seed, and should see and enjoy it, and which should endure for ever; see Ps 89:29, and so he always has had a seed to serve him in all generations, in the worst of times, and will; and who are established in him, and will be kept and preserved by him, and whom he will present to his Father, saying, “Lo, I and the children whom thou hast given me”, Heb 2:13

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and build up thy throne to all generations; and this shows that the passage is not to be understood literally of David, and of his temporal throne and kingdom, which did not last many generations; but of the spiritual throne and kingdom of the Messiah, who sprung from him, called the throne of his father David, whose throne is for ever and ever, and whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, Lu 1:32 Ps 45:6, his throne is in the heavens, where he will reign until all enemies are put under his feet; and it is also in the midst of his church, and in the hearts of his people, where he reigns as King of saints; and he is on the same throne with his Father; it is the same with his, as to glory, power, and authority; on this he will sit, and judge the world at the last day; and on it he will reign with his people a thousand years, in the New Jerusalem state, and after that to all eternity, Re 3:21.

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Selah. See Gill on “Ps 3:2”.

Psalms 89:5

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Ver. 5. And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O Lord,… Which, by a prosopopceia, may be understood of the heavens literally, in the same sense as other inanimate creatures praise the Lord, Ps 148:3, or mystically of the church, consisting of heaven born souls, and whose doctrines and ordinances are from heaven; or of the apostles, as Jerom, who had their ministry, mission, commission, and gifts, from thence; or rather of the angels, the inhabitants of heaven, who praise the Lord for his wonderful works of nature, providence, and grace, Ps 148:2, particularly they admire and praise the wonderful work of redemption “that wonderful thing of thine” {m}, as the word may be rendered, being in the singular number: the person of the Redeemer is wonderful, and that is his name; his incarnation is a most amazing thing, it is the great mystery of godliness; and the redemption wrought out by him is the wonder of men and angels: when he appeared in the world, the angels of God worshipped him; at his birth, they sung glory to God in the highest; and the mysteries of his grace are what they look into with wonder and praise, Heb 1:6,

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thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints; i.e. is praised there; which Aben Ezra and Kimchi interpret of the angels also, who are called saints, De 33:2, of which there is a congregation, even an innumerable company, Re 19:6, these not only admire and praise the wonderful works of the Lord, but his perfections also; and particularly his faithfulness in the execution of promises and threatenings, Re 7:11, but rather holy men are meant, such as are called to be saints, and are gathered together in a Gospel church state, designed by a congregation of them, among and by whom the truth and faithfulness of God, as well as his lovingkindness and mercy, are spoken of with the highest commendation, Ps 40:9.

{m} Kalp “mirabile tuum”, Pagninus, Montanus, Cocceius, Gerjus; “mirabile apus tuum”, Junius & Tremellius; “illud miraculum tuum”, Michaelis.

Psalms 89:6

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Ver. 6. For who in the heaven can be compared unto the Lord?… Or “ranked” {n}, or put upon a par, with him; none of the angels in heaven; for though they are holy, wise, knowing, powerful, faithful, kind, and merciful creatures, yet not to be compared with the Lord for holiness, wisdom, knowledge, strength, faithfulness, and mercy; see Ex 15:11,

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who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the Lord? the Syriac version very wrongly renders it “the sons of angels”, seeing angels do not propagate their species, Lu 20:36 to which Kimchi agrees, who makes the “mighty” to be angels, and their sons to be the host of heaven, which are moved and guided by them: the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Ethiopic, and Arabic versions, render it “the sons of God”; and this phrase, indeed, is applicable to the angels, Job 38:7, and so the Targum interprets it of the multitude of the angels; but rather the mighty men of the earth, and their children, are meant; princes, nobles, judges, and civil magistrates of all sorts, men of power and authority in the world; there are none of them to be likened to the Lord, who is King of kings, and Lord of lords; see Ps 82:1.

{n} Krey “par aestimetur”, Junius & Tremellius; “par aestimabitur”, Piscator.

Psalms 89:7

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Ver. 7. God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints,… Which Jarchi and Kimchi understand of angels again, and render it “God is to be feared in the great assembly of them”; for they are a very large number, even an innumerable company, in and by whom the Lord is feared and worshipped, Heb 12:21, but rather an assembly or congregation of holy men are designed: it is the duty of such to assemble together publicly for religious worship; they ought to do it on account of the Lord, who requires it, and encourages it by his presence, he has promised; on the account of themselves, it being for their profit and pleasure; and on the account of others, for their conversion and comfort; and in imitation of the people of God, in all ages; nor should they forsake the assembling of themselves: the word

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dwo rendered “assembly”, signifies “counsel” or “secret”; see Ge 49:6 and so the Targum,

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“God is mighty in the secrets of the saints, sitting on a throne of glory;”

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in the assembly of the saints, the secrets of God’s love are disclosed unto them; the doctrines and mysteries of his grace, called the whole counsel of God, Ac 20:27 are there made known; and the ordinances of the Gospel, which also are styled the counsel of God, Lu 7:30, are there administered: now, where all this is done,

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God is greatly feared herein; not with a slavish fear, a fear of hell and damnation, such as may be in devils; nor with an hypocritical fear, such as is taught by the precepts of men; but with a filial, godly fear, such as is peculiar to the children of God; with an holy and humble fear, with a fiducial and fearless one; with a reverential affection for the Divine Being, and such as includes all worship of him, internal and external: and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him; which the Targum paraphrases

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“and is to be feared above all the angels that stand round about him”

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and so Kimchi interprets it; see Re 5:11, but the same thing, in different words, is meant, as in the preceding clause.

Psalms 89:8

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Ver. 8. O Lord God of hosts,… Of all the hosts of heaven, the sun, moon, and stars, and of all the heavenly hosts of angels, of all the armies in heaven, and the inhabitants of the earth:

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who is a strong Lord like unto thee? he is Jah, or Jehovah, and he alone is so, and is the most High in all the earth, Ps 83:18 and there is none like him for his great power and strength, by which he has made the heavens and the earth, and upholds them in their being; and by which he has redeemed his people, plucked them out of the hands of sin and Satan, and preserves them safe to his kingdom and glory: see Job 40:9,

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or to thy faithfulness round about thee; none so faithful as the Lord, none to be trusted as he, either angels or men; some understand it of the faithful ones that are about him, his trusty servants the angels, who stand round about him ready to do his will; or the glorified saints that are with him, the called, chosen, and faithful; see Ps 103:19 or rather the words are to be read, “and thy faithfulness is round about thee”; and so the Targum,

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“and thy truth (or faithfulness) surroundeth thee:”

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look all around him, and his faithfulness is everywhere to be seen; to himself, and the perfections of his nature; to his Son, and agreements with him; and to his counsels of old, his purposes and decrees, and to his covenant and promises: he is as it were clothed with faithfulness, and it appears in all the dispensations of his providence and grace.

Psalms 89:9

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Ver. 9. Thou rulest the raging of the sea,… The power, pride, and elation of it, when it swells, and foams, and rages, and becomes boisterous, and threatens vessels upon it with utter ruin and destruction; but the Lord, who has it under his dominion and government, restrains it; he has made and can manage it, and he only: his power over it is seen in assigning it its place, and ordering the waters of it to it when first made; in placing the sand for its boundary by a perpetual decree, which it cannot pass; by commanding the stormy wind to lift up its waves, and by making the storm a calm, and the waves thereof still; see Ps 107:25, instances of this were at the universal deluge, and at the Red sea:

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when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them; when the sea lifts up its waves, and both lift up their voice, and make a noise, and roar, the Lord hushes them, and makes them still and quiet, as a parent its child when it cries, or a master his scholars, when they are noisy and tumultuous; so Christ rebuked the wind, and checked the raging sea, and made it calm, when the ship in which he was with his disciples was covered with its waves; and as this is mentioned here as an instance of the great power and strength of the Lord of hosts, so that was a proof and evidence of the true and proper divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, Mt 8:24, all this may be understood, in a mystical sense, of the sea of this world, and the wicked inhabitants of it, who are as the troubled sea, and cannot rest, casting up mire and dirt, reproaching and blaspheming God and man; and particularly of tyrannical princes and potentates, who are like the proud waters and raging waves of the sea; but the Lord on high is mightier than they, and can and does restrain their wrath and rage, so that his people have nothing to fear from them; see Ps 124:3.

Psalms 89:10

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Ver. 10. Thou hast broken Rahab in pieces, as one that is slain,… Or Egypt, as in Ps 87:4 or the Egyptians, and particularly Pharaoh their king; so the Targum explains it,

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“Rahab or the proud one, this is Pharaoh the wicked;”

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who and his people were broken to pieces by the plagues that were brought upon them, especially when all their firstborn were slain; and he and his host were broke in pieces at the Red sea, and were seen by the Israelites on the shore, all dead men; and this was done as easily by the Lord, as one slain with the sword, as a dead carcass which has no life, power, and strength to defend itself, may be trampled upon, crushed, bruised, and broken to pieces, by a living man. All this may be an emblem of the Lord’s breaking in pieces the proud and insolent one Satan, as Rahab signifies; of his breaking his head, destroying his works, and spoiling his principalities and powers; and indeed of his destruction of every proud and haughty sinner, that says, Pharaoh like, who is the Lord, that I should obey him? and of every vain boaster, and self-righteous person, that trusts in his own righteousness, and will not submit to the righteousness of Christ; and particularly of mystical Egypt, the proud beast of Rome, antichrist, who sits in the temple of God as if he was God, showing himself to be so, blaspheming God, his name, his tabernacle, and his saints; who will be broken to shivers as a potter’s vessel, when the vials of God’s wrath are poured out, and at and by the coming of Christ:

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thou hast scattered thine enemies with thy strong arm; as the Egyptians were in the Red sea, by the waves of it, and cast upon the shore by them; and as the Amorites were by Moses, and the Canaanites by Joshua; which instances may be here referred unto; see Nu 10:35 these are further proofs of the power and strength of the Lord, Job 40:9.

Psalms 89:11

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Ver. 11. The heavens are thine,… They are made and inhabited by him, they are the work of his hands, and the seat of his majesty, and the throne of his glory; the angels of heaven are his, his creatures and servants; the several heavens are his, the airy, starry, and third heavens; the place and state of the blessed and glorified saints is of his preparing and giving:

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the earth also is thine; the whole terraqueous globe, and all that is in it, being made, preserved, and continued by him, and by him given to the sons of men, Ps 116:15,

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as for the world, and the fulness thereof: the habitable world, and all that dwell therein, all the children of men, the beasts of the field, and cattle on a thousand hills, and the provisions for them all; which is the goodness of the Lord, the earth is full of; these are all the Lord’s; see Ps 24:1,

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thou hast founded them; the world, and the inhabitants of it; the earth is founded upon the seas, and the world upon nothing; and the inhabitants are wonderfully preserved and continued by the power and providence of God; see Ps 24:2.

Psalms 89:12

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Ver. 12 The north and the south, thou hast created them,… The two extreme parts of the world, the northern and southern poles, whether inhabited or uninhabited, are created by the Lord, to answer some purpose or another; see Job 26:7.

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Tabor and Hermon shall rejoice in thy name; Tabor was a mountain in the western part of Galilee, in the tribe of Zebulun, Jos 19:12. This mountain, according to Mr. Maundrell {a}, stands by itself in the plain of Esdraelon, about 1200 to 1800 yards within the plain; it has a plain area at top, most fertile and delicious, of an oval figure, extended about six hundred yards in breadth, and twice that in length; this area is enclosed with trees on all parts, except towards the south, in which there are in several places cisterns of good water. It is generally thought to be the mountain Christ was transfigured upon before his disciples; and if so, it might then be said to rejoice in his name, when he appeared in so glorious a form upon it; Moses and Elias talking with him, and a voice from the excellent Glory declaring him his beloved Son; and especially the disciples rejoiced in his name there and then, who could say, It is good for us to be here, Mt 17:1. Hermon was a mountain called by the Sidonians Sirion, and by the Amorites Shenir, De 3:8 and was in the east; and so Mr. Maundrell {b}, speaking of Tabor, says, not many miles eastward you see Mount Hermon, at the foot of which is seated Nain, famous for our Lord’s raising the widow’s son there, Lu 7:11, there was an Hermon near Mount Tabor, thought likely to be here meant; but, be these mountains where and what they may, they were no doubt very high and fruitful ones, clothed with fruitful trees and grass, and covered with flocks; which made the proprietors and all the beholders rejoice in the goodness, wisdom, and power of God: the Targum in the king’s Bible gives the four quarters very truly,

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“the desert of the north, and the inhabitants of the south, thou hast created; Tabor on the west, and Hermon on the east, praise in thy name.”

{a} Journey from Aleppo to Jerusalem, p. 113, 114, Ed. 7. {b} Journey from Aleppo to Jerusalem, p. 115, Ed. 7.

Psalms 89:13

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Ver. 13. Thou hast a mighty arm,… Christ is the arm of the Lord, and a mighty one he is, and so is the Gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation; here it seems to design the almighty power of God, displayed in the works of creation and providence; see Isa 51:9

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strong is thy hand; thy “left hand”, as some, it being distinguished from his right hand, mentioned in the next clause; the Targum adds,

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“to redeem thy people;”

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the work of redemption was put into the hand of Christ, and it prospered in his hand, and his own arm brought salvation to him; and his hand is strong to keep and preserve his people, where they are put, and where they are safe; and the hand of the Lord is strong to correct and chastise them, and sometimes his hand lies heavy upon them, and presses them sore, when it becomes them to humble themselves under his “mighty hand”: and it also strong to punish his and their enemies:

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and high is thy right hand; when it is lifted up in a way of judgment against wicked men, and for the defence of his people, then may it be said to be exalted: and it is high enough to reach the highest and most powerful of his adversaries; see Ps 118:16. The Targum adds,

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“to build the house of thy sanctuary.”

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Some render {c} these two last clauses as a wish or prayer; “let thy hand be strong, and let thy right hand be lifted up”.

{c} So Paginus, Montana, and V. L.

Psalms 89:14

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Ver. 14. Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne,… The seat and throne on which he sits; all the administrations of his kingly power in the government of the world, in the salvation of his people, and in the punishment of his enemies, being according to the strict rules of justice and judgment: or “the preparation of thy throne” {d}; all that the Lord does according to the counsel of his will; and these counsels were of old, and were formed in strict justice and judgment, and were a preparation for his future government in providence and grace: or “the establishment of thy throne” {e}; the throne of an earthly king is established by righteousness; and so the throne of God, and of Christ, is ordered and established with justice and judgment in the exercise of righteousness for evermore, Pr 16:12

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mercy and truth shall go before thy face; be and appear wherever he is; all his ways are mercy and truth, Ps 25:10, “mercy” in pardoning and saving sinners that come unto him by Christ; and “truth” in performing all his purposes and promises; and these make the joyful sound next mentioned.

{d} Kaok Nwkm “praeparatio sedis tuae”. V. L. so the Sept. {e} Basis, “fulchrum et stabilimentum”, Michaelis.

Psalms 89:15

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Ver. 15. Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound,… Of the love, grace, and mercy of God displayed in Christ, of peace and pardon by his blood, of justification by his righteousness, of atonement by his sacrifice, and of complete salvation by his obedience, sufferings, and death; this is the sound of the Gospel, and a joyful one it is to sensible sinners; and is so called in allusion either to a shout made upon a victory gained, and such a sound is the Gospel; it declares victory by Christ over sin, Satan, the world, and death, and every enemy; and that he has made his people more than conquerors over them; or to the jubilee trumpet, which proclaimed liberty and a restoration of inheritances, Le 25:9 and so the Gospel proclaims liberty to the captives, freedom from the dominion of sin, and condemnation by it, from the tyranny of Satan, and the bondage of the law; and gives an account of the inheritance the saints have in Christ, and through his death, to which they are regenerated, and for which they are made meet by the Spirit of God, and of which he is the seal and earnest: or to the silver trumpets, for the use of the congregation of Israel, and blown at their solemn feasts, and other times, and were all of a piece, Nu 10:1, the trumpet of the Gospel gives a certain sound, an even one, a very musical one; there is no jar nor discord in it; is a soul charming alluring sound, and very loud; it has reached, and will reach again, to the ends of the earth, Ro 10:18, it is a blessing to hear it, but it is a greater to “know” it, not merely notionally, but spiritually and experimentally; so as not only to approve of it, and be delighted with it, but so as to distinguish it from all other sounds; and by faith to receive it, and appropriate the things it publishes to a man’s own soul; and such must be “blessed”, or happy persons, for the reasons following in this verse, and in Ps 89:16:

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they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance: enjoy the gracious presence of God, have the manifestation of himself, the discoveries of his love, communion with him through Christ, and the comforts of the Holy Spirit, and these continued; so that they shall walk in the sunshine of these things, though not always; for sometimes they walk in darkness, and see no light; but it is an unspeakable mercy and blessing to walk herein at any time, for ever so short a season, see Ps 4:6.

Psalms 89:16

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Ver. 16. In thy name shall they rejoice all the day,… That know the joyful sound, and walk in the light of God’s countenance, as they have reason to do; these will “rejoice” in the Lord himself, for his “name” is himself; in the perfections of his nature, as displayed in redemption and salvation by Christ; in him as the God of all grace, as their covenant God and Father in Christ, and the God of their salvation; and they will rejoice in Christ, in his name, in which is salvation, and therefore precious; in his person, blood, righteousness, sacrifice, and fitness; and that “all the day” long, continually; there is always reason, ground, and matter for rejoicing in Christ, though it is sometimes interrupted by sin, temptation, and desertion; see Php 4:4

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and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted; from a low estate of sin and misery to an high estate of grace and glory; from a state of condemnation and death to a state of justification of life; from being beggars on the dunghill, to sit among princes, and to inherit the throne of glory; such as are clothed with the righteousness of the Son of God are exalted to great honour, as to be admitted into the presence of the King of kings in raiment of needlework, to stand at his right hand in gold of Ophir, and to live and reign with him for evermore in his kingdom and glory.

Psalms 89:17

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Ver. 17. For thou art the glory of their strength,… By which they walk, and do all they do, exercise every grace, and discharge their duty; they have their strength from Christ, as well as their righteousness, without whom they can do nothing, but all things through him strengthening them; and as his righteousness exalts them, his strength adorns and glorifies them; how glorious and beautiful does a believer look, that is strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might, in the grace that is in Christ, and in the exercise of faith on him, giving glory to God; on whom the power of Christ rests, and it overshadows, and in whose weakness his strength is made perfect!

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and in thy favour our horn shall be exalted; either Christ, the Horn of their salvation, who in an acceptable time, in the time of God’s favour, or good will, was heard and helped by him as man, carried through his sufferings and death, was raised from the dead, and exalted at his right hand; see Ps 89:24 or the saints themselves, their power and strength, kingdom and glory; by the special favour of God in Christ, their mountain is made so strong, and they so highly exalted, as that they think they shall never be moved; and in the latter day the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be exalted above the hills, Ps 30:6.

Psalms 89:18

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Ver. 18. For the Lord is our defence,… From all their enemies, being all around them, as a wall of fire to protect them, and as the mountains were round about Jerusalem, and being kept by his power as in a fortress, strong hold, or garrison, unto salvation; or our shield {f}; see Ps 84:9 as are his favour, righteousness, and salvation, Ps 5:12 or “to the Lord belongs our defence or shield” {g} our protection and salvation is from him:

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and the Holy One of Israel is our King; he who was to be, and is of Israel according to the flesh, and is holy in his nature, life, and office; he is King of saints, that rules over them, protects and defends them, and therefore they must be happy: or “to” or “with the Holy One of Israel is our king” {h}; Christ is King of Zion by designation, appointment, and constitution, of God the Holy One of Israel, the holy God that has chosen Israel for his peculiar people; though it rather seems that Christ is the Holy One by what follows.

{f} wnngm “clypeus noster”, Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Tigurine version; “scutum nostrum”, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. {g} hwhyl “Domino”, Pagninus, Montanus. {h} larvy vdqlw “et sancto Israelis”, Pagninus, Montanus.

Psalms 89:19

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Ver. 19. Then thou spakest in vision to thy Holy One,… Samuel the prophet, that holy man of God, to whom the Lord spoke in vision, or by a spirit of prophecy, concerning David, the choice and exaltation of him to the kingdom, and his unction for it, 1Sa 16:1. The Vulgate Latin version reads it “to thy Holy Ones”: and so the Targum, with which agree the Septuagint and Arabic versions, which render it “thy sons”; and the Syriac version “his righteous ones”, and so takes in Nathan also, to whom the Lord spake in a vision, by night, concerning the settlement and perpetuity of the kingdom in David’s family, 2Sa 7:4, &c. Aben Ezra interprets it of the singers, Heman, Ethan, and others; and Jarchi of Gad and Nathan: but the whole is rather to be understood of David’s son, the Messiah; and it may be rendered “concerning thy Holy One” {i} as he is called, Ps 16:10, concerning whom in vision, that is, in prophecy, see Isa 1:1. The Lord said, by the mouth of his holy prophets, from the beginning of the world, the following things:

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and saidst, I have laid help upon one that is mighty; this “mighty” One is the Messiah, the mighty God, the mighty Man, the mighty Mediator and Redeemer; who was mighty to save to the uttermost, and was every way fit for and equal to the work of a Redeemer; for which reason the Lord “laid help” upon him, not for himself; for this is not to be understood of help promised or given him as man and Mediator: this is after spoken of, Ps 89:21, but for others; and so the Targum adds, “for my people”: laying it on him is no other than ordering or enjoining him, to which he agreed, to help his people out of that miserable condition they were fallen into, through Adam’s transgression, and their own sins, out of which they could not help themselves: the work assigned to Christ, and devolved on him in council and covenant, was to help them out of this estate by price and power; and to help them on in their way to heaven, through all difficulties, trials, and temptations; and to help them to heaven itself, and introduce them there: and being thus laid upon him, according to his Father’s will and purpose, and with his own consent, it was found in him, and exercised by him, Ho 13:9.

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I have exalted one chosen out of the people; the same as before, the Messiah, God’s elect, his chosen One, Isa 42:1 “chosen” to be the head of the church, to be the Mediator between God and man, and to be the Saviour and Redeemer of lost sinners; to be the foundation and corner stone in the spiritual building, and to be the Judge of quick and dead: and he was “chosen out of the people”; out of the vast number of the individuals of human nature God determined to create, there was a certain number which he selected for himself, for his own glory, and to be eternally happy with him; and out of these he singled one “individuum” of human nature, to be united to the eternal Word, the second Person in the Trinity; and which may be truly said to be the “chiefest among”, or, as the Septuagint version has it, “chosen out of ten thousand”, So 5:10, this the Lord “exalted” to the grace of union to the Son of God, whereby it became higher than angels and men, and to have a more excellent name than either of them, it bearing the name of him to whom it is united, Heb 1:4, and he has exalted him to the offices of Prophet, Priest, and King, for which he is

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anointed above his fellows; and he has also, having done his work, highly exalted him at his right hand; angels, principalities, and powers, being subject to him.

{i} Kdyoxl “de pio tuo”, Cocceius; “de sancto tuo”, Gejerus.

Psalms 89:20

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Ver. 20. I have found David my servant,… Not David literally; but his Son and antitype, the Messiah, who is sometimes called by his name;

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See Gill on “Ps 89:3”, and his “finding” him does not suppose any ignorance of him, nor anxious solicitude in seeking him, nor any

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fortuitous event; but is attributed to God by an anthropopathy, or speaking after the manner of men; for it is an act of the highest wisdom, and richest grace, to find out, that is, to pick and appoint, in council and covenant, his own Son to be his servant, to be the Redeemer and Saviour of sinners, and to be a ransom for them, Job 33:24. The Apostle Paul seems to refer to this passage in Ac 13:22

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with my holy oil have I anointed him: not with material oil, as David, his type, 1Sa 16:13 but with the Holy Ghost, which may well be called holy oil, in allusion to the holy anointing oil under the law; the oil of gladness with which Christ was anointed above his fellows, and without measure, at the time of his conception and birth, at his baptism and ascension to heaven, and even, in some sense, from all eternity; for so early is he said to be anointed, and to be possessed with all fulness of grace, being invested with and installed into his office as Mediator; and from this anointing he has the name of Messiah and Christ, both which signify anointed, Ac 10:38.

Psalms 89:21

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Ver. 21. With whom my hand shall be established,… A promise of God’s gracious presence with Christ, as man and Mediator, which is his work; of a communication of grace and strength from him, to carry him through it; and of his supporting and upholding him under it; which hand of his power and grace would be always prepared and ready for him, as the word {a} signifies, and stable and firm with him, so that he should have success in it; the pleasure of the Lord should prosper in his hand; so the Targum,

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“for my hands are prepared for his help;”

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the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and all the eastern versions, “mine hand shall help him”; and which is confirmed in the next words:

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paragraph break created and scripture text highlighted to distinguish scripture text from the rest of Gill’s text, in keeping with the style of the rest of this commentary.
mine arm also shall strengthen him;… in the human nature, subject to and encompassed with infirmities: this shows the greatness of the work of man’s redemption, which no creature could effect; it required the arm and power of the Lord to be exerted, and by which Christ was made strong by the Lord, both for himself, and for the working out of salvation for us; which he did when he travelled in the greatness of his strength, standing up under the mighty weight of our sins, and the wrath of God; and yet failed not, nor was he discouraged, till his own arm brought salvation to him; see Ps 80:17.

{a} Nwkt “parate erit”, Musculus, Muis; so the Targum.

Psalms 89:22

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Ver. 22. The enemy shall not exact upon him,… The enemy is the devil, as in the interpretation of the parable of the tares, Mt 13:39, the implacable enemy of Christ and his church; and yet, notwithstanding all his enmity and malice, he could not “exact”, or get more inflicted on him, than the law and justice of God required of him, as the sinner’s surety; or could not “exact” a tribute of him, or make him tributary to him; or, in other words, conquer him, and subject him to him: so far from it, that he was conquered by Christ, and all his principalities and powers spoiled; or could not “deceive” him, in which sense the word {b} is sometimes used; and so the Targum here: though he deceived Eve, he could not deceive the Messiah, the seed of the woman; he tried it, in person, by his temptations in the wilderness, and by his agents and instruments, the Scribes and Pharisees: but in vain, and to no purpose; he could not succeed:

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nor the son of wickedness afflict him: at least not always: he was indeed afflicted, as by wicked men, and by Satan the wicked one, yet not so as to be overcome by any; and as Christ personal, so Christ mystical, or his church and people, are afflicted by the sons of wickedness; yet, sooner or later, they are delivered out of all their afflictions. Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that wicked one, that is eminently so, and may be well called “the son of wickedness”, has long and greatly oppressed the people of Christ, and his interest; but he shall not always; he shall be destroyed with the spirit of his mouth, and with the brightness of his coming, 2Th 2:3. This passage is applied to the Messiah by the Jews {c}.

{b} ayvy “non imponet ei”, Tigurine version; “non seducet eum”, so some in Vatablus; “non decipiet eum”, Gejerus, Schmidt. {c} Yalkut Simeoni, par. 2. fol. 56. 3.

Psalms 89:23

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Ver. 23. And I will beat down his foes before his face,… In Judea, and in the Gentile world; more especially in Rome Pagan, and Rome Papal; in the most public manner, before his Gospel, and the ministry of it by his servants; and they shall either submit unto it, or be broken to pieces as a potter’s vessel; for he must reign till all enemies are put under his feet, 1Co 15:25,

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and plague them that hate him; that would not have him to reign over them, the unbelieving Jews, and all the followers of antichrist; who are either plagued with the judgments of God here, or with everlasting punishment hereafter, with which they will be tormented for ever and ever, Lu 19:14 or “strike” {d} them with a rod of iron, with his wrath and vengeance; strike them down to the ground, and to the lowest hell.

{d} Pwga “percutiam”, Pagninus, Montanus, Musculus, Piscator, Michaelis.

Psalms 89:24

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Ver. 24. But my faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him,… The “faithfulness” of God was and is with Christ, in performing promises made to him respecting his work, and strength to do it, as man, and the glory that should follow; and also those made to his people in him, relating to grace here, and happiness hereafter: and though there was no “mercy” shown to Christ, as the surety of his people, but he was dealt with in strict justice; yet, as Mediator of the covenant, the special mercy of God is with him, even every blessing of it, called “the sure mercies of David”; and is only communicated through him; he is the mercy seat, from whence mercy is dispensed, and the propitiation through whom God is merciful to men; the words may be rendered, “my truth and my grace” {e}, as they are by the Targum; and both are with Christ, the truth of doctrine, and all the fulness of grace, justifying, sanctifying, pardoning, adopting, and persevering grace, Joh 1:14,

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and in my name shall his horn be exalted, or “his glory”, as the Targum; his power and dominion, of which the horn is an emblem; and his glory is displayed in having the same name his Father has: his name is expressive of his nature, being, and perfections, the name Jehovah; and his name of title and office “King of Kings, and Lord of lords”; or his name the Word of God, as the Targum; who, as such, is the brightness of his Father’s glory: or the sense is, that, by the power of God, he should be raised from the dead, and have glory given him, and be exalted at his right hand, and made Lord and Christ; or by means of the Gospel, which is the name of the Lord, Joh 17:6, his kingdom and dominion should be spread in the world; see 1Sa 2:10.

{e} ydoxw ytnwmaw “et veritas mea, et gratia mea”, Cocceius, Gejerus, Michaelis.

Psalms 89:25

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Ver. 25. I will set his hand also in the sea,… Which is expressive not of his dominion over the sea, and of his power and authority over all things in it, which: he has by right of creation, and as Mediator, Ps 8:5, of which there were instances in the days of his flesh, Mt 8:26, but of his kingdom taking place in, and of his government over the inhabitants of the isles of the sea; and so the Targum,

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“I will set or place his government in the provinces of the sea;”

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and which has been remarkably accomplished in our isles, where his Gospel has been preached, his kingdom set up, and he has had a race of subjects, and a seed, to serve him for many years:

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and his right hand in the rivers: or, as the Targum,

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“the power of his right hand in those that dwell by rivers;”

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meaning such that dwell upon the continent, afar off from the sea, and whose countries are watered by rivers: so that both phrases denote the extent of Christ’s kingdom in the continent, and in the islands of the sea; signifying, that it should reach everywhere, and be from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth, Ps 72:8. Compare with this Re 10:1. Aben Ezra interprets it of David’s prevailing over those that go in ships in the sea, and in rivers.

Psalms 89:26

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Ver. 26. He shall cry unto me, thou art my Father,… Not by creation, as he is the Father of angels and men; nor by adoption, as he is the Father of saints; but by generation, being the begotter of him, Ps 2:7 so that he is Christ’s own and proper Father, and Christ is his own and proper Son, Joh 5:18, and he frequently called him his Father, and asserted him to be in this relation to him, Joh 5:17 Joh 10:30, and addressed him, called upon him, and prayed unto him as such, Mt 11:25, “my God”; that chose him to be the Mediator, Redeemer, and Saviour; who made a covenant with him, his chosen; who prepared and provided the human nature of Christ; anointed him with the gifts and graces of his Spirit, and supported him in his sufferings, and crowned him with glory and honour; whom Christ loved as his God, trusted in him as such, obeyed him, and prayed unto him: he called him his God, owned him to be so, and called upon him, and cried unto him, as such, Joh 20:17. God is the Father of Christ, as Christ is a divine Person; and he is the God of Christ, as Christ is man: these two relations frequently go together in the New Testament, Joh 20:17. It is added,

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and the Rock of my salvation; that bore him up, and where he stood firm, while he was working out the salvation of his people; and though he was not saved from sufferings and death, yet he was quickly delivered from the grave, and raised from the dead, and set at the right hand of God, where he must reign till all enemies are put under his feet.

Psalms 89:27

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Ver. 27. Also I will make him my firstborn,… Or, “make him the firstborn”; make him great, as Jarchi interprets it; give him the blessing, the double portion of inheritance: so Christ is made most blessed for ever, and has all spiritual blessings in his hands; and is heir of all things, and his people joint-heirs with him. Christ is God’s “firstborn”, or “first begotten”, Heb 1:6, being begotten by him, and of him; and his firstbegotten, though none begotten after him; as the first that opened the womb, under the law, was called the firstborn, though none were ever born after; and in such sense his first begotten, as that he is his only begotten: and he is the firstborn, with respect to creatures; “he is the firstborn of every creature”; Col 1:15, being begotten and brought forth before any creature was in being, Pr 8:22, and, with respect to the saints, “he is the firstborn among many brethren”, Ro 8:29, they are of the same nature, and in the same family, and in which Christ is a son, and the firstborn; and in all things he has the preeminence; and he is also “the firstborn from the dead”, or “the first begotten of the dead”, Col 1:18 being raised first from thence by his own power, and to an immortal life; and is the first fruits of them that sleep, and the efficient and meritorious cause of the resurrection of life, and the pattern and exemplar of it: even him the Father promises to make “higher than the kings of the earth”; having a kingdom of a superior nature to theirs, and a more extensive and durable one; and even they themselves shall be subject to him; hence he is called “King of kings”, Re 19:16. This will be when their kingdoms become his; when they shall fall down before him, and worship him, and bring their riches and glory into his kingdom, or the New Jerusalem church state, Ps 72:10. This passage is interpreted of the Messiah by the Jews {f}.

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{f} In Shemot Rabba, s. 19. fol. 104. 4.

Psalms 89:28

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Ver. 28. My mercy will I keep for him for evermore,… That is, for his mystical body, his church and people; for whom stores of mercy are kept with him, to be laid out in their regeneration, pardon, salvation, and eternal life; for to them the mercy of God is from everlasting to everlasting, Ps 103:17, unless this is to be understood of the “grace” and “kindness” {g} of God, as the word may be rendered; his free favour and love to Christ, which always continues; for as he was always his dearly beloved Son, that lay in his bosom from eternity, so he continued, throughout his state, of humiliation, his well beloved, in whom he was well pleased, and still is, and ever will:

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and my covenant shall stand fast with him; being made with him as the head and representative of his people, it remains, and will remain, sure, firm, and immoveable; its blessings are “sure mercies”, and its promises are all “yea and amen in Christ”: the stability of it, and of all that is in it, is owing to its being made with him, and being in his hands, who is the surety, Mediator, and messenger of it.

{g} ydox “bonitatem meam”, Musculus, Tigurine version; “benignitatem meam”, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; “gratiam meam”, Cocceius, Gejerus, Michaelis.

Psalms 89:29

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Ver. 29. His seed also will I make to endure for ever,… Not a race of kings from David, which ended at the Babylonish captivity; not the natural seed of David, not the Messiah himself, who sprung from him, but the Messiah’s spiritual seed, which were given him by the Father, adopted through him, regenerated by his Spirit and grace, begotten through his Gospel, and the ministry of it, and born again in his church, and to whom he stands in the relation of the everlasting Father, Isa 9:6. The “enduring” of these “for ever” may denote the final perseverance of particular believers; which may be concluded from the relation of Christ, as an everlasting Father to them, who therefore must continue as his children; from his affection to them, from which there can be no separation; from their security in and by him, being in his hand, and in his heart; from their adoption, which is never revoked, being sons they are no more servants; from their regeneration of incorruptible seed; and from the nature of faith, which can never be lost: they that trust in the Lord are as Mount Zion, which endures for ever, Ps 125:1 or it may be expressive of the duration of the church of Christ in general, throughout all periods of time, notwithstanding the malice and opposition of men and devils against it; see Mt 16:18,

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and his throne as the days of heaven; a phrase signifying a great length of time, De 11:21 yea, invariable constancy and duration, Jer 31:25 and indeed the throne of Christ is for ever and ever, and will be when the present earth and heavens are fled away, Ps 45:6. Christ is upon a throne now in heaven, the same with his divine Father’s; and here he must sit and reign, till all enemies are put under him; and he will be on a throne of glory when he judges the world, and in the New Jerusalem state for the space of a thousand years; and, after that, he will reign with his saints, and they with him, for evermore; his throne and kingdom are everlasting, Isa 9:7.

Psalms 89:30

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Ver. 30. If his children forsake my law,… The same with the seed before mentioned, the children of the Messiah: it is not said “if he forsakes”, which cannot be supposed of Christ, because he knew no sin, nor did any; which yet might be supposed of David, had he been literally meant; but not he, nor his natural children, but the spiritual seed of mystical David, are here designed, who may sin, and do sin, of which there is too much proof and evidence; and who sin not only through infirmity, but sometimes very grossly, and which sins are here expressed by various phrases: they sometimes “forsake the law of God”; do not attend to it, as they should, as the rule of their walk and conversation; are remiss in their observance of it, and obedience to it, and transgress its precepts; or his “doctrine” {h}, even the doctrine of the Gospel; which may be said to be forsaken when men grow indifferent to it; go off from it in any measure, drop their profession of it, or hold it remissly, or become careless in their attendance on it: forsaking the assembling together to hear it, in some sense, is a forsaking of it; and this the Lord takes notice of, and resents, in his people:

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and walk not in my judgments; those laws of his house by which he judges, regulates, and governs his people; by which they are directed by him, as their Judge and Lawgiver, how to behave themselves in the church of God; and in which they are to walk, and continue in the observance of; and so to do is to walk as becomes the Gospel, and worthy of their calling; but to do otherwise is to walk disorderly; and such are cognizable by the Lord, and by his people.

{h} ytrwt “verbum meaum revelatum”, Gejerus; “legem et doctrinam meam”, Michaelis.

Psalms 89:31

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Ver. 31. If they break my statutes,… Fixed, settled, appointed ordinances; such as are baptism and the Lord’s supper, under the New Testament dispensation; which are the things that are unshaken, and will remain until the second coming of Christ: these are to be kept as they were first delivered; no change and alteration ought to be made in them; so to do is to break and violate them, or “profane” them, as the word {i} here used signifies; and which may be done by an unbecoming, irreverent, and indecent attendance on them; as was by some in the Corinthian church, of which the apostle complains, and who for it were taken notice of, and chastened by the Lord, 1Co 11:2, and keep not my commandments; which should be kept impartially, with great affection to them, from a principle of love to the Lord, with a view to his glory, and without trusting to and depending upon an obedience to them; for they are not grievous; and, besides, “in”, though not “for”, keeping them, there is great reward; and a contrary behaviour is displeasing to God: now this particular enumeration of offences, that may be committed by the children of God to Christ, show that all sorts of sins may be committed by them; sins of omission and commission; sins against the law, and against the Gospel; all but the unpardonable one; and that these, though they are observed in a way hereafter mentioned, yet are all forgiven.

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{i} wllxy “prophanaverint”, V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, &c.

Psalms 89:32

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Ver. 32. Then will I visit their transgression with the rod,… That is, of men; as in 2Sa 7:14, the Lord making use of men to chastise his people by, as he did of the neighbouring nations of the Jews, when they sinned against him; and so the Targum interprets it here,

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“I will visit their transgressions by the hands of the tribes of the ungodly;”

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or with such afflictions as are common to men, 1Co 10:13, in a kind, humane, moderate way, in measure, in judgment, and not in wrath and hot displeasure; or in such like manner as a man chastises his children, which is in love, De 8:5

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and their iniquity with stripes; such as diseases of body, loss of relations, crosses and disappointments in the world; not with the stripes of divine vengeance, of vindictive justice, such as Christ, the surety of his people, endured for them; but with the scourges of a father, Isa 53:8.

Psalms 89:33

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Ver. 33. Nevertheless, my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him,… Or “make it void” {k}, not from Christ, who always was, and ever will be, the dear Son of his love, even while he was obeying, suffering, and dying; nor from all those that are in him, loved and chosen in him, from everyone of his spiritual seed, who are all dear sons, and pleasant children; and the love of God to his people is in Christ; and therefore there can he no separation from it; nor will it ever depart from them, or be utterly or at all taken from them, as to that itself, though sometimes the manifestations of it are withdrawn from them; but the love of God itself is invariable and unchangeable; see Ro 8:38, nor is it removed when God afflicts and chastens his people; for his chastenings are from love, and in love; the reason why he chastens them is because he loves them, and he loves them while he is chastening them; he visits and comforts them, sympathizes with them, supports them, and supplies them, and makes all things work together for their good, Re 3:19,

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nor suffer my faithfulness to fail; in making good his engagements to Christ, in keeping the covenant made with him, and in fulfilling his promises to his people; and even when he afflicts them, it is in faithfulness to them; nor will he suffer them to be afflicted above what they are able to bear, and will support them under it, and deliver out of it, Ps 119:75 or “I will not falsify in my truth” {i}; or falsify his word; he is faithful that has promised, who will do it, yea, notwithstanding the unbelief of his people, Heb 10:23.

{k} rypa “not irritam faciam”, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Gejerus. {i} ytnwmab rqva alw “neque faciam mendacium” (“neque fallam”, Montanus) “in veritate mea”, Pagninus; “neque mentiar aut fallam in veritate mea”, Michaelis.

Psalms 89:34

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Ver. 34. My covenant will I not break,… Not the covenant at Sinai, as Aben Ezra, but the covenant of grace made with Christ, and which stands fast with him, Ps 89:3, which is firm, sure, and stable, and as immovable as mountains and hills, and more so, 2Sa 23:5 or “profane” {m} it, though his people profane his statutes, Ps 89:31, he will not profane his covenant; though they violate his laws, he is a God keeping covenant with them, and will not break his word with them:

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nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips; any promise of his, respecting either the temporal, spiritual, or eternal welfare of his people: or “not change” {n}; as he changes not in his nature and perfections, nor in his love and affections, nor in his counsels and purposes; so neither in his covenant and promises, they are always the same, and have a certain and unchangeable accomplishment; there is a performance of whatsoever is spoken by the Lord, Lu 1:45.

{m} llxa al “non prophanabo”, V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version, &c. {n} hnva al “non mutabo”, Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version, Junius & Tremellius, &c.

Psalms 89:35

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Ver. 35. Once have I sworn by my holiness,… Swearing is ascribed to God after the manner of men, and is done in condescension to the weakness of his people, and to remove doubts and hesitations from them, relating to things spiritual and eternal; as to his everlasting love to them, his covenant with them in Christ, and their perseverance in his grace; and it is made by himself, or one or other of his perfections, as here by his “holiness”; see Am 4:2, and indeed his holiness being his nature, is no other than he himself, the holy God; and because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, that as sure as he was, and was holy, just, and true, he would make good what he promises, Heb 6:13 and this is done but once, once for all, that being sufficient; it need not be repeated, nor is it ever revoked; when he swears, he never repents of it, nor changes his mind; and it is to show the immutability of his counsel that he swears at all, Ps 110:4,

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that I will not lie unto David; he will not lie to any, he cannot, it is impossible he should; it would be to deny himself, it is contrary to his being as God, he is not a man that he should lie; it is contrary to his character as the God of truth; he will not lie, neither in his counsel nor covenant, in his purposes nor promises; these are the two immutable things, in which it is impossible he should lie: and he has swore to it that he will not lie to David, to David’s son the Messiah, with whom the covenant is made, and stands fast; all the prophecies concerning him he has fulfilled; and all the promises made to him of help and assistance, as man and Mediator, in his work, and of the reward of it, a glory with him, he has made good.

Psalms 89:36

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Ver. 36. His seed shall endure for ever,… This is a confirmation by his oath of what he had before said, Ps 89:29 which may be understood either of the perseverance of particular believers, of everyone of the spiritual seed of Christ; or of the duration of the church in general, throughout all ages, as before observed; and these being matters of moment and importance, and of which there are sometimes doubts in the minds of the Lord’s people about them, and that they may be firmly believed by them, he confirms them with an oath; for God never swears to trivial things; and when he does swear, it is to remove the doubts of his people, and make their minds easy:

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and his throne as the sun before me; that is, shall continue as long as it does; see Ps 89:29, or shall be bright, splendid, and glorious as the sun, so the Targum,

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“and his throne light as the sun before me;”

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meaning his church and kingdom, of which the throne is an emblem, and which became so in Gospel times, clear and lucid as the sun, So 6:10, when day was made by the rising of the sun of righteousness, and by the bright shining of the Gospel ministry; and at particular periods since, as in the times of Constantine, when the church was clothed with the sun, and at the Reformation, when Christ appeared with a rainbow on his head, and his face was as the sun, Re 12:1 and especially this will be the case of the church in the latter day, when the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun seven fold, as the light of seven days; and when the city, the church, will stand in no need of the sun, nor of the moon; and also in the ultimate glory, when the saints will shine as the sun in the kingdom of God; see Isa 30:26. This passage is applied to the Messiah by the Jews {a}.

{a} Zohar in Gen. fol. 30. 1.

Psalms 89:37

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Ver. 37. It shall be established for ever as the moon,… Either Christ’s seed, or throne, which comes to much the same sense; for by both are meant his church and people, his kingdom and interest in the world; the moon is as perpetual as the sun, and is used as elsewhere to signify the continuance of the people, church, and interest of Christ, Ps 72:5, for though the moon has its spots, and is changeable, sometimes in the full, and sometimes in the decline, yet always is, and always continues, and ever will; and so though the people of God have their spots and imperfections, and are sometimes on the decline in the frames and dispositions of their minds, in the exercise of grace, in their spirituality, liveliness, and zeal, and in their walk and conversation in the church and world; yet they shall abide and persevere to the end; and though the church may be like the moon in the wane, be declining as to numbers, gifts, and graces, yet it shall continue and be established; it is sometimes indeed in a fluctuating state, and is not always in the same place, but is removed from one country to another; yet it always is somewhere, even though in the wilderness, and ere long will be established on the top of the mountains, and be no more a tabernacle that shall be taken down; see Ps 48:8

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and as a faithful witness in heaven: or “in the sky or cloud” {b}; some understand this of the moon, others of both sun and moon; but it seems best to interpret it of something distinct from either, even of the rainbow, which though it does not always appear in the clouds, yet it has appeared at times, and does and will unto the end of the world; and be a faithful and an everlasting token and witness of the covenant of God made with all creatures, that he will no more destroy the world by a flood, Ge 9:12, and is an emblem of the covenant of grace, and of the continuance, perpetuity, and immutability of it; see Isa 54:9.

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Selah. See Gill on “Ps 3:2”.

{b} qxvb “in aethere”, Montanus, Tigurine version, Vatablus; “in superiore nube”, Junius & Tremellius; “in nubibus”, Gejerus.

Psalms 89:38

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Ver. 38. 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, Mt 27:46, as when he hides his face from his people, it is interpreted by them a casting them off; see Ps 44:22,

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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 Ps 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, Isa 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:

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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, Ps 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, Ps 89:33 and is no objection to it, though made one.

Psalms 89:39

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Ver. 39. Thou hast made void the covenant of thy servant,… His servant David the Messiah, Ps 89:3, meaning not the covenant of circumcision, nor the covenant at Sinai, which were really made void at the death of Christ; but the covenant of grace and redemption made with Christ, which it was promised should stand fast, and never be broken, Ps 89:3, but was thought to be null and void when the Redeemer was in the grave, and all hopes of redemption by him were gone, Lu 24:21, but so far was it from being so, that it was confirmed by the sufferings and death of Christ; and every blessing and promise of it were ratified by his blood, hence called the blood of the everlasting covenant, Heb 13:20,

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thou hast profaned his crown by casting it to the ground: by suffering it to be cast to the ground, and used contemptibly; as when Jesus was crowned with thorns, and saluted in a mock manner; when an “if” was put upon his being the King of Israel, Mt 27:29, and which seemed very inconsistent with the promise, Ps 89:27 that he should be made higher than the kings of the earth; and yet so it was, and is; he is highly exalted, made Lord and Christ, crowned with glory and honour, and is set far above all principality and power, and every name that is named in this world or that to come, notwithstanding all the above usage of him.

Psalms 89:40

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Ver. 40. Thou hast broken down all his hedges,… Round about his vine, the church; see Ps 80:12. A famous church was raised at Jerusalem, quickly after the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, which seemed to be well filled, fenced, and protected; but on a sudden a violent persecution arose, and the members of it were made havoc of, and the ministers of the word were scattered abroad, and which was the breaking down of the hedges; and what was done to the church was taken by Christ as done to himself, as it is here spoken of him; see Ac 8:1, and this might seem contrary to the word and oath of God, that his seed should endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven, Ps 89:29, when the first Christian church was used in this manner; but that providence was overruled, for the spread of the Gospel, and the interest of Christ, in other parts; see Ac 8:4, and so no objection to what is before said:

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thou hast brought his strong holds to ruin; the same as before, the church of Christ, which seemed to be so well built and fortified; see Isa 26:1.

Psalms 89:41

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Ver. 41. All that pass by the way spoil him,… His church, his members, which are himself, when made havoc of by their persecutors, and they took joyfully the spoiling of their goods, Heb 10:34, so the church of Christ may be spoiled, however, attempted to be spoiled, by false teachers, who are the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines; crafty seducers, who spoil Christians of their peace and comfort, through philosophy and vain deceit, So 2:15. Christ himself may be said to be spoiled, when he was stripped of his clothes by the Roman soldiers, who also parted his garments, casting lots on his vesture; when they that passed by his cross, as he hung upon it, reviled him, and robbed him of his good name, and of his kingly and priestly offices; and he is also spoiled by false teachers, who rob him of his deity, his divine and eternal sonship, and of his satisfaction and righteousness, by whom he is trodden under foot, and his blood counted as an unholy thing; and so the Targum,

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“all that pass by the way tread upon him;”

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see Heb 10:29, these are they that walk not in the right way; but go out of it, and choose their own way; they are such as pass over the right way, or cross it; they are they that transgress, and abide not in the doctrine of Christ, that so use him, 2Jo 1:9,

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he is a reproach to his neighbours; his name and character were reproached by the Jews, his countrymen, who called him a glutton and a wine bibber; and represented him as a notorious sinner; his miracles as done by the help of Satan; his doctrine as hard sayings, novel opinions, contrary to common sense and reason, and tending to licentiousness; and his followers and members as the offscouring of all things: but all this has been or will be rolled off, and is no objection to the glory promised him.

Psalms 89:42

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Ver. 42. Thou hast set up the right hand of his adversaries,… Suffered them to become powerful, and to prevail against him; as the wicked Jews, and Satan, and his principalities and powers, at the time of Christ’s apprehension, crucifixion, and death; for then were their hour, and the power of darkness, Lu 22:53, death also had dominion over him, and held him under the power of it for awhile: the enemies of his interest, Rome Pagan, and Rome Papal, have, in their turns, had their right hands set up, and have had power, and prevailed over it; and the latter will again, at the slaying of the witnesses: all which, though it seems contrary to Ps 89:21, yet is not; for Satan, though he bruised Christ’s heel, yet Christ bruised his head, destroyed his works, and him himself, and that by dying; and spoiled his principalities and powers; and death could not hold him long, nor has it now any dominion over him, and is abolished by him; and antichrist, and all the antichristian powers, will be destroyed by him ere long:

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thou hast made all his enemies to rejoice; as they did when they had got him on the cross; and especially when he was laid in the grave, Ps 22:7, and as the antichristian party will when his witnesses are slain, Re 11:10, but as the joy of the former was short lived, and was soon turned into sorrow, so will be that of the latter.

Psalms 89:43

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Ver. 43. Thou hast also turned the edge of his sword,… Or the “sharpness” {a} of it blunted it, so that it could do no execution: the disciples of Christ were not allowed the use of the temporal sword to defend their master; and his house, his kingdom, not being of this world, Mt 26:51, other weapons were put into their hands; the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; and the edge of this was blunted, with respect to the Jews, being of little or no efficacy among them; it was turned off by them, and put away from them; but then it was turned towards the Gentiles, and was powerful and effectual among them; Christ girt it on his thigh, and rode forth in his glory and majesty, conquering, and to conquer, and by it subdued many, who fell under him, and gave up themselves unto him; see Eph 6:17, and ere long, with the twoedged sword, which proceeds out of his mouth, will he smite the antichristian nations; and the remnant of those that escape at the battle of Armageddon shall be slain with it, Re 19:15,

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and hast not made him to stand in the battle; but to fall in it, being delivered up into the hands of wicked men, of justice, and death; and yet, by dying, he put away sin, finished it, made an end of it, and destroyed it; he conquered Satan, and led him captive; overcame the world, the spite and malice of it, and its prince; and abolished death itself.

{a} rwu “acumen”, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.

Psalms 89:44

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Ver. 44. Thou hast made his glory to cease,… The glory of his deity, though it did not properly cease, yet it seemed to do so, being covered, and out of sight, and seen but by a very few, while he appeared in the likeness of sinful flesh; and the glory of his humanity was made to cease, in which he was fairer than the children of men, and his visage was more marred than any man’s, and his form than the sons of men; and the glory of his offices, prophetical, priestly, and kingly, which were reproached and vilified, and disputed and contradicted by the Jews, Mt 26:68, it may be rendered, “his purity” {b}, which seemed to cease when he was clothed with our filthy garments; or had all our sins laid upon him, and imputed to him, by his Father; and he was made sin for us, who knew none: the Targum is,

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“thou hast made the priests to cease who sprinkle upon the altar, and purify his people:”

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and cast his throne down to the ground; this seems contrary, and is an objection to Ps 89:29, but is not; for not withstanding the usage of Christ by the Jews, who rejected him as the King Messiah,

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See Gill on “Ps 89:39”, yet he is now upon the same throne with his Father, and will sit upon a throne of glory when he comes to judge the world, and so in the New Jerusalem church state, and to all eternity.

{b} wrhjm “puritatem ejus”, Montanus, Michaelis.

Psalms 89:45

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Ver. 45. The days of his youth hast thou shortened,… His days of joy and pleasure; such as days of youth are, in opposition to the days of old age, which are evil, Ec 11:9, these were shortened when his sorrows and sufferings came on, and God hid his face from him; and indeed he was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief all his days: the Vulgate Latin version renders it, “the days of his time”; and the Arabic version “the days of his years”; for he did not live out half the time of man’s age, which is threescore years and ten, Ps 90:10, he dying at the age of thirty three or four; but, notwithstanding this, he lives again, and lives for evermore; he has length of days for ever and ever, Ps 21:4, though his days were in some sense shortened, yet in another sense they are and will be prolonged, even his own, and those of his spiritual seed, according to the promise of God, Isa 53:10,

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thou hast covered him with shame; see Ps 69:7, when his face was covered with shame and spitting, from which he hid it not, Isa 1:6, but now he is crowned with glory and honour; wherefore all these complaints, though true, are no objections to what is before said and swore to.

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Selah. See Gill on “Ps 3:2”.

Psalms 89:46

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Ver. 46. How long, Lord, wilt thou hide thyself? for ever?… When God hides his face front his people, though it is but for a little while, it seems long, and a kind of an eternity to them; and so it seemed to the man Christ Jesus; and indeed what he endured, when his Father hid his face from him, was of the same kind with an eternal absence; see Ps 13:1,

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shall thy wrath burn like fire? it did so when Christ bore the sins of his people, and all the punishment due unto them; when his strength was dried up like a potsherd; when he, the antitype of the passover lamb roasted with fire, was sacrificed for us; all which is entirely consistent with God’s everlasting and invariable love to him, as his own Son. See Gill on “Ps 89:38”.

Psalms 89:47

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Ver. 47. Remember how short my time is,… In this world man’s time here is fixed, and it is but a short time; his life is but a vapour, which appeareth for a little while; his days are as an hand’s breadth; they pass away like a tale that is told; the common term of life is but threescore years and ten, and few arrive to that: to know and observe this is proper and useful; it may awaken a concern for a future state, excite to a vigorous discharge of duty, and animate to patience under afflictions: the clause in connection with the preceding verse seems to be a plea for mercy; that, since time was short, it might not be consumed in bearing the wrath of God; but be spent in peace and comfort, like that of Job 10:20: Compare with this Ps 103:13, the Targum is,

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“remember that I am created out of the dust:”

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but these words, with what follow, are the words of the psalmist, representing the apostles of Christ, and other saints, at the time of his sufferings and death, and when under the power of the grave, and when they were almost out of hope of his resurrection: see Lu 24:21, expostulating with the Lord on that account; and here entreat him to remember the shortness of their time, if there was no resurrection from the dead, as there would be none if Christ rose not; and therefore, as their life was a short one, it would be of all men’s the most miserable:

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wherefore hast thou made all men in vain? none of the sons of men are made in vain; for they are all made for the glory of God, which end is answered, some way or another, in everyone of them; either in the salvation of them by Christ, or in the just destruction of them through their own sin; and though the time of life is short, and afflictions many, yet men are not made in vain, and especially those of them who believe in Christ; for, for them to live is Christ, they live to his glory: whether they live a longer or shorter time, they live to the Lord; and when they die, they die to him; and their afflictions are always for good, temporal, or spiritual, and eternal: indeed, if there was no future state after this, men might seem to be made in vain, and there might be some reason for such a question or complaint; but so it is not; there is an immortal life and state after this, either of bliss or woe: also, if there was no such thing as the redemption, justification, and salvation of any of the sons of men, through the sufferings and death of Christ, and which could not be without his resurrection from the dead, with a view to which the question is put, then there would seem some room for it; but there is a redemption of them, and therefore are not made in vain; and Christ, who was delivered for their offences, is risen for their justification.

Psalms 89:48

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Ver. 48. What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death?… Every living man must die; as sure as a man lives, so sure he shall die: be he strong and mighty, as the word signifies, or weak and sickly; be he high or low, rich or poor, prince or peasant, righteous or wicked; persons of all ranks, states, and conditions, age or sex, must die; for all have sinned; and it is the appointment of God that they should die, and very few are the exceptions; as Enoch and Elijah, and those that will be found alive at Christ’s coming:

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shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave; either from going down into it, or coming under the power of it; so the Targum,

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“what man is he that shall live, and shall not see the angel of death (Heb 2:14) shall he deliver his soul from his hand, that he should not go down to the house of his grave?”

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or deliver himself from the power of it, when in it; that is, raise himself from the dead: none ever did this, or ever can: Christ indeed undertook, and has promised, to redeem his people from the power of the grave, upon which they have believed they should be delivered; see Ho 13:14, but if Christ rose not himself, which was the thing now in question, how could it be? the case stands thus; every man must die; no man can raise himself from the dead; if Christ rise not, everyone must continue under the power of the grave; for then there could be no resurrection.

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Selah. See Gill on “Ps 3:2”.

Psalms 89:49

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Ver. 49. Lord, where are thy former lovingkindnesses,… The spiritual blessings said to be in Christ; the grace said to be given to us in him; the sure mercies of David, such as redemption, justification, remission of sins, and eternal life; so called because they flow from the free favour and love of God, and, being many, are expressed in the plural number; and which were former or ancient ones, even promised and secured in Christ before the world began; springing from the love of God, which, both to Christ and his people, was from everlasting, and provided for in a covenant, which was as early:

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which thou swarest unto David in thy truth? which were promised to Christ, the antitype of David, and that with an oath, by the truth or faithfulness of God, for the certainty thereof: but now where are all these? or how will they take place, if Christ rise not from the dead? where will be the redemption of his people, the justification of their persons, the remission of their sins, and their everlasting salvation? and what will become then of the covenant, oath, and faithfulness of God?

Psalms 89:50

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Ver. 50. Remember, Lord, the reproach of thy servants,… The apostles of Christ, his servants, and the servants of the living God, that showed unto men the way of salvation, and other saints with them that believed in Christ, and were made willing to serve and follow him; these were now reproached by the Scribes and Pharisees for believing in him, and professing him; and were scoffed and laughed at, when they had crucified him, and laid him in the grave, triumphing over him and them, believing he would never rise again, as he had given out he should, and for which his followers were reproached; and therefore desire the Lord would remember the reproach cast upon Christ, and them, for his sake, and roll it away:

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how I do bear in my bosom the reproach of all the mighty people; the ecclesiastical and civil rulers of the Jews, their chief priests, Scribes, and Pharisees, who poured out their reproaches very plentifully on the followers of Christ, whom the psalmist here represents; which fell very heavily upon them, as a very great weight and burden, and pressed them sore, and went to their very hearts, and therefore said to be “in their bosom”; and which is mentioned to excite the divine compassion, that he would appear for them, and raise his Son from the dead, as was promised and expected; that their enemies might have no more occasion to reproach him and them: it is in the original, “I bear in my bosom all the many people” {c}; which some understand of the people of God, and of Christ’s sustaining their persons, and making satisfaction for their sins; but the other sense is preferable: Kimchi supplies the words as we do; and so the Targum, which renders them thus,

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“I bear in my bosom all the reproaches of many people.”

{c} Myme Mybr lk “omnes multos populos”, Montanus; “omnes, quam multi sunt, populos”, Cocceius.

Psalms 89:51

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Ver. 51. Wherewith thine enemies have reproached, O Lord,… Which carries in it another argument why the Lord should take notice of these reproaches; because they come not only from their enemies, but from his also, and the enemies of his Son, who would not have him, the King Messiah, to reign over them, and are said to reproach him in the next clause:

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wherewith they have reproached the footsteps of thine Anointed; or thy Messiah; so Aben Ezra and Kimchi interpret it of the Messiah: Jarchi renders it “the ends of the Messiah”; and all of them understand it of the coming of the Messiah, as in the Talmud {d}; which, because delayed, or was not so soon as expected, was scoffed at and reproached by wicked men; see Mal 2:17, but it rather designs the ways and works, actions, and especially the miracles of Christ, which were reproached, either as done on the sabbath day, or by the help of Satan; and he was traduced in his kindest actions to the bodies and souls of men, as a friend of publicans and sinners, and himself as a sinner: and it may have a particular view to the latter end of the Messiah, the last part of his life, his sufferings and death, and when he hung on the cross; at which time he was, in the most insolent manner, reviled and reproached by his enemies: the words may be rendered “the heels of the Messiah” {e}, and are thought by some to have reference to the promise in Ge 3:15, and may regard either the human nature of Christ, which was both reproached and bruised; or his members suffering disgrace and persecution for his sake, and which he takes as done to himself. Suidas {f} interprets it of the ancestors of Christ, according to the flesh; and Theodoret of the kings of that time.

{d} Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 97. 1. {e} twbqe “calcibus”, Vatablus; “calcaneos”; Gussetius, Michaelis. {f} In voce antallagma.

Psalms 89:52

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Ver. 52. Blessed be the Lord for evermore,… In this world, and in the world to come, as the Targum; for reproaches and afflictions for Christ’s sake, since they work together for good; as Job blessed the Lord in the midst of his troubles, Job 1:21, or rather the psalmist, viewing, by a spirit of prophecy, Christ rising from the dead, ascending to heaven, sitting at the right hand of God, and interceding for the application of all the blessings of the covenant; and now, seeing all before objected and complained of was reconcilable to the love, covenant, and oath of God, breaks out into this benediction, and with it closes the psalm; which agrees with Christ, not only as God over all, blessed for ever, but as Mediator, who, as such, is made most blessed for evermore; see Ps 21:6. These are not the words of the copier of the Psalms, blessing God for assistance in prosecuting the work thus far, which is the sense of some Jewish writers mentioned by Aben Ezra and Kimchi, but of the psalmist himself:

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Amen, and Amen; which words are added to express the wish and faith of the psalmist; and the word is repeated to denote the vehemence and strength of the same. Here ends the third part of the book of Psalms, and so the Syriac version closes it. See Gill on “Ps 41:13”.

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See Gill on “Ps 72:20”.