Today: [Psalm 89] Does God Ever Choose to Deny His Promises? Psalm 89 is a psalm of God’s covenantal goodness and faithfulness. Because of the fall of man God brought a covenant between Himself and those who choose to believe in Him. That covenant places expectations upon what He will and won’t do in your life in different circumstances. Many believe that God can and will ignore His own word for various reasons. Is this a valid assertion? If in fact God will arbitrarily suspend His own promise to you – where is the basis of faith that we can believe Him at all?
[Psa 89:1-52 KJV] 1 [[Maschil of Ethan the Ezrahite.]] I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations. 2 For I have said, Mercy shall be built up for ever: thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens. 3 I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, 4 Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations. Selah. 5 And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O LORD: thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints. 6 For who in the heaven can be compared unto the LORD? [who] among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the LORD? 7 God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all [them that are] about him. 8 O LORD God of hosts, who [is] a strong LORD like unto thee? or to thy faithfulness round about thee? 9 Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them. 10 Thou hast broken Rahab in pieces, as one that is slain; thou hast scattered thine enemies with thy strong arm. 11 The heavens [are] thine, the earth also [is] thine: [as for] the world and the fulness thereof, thou hast founded them. 12 The north and the south thou hast created them: Tabor and Hermon shall rejoice in thy name. 13 Thou hast a mighty arm: strong is thy hand, [and] high is thy right hand. 14 Justice and judgment [are] the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face. 15 Blessed [is] the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of thy countenance. 16 In thy name shall they rejoice all the day: and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted. 17 For thou [art] the glory of their strength: and in thy favour our horn shall be exalted. 18 For the LORD [is] our defence; and the Holy One of Israel [is] our king.
The author of the psalm is cited as Ethan the Ezrahite. He is unknown to the biblical narrative and little is mentioned of him elsewhere. There is one other Ethan mentioned in the bible but he was a wiseman who lived hundreds of years before king David therefore it is not likely he wrote this psalm. Some believed that it is this ancestral Ethan who wrote the psalm and either David’s mention was added later by an unknown writer or Ethan spoke David’s name by the spirit of prophecy. Because the psalm emphasizes the promise of God regarding the unbroken line of kings from David – others think it was written in Babylon after the Jews were taken captive there.
The psalm is a psalm of God’s covenantal goodness and faithfulness. There is reference to the suggestion that God perhaps had forgotten his promises judging by current circumstances at the time of the psalms writing – but typical of the Davidic style, the negative situation is address followed up by the affirmation of the goodness and faithfulness of God at the conclusion.
Verse 3 speaks of the covenant between God and David. God promises to give David an unbroken line of kings forever. How does that apply to us? Paul taught that you and I are partakers of the covenant between God and Abraham. The covenant between God and David was an extension of that Abrahamic commitment on God’s part. The Jewish people partake of the covenant through natural lineage through the Hebrew line. We partake of the covenant through faith in Christ.
What does covenant mean to God? In making covenant with us God is certifying His faithfulness to a people who have an inborn tendency of unbelief. If it wasn’t for the fact of the sin nature in us there would be no need of covenant for we would naturally (in an unfallen state) take God at His word. But because of sin and because we tend not to believe in God or to believe God’s word itself – He has extended a covenant to us where He swears by Himself (because He could swear by no other) that He will be found faithful in our behalf. To ratify that covenant in the Old Testament the blood of animals was spilled. To ratify that covenant in the New the blood of Jesus Himself was given on the cross.
19 Then thou spakest in vision to thy holy one, and saidst, I have laid help upon [one that is] mighty; I have exalted [one] chosen out of the people. 20 I have found David my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him: 21 With whom my hand shall be established: mine arm also shall strengthen him. 22 The enemy shall not exact upon him; nor the son of wickedness afflict him. 23 And I will beat down his foes before his face, and plague them that hate him. 24 But my faithfulness and my mercy [shall be] with him: and in my name shall his horn be exalted. 25 I will set his hand also in the sea, and his right hand in the rivers. 26 He shall cry unto me, Thou [art] my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation. 27 Also I will make him [my] firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth. 28 My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him. 29 His seed also will I make [to endure] for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven. 30 If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; 31 If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; 32 Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. 33 Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail.
What effect does covenant have upon God where His promises are concerned? In modern theology the suggestion is that God can suspend His promise and break His own word to you as a definition of His sovereignty. For instance 1 Peter 2:24 says that by his stripes you were healed … However, modern theology – even so-called “full gospel” theologians contend that in spite of giving a promise to us including healing as a past-tense provision, God can still choose on a case by case basis to refuse healing to us for some higher purpose. This is absolutely despicable unbelief on the part of modern scholarship. If we cannot take a promise of God and stand on it unequivocally then we cannot stand upon it in any case at all.
The whole point of a promise from God is that it assures us of God’s willingness to bless us and His determination to follow through with that blessing when called upon in a time of need. Where does God’s sovereignty come in then? When God gives you a promise, He is limiting His own sovereignty. He is saying to you in effect, that He can do anything He wants because He is God but in the matter of a promise given He will not fail to come through for you. Why then do we not always see His promise come to pass in our lives? Because there are conditions on our part. There are very few purely unconditional promises of God that do not require something of us in terms of faith believing.
34 My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. 35 Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. 36 His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me. 37 It shall be established for ever as the moon, and [as] a faithful witness in heaven. Selah. 38 But thou hast cast off and abhorred, thou hast been wroth with thine anointed. 39 Thou hast made void the covenant of thy servant: thou hast profaned his crown [by casting it] to the ground. 40 Thou hast broken down all his hedges; thou hast brought his strong holds to ruin. 41 All that pass by the way spoil him: he is a reproach to his neighbours. 42 Thou hast set up the right hand of his adversaries; thou hast made all his enemies to rejoice. 43 Thou hast also turned the edge of his sword, and hast not made him to stand in the battle. 44 Thou hast made his glory to cease, and cast his throne down to the ground. 45 The days of his youth hast thou shortened: thou hast covered him with shame. Selah. 46 How long, LORD? wilt thou hide thyself for ever? shall thy wrath burn like fire? 47 Remember how short my time is: wherefore hast thou made all men in vain? 48 What man [is he that] liveth, and shall not see death? shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave? Selah. 49 Lord, where [are] thy former lovingkindnesses, [which] thou swarest unto David in thy truth? 50 Remember, Lord, the reproach of thy servants; [how] I do bear in my bosom [the reproach of] all the mighty people; 51 Wherewith thine enemies have reproached, O LORD; wherewith they have reproached the footsteps of thine anointed. 52 Blessed [be] the LORD for evermore. Amen, and Amen.
Now here is a certitude that you and I can lay hold on: “My covenant will I not break nor alter the thing that has gone out of My mouth….” The scholarship of the uninformed declare to us that it is presumption on our part to expect God to honor His own word. Others suggest that this is a promise only to king David and doesn’t apply to you and I. The writer of Hebrews however tells us:
[Heb 13:8 KJV] 8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
In Acts 10:34 Peter perceives that God is no respecter of persons. God does not respect men’s persons, nor does He change from one millennium to another. What He promises in times past applies to you and I. What He promises of His own faithfulness to David through Ethan the Ezrahite applies to you and I as well. If you do with your faith what David did with his faith you will see the same results. God cannot lie. Remember however, the conditions. David had a great promise but there were two times in his life that the promise came into conflict with choices David made (in the matter of Bathsheba and when he numbered the people). Let the fear of God come into your life at this point. God will not exclude you from His promise but you can exclude yourself.
If David had remained unrepentant over Bathsheba or regarding the numbering of the people that would have been the end of him. Even though he began as a man after God’s own heart he could have excluded Himself from the promise of God. Isaiah spoke of this very issue:
[Isa 59:2 KJV] 2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid [his] face from you, that he will not hear.
Isaiah wrote this in one the darkest times in Israel just before the Babylonian captivity.
Another consideration in regard to the promise of God in our life is the problem of demanding of God how He must proceed to answer our prayer. God limits His sovereignty in regard to outcome but He retains His sovereignty over he He goes about meeting our need. Many prayers fall flat at your feet because you are set in your opinion as to how you expect God to answer. It is fruitless to dictate to God how He goes about to answer your prayer. You have to relinquish the process and learn to pray the outcome. Trust Him to meet your need in His own way and in His own timetable. You have a covenant with God. It places expectations upon God and it places expectations upon you. The study of His word is the study of His covenant. Most Christians have only a precursory relationship to the word of God. They read Facebook more than they read their bibles and then wonder why their prayers go unanswered. We must identify these issues in our own heart and life and make the adjustments. The result will be the visitation of God’s covenantal goodness upon our lives in an exponential way.
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