A Lament over God’s Promise to David
1A maskil of Ethan the Ezrahite.
2I will sing of your mercy forever, LORDa
proclaim your faithfulness through all ages.
3*For I said, “My mercy is established forever;
my faithfulness will stand as long as the heavens.
4I have made a covenant with my chosen one;
I have sworn to David my servant:
5I will make your dynasty stand forever
and establish your throne through all ages.”b
6The heavens praise your marvels, LORD,
your loyalty in the assembly of the holy ones.c
7Who in the skies ranks with the LORD?
8A God dreaded in the council of the holy ones,
greater and more awesome than all those around him!
9LORD, God of hosts, who is like you?
Mighty LORD, your faithfulness surrounds you.
10You rule the raging sea;e
you still its swelling waves.
11You crush Rahab* with a mortal blow;
with your strong arm you scatter your foes.
12Yours are the heavens, yours the earth;
you founded the world and everything in it.f
13*Zaphon and Amanus you created;
Tabor and Hermon rejoice in your name.
14You have a mighty arm.
Your hand is strong; your right hand is ever exalted.
15Justice and judgment are the foundation of your throne;
mercy and faithfulness march before you.g
16Blessed the people who know the war cry,
who walk in the radiance of your face, LORD.
17In your name they sing joyfully all the day;
they rejoice in your righteousness.h
18You are their majestic strength;
19Truly the LORD is our shield,
the Holy One of Israel, our king!j
20Then you spoke in vision;k
to your faithful ones you said:
“I have set a leader over the warriors;
I have raised up a chosen one from the people.
21I have chosen David, my servant;
with my holy oil I have anointed him.
22My hand will be with him;l
my arm will make him strong.
23No enemy shall outwit him,
nor shall the wicked defeat him.
24I will crush his foes before him,
strike down those who hate him.
25My faithfulness and mercy will be with him;
through my name his horn will be exalted.
26*I will set his hand upon the sea,
his right hand upon the rivers.
27He shall cry to me, ‘You are my father,m
my God, the Rock of my salvation!’
28I myself make him the firstborn,
Most High* over the kings of the earth.
29Forever I will maintain my mercy for him;n
my covenant with him stands firm.
30I will establish his dynasty forever,
his throne as the days of the heavens.
31If his descendants forsake my teaching,o
do not follow my decrees,
32If they fail to observe my statutes,
do not keep my commandments,
33I will punish their crime with a rod
and their guilt with blows.
34But I will not take my mercy from him,
nor will I betray my bond of faithfulness.p
35I will not violate my covenant;
the promise of my lips I will not alter.q
36By my holiness I swore once for all:r
I will never be false to David.
his throne, like the sun before me.
38Like the moon it will stand eternal,
forever firm like the sky!”
39But now you have rejected and spurned,t
been enraged at your anointed.
40You renounced the covenant with your servant,
defiled his crown in the dust.
41You broke down all city walls,u
left his strongholds in ruins.
42All who pass through seize plunder;
his neighbors deride him.
43You have exalted the right hand of his foes,
have gladdened all his enemies.v
44You turned back his sharp sword,
did not support him in battle.
45You brought to an end his splendor,
hurled his throne to the ground.
46You cut short the days of his youth,
covered him with shame.
47How long, LORD? Will you hide forever?
Must your wrath smolder like fire?w
48Remember how brief life is,
how frail the sons of man you have created!x
49What is man, that he should live and not see death?
Who can deliver his soul from the power of Sheol?y
50Where are your former mercies, Lord,
that you swore to David in your faithfulness?
51Remember, Lord, the insults to your servants,
how I have borne in my bosom the slander of the nations.z
52Your enemies, LORD, insult;
they insult each step of your anointed.
* [Psalm 89] The community laments the defeat of the Davidic king, to whom God promised kingship as enduring as the heavens (Ps 89:2–5). The Psalm narrates how God became king of the divine beings (Ps 89:6–9) and how the Davidic king became king of earthly kings (Ps 89:20–38). Since the defeat of the king calls into question God’s promise, the community ardently prays God to be faithful to the original promise to David (Ps 89:39–52).
* [89:3–5] David’s dynasty is to be as long-lasting as the heavens, a statement reinforced by using the same verbs (establish, stand) both of the divine love and loyalty and of the Davidic dynasty and throne, cf. Ps 89:29–30.
* [89:13] Zaphon and Amanus: two sacred mountains in northern Syria which came to designate the directions of north and south. Tabor: a high hill in the valley of Jezreel in northern Israel. Hermon: a mountain in Lebanon, forming the southern spur of the Anti-Lebanon range.
* [89:28] Most High: a divine title, which is here extended to David as God’s own king, cf. Ps 2:7–9; Is 9:5. As God rules over the members of the heavenly council (Ps 89:6–9), so David, God’s surrogate, rules over earthly kings.