I wonder what you felt when you read the psalmist’s outburst in Psalm 89:38-45 when he basically accuses God of violating his promise to David and rejecting his people? Well, that brutal honesty continues as the psalmist now complains further to God asking him to act on his people’s behalf, He says:
46 How long, Lord? Will you hide yourself forever?
How long will your wrath burn like fire?
47 Remember how fleeting is my life.
For what futility you have created all humanity!
48 Who can live and not see death,
or who can escape the power of the grave?
49 Lord, where is your former great love,
which in your faithfulness you swore to David?
50 Remember, Lord, how your servant has been mocked,
how I bear in my heart the taunts of all the nations,
51 the taunts with which your enemies, Lord, have mocked,
with which they have mocked every step of your anointed one.
In his book, “Prayer – Does it Make Any Difference” by Philip Yancey (Hodder & Stoughton 2006), he says,
“I have sometimes wondered why God places such a high value on honesty, even to the extent of enduring unjust outbursts. As I review the prayers recorded in the Bible, I am startled to see how many have a tone of petulance. Jeremiah griping about unfairness; Job conceding, ‘what profit should we have, if we pray to him?’; Habakkuk accusing God of deafness. The Bible schools us to pray with blistering honesty.
Walter Brueggemann suggests one obvious reason for candor in the Book of Psalms: ‘because life is like that, and these poems are intended to speak to all of life, not just part of it’.”
So, I guess the question we need to consider is, whether or not the psalmist is right in his accusations of God’s failure to fulfil all that he had promised? Obviously, knowing God as he did (and as he described him in the beginning verses of this psalm), he must have been quite confused at what was happening.
So, just to remind ourselves. What had God promised to David?
4 ‘I will establish your line forever
and make your throne firm through all generations.’
28 I will maintain my love to him forever,
and my covenant with him will never fail.
29 I will establish his line forever,
his throne as long as the heavens endure.
What were the conditions?
30 “If his sons forsake my law
and do not follow my statutes,
31 if they violate my decrees
and fail to keep my commands,
32 I will punish their sin with the rod,
their iniquity with flogging;
So, if we read the stories of David’s descendants in 1 & 2 Kings, we see the outworking of these conditions, all resulting in the eventual punishment by exile of the people of Israel due to their sin.
But there is still the question of God committing himself to establishing David’s line forever,
his throne as long as the heavens endure. Here we need to look at God’s Big Picture!
Among others, the prophet Jeremiah actually spoke of this big picture when things were at their worst in Israel’s history. He spoke of a future Davidic Messiah as follows:
“The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“when I will raise up for Davida righteous Branch,
a King who will reign wisely
and do what is just and right in the land.
In his days Judah will be saved
and Israel will live in safety.
This is the name by which he will be called:
The Lord Our Righteous Savior. (Jeremiah 23:5-6)
Luke records the words of the angel to Mary:
“Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:30-32)
22 After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’
23 “From this man’s descendants God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as he promised. (Acts 13:22-23)
“Jesus is the Davidic descendant who rules as King from his heavenly throne forever.” (# 30)
The logical conclusion then being that God had not failed to fulfill all that he had promised. He can be trusted, no when the circumstances suggest differently.
And so this day, we worship you King Jesus and acknowledge that your kingdom will never end. Amen.
Book 3 of the Psalter then ends with the words:
52 Praise be to the Lord forever!
Amen and Amen.