I will sing of the goodness and lovingkindness of the Lord forever;With my mouth I will make known Your faithfulness from generation to generation. For I have said, “Goodness and lovingkindness will be built up forever;In the heavens [unchangeable and majestic] You will establish Your faithfulness.” [God has said] “I have made a covenant with My chosen one;I have sworn to David My servant, I will establish your seed foreverAnd I will build up your throne for all generations.” Selah. The heavens (angels) praise Your wonders, O Lord,Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the holy ones. For who in the heavens can be compared to the Lord?Who among the divine beings is like the Lord, A God greatly feared and reverently worshiped in the council of the holy [angelic] ones,And awesome above all those who are around Him? O Lord God of hosts, who is like You, O mighty Lord?Your faithfulness surrounds You [as an intrinsic, unchangeable part of Your very being]. You rule the swelling of the sea;When its waves rise, You still them. You have crushed Rahab (Egypt) like one who is slain;You have scattered Your enemies with Your mighty arm. The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours;The world and all that is in it, You have founded and established them. The north and the south, You have created them;Mount Tabor and Mount Hermon shout for joy at Your name. You have a strong arm;Mighty is Your hand, Your right hand is exalted. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne;Lovingkindness and truth go before You. Blessed and happy are the people who know the joyful sound [of the trumpet’s blast]!They walk, O Lord, in the light and favor of Your countenance! In Your name they rejoice all the day,And in Your righteousness they are exalted. For You are the glory of their strength [their proud adornment],And by Your favor our horn is exalted. For our shield belongs to the Lord,And our king to the Holy One of Israel. Once You spoke in a vision to Your godly ones,And said, “I have given help to one who is mighty [giving him the power to be a champion for Israel];I have exalted one chosen from the people. “I have found David My servant;With My holy oil I have anointed him, With whom My hand shall be established and steadfast;My arm also shall strengthen him. “The enemy will not outwit him,Nor will the wicked man afflict or humiliate him. “I will crush his adversaries before him,And strike those who hate him. “My faithfulness and My steadfast lovingkindness shall be with him,And in My name shall his horn be exalted [great power and prosperity shall be conferred upon him]. “I will also set his hand on the [Mediterranean] sea,And his right hand on the rivers [the tributaries of the Euphrates]. “He will cry to Me, ‘You are my Father,My God, and the rock of my salvation.’ “I will also make him My firstborn (preeminent),The highest of the kings of the earth. “My lovingkindness I will keep for him forevermore,And My covenant will be confirmed to him. “His descendants I will establish forever,And his throne [will endure] as the days of heaven. “If his children turn away from My lawAnd do not walk in My ordinances, If they break My statutesAnd do not keep My commandments, Then I will punish their transgression with the rod [of discipline],And [correct] their wickedness with stripes. “Nevertheless, I will not break off My lovingkindness from him,Nor allow My faithfulness to fail. “My covenant I will not violate,Nor will I alter the utterance of My lips. “Once [for all] I have sworn by My holiness, [My vow which cannot be violated];I will not lie to David. “His descendants shall endure foreverAnd his throne [will continue] as the sun before Me. “It shall be established forever like the moon,And the witness in the heavens is ever faithful.” Selah. But [in apparent contradiction of all this] You [the faithful Lord] have cast off and rejected;You have been full of wrath against Your anointed. You have spurned and repudiated the covenant with Your servant;You have profaned his crown [by casting it] in the dust. You have broken down all his [city] walls;You have brought his strongholds to ruin. All who pass along the road rob him;He has become the scorn of his neighbors. You have exalted the right hand of his foes;You have made all his enemies rejoice. Also, You have turned back the edge of his swordAnd have not made him [strong enough] to stand in battle. You have put an end to his splendorAnd have hurled his throne to the ground. You have shortened the days of his youth;You have covered him with shame. Selah. How long, O Lord?Will You hide Yourself forever?Will Your wrath burn like fire? Remember how fleeting my lifetime is;For what vanity, [for what emptiness, for what futility, for what wisp of smoke] You have created all the sons of men! What man can live and not see death?Can he rescue his soul from the [powerful] hand of Sheol (the nether world, the place of the dead)? Selah. O Lord, where are Your former lovingkindnesses [so abundant in the days of David and Solomon],Which You swore to David in Your faithfulness? Remember, O Lord, the reproach of Your servants [scorned, insulted, and disgraced];How I bear in my heart the reproach of all the many peoples, With which Your enemies have taunted, O Lord,With which they have mocked the footsteps of Your anointed. Blessed be the Lord forevermore!Amen and Amen.
Have you noticed the four Gospels say nothing about the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday Morning?
In his award-winning book, “The Jesus I Never Knew”, Phillip Yancey says, “In a real sense we live on Saturday….Human history grinds on, between the time of promise and fulfillment.” Can we trust God that God can make something holy and beautiful and good out of a world that includes Bosnia and Rwanda, and inner city ghettos and jammed prisons in the richest nation on earth? It’s Saturday on planet Earth; will Sunday ever come?
The disciples of Jesus had to wait until Sunday in order to call Friday “good.”
Psalm 89, within its Old Testament context, also fits the mood of Saturday. Yesterday(verses 1-37) God made an unconditional promise that David’s kingly line would continue forever. Today (verses 38-51), it appears God has renounced His covenant. The hope for a better tomorrow lies in one brief burst of praise(verse 52).
In the yesterday(Friday) we find a time that appears contradictory to what has been promised.
We do not get a hint in the opening of Psalm 89’s anthem that Israel was under occupation and lay in ruins, and that the sons of David were no more. It is when we declare God’s truths, even when it seems to contradict how we feel, that faith shines. We trust that God’s faithfulness is established in heaven itself and His love stands firm forever. The writer and we can be so confident because God has made covenant without contingencies that David’s throne will be established throughout all generations(verses 3-4). We can conclude that if Jesus is not the fulfillment for that promise, then God has broke His word because there has been no king in Israel for over twenty-six hundred years.
In Psalm 89, the writer contemplates the character of Gods incomparability, power, awesomeness and faithfulness along with the promise and the One who made the promise. As he does so, he looks to heaven (verses 5-8) and earth (verses 9-18) to illustrate these traits.
This presence of faithfulness tells us that God can be utterly relied upon. Every law, whether those of space, gravity, physics, mathematics or genetics, owe their existence to the dependability and predictability of God Himself. And indeed He is surrounded by faithfulness.(verse 8)
It was this God who chose David and promised him faithful love and to establish his throne forever, assuring him that He would keep the covenant even if David’s sins violated His decrees and forsook His laws. Never would God lie to David or annul His own agreement. David could rest in the reliability of God’s own word that his lineage would endure forever.(verses 34-36).
Let us consider the “today” of Psalm 89.
At this time, no one sat on David’s throne. Its splendor had vanished, cast down to the ground and the nation itself plundered and subdued; its people in the meanwhile were ridiculed among the nations(verses 38-51).
We must be aware that difficult times may persuade us to believe things about God that are not true. In the time of adversity, the psalmist may have thought that God had renounced His covenant with David but despite his perception, that wasn’t true. Thankfully the Lord doesn’t strike us down when we accuse Him of things that are not true. He allows us to express in our prayers what’s in our hearts and patiently waits for our distorted emotions to come into line with objective truths.
The devastation that is lamented in the last part of Psalm 89, does not mean that God had broken His promise to David. Rather it meant that he kept His promise to punish the sins of David when he abandoned His law. We know there’s a world of difference between abandonment and discipline although the psalmist seems to confuse the two and misreads God’s discipline as an abandonment of His promises.
Maybe, in the crisis of life you have felt like saying, “Lord, You must not love me anymore or You wouldn’t have allowed this to happen to me.” If that’s the case, we’re in the same boat as the psalmist in Psalm 89. But let us not make his mistake and let us not interpret times of adversity as a sign that God no longer cares for us even when we are being, as Israel was, disciplined for our own sins.
In the atmosphere of our Saturday we ask a question like this: “O Lord, where is your former great love, which in your faithfulness you swore to David?”(verse 49).
But remember that every Saturday is followed by a Sunday. In this psalm, the psalmist has taken a nosedive toward deep depression. That’s what Saturdays feel like as we wait for the promises of God. But at the last moment, he reaches into the depth of his soul, pulling on the spiritual levers and lifts his soul and faith upward moments before he strikes bottom: “Praise be to the Lord forever! Amen and Amen”(verse 52).
What has happened here? There doesn’t seem to be any connection whatsoever between the despair of verse 38-51 and the conclusion of verse 52 except for the fact that now his faith has been restored. Nothing in the present appears to have changed but instead he has believed God for tomorrow- Sunday. Somewhere and some day there would be an answer to his questions and a supply for his needs.
Like the psalmist, when faced with overwhelming problems, we too, must choose to face them with the same shout of trust. There’s no doubt that if the psalmist had had the benefit of the New Testament’s answers to his questions, he would have been ecstatic with joy and instead of a single verse of praise there probably would have been at least an entire psalm if not a book of them.
We who are the people of Saturday live between the first coming of Jesus and His second coming- for Christians, the rapture. Phillip Yancey closes his book by sharing what’s carved on a tombstone in rural Louisiana- just one word- “Waiting.”
That’s the Saturday word. Just as the disciples could do nothing else on their Saturday except to wait, neither can we. But in our Saturday we can make the choice to look toward Sunday with expectation that the God who made the promise on Thursday hasn’t forgotten it on Friday(the times of darkness and despair). Neither has He forgotten them on Saturday(the times of our waiting for adversity to end). And one glorious day(Sunday), like Mary, we will hear the resurrected Savior call our name and even from the grave we will respond for nothing can withhold us from His promises. While we wait on Saturday, let us choose praise and worship to fill our hours. I’ve found that filling my time with good things as I wait seems to shorten the wait. Why don’t you give it a try today?
Dr. John Thompson