Psalms: all selections from the RED psalter
TITLE. A Psalm of David. The title affords us no information beyond the fact that David is the author of this sublime song.
SUBJECT. It seems to be the general opinion of modern annotators, that this Psalm is meant to express the glory of God as heard in the pealing thunder, and seen in the equinoctial tornado. Just as the eighth Psalm is to be read by moonlight, when the stars are bright, as the nineteenth needs the rays of the rising sun to bring out its beauty, so this can be best rehearsed beneath the black wing of tempest, by the glare of the lightning, or amid that dubious dusk which heralds the war of elements. The verses march to the tune of thunderbolts. God is everywhere conspicuous, and all the earth is hushed by the majesty of his presence. The word of God in the law and gospel is here also depicted in its majesty of power. True ministers are sons of thunder, and the voice of God in Christ Jesus is full of majesty. Thus we have God’s works and God’s word joined together: let no man put them asunder by a false idea that theology and science can by any possibility oppose each other. We may, perhaps, by a prophetic glance, behold in this Psalm the dread tempests of the latter days, and the security of the elect people.
DIVISION. The first two verses are a call to adoration. From Ps 29:3-10 the path of the tempest is traced, the attributes of God’s word are rehearsed, and God magnified in all the terrible grandeur of his power; and the last verse sweetly closes the scene with the assurance that the omnipotent Jehovah will give both strength and peace to his people. Let heaven and earth pass away, the Lord will surely bless his people.
We have now reached the majestic Covenant Psalm, which, according to the Jewish arrangement closes the third book of the Psalms. It is the utterance of a believer, in presence of great national disaster, pleading with his God, urging the grand argument of covenant engagements, and expecting deliverance and help, because of the faithfulness of Jehovah.
TITLE. Maschil. This is most fitly called a Maschil, for it is most instructive. No subject is more important or is so fully the key to all theology as that of the covenant. He who is taught by the Holy Spirit to be clear upon the covenant of grace will be a scribe well instructed in the things of the kingdom; he whose doctrinal theory is a mingle mangle of works and grace is scarcely fit to be teacher of babes. Of Ethan the Ezrahite: perhaps the same person as Jeduthun, who was a musician in David’s reign; was noted for his wisdom in Solomon’s days, and probably survived till the troubles of Rehoboam’s period. If this be the man, he must have written this Psalm in his old age, when troubles were coming thick and heavy upon the dynasty of David and the land of Judah; this is not at all improbable, and there is much in the Psalm which looks that way.
DIVISION. The sacred poet commences by affirming his belief in the faithfulness of the Lord to his covenant with the house of David, and makes his first pause at Ps 89:4. He then praises and magnifies the name of the Lord for his power, justice, and mercy, Ps 89:5-14. This leads him to sing of the happiness of the people who have such a God to be their glory and defence, Ps 89:15-18. He rehearses the terms if the covenant at full length with evident delight, Ps 89:19-37, and then mournfully pours out his complaint and petition, Ps 89:38-51, closing the whole with a hearty benediction and a double Amen. May the Holy Spirit greatly bless to us the reading of this most precious Psalm of instruction.