Summary: An exposition of Psalm 89
Where is the light that’s supposed to be at the end of the tunnel?
A couple of months ago Louisiana and the city of New Orleans was hit by an incredibly powerful hurricane named Katrina. As you may remember the city, which sits below sea level was flooded. Hundreds of people died, thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed. Tens of thousands of jobs were lost. For a time disorder and thuggery ruled the streets. People ended up in shelters, and some are still there. Many a person’s beloved pets were killed. Presently the city and region are still in disarray. In short, it is a disaster zone.
While some may conclude that the city of New Orleans got what it deserved (for it is a city steeped in witchcraft, the occult, and sexual immorality), there are many who call New Orleans home who are the followers of Jesus Christ.
These ones, who are the followers of Jesus who live in New Orleans, who have lost all their possessions (and in some cases, loved ones), are righteous sufferers. They are righteous sufferers because it was not their personal sins against the Lord that led to New Orleans destruction.
How do you think these brothers and sisters of ours in Christ, feel?
I’m sure some of them are confused and hurting. I’m sure some are struggling with despair and a sense of abandonment by God. I’m sure that they are hoping that their restoration comes quickly and that they will be able to put their lives back together soon.
Over the centuries there have been many who have been the followers of God who have been righteous sufferers.
To be a righteous sufferer is not an easy thing. Staying true under such circumstances is certain to be a challenge.
One of the biggest things that righteous sufferers need is encouragement and a reminder that there is a light at the end of the tunnel of their suffering.
The reason I have begun as I have this morning is because today we are going to do a study of Psalm 89.
Psalm 89 records the prayer of a righteous sufferer who is overwhelmed by his situation.
Historical background to Psalm 89
It is the time of the Babylonian exile.
Last week we studied Psalm 80 together. Psalm 80, as I hope you remember, is a prayer for restoration, salvation, and blessing, that dates to the days following the destruction of the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 722 B.C.
In Psalm 89, Judah, the Southern Kingdom, was the one that has been destroyed for very much the same reasons as its sister city (Israel) was. Instead, the time of the destruction of Judah was 586 B.C. Judah was able to keep going for longer because their kings and people were much more faithful to God than their northern cousins. Thus, they enjoyed God’s favor and blessing longer.
The difference between the Two kingdoms’experiences: The Northern Kingdom disappeared. The Southern kingdom experienced a predetermined 70 years in exile. After the 70 years were over, God restored them to their homeland.
Psalm 89 fits somewhere into the beginning of the time of the 70 year exile.
The structure of the text
In v.1-37 the tone is upbeat and worshipful as the praiseworthiness, holiness, righteousness, faithfulness, and goodness of God is expounded.
Starting with v.38 and continuing through to verse 51 our text does a 180 degree turn.
After repeatedly praising God for his goodness, love and faithfulness, our author all of a sudden breaks down; and from his sobbing lips comes question after question pertaining to where God’s love and promises for deliverance has gone.
The tone of despair, desperation, pain, confusion, and a sense of being abandoned by God, is unmistakable.
Why the person who wrote Psalm 89 is a righteous sufferer.
Note the author’s:
1. Commitment to the praise and worship of God v.1-37
In verses 1-2 our author says “I will sing of the LORD’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you established your faithfulness in heaven itself.
Note also how the author lays out for us a number of reasons for why God is praiseworthy. Verses 5ff
-the wonders of His creation
-His power and might
-His victories over His enemies
-His mastery over the seas and the world
-His justice, holiness, righteousness, goodness, and faithfulness to His promises
-His favor lavished on David and the eternal kingship He promised to him
2. Knowledge of God and of the Scriptures
The one who wrote Psalm 89 was not ignorant of the Word of God. His in depth knowledge of the covenant God made with David and his meditation on the holiness, righteousness, and faithfulness of God indicate this.