I wrote an article about how the Bible indicates that David may return to be ruler of Israel in the future (under the direction of God/Christ, who will rule the world). In this article, I focus on Psalm 89, which is an interesting chapter because it focuses on the Davidic Covenant and is a chapter that some wonder if it has relevance in helping us understand Israel’s future attack on its neighbors.
Overview of Psalm 89
Psalm 89 begins with psalmist singing the praises of God. The Lord’s praises are sung from verse 2-18 with an interesting mention of the Davidic Covenant in verse 3-4:
“(1) I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations. (2) For I have said, Mercy shall be built up for ever: thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens. (3) I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, (4) Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations. Selah. (5) And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O LORD: thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints (6) For who in the heaven can be compared unto the LORD? who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the LORD? (7) God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him. (8) O LORD God of hosts, who is a strong LORD like unto thee? or to thy faithfulness round about thee? (9) Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them. (10) Thou hast broken Rahab in pieces, as one that is slain; thou hast scattered thine enemies with thy strong arm. (11) The heavens are thine, the earth also is thine: as for the world and the fulness thereof, thou hast founded them. (12) The north and the south thou hast created them: Tabor and Hermon shall rejoice in thy name. (13) Thou hast a mighty arm: strong is thy hand, and high is thy right hand. (14) Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face. (15) Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of thy countenance. (16) In thy name shall they rejoice all the day: and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted. (17) For thou art the glory of their strength: and in thy favour our horn shall be exalted. (18) For the LORD is our defence; and the Holy One of Israel is our king.” (Psalm 89:1-18)
The reference to the Davidic Covenant in verse 3-4 is fitting because verse 19 onward focuses on the Davidic Covenant.
“(19) Then thou spakest in vision to thy holy one, and saidst, I have laid help upon one that is mighty; I have exalted one chosen out of the people… (20) I have found David my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him: (21) With whom my hand shall be established: mine arm also shall strengthen him. (22) The enemy shall not exact upon him; nor the son of wickedness afflict him. (23) And I will beat down his foes before his face, and plague them that hate him. (24) But my faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him: and in my name shall his horn be exalted. (25) I will set his hand also in the sea, and his right hand in the rivers. (26) He shall cry unto me, Thou art my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation. (27) Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth. (28) My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him. (29) His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven. (30) If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; (31) If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; (32) Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. (33) Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. (34) My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. (35) Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. (36) His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me. (37) It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven. Selah.” (Psalm 89:19-37)
Psalm 89:22-23: The Future?
The major issued I faced when I tried to understand this passage is to determine whether verse 22-23 may or may not relate to the future when David may be ruler of Israel. Recall that verse 22-23 mentions what God will do to David’s enemies:
(22) The enemy shall not exact upon him; nor the son of wickedness afflict him. (23) And I will beat down his foes before his face, and plague them that hate him.” (Psa 89:22-23)
One potential way to interpret verse 22-23 if you believe it relates to the future is to say that Israel may attack its neighbors under the watch of David following the events surrounding Armageddon. However, the main problem with this interpretation is that the Gentile nations are likely going to no longer hate Israel following the events of Armageddon. In fact, the Gentile nations will be the ones who will help bring the remnant of Israel scattered around the world to the land of Israel when the Lord lifts His hand and sets up an ensign to the nations (Isaiah 49:22). How can the Lord strike down David’s enemies in the future if Israel is unlikely going to have enemies after Armageddon?
The explanation that makes a lot of sense to me is that Psalm 89:19-37 is likely an elaborate, descriptive overview of the Davidic covenant laid out in 2 Samuel 7:9-17. Thus, verse 22-23 likely refers to the Lord striking down enemies in the past rather than in the future.
- One example of this may be found in Isaiah 37 when the Angel of the Lord struck down 185,000 Assyrians for the Lord’s own sake and for David’s sake (Isaiah 37:35)
The Rest of Psalm 89
The remainder of Psalm 89 is quite different from the earlier part of the chapter. Psalm 89:38 onward appears to refer to a time of crisis and the psalmist asking the Lord to keep the covenant He made with David:
“(38) But thou hast cast off and abhorred, thou hast been wroth with thine anointed. (39) Thou hast made void the covenant of thy servant: thou hast profaned his crown by casting it to the ground. (40) Thou hast broken down all his hedges; thou hast brought his strong holds to ruin. (41) All that pass by the way spoil him: he is a reproach to his neighbours. (42) Thou hast set up the right hand of his adversaries; thou hast made all his enemies to rejoice. (43) Thou hast also turned the edge of his sword, and hast not made him to stand in the battle. (44) Thou hast made his glory to cease, and cast his throne down to the ground. (45) The days of his youth hast thou shortened: thou hast covered him with shame. Selah. (46) How long, LORD? wilt thou hide thyself for ever? shall thy wrath burn like fire? (47) Remember how short my time is: wherefore hast thou made all men in vain? (48) What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death? shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave? Selah. (49) Lord, where are thy former lovingkindnesses, which thou swarest unto David in thy truth? (50) Remember, Lord, the reproach of thy servants; how I do bear in my bosom the reproach of all the mighty people; (51) Wherewith thine enemies have reproached, O LORD; wherewith they have reproached the footsteps of thine anointed. (52) Blessed be the LORD for evermore. Amen, and Amen.” (Psalm 89:38-52)
The ending of Psalm 89 gives the impression that psalmist wrote this entire Psalm at a time when he was looking to the Davidic Covenant as hope for a better future.
Fortunately, God does not break promises (Psalm 89:34-35). The Davidic Covenant is something that will be on God’s mind even when the people of Israel endure harsh persecution in the end times. God will rescue the remnant of Israel and will provide them and David everything He promised in Bible prophecy after Antichrist’s defeat.
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