Tuesday, May 23, 2023

2023.05.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 89:38–52

Read Psalm 89:38–52

Questions from the Scripture text: What has the Lord done to them (Psalm 89:38a)? And to whom in Israel, specifically (verse 38b)? What does it seem like God has done (Psalm 89:39a)? What has been done to the present anointed (verse 39b)? What else (Psalm 89:40a)? How does verse 40b restate this? So, what is happening to the king and his kingdom (Psalm 89:41a)? With what effect (verse 41b)? But what has been done to whom (Psalm 89:42)? What has been done to the present king militarily (Psalm 89:43)? Politically (Psalm 89:44)? Personally (Psalm 89:45)? So, what question does Psalm 89:46 pose, in which three ways? What does Psalm 89:47 plead? Just how weak and short-lived is he (Psalm 89:48)? What is he holding onto in prayer now in Psalm 89:49? What does he ask the Lord to remember and expect the Lord to care about (Psalm 89:50)? How does he describe the ones who have been reproached (Psalm 89:51)? But why must this reproach not be the final word (Psalm 89:52)?

What do believers do when their experience doesn’t seem to line up with the promises of God? Psalm 89:38–52 looks forward to the opening portion of morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these fifteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that when believers’ experience doesn’t seem to line up with God’s promises, they ask Him about it in prayer and plead with Him in prayer. 

Short-term chastening, Psalm 89:38-45. One of God’s commitments to the Christ, was that the Lord would chasten His seed, His sons (Psalm 89:30-32). But when the rod is laying its stripes upon us, it can feel as if the covenant itself is being taken lightly (Psalm 89:38-39). This happened often, and increasingly intense ways, during the reigns of lesser sons of David, whose crowns were defiled and tarnished (Psalm 89:39b). It seemed to be true during the exile. And even after great David’s greater Son has taken His seat in glory, chastening is often the earthly experience of those who live under lesser thrones on earth. This chastening is delighted in as an example of true sonship in Hebrews 12:1–11, but when it comes with so much pain, it provokes the question of Revelation 6:10—a question that has its earthly echo in Psalm 89:46, ff.

Often, the protections of the church seem broken down (Psalm 89:40-41). Enemies from outside, but especially false and lazy teachers from within, do her much harm. But while Christ’s enemies may rejoice at this (Psalm 89:42), He never suffers the Psalm 89:43 defeat of the kings that preceded Him. His sword comes from His mouth and has a 100% victory rate in battle. Before Jesus came, Judah’s kings suffered the results that we see in Psalm 89:44-45. But now, the king reigns in His indestructible life, just as He intercedes for us as Priest by that same indestructible life (cf. Hebrews 7:16). 

Still, when congregations are chastened and even have their lampstands removed, believers grieve over the dishonor that comes to Christ’s Name in this way. We grieve when the promises of God seem to be called into question by the very chastening that they required.  

Fixed-term chasteningPsalm 89:46-48. It is a blessing to ask the question in Psalm 89:46, “How long, Yahweh.” For He is Yahweh, existing from eternity and not subject to time like we are. And He has determined the end from the beginning, together with all moments in between. We cannot know with specificity the answer to the question, but He surely does! He works all things according to the counsel of His will. He knows how long His grace will be hidden from our view (Psalm 89:46b). He knows how long His wrath will burn (verse 46c). The shortness of our lives that is behind Psalm 89:47-48 is actually a comfort. Of ourselves, we are unable to “make our life count” for anything (Psalm 89:47b). We are unable to cheat death (Psalm 89:48). Our lives have a fixed length. This world has a fixed length. And all of this means that there is a definite answer to the question, “How long?”—even if its quantity is hidden from our eyes.

Infinite blessednessPsalm 89:49-52. The former days were not just good times; they were covenanted love (Psalm 89:49a) that had come by covenantal vows in covenantal faithfulness (verse 49b). That is to say that they came not just because God was being kind to the line of David as creatures, but because God Himself had identified Himself with the line of David and bound Himself to the line of David. This is why the reproach of the servant (Psalm 89:50) and the reproach of the anointed (Psalm 89:51) is such a big deal. They are reproaches that are being heaped onto the Lord Himself. But He is the ever-blessed Lord (Psalm 89:52). These reproaches ultimately will not stand. He will be praised and honored forever. And therefore His people too will be blessed forever. Their chastening will achieve its purpose, and it will end. And they will be perfectly holy, and perfectly happy in the Lord Himself, forever!

In what ways are you suffering right now? How does Jesus joining Himself to you make this suffering a very big deal? How long will you suffer? How long will you be blessed? With what blessedness?

Sample prayer:  Lord, You have made glorious promises in the Lord Jesus Christ, but we are not yet fit to inherit them. In faithfulness, You have chastened Your church. But, when You do so, we grieve over the dishonor that comes to Christ’s Name when His church is in a low condition. Everlasting Lord, Your servants desire to honor You with our short lives in this world. So, help us now, as we gather to You. Give us to worship You in holiness and reverence that the glory of Christ’s crown will not be despised but shine brightly in Your worship, as we pray that it would shine forever, in Jesus’s Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP80 “Hear, O Hear Us” or TPH89B “My Song Forever Shall Record”

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