Father, the psalmists wrote so beautifully about You. Thank You for sharing with us their words. David was our chief psalmist and he was masterful in his writings, but there were others who wrote the songs of long ago that also told of You with great skill.
Psalm 89 is one of the many psalms where words become like a brush on a painter’s canvas. This psalm is by Ethan as he recounts Your covenant with David, and the sorrow of lost blessings.
Verse 8 says “You are mighty, O Lord, and Your faithfulness surrounds You.” I rest my reading for a moment and look out into the distance to consider how faithfulness surrounding you might look. I see a cloud-like atmosphere of gentleness, a place of safe abode. It is filled with omnipotent love. You are there watching over us, beckoning the weary, soothing the heavy burdened, smiling on the ones who overcome trial by their trust in You. Your faithfulness flows out on all those who call You Lord.
Verse 15 says “Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim You, who walk in the light of Your presence, O Lord.” It is another place to pause and envision. Your redeemed ones are standing in the light of Your being, which is greater than a thousand suns. These, Your children, are praising and worshiping the Lamb of Glory. They are rejoicing in Your faithfulness, calling out the many ways You have proven Your love over and over again.
The psalmist tells of Your faithful love for David, and how You will be with him always. Yet in verse 38, there is a sudden turn. Ethan puts aside his recounting of Your blessings and declares that You failed David, the one You promised to uphold forever. His words turn from those of praise, to weeping and questioning. It is another place for reflection. A place to be still and ponder.
You had a relationship with David like no other, this man You took from shepherd to king. You told us David was a man after Your own heart. Yet, there were times when he felt separated from You. Sometimes he understood why this was and other times he didn’t. And so it is with us.
Sometimes we feel You have abandoned us. We feel anxious and troubled over unanswered prayers. We worry that our valley experiences will never again lead to the mountaintops, that we will be pressed beyond our ability to bear what life hands us. Most of the time, it is our sin that interrupts relationship. But other times we feel abandoned and we don’t know why. One catastrophe after another comes; we are hit hard. And we cry out like the psalmist, “How long, O Lord? Will You hide Yourself forever?” (v. 46)
This journey on earth is tough. It is complicated, frustrating, and exhausting. Being a Christian doesn’t take that away, usually it makes it worse. For living as a follower of Christ in a fallen world gives ongoing struggle with evil. Life on this earth will never be without suffering. But it is not in disappointment and despair that we are to live. Rather, we are to live in the knowledge of One high and lifted up. It is there we must cling. Even when it “feels” like You aren’t with us, You are. You never forsake Your children. That’s the full story of the Holy Bible, and we can rest in its truth.
With all the psalmist’s grief and groaning, he ends by exalting You. He returns to the way his psalm begins. He gives you praise and honor! This man of old tells us that no matter how deep the pain, You are still with us and we can trust in that.
Now I reflect again on this writing of the 89th psalm. It tells me that I am always to see my Lord with faithfulness encircling Him. There is no break in Your faithfulness — it remains. And it is through praise that we are able to enter in. For Your word says that You inhabit our praise; we can always find You there. And when this world’s darkness seeks to overwhelm us, we can remember we have a choice: to tarry in the darkness of this world, or step confidently into the Light that is Your presence. For faith isn’t a feeling; it is a decision.
Thank You, blessed God, for the words and assurance of this psalmist. He is a witness of Your faithfulness. His words have been preserved for us so that we may know what relationship with You looks like. We thank You, Abba Father, for the encouragement of this psalm.
NIV translation used.