by Moshe Gold
The Tabernacle of David
Psalm 89 was written during a stressful time in the history of the Jewish people. Jerusalem was in ruins, and the people of Israel were without a godly king; they had lost control over their destiny and in this weak and helpless condition they were experiencing the righteous anger of the Lord. It was in the darkness of this hopelessness came the light of revelation in the form of this Psalm. It gave hope for surviving the present chastisement and the promise of one day rejoicing in the presence of the Lord who will come to His people and fulfill all of His promised blessings. As a song of prayer, the first 38 verses speak of the magnificence of the Lord and the ways in which He showed mercy and faithfulness to the nation, especially blessing her through the promises made to King David. The remainder of the song contrasts this with their present suffering because of sin and becomes a prayer of national confession and a plea for God to remember His promises. It is also a reminder to the Jewish people that the covenant promises of God will never be broken because they do not depend on the faithfulness of His chosen ones, but rather on His unchangeable word. The lesson to the nation of Israel was simple; no matter how improbable the fulfillment of these promises seems to be, God has not forsaken or forgotten you! His mercy is new every morning and His faithfulness is forever.
By internalizing this song of contemplation many could draw the breath of hope that would see them through their dire circumstances, the hope that God will restore their land and once again bring a worthy Son of David to sit on the throne of Israel. The Psalm also gives us a glimpse of the most praiseworthy Son of David, the King Messiah, who will be the firstborn Son of God. He will be the custodian of the covenant promises of God to Israel. He will defeat Satan. This Son of David will have the authority to forgive sin and His followers will be granted eternal life. His kingdom will be established on earth and last forever.
This King has a Complex Nature
Through the psalmist (vv. 29, 35) God reminds Israel that the covenant made with David (2 Samuel 7:14-16) ensures the throne of Israel to his descendants. In this Psalm we also find confirmation that this covenant will find fulfillment in one whose throne will be established for all eternity (v. 30). There is something very unique about this Son of David. His nature or essence is unlike any other person; He is both man and God at the same time. This anointed One (v. 21), this Messiah, will be one of the people of Israel. As a descendant of the tribe of Judah and the house of David, He will sit upon the throne of His father fulfilling the covenant promise declared to him and as Isaiah 9:7 foretold, the government will be upon His shoulders. Under His reign the kingdom of Israel will find its fullness in the entire inheritance promised to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He will be the most powerful authority on earth and His rule will extend over the entire planet (vv. 25, 27)!
Yet, while this king is a Jewish man, He is also the appearance of God on earth, the firstborn Son of God (v. 28). Although this is written in poetic language, it is not referring to the king as or like the firstborn, nor is it a title used for the king. Neither can it mean that He is a human being somehow elevated to a divine position, since God will not share His glory with another (Isaiah 42:8). It means that He is the eternal God who humbles Himself and tolerates the birth process (Micah 5:2) in order to fully identify with mankind while possessing authority beyond that of any human. Psalm 89:28 declares that He acts with the absolute authority and full power of God. He will be the visible image of the invisible God, the Son of Man (Daniel 7:12-13). Isaiah 9:6, speaking of the nature of this Son of David, calls Him the Mighty God and the Eternal Father. Jeremiah, using the strongest name for God, declares this King to be revelation of the LORD our Righteousness (Jeremiah 23:5-6). Isaiah (48:16-17) identifies the Holy One of Israel (v.19) as God the Redeemer sent by the LORD GOD and the Spirit of God. This Redeemer is the Messiah, the Son of David, King of Israel (v19). Such a unique character is necessary in order to fulfill the messianic expectations of Psalm 89.
This King is the Custodian of the Covenants
The covenant made with David is an expansion of the promise of God declared by Jacob to his son Judah (Genesis 49:10). According to this promise, the tribe of Judah maintains the right to rule over Israel until the man who brings peace will come. Isaiah declares (Isaiah 9:6-7) that this man of Judah, this son of David, will be the Prince of Peace who will bring everlasting peace. The prophet Zechariah calls this man of peace “the Branch” (Zechariah 6:12-15). In Him the titles of King and of High Priest will be perfected. According to the Law of Moses, however, the priests could only come from the tribe of Levi (Numbers 3:6-13); therefore one person could not hold both titles. Since the Word of God cannot be changed (v. 34) the Mosaic Covenant would have to be satisfied in order for the Covenant with David to be fulfilled by the Prince of Peace.
Eternal peace on earth was never attainable through the Mosaic Covenant. In fact if we are honest, try as one might, we have to admit it impossible to keep this covenant as written. Real peace begins with peace between man and God. The obstacle to peace is sin that has created a distance between man and God that man cannot bridge (Isaiah 59:1-13). The Mosaic Law did not allow for complete peace, let alone eternal peace and only by continuous sacrifice could some semblance of peace be maintained. By becoming man, God the Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, the Messiah became the ultimate High Priest who offered Himself as the faultless, acceptable, eternal and final sacrifice (Isaiah 53) for all of mankind that made it possible for each individual to have perfect peace with God. In doing so the Mosaic Covenant became obsolete and the New Covenant promised by the Prophet Jeremiah (31:31-34) took its place. In the New Covenant Jewish and Gentile peoples find equality and acceptance before God that requires a new form of worship (Amos 9:11-12; Acts 15:16-29). Only in the New Covenant can one be sure of the resurrection to life promised to the followers of this faithful servant (vv. 30. 37 “seed;” c.f. Isaiah 53:10) who suffered the penalty of sin so His seed can enter His eternal kingdom. This High Priest died but also resurrected and ascended back to the heavens where He continues to make intercession for those who have put their faith in Him. It is there that the Priest/King waits to return to earth as the victorious Son of David.
This King is the Champion over Sin and Death
When David was anointed king, his enemies hunted him and tried to kill him. However, he trusted in the Lord and waited faithfully upon Him to bring his promised reign to reality. In time his enemies were defeated and he was enthroned and became the greatest king of Israel.
When the Son of David, the Prince of Peace, the Messiah of God was announced Herod tried to kill Him. When He was anointed to ministry Herod’s son Antipas together with the religious leadership sought to kill him. Behind their efforts was the true enemy, the Devil, who through temptation tried to cause Him to fail in His role as High Priest and to forfeit His throne as Son of David (Matthew 4:1-11). When God’s appointed time came for Messiah to offer Himself as the ultimate sacrifice for sin, He did so willingly. His death was neither payment demanded by his enemies nor punishment brought on by the actions of the one who betrayed Him, the son of wickedness (v.22). The sacrifice made by this King/Priest on behalf of mankind destroyed the sting of death (Hosea 13:14), which is sin. Through it He purchased the release of those who were enslaved to the Devil through sin and made the resurrection of the righteous possible.
The power of the Devil has been broken and yet there is still evil in the world which will continue until the King returns and in the power of God destroys His enemies and those who hate Him (v23; Revelation 18:15-21). He will establish His kingdom and complete the task of restoring the fallen tabernacle of David.
We do not yet see the reality of His return; but we see Messiah Jesus the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Root of David (Revelation 5:5), who is exalted (v.20) at the right hand of the Father, waiting faithfully to be enthroned on earth. Let us, like Israel, take comfort that, regardless of how chaotic we imagine our situation to be, God will establish His King in Jerusalem. The enduring nation of Israel is proof that you can trust Him to complete the good work He has begun in you and all who have found forgiveness of sin through this Son of David.