The theme of the psalm is established in the first stanza (vv. 1-4) by the repeated use of "faithfulness" and "forever" and by one use of the word "covenant.” These words occur throughout the psalm, as indicated, but they are particularly prominent here. "Forever" occurs three times, the word "faithfulness" twice, and "covenant" once.

There are as many attributes of God as there are names of God, one for each day of the year, according to ones writer's collection. But of all these divine attributes it would be hard to find one as important to us as faithfulness. Men and women are unfaithful. We make promises and break them. We want people to rely on us, but we cannot be relied on ourselves. God is utterly faithful. What he promises, he performs. This is what Psalm 89 is about. It is about God's faithfulness.

Well, Heman’s last word may be "darkness,” but it does not have to be the last word for us. If we do not repent of sin and come to God through faith in the atoning death of Jesus Christ, the darkness of death, hell and judgment is all we can anticipate. However, if we believe the gospel and receive Jesus as our Savior, not only is the future changed from darkness to brightness and from death to life, the past is changed.

Not only are the dead silent, since they are unable to rise up and make God's wonders known. God is also silent toward them, so far as the psalmist knows (vv. 13, 14). One reason why he feels so close to death, "as good as dead,” we might say, is that God is not speaking to him now. He tries to speak to God; he is praying. But God rejects him and seems to hide his face. Have you ever felt like that? I am sure you have. Most of us have times when the heavens seem made of brass and the prayers we throw upward fall back upon our heads unanswered. When that happens it is no wonder that we feel dead or almost dead spiritually. If "man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4; from Deut. 8:3), it is no surprise that we feel nearly dead when God is silent.

I used the word "darkness” to describe the tone of the last stanza, but the word actually occurs for the first time in verse 6, in a stanza that takes us even further into the abyss. What makes this darkness so dark and this stanza so depressing is that here God is thought of as having caused the psalmist's problems. In verse 1 the writer called God the one “who saves me.” In verses 3-5 he described his actual, present state. But here, in verses 6-9a, he says, contrary to his opening statement, that God is the cause of his misery.