The Book of Psalms

Friday: Our Covenant-Keeping God, Part 1


Theme: God’s Faithfulness Seen in Discipline
This week’s lessons teach us about God’s faithfulness, promised in his Word and demonstrated in our own experience of his covenant love.
Scripture: Psalm 89:1-37
Verses 19-29 are essentially a commentary on 2 Samuel 7. This stanza highlights six critical features of God’s covenant with David, three of which we looked at yesterday, and the remaining three of which we take up today.
4. God’s granting David victory over his enemies (v. 23). Not only did God protect David from his enemies, but he also promised him victory over them. In a similar way, Paul said of those who benefit from God’s covenant of salvation today, “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:56, 57).
5. God’s exalting David to prominence among the kings of the nations (vv. 24-27). These verses elaborate David’s prominence as a king among the world’s rulers. But the greatest thing they tell about David’s prominence is that he was given a special relationship to God. For his part, David would call out, “You are my Father, my God, the Rock my Savior” (v. 26). For his part, God would appoint David his “firstborn” (v. 27). Our great claim to prominence is that we have been made sons and daughters of God, “heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17).
6. God’s extending the blessing to David’s sons (vv. 28, 29). The final and critical part of God’s covenant with David is that he promised to extend the blessings of the covenant to David’s descendants forever. This was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, as we know. For he alone will rule forever on David’s throne.
The final stanza of this first half of the psalm (vv. 30-37) is also a commentary on the covenant established in 2 Samuel 7, particularly the part dealing with David’s human descendants and what should be expected if they should drift into sin. The answer is that they will be disciplined, as a father disciplines his son (vv. 30-32). This is repeated for us in Hebrews 12:4-11, particularly verse 6: “The Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son” (quoting Prov. 3:11, 12). What about the covenant in that case? The covenant will remain intact (vv. 33–37), for it is an eternal covenant and thus will never be broken.
Yet the faithfulness of God is in the discipline too. In one of his writings, the great Bible teacher Harry Ironside tells of something that happened to him early in his ministry. He had been preaching in Fresno, California, and the day came when he was entirely out of money. That evening, hungry, he settled himself under a tree for the night. He thought of Philippians 4:19, “My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” He complained. Why doesn’t God do it, then? Why isn’t he faithful to his promise?
As he prayed that night, God brought to his mind things about which he had grown careless and renewed him spiritually. And later God did provide for his needs. Old friends appeared to provide housing. The meetings went well. The people even took up a collection, which helped him get home.
But here is the interesting thing. As he left Fresno, Ironside stopped by the post office where he found a letter from his father. In it his father had written, “God spoke to me through Philippians 4:19 today. He has promised to supply all our needs. Some day he may see I need a starving, and if he does, he will supply that.” Ironside saw then that God had been putting him through a time of deprivation for discipline, to bring him closer to himself.1
Arthur Pink wrote, “Unfaithfulness is one of the most outstanding sins of these evil days. In the business world, a man’s word is, with rare exceptions, no longer his bond. In the social world, marital infidelity abounds on every hand…In the ecclesiastical realm, thousands who have solemnly covenanted to preach the truth have no scruples about attacking and denying it….How refreshing, then, and how blessed, to lift our eyes above this scene of ruin, and behold One who is faithful, faithful in all things, at all times.”2
1H. A. Ironside, Random Reminiscences from Fifty Years of Ministry (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1939), pp. 73-85.
2Arthur W. Pink, Gleanings in the Godhead (Chicago: Moody, 1975), p. 47.
Study Questions:

What two promises did God make to David in regard to his enemies?
What is the final and critical part of the covenant with David?
Why does God allow his servants to experience deprivation?

Reflection: How has God disciplined you? What do you think he wants to achieve through it?
For Further Study: In the Psalms we not only see how we are to respond to God, but we also learn much about who God is and how he shows his character toward us. Order your three-volume copy of James Boice’s sermons in the Psalms, and receive 25% off the regular price.

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