Many psalms that begin with complaint and prayer end with joy and praise, but this begins with joy and praise and ends with sad complaints and petitions; for the psalmist first recounts God’s former favours, and then with the consideration of them aggravates the present grievances. It is uncertain when it was penned; only, in general, that it was at a time when the house of David was woefully eclipsed; some think it was at the time of the captivity of Babylon, when king Zedekiah was insulted over, and abused, by Nebuchadnezzar, and then they make the title to signify no more than that the psalm was set to the tune of a song of Ethan the son of Zerah, called Maschil; others suppose it to be penned by Ethan, who is mentioned in the story of Solomon, who, outliving that glorious prince, thus lamented the great disgrace done to the house of David in the next reign by the revolt of the ten tribes. I. The psalmist, in the joyful pleasant part of the psalm, gives glory to God, and takes comfort to himself and his friends. This he does more briefly, mentioning God’s mercy and truth (Ps. 89:1) and his covenant (Ps. 89:2-4), but more largely in the following verses, wherein, 1. He adores the glory and perfection of God, Ps. 89:5-14. 2. He pleases himself in the happiness of those that are admitted into communion with him, Ps. 89:15-18. 3. He builds all his hope upon God’s covenant with David, as a type of Christ, Ps. 89:19-37. II. In the melancholy part of the psalm he laments the present calamitous state of the prince and royal family (Ps. 89:38-45), expostulates with God upon it (Ps. 89:46-49), and then concludes with prayer for redress, Ps. 89:50, 51. In singing this psalm we must have high thoughts of God, a lively faith in his covenant with the Redeemer, and a sympathy with the afflicted parts of the church.
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