This week we arrive at one of the most vital stages in David’s life.
The chapter is headed ‘The Lord’s Covenant Promise to David’
Up to this point David has been seen as God’s chosen successor for King Saul, and we have followed David as he gradually moved from shepherd boy to the throne of Judah and then the whole of Israel.
Now, some bigger plan emerges.
God makes a covenant to build a Kingdom with a descendant of David on the throne for all eternity.
The scene is beginning to be set for the coming of King Jesus.
vv 3-4 The Lord said, “I have made a covenant with David, my chosen servant. I have sworn this oath to him:
‘I will establish your descendants as kings forever;
they will sit on your throne from now until eternity.’”
The writer of this psalm was Ethan, a musician – or to be more precise he was in the percussion department of the orchestra and was selected to play the massive bronze cymbals. (1 Chronicles 15:19) He was one of the wise men in the days of King Solomon – sufficiently well recognised for it to be written that Solomon ‘ was wiser than anyone else, including Ethan the Ezrahite ‘ (1 Kings 4:31)
If you persevere in your reading right to the end of the psalm (and I hope you will make time for that) you will grasp something of the tension between the promises of God and the daily experiences of God’s people. It begins by celebrating the unchanging love and kindness of God ‘Your unfailing love will last forever. ‘ (v 2), reminding us of the promise made to David (v 4). But this exhilarating praise culminates in in a note of near-despair in v 49 ‘ Lord, where is your unfailing love? You promised it to David with a faithful pledge. ‘ He laments the fact that the promise isn’t being matched by experience. It looks as if God is failing to keep his promises as life goes pear-shaped.
Isn’t that exactly the place in which we sometimes find ourselves? God promises us peace and joy as we follow Jesus, but then today – life has taken a turn for the worse and peace has evaporated into a wispy cloud. Does that mean God has broken his promises to us? Ethan, the wise man, reflects on the tension this creates and faith springs to the rescue, so that he can actually finish the psalm on a note of confidence in v 52 ‘Praise the Lord forever! Amen and amen! ‘ It is this faith-determination to offer praise and thanksgiving to God at the end of even the hardest day that settles us with renewed hope and confidence in God.