The King is Still on His Throne
There are few things more troubling than a broken promise.
If you have been trusting in someone, always assuming their reliability, it is very painful when their words prove empty or false.
That is the kind of pain that Ethan is facing in Psalm 89.
The first half of the Psalm is a rich portrait of the LORD’s faithful love. He had made a covenant with David and his descendants. God vowed to give them his sure protection, power over all their enemies, and everlasting honour.
Verse 15 reveals the joy that filled the church on account of the LORD’s promises:
Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O Lord, in the light of your face.
Because the LORD’s word is so sure, it seemed like Israel’s throne and prosperity would be forever secure.
But Ethan’s pain begins in verse 38, when he starts telling about the decline of David’s house. Because of sin, Israel has been rejected, the covenant renounced, the crown defiled, and Jerusalem plundered.
But now you have cast off and rejected; you are full of wrath against your anointed.
Seeing his enemies enjoying their triumph, Ethan wrestles with what has happened to the LORD’s promises. Could it be that the word of God has been broken? In despair Ethan arrives at the hard question, “How long, O LORD?” (v. 46). Where is the success and glory that God had once vowed?
As church we might share Ethan’s anguish about the crumbling decline of God’s people. Despite everything the Lord has promised, it certainly seems like the enemy is enjoying many victories today.
There is the way Satan is able to reach into our homes and personal lives with his constant temptations—like never before, it seems. There is also the church’s dismal condition in many countries, where she is being persecuted and oppressed. In other places too, we see God’s laws for life being scorned and wickedness being embraced. Meanwhile, the church struggles with the fatigue and burden of living in the midst of a pandemic.
In view of all this, we might echo Ethan’s question, “How long, O LORD? Will you hide yourself forever?” Didn’t God say that Christ would be the victorious king? Just where is the evidence of his dominion over all things today?
As we face these questions, Psalm 89 also teaches a right response. For Ethan ends by humbly pleading with the LORD to take action, asking God to keep his promises: “Lord, where is your steadfast love of old?” Remember what you have promised, and maintain your covenant forever!
That is our prayer too. In times of apparent loss and decline for the church, we need to rest in who our God is:
true to his word, steadfast in love, unfailing in power.
Enemies won’t always be allowed to mock, but the church will be forever preserved by Christ, our mighty King. We remember that Jesus has ascended on high, where he truly has all authority in heaven and on earth.
So know that our King is on duty. He is still on his throne, and he’ll take care.
Just as he promised.
Reflection and Discussion:
How does the kingship of Christ call us to action as those who are the citizens of his kingdom (Philippians 3:20)?