Psalm 89, 96, 100, 101, 105, 132: God, Punishing Our Sin and Keeping His Covenant

Over and over again, the Psalms, and the rest of the Old Testament as well, speak of this tension between God’s justice and mercy, His wrath and His love. We have seen this already in several posts in this series. Psalm 89 carries this theme and communicates it in a unique way. Verse 19-37 chronicle the covenant that God made with David, promising to establish his throne forever. In the midst of this section, God turns His attention toward the offspring of David.

Now, as we have seen before, whenever we read about the offspring of David, we are likely close to a prophecy about the Lord Jesus. Psalm 89 is no exception, although our glimpse of Christ comes in a slightly different form than in previous passages, which is why I wanted to highlight it on the blog.

The section begins as you would expect. God promises to route Davids enemies before him and establish his kingdom forever. We know that Jesus is the One who will ultimately fulfill this promise. He will sit on the throne of David forever. But the Psalm keeps going. Starting in verse 30 it says:

30 If his children forsake my law
and do not walk according to my rules,
31 if they violate my statutes
and do not keep my commandments,
32 then I will punish their transgression with the rod
and their iniquity with stripes,
33 but I will not remove from him my steadfast love
or be false to my faithfulness.
34 I will not violate my covenant
or alter the word that went forth from my lips.
35 Once for all I have sworn by my holiness;
I will not lie to David.
36 His offspring shall endure forever,
his throne as long as the sun before me.
37 Like the moon it shall be established forever,
a faithful witness in the skies.”

Obviously, Jesus will not be the offspring that forsakes the command of God, so we are still primarily speaking of David’s other offspring, Solomon and the kings that follow. Where Christ is most evident to me in this passage is in verses 32-34. Notice that it says that if they violate God commands, which they will, God will punish their iniquity but He will not remove His love from them because He keeps His promises. We have just gone further into Christ than simply remembering Him as the future promised King. He is the one who is punished for their, and our iniquity, the One who lovingly stood under the weight of God’s righteous wrath and bore our curse on our behalf. Notice that God doesn’t say that He will punish them, he says he will punish their sins. God does not count the sins of His people against them; He lays those sins on Christ so that He can continue to show His covenant love toward them.

This passage is a glimpse of Romans 5:8, 2 Corinthians 5:21, and so many other passages in which we read that God, out of His great love for us, crushed His Son for our sake and declared us righteous in His sight. Passages like this remind me to look closely and think deeply about God’s great plan for redemption. It is clear. It is glorious. And it fills the pages of Scripture until they overflow with the great news of the glorious gospel of Christ. This grace that God has shown us is more than worthy to rejoice in. It is truly amazing.

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