No book of the Old Testament is quoted more often in the New Testament than the book of Psalms, and passages such as Psalm 89 help us understand why. This hymn of praise to the Lord for His character and for His everlasting covenant with David has clear messianic import, helping us understand the work that God has done with His people, particularly through the line of David.
Ethan the Ezrahite, who was evidently a man renowned for his wisdom in the days of Solomon (1 Kings 4:31) is the author of this psalm, and he begins by extolling the “steadfast love” of the Creator (Ps. 89:1–2). The term “steadfast love” translates the Hebrew word hesed, which is used in the Old Testament for the unfailingly loyal, persevering love and grace of God. This love is the source of all of the Lord’s good gifts for His children, including His commitment to David and his offspring. According to His steadfast love, God chose David and his line to rule over His people (vv. 3–4). He was the initiator and continues on as the guarantor of David’s throne. David’s office was a gift of love to the family of Jesse (1 Sam. 16:1–13).
Of course, the promise to preserve the throne of David forever can only be as good as the strength of the One who promised the reign. Were Yahweh, the covenant Lord of Israel, just one god among many, His promise would not be something in which His people could put their full confidence. If He were just another deity, then some other power could perhaps thwart His plan. But as we see in Psalm 89:4–18, Yahweh is not just another divine being. Far from being a deity who must compete with others of equal power to claim His spot at the top of a pantheon of gods, Yahweh—the God revealed in Scripture—is the only true and living God. He is the mighty Creator of all, for He founded the heavens and earth (v. 11). They belong to Him and they do His bidding. All of creation is subject to His sovereign rule and fully within His control, so no one can thwart His decree.
No other being can even begin to compare with the Lord revealed in Scripture (vv. 5–7). Because of who God is, the promise that the chosen king and His people are exalted in Him is good news indeed (vv. 16–18). We know that He will perfectly sustain us and protect us. Augustine of Hippo comments that God “is thy taking up, Himself thy illumination: in His light thou art safe, in His light thou walkest, in His righteousness thou art exalted. He took thee up, He guards thy weakness: He gives thee strength of Himself, not of thyself.”