The Instruction of Ethan
The Davidic Covenant after the 70 year exile in Babylon.
I. The Author
The author of Psalm 89 is Ethan an Ezrahite. Ezrahite is a unique distinction meaning someone who is “of Ezra”. Ezra was a scribe after the 70 year Babylonian Exile who arrived at Jerusalem for the sole purpose of teaching the children of Israel the law of Moses. Ezra 6:6-10 contains a good summary of this man of God. Ezra was the first of all the scribes to keep account of the words of God. This was something new after the exile. The law had been given by Moses. The psalms and wisdom books were given through David, Solomon, and a couple of others. Note that the psalms were being compiled into different books after the exile. The majority of the prophets had already given their oracles. Only Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi would prophesy after the exile. I and II Chronicles were compiled most likely by Ezra himself. The office of Ezra symbolized the completeness of God’s word. Israel was moving from a place of new revelation, to keeping track of the existing revelation in anticipation of God being true to His word.
This distinction probably meant “scribe” since they were disciples of Ezra. Heman, the author of Psalm 88, and Ethan, the author of Psalm 89, were both scribes who studied and preserved the words of God. But each one of them received a revelation from God in the form of a psalm which was included in Book III of the psalms.
III. Book III of the Psalms, 73-89
Book III has many post-exile psalms. One thing that confuses people is to see the designation “Of Asaph” at the top and to think it was written by the man Asaph who lived in the days of David. Asaph was not just a name of a person, but a title, or designation. David (under God’s authority) decreed that all children of Asaph would be worship leaders at the temple. This is found in I Chronicles 25:1 alongside the children of Heman and Jeduthun as well, but Asaph was the chief, I Chronicles 16:5. The children of Asaph are also well documented in years following to be worship leaders, II Chronicles 35:15. After the exile, Ezra documents how 128 children of Asaph returned to Jerusalem as worship leaders, Ezra 2:41. He is careful to note that this is not something they did on their own, but under the authority of King David, Ezra 3:10. The title “Of Asaph” over some of the psalms simply refers to belonging to the children of Asaph. Psalm 74 documents how Gentiles defiled the temple and burned it. Psalm 79 also tells of this time but focuses more on the siege of Jerusalem. The majority of Book III seems to be songs written after the exile with 88 and 89 being the final entries by these disciples of Ezra. It is quite possible that the Ezrahites compiled the entire book of Psalms after the exile as they arranged it into five books. Psalm 73-89 should be studied in conjunction with post-exile prophets.
IV. The Davidic Covenant
A. As it was given to David ~ II Samuel 7/I Chronicles 17
B. Throughout the reign of the sons of David ~ Psalm 132
C. Preserved by Jeremiah ~ Jeremiah 33:14-18. This was given in the final year before Israel was carried away captive to Babylon, see Jeremiah 32:1. It states it was in the 10th year of Zedekiah, which Zedekiah reigned 11 years (I Kings 24:18) at which time Nebuchadnezzar came and destroyed the city, see II Kings 25:1-2. Jeremiah also notes the reign of Nebuchadnezzar in Jeremiah 32:1 as being the 18th year of his reign and II Kings 25:8 shows the captivity began in the 19th year of his reign. Even in this final year, God was promising through Jeremiah that the Davidic Covenant would stand.
V. Psalm 89 ~ How did the Israelites view the Davidic Covenant with no Davidic King ruling from Jerusalem?
A. The Declaration ~ Verses 1-4
B. Giving God His rightful place in the congregation ~ Verses 5-18
C. The Details of the Davidic Covenant ~ Verses ~ 19-37
1. The Choice of David ~ Verses 19-21
2. The Exaltation of David ~ Verses 22-24
3. The Sonship of David ~ Verses 25-27
4. The Perpetuity of the Davidic Covenant ~ Verses 28-29
5. The Condition of the Covenant ~ Verses 30-34
6. The Security of the Covenant ~ Verses 35-37
D. The Current State of the Covenant ~ Verses 38-45 (The opposite of God’s promise.)
1. The Messiah is Rejected ~ Verses 38-39
2. Jerusalem is Ruined ~ Verses 40-41
3. Enemies are Exalted ~ Verses 42-43
4. The Throne has Fallen ~ Verses 44-45
E. Questioning God’s Timing ~ Verses 46-48
F. The Persecution of God’s People ~ Verses 49-51
G. Doxology ~ Verse 52
VI. The Paradox within Psalm 89
A. God promised that the Davidic Covenant would endure forever.
B. The Davidic Covenant currently had no hope.
C. It is to this group of people, who believed in the Davidic Covenant, but saw the hopelessness of the current situation, that Haggai and Zechariah prophesied, see Ezra 5:1. The prophecies within their books point forward to a Davidic Messiah even though the current state of Jerusalem seemed hopeless.
D. What would be the expectation of the Davidic Messiah now that there is no Davidic King ruling in Jerusalem? Notice the tension between the promise of God and the current problem.
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