When I Struggle in Trusting God! | Psalm 89

May 8, 2017

Book: Psalms

Scripture: Psalm 89


Do you sometimes struggle to trust God? Do you find it difficult to trust God when you are going through pain? That is what many people are feeling now, “God you called me. I just trusted you with everything. Now I am going through loss and death and I don’t know why?” How do you trust God when your heart is broken into a million pieces?

Well, I would like to look at a text today that can help us with our concerns.

This psalm is listed as the maskil of Ethan, the Ezrahite. He was a well-known temple musician. He is specifically mentioned in 1 Kings 4:31, as someone who is famous for his wisdom. Likely he is a contemporary of Solomon and also lived during the time of David. This is the only psalm by Ethan in the collection of 150 psalms.

Psalm 89 is a cry for help. This psalm is distinctive and unique, in that it divides into two sharply distinct parts.

  • Ps. 89:1-37: The Glorious proclamation of God’s character and promises.
  • Psalm 89:38-51:The Lament.

Let us look at this Psalm and find our help to endure in the time of crisis.

Psalm 89-1-2 1I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. 2I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.

Ethan began this psalm with a declaration of praise. His song was focused on the love or mercies (plural) of God. The great loving-kindness of God lasts forever. So the praise of God should also be sung forever.

Psalm 89 will later talk about a lot of trouble. The presence of trouble did not silence the psalmist’s praise. Ethan not only knew about the mercies of God, but he also wanted to make them known to others. The psalmist wanted to spread the glory and the fame of God as broadly as possible. He knew how good God was, so it was fitting that other people should also know God.

Why does Ethan want others to know about his God?

God’s Might In Heaven. Ps. 89:5-8

Ethan is praising God for his wonders.

Psalm 89:5-8 5The heavens praise your wonders, Lord, your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones. 6For who in the skies above can compare with the Lord? Who is like the Lord among the heavenly beings? 7In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared; he is more awesome than all who surround him. 8Who is like you, Lord God Almighty? You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.

The heavens praise God’s wonders. God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of saints. The picture here is the angels worshipping God in heaven in reverence and we are to fear God. We worship an almighty incomparable God.

Ethan was familiar with David’s words from Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

God’s Might On Earth. Ps. 89:9-14

Psalm 89:9-14 9You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them. 10You crushed Rahab like one of the slain; with your strong arm you scattered your enemies. 11The heavens are yours, and yours also the earth; you founded the world and all that is in it. 12You created the north and the south; Tabor and Hermon sing for joy at your name. 13Your arm is endowed with power; your hand is strong, your right hand exalted. 14Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you.

Ethan’s conclusion on the might of God:

God Is Mighty In Heaven God Is Incomparable, v6.
God Is Mighty On Earth God Is Greatly To Be Feared, v7
God Is Working On The Earth. God Is Almighty, v8
God Is Also Morally Great, v14

God Is Incomparable, v6.

God is incomparably greater than any created being. He stands alone.

God Is Greatly To Be Feared, v7

God is so exalted than a man that he is great to be feared. Understanding of the holiness and greatness of God must lead us to reverence God. As we come to God to worship him, there should be in our worship awe and reverence to our God. Yes, there is a place for happy praise, praise God for what God has done and what God is doing in our midst. There is a place for happy praise but there should also be a place for reverence among God’s people.

God Is Almighty, v8

God’s might is displayed in his ability to control the unruly creation. God rules over the raging sea. We know about how the seas rage and when God calms it, it speaks of God’s dominion over creation. God brought order to creation in Genesis and still maintains it, that is the might of God.

God defeated Rahab. This is not Rahab as a person in Joshua. Rahab as a creature in Psalms and in Isaiah is taking as a personification of proud and strong Egypt. Proud, strong, resisting God. God has defeated the proud nations. It is YAHWEH who cuts Rehab into pieces, not the ancient deities.

Ethan is glorying God for he created and maintains nature as well as the people of the earth. He is telling that God is the mighty one, the mighty right arm. He has seen God’s might in the creation and Israel’s deliverance. We can see God’s might arm in the life of Jesus in a much greater way. With what Jesus did in his teaching and ministry, his sacrificial death, and his triumphant resurrection. We have a much greater reason.

God Is Also Morally Great, v14

God is righteous and just. When we see the monster leaders of history, the mighty leaders of history they were never just and righteous, they were evil. Their might fell when some mightier than them came. YAHWEH has the right to reign because the very foundation of his throne is righteousness, justice, love, and faithfulness.

Charles Spurgeon “Turn to all points of the compass, and behold the Lord is there. The regions of snow and the gardens of the sun are his dominions: both the land of the dawning and the home of the settling sun rejoice to own his sway.”

The Rewards For God’s People. Ps. 89: 15-18

The Rewards/Privileges Of The People Who Know This God.

Psalm 89:15-18 15Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, Lord. 16They rejoice in your name all day long; they celebrate your righteousness. 17For you are their glory and strength, and by your favor you exalt our horn (strength). 18Indeed, our shield belongs to the Lord, our king to the Holy One of Israel.

What blessings belong to the people of God?

Blessing Rejoicing Favor
Fellowship Protection Strength

“It is the duty of the Christians, as it was that of Israelites, to ascribe all their strength, and their glory, whether in matters temporal or spiritual, to Jehovah alone.” Bishop George Horne

God’s Covenant With David And His House. Ps. 89:19-29

Psalm 89:3-4 3You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant, 4‘I will establish your line forever and make your throne firm through all generations.

Psalm 89:19-29 19Once you spoke in a vision, to your faithful people you said: “I have bestowed strength on a warrior; I have raised up a young man from among the people. 20I have found David my servant; with my sacred oil I have anointed him. 21My hand will sustain him; surely my arm will strengthen him. 22The enemy will not get the better of him; the wicked will not oppress him. 23I will crush his foes before him and strike down his adversaries. 24My faithful love will be with him, and through my name his horn will be exalted. 25I will set his hand over the sea, his right hand over the rivers. 26He will call out to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, the Rock my Savior.’ 27And I will appoint him to be my firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the earth. 28I will maintain my love to him forever, and my covenant with him will never fail. 29I will establish his line forever, his throne as long as the heavens endure.

This describes the blessings God gave David.

Help Exaltation Election
Anointing Security God’s own strength
Protection Vindication Faithfulness & Mercy
Appointed God’s firstborn Love of God

The psalmist is recounting God’s promises to the lineage of David. He is reminding the Lord about God’s promise that God would bring a godly line of kings to Israel, which God said he would sustain forever. We know that is sustained perpetually through Jesus Christ who is in the lineage of David. But the psalmist, Ethan never understood this.

Psalm 89:30-34 30“If his sons forsake my law and do not follow my statutes, 31if they violate my decrees and fail to keep my commands, 32I will punish their sin with the rod, their iniquity with flogging; 33but I will not take my love from him, nor will I ever betray my faithfulness. 34I will not violate my covenant or alter what my lips have uttered.

The first 37 verses are all praises to God. God is almighty in heaven. God is almighty on the earth. God’s people are blessed and protected. God’s covenant with David is an everlasting covenant. It is all about praise.

Now the tone of the psalmist changes. When the prophet looks at the reality of Israel and what is happening to him, all that he knew about God is not happening in reality. Enemies had risen. Israel’s king had been taken off the throne. There had been an interruption.

What the psalmist is doing is, he is reminding the Lord: You promised this, you promised this. I did not promise it. I did not make it up. You promised it, you came up with it. He put it on, God.

All these while the psalmist was praising God. But when he looks at God’s promises and the reality of his life, his tone changes. Ethan is lamenting now.


Psalm 89:38-40 38But you have rejected, you have spurned, (pushed away with the foot) you have been very angry with your anointed one. 39You have renounced (abandoned) the covenant with your servant and have defiled his crown in the dust. 40You have broken through all his walls and reduced his strongholds to ruins.

The Psalmist Is Facing Rejection.

After talking about his confidence in the Lord for the first 37 verses, Ethan says that God has rejected them, pushed them away, God is angry with them, and abandoned them. “Lord I remember your promises, but they seem a million miles away from us right now. Lord, I know that you are an incomparable God and I know that you have made these amazing promises to David and his descendants. Then Lord why are we in such a crisis in the present moment.”

We don’t know the crisis that prompted this desperate cry. But what kind is a present calamity that is so painful that it makes Ethan cry out to the Lord and say, “Lord, look where we are at, where is your faithfulness? We are feeling as if God you have rejected us?”

Here something has gone wrong. If God is good, God is faithful and God is able, and if God has made this promise, the psalmist says that is not our reality. The character of God is not our reality.


These facts remind us that the Christian religion faces reality honestly. There is a real world that we live in. In the real world that we live in, God’s promises often seem like they will not be fulfilled. Sometimes we wonder, “Lord are you going to fulfill your promises even when we feel that everything is falling around us?” `We never need to minimize or ignore sufferings or worries. In our day, the fear of sickness, death, and serious economic loss are very real for many. This psalm shows us that we can express our fear to God. Suffering and loss are real and painful. We can talk plainly to God about all these things.

Ethan is continuing is complaints to God:

Psalm 89:41-44 41All who pass by have plundered him; he has become the scorn of his neighbors. 42You have exalted the right hand of his foes; you have made all his enemies rejoice. 43Indeed, you have turned back the edge of his sword and have not supported him in battle. 44You have put an end to his splendor and cast his throne to the ground.

Starting v38-45 Ethan is describing how the world around him is spinning out of control and he is wondering how God’s promises in the first 37 verses fit in a world that is falling apart.

It is very painful for a believer to think that God has allowed such a disaster. That is a painful thought. It is even more painful to think that God has nothing to do with it and that we are at the mercy of satan, that we are at the mercy of random events. It was a heavy trial for Ethan.

What I love is that Ethan does not give up. In the midst of his confusion and his questions to God, he is pressing closer to God.

Ethan Is Questioning God In Prayer. Ps. 89:46-51

Psalm 89:46 How long, Lord? Will you hide yourself forever? How long will your wrath burn like fire?

First Question: How long?

The question Ethan is asking is, “How long Lord?” How long will You be angry, and What happened to Your promises? Honest questions are an essential part of the emotional power of the Psalter. God welcomes the questions of His people. The questions here are those that frequently occur to the people of God in difficult times. Many of us may be asking them now. How long Lord?

After the honest question, how long, the psalmist is asking, “Remember me Lord.”

Psalm 97:47-48 47Remember how fleeting is my life. For what futility you have created all humanity! 48Who can live and not see death, or who can escape the power of the grave?

What the psalmist is saying here is, “How long will this go on? Remember me, Lord. I want to see you turn this around in my lifetime.” V47 the psalmist said that his life if fleeting, his life is really short. So he wants to see God work now. Death would separate the psalmist from the temple, land, his people.

Second Question: Where? Where are you? Where Is your love?

Psalm 89:49-51 49Lord, where is your former great love, which in your faithfulness you swore to David? 50Remember, Lord, how your servant has been mocked, how I bear in my heart the taunts of all the nations, 51the taunts with which your enemies, Lord, have mocked, with which they have mocked every step of your anointed one. Ethan made an honest heartfelt enquiry from a season of crisis. He could still appeal to God and question God regarding his promise.

Conclusion: Praise God

Psalm 89:52 Praise be to the Lord forever!

Amen and Amen.

The psalmist concludes this psalm with a hard thought declaration of praise. Ethan does not understand what is happening, he is questioning God but coming back to invite people to praise God knowing that God is almighty & God is sovereign. One can still trust God even if you do not understand what is happening around you.

The psalmist in his own day did not find full answers to his questions. But he continued to trust and hope in his God. He could praise God after all that, that is great praise.

Charles Spurgeon “He ends where he began; he has sailed around the world and reached the port again. Let us bless God before we pray, and while we pray, and when we have done praying, for he always deserves it of us. If we cannot understand him, we will not distrust him.”

This psalm leaves us with a question

What happens when we believe that God is good and God almighty and yet we see that something is not quite right in our life, things are all going wrong.

Well, Ethan at the end of the Psalm is without an answer but anyhow he praises God. We have answers in the NT. There is another part to this Psalm:

Psalm 89 Points To Jesus:

Psalm 89 talks about king David very much but it also looks forward to David’s greater son, Jesus Christ. Ethan never knew about Jesus, but we know this. Jesus has the title of the Son of David.

Remember, the Apostle John who was exiled in Patmos island was going through a tough time? The church and the believers were going through great persecution by the Roman Empire, Domitian. In spite of following Jesus, the church and John when through the pain and death of their loved ones. John knew about Psalm 89 as he wrote Revelation 1:5. John took the questions of the psalmist, Ethan, and said “All the promises given to David was fulfilled in Jesus.” Ethan could not understand God’s ways in his finite mind but God fulfilled that promise in Jesus Christ. You cannot understand an infinite God with a finite mind.

Revelation 1:5

Jesus Christ, (anointed) who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the deadand the ruler of the kings of the earth. Same promise in Psalm 89

  1. Jesus Is The Anointed One. Jesus Christ. Christ means the anointed one. David was a shadow of what Jesus would be.
  2. Jesus Is The Seed Of David Established Forever.V4 It’s fulfilled in Jesus Christ the Messiah.
  3. Jesus Is The One Chosen From The People, v19. Jesus was chosen by God, and exalted by God.
  4. Jesus Is The Faithful Witness. As the reliability of the sun and moon bear witness to God’s faithfulness, so Jesus always tells the truth and always fulfills the purposes of God. We can always trust what Jesus says.
  5. Jesus Is Also The Firstborn. Jesus is not just as the anointed Son of David, but as firstborn from the dead. In His resurrection, He lives forever and gives life forever to all of His own. We will always find our life in Him—whether we live or whether we die.
  6. Jesus Is Also The Highest Of The Kings Of The Earth. He actually rules over all the kings of the earth. We can have confidence that everything that happens in our lives is fulfilling the good purposes of our king.


The psalmist goes from praising God to questioning God, but it ends with praising God again. There are going to be times in your life when it feels like God has abandoned you. I am talking about those who have a relationship with God. That means you have come to his Son, Jesus Christ and you have asked for forgiveness of sin and you have been saved. Those of you who are born again. There are going to be times in your life when it feels like God is distant, as if he is not a Father at all, as if he is a shepherd that has betrayed his sheep and walked away.

But in those times, in those desert seasons, in those times when it feels like all is lost, remind yourself of the promises of God and remind yourself that you are only seeing a speck on the timeline of what God is doing and how he is having and moving in this world. You are only seeing it through the finite eyes of a human being, but through our finite eyes, we can never understand an infinite God. We cannot understand his plans. We don’t know why he does the things he does.

He is always Faithful!

I know there are a lot of hurting people out there. There are a lot of people who are afraid because of this virus that is spreading. In these times, one can think that God has just abandoned us. You might be struggling right now. Here the world is suffering because of a tiny little virus that has wrecked the world, killing people all around, and bringing down the economy of the world. Some people are telling, “God where are you? Why haven’t you helped us? Why haven’t you stepped in and moved?” The psalmist in Psalm 89 felt the same way. God, why have you abandoned us? Why have you left us? God had not abandoned them. God had not left them. He is always faithful. His love is always unfailing.

In spite of following God, both Ethan and Apostle John when though tough times, loss, pain, death, etc. Today we know that we can take our questions to God. We can trust God even in our dark times. We can praise God in our dark times. Through Jesus, we have a hope to overcome at his second coming.

Maybe you are struggling with the circumstances in your life and you are thinking about where is God. I want to encourage you to trust, that the story is not over, God is not finished, God is working and will bring things to completion in Jesus Christ in your life.

Take Away Points

  1. God’s Covenant People Enjoy His Blessings.
  2. God Welcomes The Questions Of His People.
  3. You Can Trust God Even If You Do Not Understand What Is Happening Around You.
  4. You Cannot Understand An Infinite God With A Finite Mind.
  5. Stand On The Promises Of God And Praise Him.