David’s Throne Forever
(30) If his sons forsake my law (Torah) and do not walk according to my judgments, (31) if they violate my statutes and do not keep my commandments, (32) then I will punish their transgressions with a rod and their iniquity with stripes. (33) But I will not annul my steadfast love with him nor betray my faithfulness. (34) I will not violate my covenant nor alter the word that has gone 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 the sun before me. (37) Like the moon it shall be established forever, a faithful witness in the skies. (Selah)
Two repeated words and three groups of synonyms lead us to the message of this segment. First, we find two uses of “violate” (vss. 31 & 34), the first referring to Israel transgressing God’s law and the second speaking of God’s pledge never to repudiate his covenant with David and the people of Israel. Next, the eternality of the covenant is emphasized by two uses of the adverb, “forever” (vss. 36 & 37).
Then we note three sets of synonyms. First, the psalmist employs four terms referring to God’s Word, “law...judgments” (vs. 30) as well as “statutes...
commandments” (vs. 31). Next, he uses six synonyms for sin: “forsake...do not walk” (vs. 30), “violate...do not keep” (vs. 31), “transgressions...iniquity” (vs. 32). Finally, we find six synonyms, five negative and one positive, describing God’s faithfulness: “not annul...nor betray” (vs. 33), “not violate...nor alter” (vs. 34), and, finally, “sworn...not lie” (vs. 35).
What God pledged to David regarding his offspring and his kingdom:
- If they violate my commandments, I will punish them. (30-32)
- My loving commitment to them will never change. (33 & 34)
- Like the sun and moon, they will endure before me forever. (35-37)
Although we may turn away from God in our sinfulness, he will never turn away from us because he remains faithful.
The Davidic Covenant endures as one of four Old Testament covenants that shaped God’s relationship with his chosen people. In the Abrahamic Covenant, God unilaterally and unconditionally pledged to produce from Abraham’s offspring a people that would possess the Promised Land in perpetuity and be a blessing to the whole world (Gen. 12:1-3). Then, in the Mosaic Covenant, God established a conditional covenant with Israel proclaiming, in essence, “If you keep my commandments, you will prosper in the land I will give you, but if you refuse to obey me and persistently turn away to worship other gods, I will chasten you and eventually banish you from the land” (Deut. 27 & 28).
In the Davidic Covenant, God unconditionally promised Israel an eternal ruler with an eternal throne (2 Sam. 7:11-16). In the New Covenant, God pledged unconditionally to regather his scattered and devastated nation and to renew them spiritually (Jer. 31:31-34 & Ez. 36:22-38). From the New Testament, we learn that Jesus declared himself to be the mediator of this New Covenant which was put into effect through his death on the cross and in which the church plays a central role (Lk. 22:20, 1 Cor. 11:25, & Heb. 9:15).
In this segment of Psalm 89, God strongly reaffirmed his pledge that a Davidic ruler would govern his covenant people forever. At his Second Coming, Jesus Christ will fulfill this prophecy. Just as surely as he came the first time to die on a cross to inaugurate the New Covenant in his blood, so he will someday return as the promised Davidic ruler to reign in justice and righteousness over Israel and over all the nations of the earth.