In this Psalm, we see the Psalmist Ethan the Ezrahite make a plea to God for his faithfulness. The Psalmist first declares God’s power and faithfulness, followed by an account of God’s promise, and ends with confusion based on the current situation for the writer.
In the first section, we see the writer argue that God is powerful and worthy of all praise, but most importantly, God is Faithful. Just in this Psalm alone the reasons given for God's worthiness are that nobody can compare to him, he is above all and mighty in faithfulness, he has power over the creation to calm the raging seas, he crushes his enemies, everything is his in heaven and earth, he created north and south, and righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Ethan understands who God is, and his might. It is this realization that leads him to praise God. A strong understanding of God’s power makes it easier for the psalmist to trust and believe his promises. In this psalm alone, the psalmist uses the word faithfulness 8 times. Ethan wants us to know that God is faithful.
In the next section, we see the promise of the Lord to his people, that he will establish a ruler in the line of David. Ethan prophesies that this ruler will be anointed, the firstborn and highest king of the earth, and will call God his Father. This is a depiction of the coming king, the Saviour of the nation of Israel, the king over the people of God. We see this fulfilment in Jesus, but when Ethan was writing this, it was still just a promise.
In the last section of this psalm, Ethan is dismayed. He knows and has spoken about the power of the Lord, and he knows the promise that has been made. But as Ethan writes, the Lord is full of wrath against the lineage of David. The Lord is sending punishment by making the enemies of the Israelites successful in battle. We read that the walls and strongholds are in ruins. This reality seems to fly in the face of the expectation that God is sending a king to rule over all kings.
In his desperation, Ethan implores God “where is your steadfast love of old, which by your faithfulness you swore to David?” It is very intentional that God’s faithfulness is mentioned over and over in this psalm, as it is the attribute that Ethan wants to highlight, but there is confusion and concern in the heart of the writer at this moment, as God’s faithfulness seems to be in question.
The cry “How long God?” is something that many of us can understand. There are times when we don't understand what God is doing. There are times when all we can do is ask God “Where is your steadfast love?” and trust that he will be faithful even when things are hard. Even in our questioning, we can and should hold to the fact that God is loving and faithful. Because, unlike Ethan, we are not left with a cliff-hanger, waiting for God to fulfil his promises and show his faithfulness. God showed his faithfulness when he sent his son Jesus Christ who was the promised Messiah, the Saviour for all of God’s people. He is the king over all kings from the line of David, and who will rule forever over all. God is faithful to his promises, and his people who are faithful to him will be saved. The outcome of God’s plan may not always be clear to us as we wait on God, but his faithfulness should never be doubted. In our life when things are hard, and it doesn't feel like God is hearing us, or that he is with us, God is still sovereign, though his plans are not ours.
He is faithful, and will provide for us our needs.
Thank you, Lord God, for your faithfulness to us. Even when we can't see what you are doing in our lives in the moment, we trust that you are working things out to completion. Lord help us to trust in your faithfulness when we are in need of you.
Help us remember the gift of your son Jesus who fulfilled your promises, and who will reign forever as the king of all.
In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.