This is a psalm written by Ethan the Ezrahite. There is some speculation about who Ethan was but there seems consensus that he was a musician in David’s court. This gives us a sense of timing.
The first 37 verses are uplifting and inspiring. They start with the famous line:
“I will sing if the Lord’s great love forever…”. After a few verses on God’s love and faithfulness being extolled, the psalm moves to detail the covenant between God and David. God’s power as the Creator and sustainer of Israel is described and elaborated upon from verse 5 to verse 18. Then the covenant with David is discussed in detail with an emphasis on the relationship between David and God. Verse 37 ends on a high note:
“it [David’s throne] will be established forever like the moon,
the faithful witness in the sky.” (New International Version).
However verses 38 to 51 take us down into despair as the psalm describes how God’s wrath has descended on man. Verses 38 to 45 describe loss in a similar way to Job or Psalm 88: God’s servant is lost and alone, exposed and deserted by everyone. Verses 46 to 51 beg God to remember David and the covenant He has made with him. The title for this post comes from verse 47:
“Remember how fleeting is my life,
For what futility you have created all men!
Yet Ethan ended the psalm with this final verse:
“Praise be to the Lord forever! Amen and Amen.” (verse 52).
The psalmist reiterated his own faith, in spite of his earlier assertions that God had deserted David.
This psalm demonstrates to me what our faith should be like:
- It has to be based on God’s love for us (verses 1 and 2)
- We need to recognise the covenant between God and us (verse 3)
- God’s creation reminds us of his majesty, power and justice (verses 5 to 18)
- But we need to recognise that we must follow Him (verses 30 and 31)
- There will be times when we feel far from God and cannot understand why (verses 38 to 51)
- But if we remember His love and who He is, we can like Ethan finish by saying:
Praise be to the Lord forever! Amen and Amen.”