A Maskil of Ethan the Ezrahite (Psalm 89)

Scripture Text:

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Psalm 89

Questions:

1. Have you ever been forced to break an important promise? How was it taken by the “promisee”?

2. What part of yourself was most mature in your early teenage years: body, soul or spirit?

3. How does Ethan define love in this psalm (verses 1 and 2)? To what covenant is he referring (verses 3 and 4; see 2 Samuel 7:8 – 17)?

4. Why do you think Ethan launches into a lengthy hymn to the Creator at this point (verses 5 – 18)? Who are “the holy ones” (see Daniel 4:13; Job 15:15, 16)? What is the connection between God’s faithfulness and might?

5. Are verses 9 – 13 about creation? What battle is hinted at (verse 10)? Do you think “Rahab” refers to the mythical sea monster or Egypt (see Psalm 87:4; Job 7:12)?

6. The psalmist’s God has the power to create and defend. What other power does Yahweh wield (verses 14 – 16)? How is the Jewish God different from the pagan gods (see Exodus 34:6, 7)?

7. To what theme does the psalmist finally return (verses 19 – 29)? To whom did God speak in a vision (verse 19; see 2 Samuel 7:16, 17)? What promises were made to David? How did he respond (verse 26)? What position would Israel hold among the people of the world (verse 27)?

8. What conditions were on the agreement (verses 30 and 31)? How could God be “faithful” and still reserve the right to correct the erring king? What is the psalmist thinking has happened (verse 38)?

9. What event has shattered the psalmist’s faith (verses 40 – 45)? What are the neighboring people saying (verse 50)? Has the covenant really been broken? What would a modern Jew conclude from this psalm, knowing that the Davidic line disappeared thousands of years ago?

10. Does God seem to keep promises with you or have you felt misled or confused? What situation of life has called God’s promises into question?

11. When you experience setbacks what is your first reaction? Focus on the problem? Become overwhelmed with emotion? Affirm God’s control? What is the psalmist’s approach?

12. Do you see God at work in the adversities you face now? Do you feel free to go to God in the “hard times” or do you think you have to “be at your best”? How do you keep yourself hidden from God?

13. What has God created in your life? What battles has God won for you? Your church?

14. Does God’s faithfulness excite you? Why or why not? Do you make God’s faithfulness known “through all generations”? What do you want others to know? How can you become a more effective witness?

15. How did the early Christians feel God solved the problem of the lost Davidic line (see Revelation 1:5)? How is God’s covenant to Israel alive in the church today?

16. Have you ever felt that God didn’t come through on a promise? What happened? To what divine quality would you appeal to guarantee God keeps His promise?

17. What does this psalm say about our ability to resolve contradictions by ourselves? How does this keep us “hanging on” in crisis?

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