Psalm for the 4th Sunday of Advent (B)

Psalm 89: 2-3, 4-5, 27, 29

The responsorial psalm for this fourth week of Advent praises God’s faithfulness to the promises made to David (2 Samuel 7:16) and contains themes that are very important in the Davidic theology.

The promises of the LORD I will sing forever; through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness.

Faithfulness is emûnâh, a technical term for covenant fidelity, a loyalty that will stand as long as the heavens stand.

As we will see, the bond between God and David is outside of any specific time or place; it extends throughout all the ages and stretches even into the heavens.

For you have said, “My kindness is established forever”; in heaven you have confirmed your faithfulness.

The specific term for God’s kindness is hesed, often translated as “lovingkindness.” This is unconditional love, and God promises that such love will endure forever.

This should not be confused with emotional attachment, a sentiment that can fade or even completely disappear. This is a firm and unalterable commitment.

“I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant: Forever will I confirm your posterity and establish your throne for all generations.”

The covenant that God made with David is everlasting, and its consequences unfold in the lives of the descendants of David.

If the promises of God last forever, then it stands to reason that the family to whom the promises are made will rule forever. The promises also maintain that all other promises made by God to the people of Israel will come to them through the agency of this particular family.

“He shall say of me, ‘You are my father, my God,

The covenant establishes a unique relationship between God and the Davidic ruler, the relationship of father to son. This bond reflects the common ancient Near Eastern belief that the kings were either actual physical descendants of the gods or were adopted as such when they assumed the responsibilities of the throne. It is this tradition that produced the designation “son of god,” a royal title that had divine connotations.

The theology of Israel did not completely accept this notion of affiliation, but it did not totally reject it either. It claimed the king was like a son to God (2 Samuel 7:14) and was initiated into this relationship on the day of his coronation (Psalm 2:7).

the Rock, my savior.’

In addition to using the titles “father” and “God,” the king refers to God as “the Rock, my savior,” or “rock of salvation” — the solid and reliable foundation upon which the king’s good fortune is established.

Forever I will maintain my kindness toward him, and my covenant with him stands firm.”

The passage ends with a restatement of the endurance of Davidic rule. Several themes have been repeated throughout the passage: God’s choice of the Davidic house, the appointment of that house as the ruling family in Israel, and the permanence of that appointment.

God heard and answered the prayer raised to him in this psalm, not by restoring the ancient monarchy but by exalting the Son of David, Jesus, to be the eternal king, in line with divine promises.

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