Psalm 89: 4-5, 16-17, 27, 29
The responsorial psalm for Christmas Vigil 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.
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 passage opens with the psalmist recalling the words of God about the covenant he made with King David. The covenant 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.
Blessed the people who know the joyful shout;
The attention turns from the promises made to the king to the people themselves, using a macarism to describe them as “blessed.”
The reason for this blessedness is threefold, as we will see.
in the light of your countenance, O LORD, they walk.
First, they walk in the light of the LORD’s countenance, a metaphor that means they enjoy God’s favor. Their lives are guided by the hand of God and by his commandments.
At your name they rejoice all the day,
Second, they rejoice in God’s name, and since one’s name contains part of the very essence of the one named, this suggests they praise God for his excellence.
and through your justice they are exalted.
They exalt in God’s justice; that is, they are recipients of God’s righteousness.
All these blessings flow from the covenantal lovingkindness (hesed) and faithfulness (emûnâh) mentioned earlier.
“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 near ancient 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,” which was really 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: 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.