Have you ever been rebuked for asking a question? It’s somewhat of a cultural joke to talk about a child asking “are we there yet?” or “how much longer?” Growing up in my family, whenever one of the kids asked about the trip, we would hear dad say “we get closer every time the tires turn.”
In Psalm 89 the writer is considering the character of God during the midst of bad times in Israel. He recounts God’s mighty acts. He remembers God’s promises. He praises God’s faithfulness. And, He questions God’s timing.
Israel was experiencing the pain of God’s judgment. The writer of Psalm 89 recounts God’s promises regarding the judgment and discipline.
“If his sons forsake My law
And do not walk in My judgments,
31 If they break My statutes
And do not keep My commandments,
32 Then I will punish their transgression with the rod,
And their iniquity with stripes.
33 Nevertheless My lovingkindness I will not utterly take from him,
Nor allow My faithfulness to fail.
34 My covenant I will not break,
Nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips.
God says that, no matter what His people have done, He will not completely and forever remove His lovingkindness. God says that His faithfulness will never run out. God says that His promises will not be broken and His word will not change—no matter what. What a wonderful reason to have hope!
The psalmist is encouraged by God’s character, but in the middle of God’s discipline He asks God for relief.
How long, Lord?
Will You hide Yourself forever?
Will Your wrath burn like fire?
47 Remember how short my time is;
For what futility have You created all the children of men?
48 What man can live and not see death?
Can he deliver his life from the power of the grave?
The writer asks God to remember that his life will eventually end. He wants to see and experience God’s forgiveness to His people before he dies. The psalmist wants to bathe in the restoration that God can bring. He wants to be awestruck by the extravagant mercy and faithfulness of his God.
Now this Psalm was written specifically for God’s people Israel and the promises in it are specific to God’s covenant with David. However, the Bible says that all scripture is for us and is helpful for our learning. As we learn about the character of God, we can ask and expect Him to work according to His character and His nature. No, the United States is not God’s specific nation, and no, America does not have claim to God’s covenantal promises. However, we do have the same God Who will not forever remove His lovingkindness. He will not allow His faithfulness to fail, and He will not change or alter His Word.