Ethan the Ezrahite writes this psalm in commemoration of God’s covenant with David. Verse 1 is prophetic—Ethan desired to make God’s faithfulness known to all generations. And here is psalm has been passed down since its writing, as a tangible testimony to those generations of God’s faithfulness. God’s promises are never found lacking, and that example sets the stage for the rest of this psalm. For Ethan describes God’s eternal covenant with David. God made these promises to His faithful servant. He also created the heavens and the earth—there is none like Him. He is in control of the elements. If He is faithful as far as the natural elements are concerned, if He has established His faithfulness in a physical sense, then how much more does His faithfulness extend to His covenant! Notice also verse 9, which prophetically foreshadows Jesus’ supernatural sovereignty over the elements.
Strength, righteousness, mercy, justice, and truth are all part of God’s character, and He will extend these to those who in obedience serve Him. He is their light, their guide, their provision and their protection.
Ethan goes on to describe God’s covenant to David—first He anointed him, then He strengthened him (vv. 20-21). He raised him up from among the people and delivered him from his enemies. He exalted him and made him His son, and He established His covenant with him forever. In these passages, David comes out as a type of Christ—a foreshadowing of God’s complete and perfect plan for His people. Christ is the fulfillment of this eternal covenant—He is the seed that will endure forever, the King of all kings. And He matches all the characteristics that made David a “man after God’s own heart” (I Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22) without any of the flaws. Truly Christ the man with God’s own heart, with His very presence inside of Him. And most clearly, Christ is the Son of the Living God.
Ethan emphasizes that God’s covenant with David extends to his lineage, but conditionally—God will not bless sin and rebellion. But He also promises that He has not lied—David’s throne will be established forever, through the Messiah. One incredible example of God’s faithfulness regarding this issue is that of Josiah. His grandmother began killing David’s entire lineage, but God preserved Josiah’s life, as the only living heir to David’s throne. Truly God is at work and is faithful to complete His work in the lives of all His servants, not just David.
Ethan found himself in his present day with Israel rebelling against what God had said, and the Lord was angry with them. He cast them off and made them face the consequences for their sin. But Ethan appeals to the covenant that God made with David, and pleads for restoration for God’s servants, the remnant, who desire to see God glorified. “Continue to demonstrate Your faithfulness, according to the covenant that You made with David,” Ethan says to the Lord.
So too, those who walk in the Lord’s way, who walk in obedience to His statutes, will experience firsthand the faithfulness of the Lord. He will complete His work in their lives, and He will honor their faithfulness to Him.