Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.
God is a faithful God, as evidenced in that this issue of the Standard Bearer is the beginning of Volume 88. This is also the time of the year when our schools begin their new season of covenant education. We are surrounded by evidences of God’s faithfulness.
The form for the administration of baptism states that baptism is a seal of the covenant and of the righteousness of faith. Infants are to be baptized as heirs of the kingdom of God and of His covenant. It grounds these truths in God’s Word, as seen in Genesis 17:7 and Acts 2:39.
The faithfulness of God with respect to His covenant is the subject of this particular Psalm. God cares for His church because He is faithful to His covenant. Thus the versification of this Psalm in Psalter #243 is entitled “Covenant Faithfulness.” The idea of this Psalm is to extol Jehovah’s covenant faithfulness. No less than seven times Jehovah’s faithfulness is mentioned. Five of the seven times the psalmist speaks of Jehovah’s faithfulness. Two of the seven times it is Jehovah Himself speaking of His faithfulness.
It must be pointed out that whoever is speaking of this faithfulness, the words are directed, first of all, to David, Jehovah’s servant, and to his generations. But in the final sense, the object of this faithfulness is Christ, and those who are Christ’s. David is the type that points to Christ as the one whom the psalmist has in mind. The Psalm speaks of the faithfulness of Jehovah to Christ and His people, and, throughout, this faithfulness of Jehovah is related to His covenant as He purposes to realize it with His people in and through Christ Jesus. “I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, Thy seed will I establish forever, and build up thy throne to all generations” (vv. 3, 4). And in verses 28 and 29 we read, “My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with Him. His seed also will I make to endure forever, and his throne as the days of heaven.” The same is true in verse 34. Thus, in the entire Psalm, we hear the Word of God—Jehovah speaking to us of His covenant faithfulness. The idea of the covenant, as we well know, is that God’s covenant is the eternal friendship relation that the triune God enjoys within the Being of God Himself, in which all the Persons in the Godhead seek and find each other in love. Thus they have most intimate communion and fellowship with each other.
In the eternal counsel of God, the triune God declares it to be His will and good pleasure that the Son of God shall become the Christ, the Redeemer of a people chosen of God in sovereign election, the Redeemer who shall deliver that people through the way of sin and grace and bring them also into His own covenant life and fellowship.
The Son of God, having been sent by the Father, the triune God, appears in time in a world that is steeped in sin and death. He assumes the human nature, being conceived and born through the miracle of the incarnation in the virgin Mary, who was in the elect generation and royal line of David. It is with Him, that is, with Christ, that Jehovah establishes His covenant. And, through Christ, that covenant embraces all whom the Father gave to Christ in the eternal counsel of election. Thus, when we speak of Jehovah’s covenant faithfulness to us, we understand that this is possible only in and through Christ Jesus, our Mediator and Savior.
Christ, therefore, as Head and Mediator of God’s covenant, is the one with whom the faithful Jehovah makes His covenant. Though the children that the Father has given unto Him break the covenant, which they do when they forsake God’s law and walk not in His judgments, God on His part will not break the covenant He has made with Christ, and through Christ with His people. That is the idea of the text. This implies that Christ also shall not fail. God’s mercy, which is that will of God to deliver His people from the greatest possible woe unto the highest possible bliss, shall never be taken away from Christ, their Mediator and Savior. God’s faithfulness, which is that attribute of God according to which He keeps the Word that He has spoken, shall never fail Him. The Word that Jehovah had spoken in eternity to Christ concerning His covenant, Jehovah will not violate. He will not alter the Word that has passed over His lips. It shall stand forever.
What a great comfort these words were to Christ during His earthly ministry. When He was required to take upon Himself our sins and the curse that was due to us for them, and to walk the way of the cross where He was to pass under the vials of God’s holy wrath as a sacrifice of atonement for all our sins—how the words of our text must have strengthened Him. When He was required to suffer the very torments of hell in our stead, so that it appeared to Him that His God had forsaken Him and He was pressed to cry out: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”—there can be no doubt that He found refuge in the words of Psalm 89:33 and 34. And when Jehovah raised His Son from the dead and exalted Him to His right hand, where all power was given unto Him in heaven and on earth to apply unto His people the fruits of His redemptive work, the words of that text still spoke to Him.
The words of Psalm 89 spoken to Christ were incorporated into the Scriptures in order that they might also speak to us of God’s covenant faithfulness. Now we know how and why He could prove His faithfulness to usward. When He was faithful to Christ, He was also faithful to us, His people, because we were in Christ. That we have received all the blessings of salvation through which we have been taken up into God’s covenant life is due to the fact that Jehovah never failed to prove His faithfulness to Christ. He never broke the covenant that He had made with Christ. He never altered the thing that had gone out of His lips. The psalmist had abundant reason to sing of the mercies of Jehovah, to open his mouth to make known Jehovah’s faithfulness to all generations.
By the same Spirit that moved the psalmist we are moved to declare boldly now: O Jehovah, how great is thy faithfulness, which Thou hast so graciously shown unto us. Thus, you can understand that we do not wish to glory in man, in our own accomplishments. We have nothing of ourselves wherein to boast. All our boasting is in Jehovah, our covenant God. He it is who has so wonderfully revealed Himself to us as the God of our salvation in Christ. His covenant, into which we believe that He has incorporated us, He has faithfully realized with us and our seed. That covenant we have learned to see in the many babies that are born into the church.
Presently, we believe, we shall see how faithfully our God has kept His Word, when we shall see the vast multitude, gathered out of every nation, tribe, and tongue and clothed in the clean white garments of salvation, who with us shall abide with our covenant God in His tabernacle forever. Then we expect to hear Him speak once more, as He spoke to Christ in Psalm 89, “Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.”
He will add, My Son, and your Savior, has brought unto Me all My dear children. Not one of them is missing. Come, ye blessed, enter into the joy of thy Lord, and share with Me My own covenant life, world without end.