April 16, 2000
Ethan the Ezrahite
Dear brother in our Lord,
I am writing to reply to your famous psalm – one we call Psalm 89. You would be surprised how many people today are singing it. I hope you would like the tune. I must admit we mostly sing only the first verse out of 52. Getting into the details of what you were saying is not much of a priority amongst us these days. I imagine people in your day sang the entire psalm. We think if we sing 2% of a psalm we are doing well. We like milk more than meat. The heavy stuff in the rest of your psalm we leave to others, even though you wrote all of it through the Holy Spirit. My apologies, dear brother.
But I am trying to write you a letter speaking from our time frame. I really wish I knew when you wrote that psalm. I can tell from it that things were not going very well. People even mocked you for believing in the faithful promise of God. That happens in our day too. In your time anyone who believed that the dynasty of David would survive, had to be a believer in the God of Israel. The world would say he was a fool. You were right to trust God's Word, so I decided to write and tell you what has happened since your day. It makes us sing with you in a later generation of the faithfulness of the Lord.
You sure had it right. God did promise to maintain the line of David through all generations. You also had it right that God would punish anyone in David's line who rebelled against Him. It must have been horrible to see David's sons so corrupt. I know you know that Solomon married many heathen wives, and they brought their idols with them into Jerusalem. What a terrible beginning for David's sons. I notice your psalm does not sing of the faithfulness of the sons of David! What a false song that would be!
I do not know if you know that after good king Hezekiah, came Manasseh, who reigned for 55 years and was so devoted to false gods that he offered his own son in the fire to an idol. This is hardly the way to see the line of David preserved. If you knew about Manasseh, you must have been very sickened about the whole thing. I am speaking in a Chinese church today. I know you do not know who they are, but millions of them believe in your God now. Of the darkest days of Chinese history, I never heard of them ever roasting their children and making them an offering to an idol. They were not as depraved as some of David's sons! No wonder you wrote Psalm 89.
A little after Manasseh came Josiah. He was the last good king of Judah we read of in the older Scriptures. His reign lasted only 31 years. All four who came after him were wicked men sitting on David's throne. They put images of other gods right in the Temple of the Lord. In contempt for such unfaithfulness, our God deserted His House and sent the Babylonians to destroy Jerusalem. So you see, things actually got worse after you died.
But God had not forgotten His promise to David. He sure did chasten David's wicked sons. The Egyptians carried one king off in exile to Egypt. Shortly afterwards the Babylonians captured Zedekiah, the last king in Jerusalem, murdered his sons in front of him and then gouged out his eyes. Maybe they thought that would be the end of the dynasty of David. But they blew it. The Lord, who rules heaven and earth, had the same Babylonians take the real heir to David's throne to Babylon earlier where he and his family were safe!! There Jehoiachin had a son, Shealtiel, who had a son Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel became the governor of Judah. The line went on for generations. I am enclosing a copy, sir, of an amazing record of David's line for 28 generations. It is on the first page of the Scripture we now call the New Testament. The Babylonians only wiped out the line of the king's uncle. Seems they missed the real line of David! I wonder how they overlooked that? God had preserved David's descendants in every generation.
The nation was restored as well. God promised by His prophets that a remnant of Judah would return to their land again. He said in advance how long their captivity would last. The Lord even named the heathen king who would order their return and give them the resources to do it. Cyrus even returned sacred things taken from the temple. So Judah was not wiped out as a nation. But Egypt was; Assyria was; Babylon was. Then the later kingdoms crumbled too, even the mighty Roman Empire. In my day the British Empire has disappeared, and the Russian Empire has come apart. America's prominence will decay too; it just hasn't happened yet. The last book of the Bible says that Babylon will crash in one hour!! But that line of David is forever safe and secured by God's promise and power.
Dear brother Ethan, surely all of you in heaven know that the Son of God became the Son of David!! You know the prophet Micah said He would come and be born in David's little village. A heathen emperor made a terrible order that sent many people back to the town of their ancestors to be enumerated for taxation purposes. The mother of our Lord was close to being due, but Joseph her husband still took her on that journey, and in David's village she gave birth to the One Gabriel described this way:
… He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end. Luke 1: 32,33
Wicked King Herod tried to kill Him; he failed even though he managed to kill all the other baby boys in the area of Bethlehem. The devil tried to get Him to sin, but he failed too. Many of His people hated Him. Some saw His miracles and still did not believe. His enemies tried to kill Him ahead of God's schedule, and they failed too. One of his closest associates betrayed Him, but by then it was God's chosen time.
The real Son of David had come. Just days before He was murdered, people in Jerusalem said, "Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord." He was crucified during Passover and lay dead in the tomb of a rich man. Very early the third day He rose from the grave. David again had an heir, a son who was alive again, alive forevermore. He has ascended to the Father's right hand and sits on His throne far above every power on earth. David has a ruling son. And we have a living Lord and King over us. You sang of the faithfulness of the Lord. We have even more reason to sing than you knew of in your day.
We can tell by your psalm that you were very churned up over the sinfulness of the sons of David. You knew God could not and would not honor such rebellion. So let me say what Jesus Christ, the real Son of David is like!
Concerning God's law – as the Lord God, Jesus too gave that law on Mt. Sinai; and as a man He obeyed it. (The Lawgiver became the law keeper for us!) Concerning guilt, our sins came under divine wrath. As a man He endured that wrath for us. (That is, the law keeper became in God's sight for us the law breaker, and suffered the law breaker's penalty in our place on the cross.) We have taxed His patience, yet He has been gracious to us. We have a good King, yet He took into His kingdom those who are not good subjects. Our need of holiness, He has supplied by sending His Spirit to produce in us obedience and love for God. When asked what righteousness will take us to heaven, we always point to His. When asked what death is the reward of our sin, we always point to His blood. When asked what is right for us, we point to His law. When asked how we will obey it, we point to the Spirit He sent us. When asked what we have done to deserve all this, we say nothing, He earned it all for us and gave it all as a gift. How is that for a King? Eventually David really did have a wonderful son. The Son of David is vastly superior to the sons you groaned about in your day.
So, dear brother, David's throne is no longer in disgrace. His crown is no longer in the dust. God no longer spurns the king He set in place. And God had a King so righteous that after He had made a sacrifice for our sins, the Father promptly raised Him from His grave on the third day. It was the only right thing to do. David's grave is still there in Jerusalem, still occupied. His Great Son rose and now reigns at God's right hand. Brother Ethan, in Jesus all your embarrassment is over. In Jesus, we now have a King of Whom we all may boast, and must and will forever. I plan to get my Chinese friends who believe in the Son of David to join with you. We will read your psalm together and sing it, all 52 verses, and go and look upon the One Who became the answer to your prayers. We look forward to meeting you. You should write another psalm and we will sing a new song to the Lamb Who sits on His throne.
You must have been depressed at times as you saw so much decay. Yet though you could not see what we now know, you praised the Lord for His faithfulness. And you wanted His faithfulness known to all generations. Well the Lord has certainly done that for you!! Millions have read your psalm. Many millions have put their trust in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of David. Probably no one in this church service today is related to Abraham by blood, but we believe in the Son of David and gladly proclaim Him as our King.
In the Lord Jesus, and speaking for some other fellow citizens,
David H. Linden