2

Psalms 89:38-45

38 But now you have cast off and rejected; you are full of wrath against your anointed. 39 You have renounced the covenant with your servant; you have defiled his crown in the dust. 40 You have breached all his walls; you have laid his strongholds in ruins. 41 All who pass by plunder him; he has become the scorn of his neighbors. 42 You have exalted the right hand of his foes; you have made all his enemies rejoice. 43 You have also turned back the edge of his sword, and you have not made him stand in battle. 44 You have made his splendor to cease and cast his throne to the ground. 45 You have cut short the days of his youth; you have covered him with shame. Selah

This passage is very confusing to me.

Any mention of “God’s anointed” in the Old Testament is well known to be references to and prophecies regarding the Messiah (Jesus). But when this passage talks of God being full of wrath against His anointed, I’m having a hard time understanding why God could possibly be angry with His blameless and sinless Son. Being angry with humanity, I absolutely understand! But being angry with Jesus, I’m just not quite connecting the dots.

Why would God renounce His covenant (verse 39)? This is quite out of character given God’s well-known faithfulness. God always keeps His promises, even if He has to delay them for a time (or a generation) due to sin.

I’ve searched for commentaries of these verses in Google and nothing I’ve come across explains the stark character difference displayed in the God described in this passage, verses God as He’s described throughout the Bible.

3
  • 1
    In this case, from the context, "God's anointed" probably refers to Israel.
    – moron
    Oct 26, 2021 at 6:04
  • @Fay Hi Fay, welcome to BH-Stack Exchange, we are glad you are here. Please be sure to take the site tour and read our code of conduct. Thanks! Oct 26, 2021 at 7:50
  • @Fay even the king of Persa Cyrus is by God called his anointed! Isaiah 45:1 This is what the YHWH says to Cyrus His anointed [...] Oct 26, 2021 at 8:51

3 Answers 3

1

OP: Any mention of “God’s anointed” in the Old Testament is well known to be references to and prophecies regarding the Messiah (Jesus).

This is true for some but not for all; i.e., this is not universally true, e.g., 1 Kings 19:

15 The Lord said to him [Elijah], “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. 16Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel

Psalms 89:

38 But now you have cast off and rejected; you are full of wrath against your anointed.

Assume that the anointed refers to Jesus.

39 You have renounced the covenant with your servant; you have defiled his crown in the dust.

Now it is saying that God has renounced his covenant with Jesus, the Son of God. This is absurd. Therefore, the anointed earlier could not be referring to Jesus.

Who or what does it refer to?

40 You have breached all his walls; you have laid his strongholds in ruins.

Looks like it is talking about the king of Judah and the Kingdom of Judah. The rest bears this out:

41 All who pass by plunder him; he has become the scorn of his neighbors. 42 You have exalted the right hand of his foes; you have made all his enemies rejoice. 43 You have also turned back the edge of his sword, and you have not made him stand in battle. 44 You have made his splendor to cease and cast his throne to the ground. 45 You have cut short the days of his youth; you have covered him with shame. Selah

Seeking explanations for renounced covenant and God’s wrath “against (His) anointed” in Psalm 89:38-45

A reasonable case can be made that it refers to the dying days of the kingdom of Judah, and does not refer to Jesus.

2
  • Thank you for being respectful and answering my questions!
    – Fay
    Oct 26, 2021 at 15:59
  • Glad to be of service :) Keep asking. That's how I learn as well.
    – user35953
    Oct 26, 2021 at 16:03
2

The assumption that "my anointed" always refers to Jesus is often true but not always. This Psalm is a case that refers to someone else, namely:

  • V3 & 4 - You said, “I have made a covenant with My chosen one, I have sworn to David My servant: ‘I will establish your offspring forever and build up your throne for all generations.’ ”
  • V20 - I have found My servant David; with My sacred oil I have anointed him.
  • V35 - Once and for all I have sworn by My holiness— I will not lie to David
  • V49 - Where, O Lord, is Your loving devotion of old, which You faithfully swore to David?

It was king David who was anointed as king over Israel and thus was God's anointed, 1 Sam 16:13.

The subject of Ps 89 is two-fold

  • to record that David and the kings descended from him were God's anointed and under the royal covenant found in 2 Sam 7. See Ps 89:35-37.
  • to record that of the descendants of David were not obedient then God would reject them, be angry with them and renounce the royal covenant with them. Ps 89:38-45.
2
  • I now know I was wrong about my assumption in that all references in the Old Testament to the Anointed refer to Jesus. However, the way you conveyed my inaccuracy came across as being very derogatory. Instead of kindly pointing my error out to Me, you instead called my assumption “unfounded” and conveyed my inaccuracy to everyone reading. I made this post in an effort to seek answers and by addressing everyone else, it was insulting. My assumption, while being inaccurate, was not unfounded given the numerous prophecies in the Old Testament referring to the Anointed as being Jesus.
    – Fay
    Oct 26, 2021 at 16:15
  • @Fay - my apologies - I have edited to answer to improve it.
    – Dottard
    Oct 26, 2021 at 20:33
0

I will give two interpretations of this. The first is The Anointed referring to Christ and the second is the anointed referring to the Jews.

Christ as the anointed
Before we begin we must first ask ourselves, what is God's wrath against sin? God's wrath against sin is made manifest to us in the forms of suffering and death. Suffering and death is Adam's punishment for sin.

What is death? Death is primarily separation:

  1. In Catholic theology, death of the body is the separation of the soul from the body.
  2. Adam's punishment for sin is separation from God in the garden; Adam is cast out and is forsaken. "The day you eat of it, you shall surely die".
  3. Throughout the old covenant, those who commit sin are taken outside the city and stoned to death. They are separated from Israel, where God is.
  4. Hell is the second death. Hell is the eternal realization of suffering and death.

So, throughout the scriptures you will find that God's wrath against us is the suffering that we experience as a result of sin, and the separation from God resulting in it. The suffering and the separation is the wrath.

Now the scripture:

38 But now you have cast off and rejected; you are full of wrath against your anointed.
39 You have renounced the covenant with your servant; you have defiled his crown in the dust.

Here Christ in His Passion is rejected by His people. Christ is entering into our human nature in order to experience what we experience, which is alienation from God. It does not mean that the Father is personally in Himself wrathful at the Son. Rather, the Son is literally experiencing God's wrath against sin which is suffering and death, separation from God.

40 You have breached all his walls; you have laid his strongholds in ruins.
41 All who pass by plunder him; he has become the scorn of his neighbors.
42 You have exalted the right hand of his foes; you have made all his enemies rejoice.

"You have breached his walls" this means that God is allowing the Jews and the Romans to crucify Jesus. Yes, it is man that is doing the crucifixion, but it is the will of God to allow it to happen. In that sense, God is willing/doing it.

The rest of the verses are more of the same. It is the will of God that Christ be crucified in order to redeem us. Not that He Himself is pouring out His anger on the Son, but that He is allowing the Son to suffer and die in order to offer up a perfect sacrifice to God. It is not God pouring out His wrath that redeems us (Protestant view) but rather, it is Christ's entering into solidarity with mankind, experiencing separation from God, and offering up His unjust sufferings and His life for an odor of sweetness that is more pleasing to God than the stench of the sins of all humanity (Catholic view). This is known as redemptive suffering.

So, yes, in a sense Jesus is experiencing God's wrath against sin. But not God's wrath against Jesus. There is no wrath from the Father directed to the Son's person. This righteous act by Christ DOES satisfy for our sins, thus appeasing God's wrath against us, only insofar as we are incorporated into Christ's body by baptism and divine grace.

I will note that especially in the Old Testament you will find that the life is equated with blessings from God and death equated with curses from God. This is the reason for the language being the way it is. And this view is correct, life is a blessing and death is a curse. Yet Christ takes the curse and turns it into a blessing by conquering death in the resurrection.

Lastly, I will note that the cross of Christ is a revelation of God's wrath against all mankind. By the brutality of the cross God is saying to us: THIS is how awful your sin is, and only THIS can make up for it. By His cross He reveals His wrath and His mercy.

The Jews as the anointed

38 But now you have cast off and rejected; you are full of wrath against your anointed.
39 You have renounced the covenant with your servant; you have defiled his crown in the dust.

The Jews are cursed by God because of the capital sin against the Lord Jesus. In the dust of the dirt outside Jerusalem, when Christ falls carrying His Cross, the Jews have lost their birthright.

40 You have breached all his walls; you have laid his strongholds in ruins.

This can be Christ's triumph over death. But more likely this is a prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.

41 All who pass by plunder him; he has become the scorn of his neighbors.
42 You have exalted the right hand of his foes; you have made all his enemies rejoice.

Again, this is a prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem but also the conversion of the gentiles.

43 You have also turned back the edge of his sword, and you have not made him stand in battle.

The Jews themselves did not crucify Jesus, but rather, the Romans. Therefore the Jews who were once a warring people in the Old Testament have turned back their sword and the Romans have picked up their spears.

44 You have made his splendor to cease and cast his throne to the ground.
45 You have cut short the days of his youth; you have covered him with shame.

Again, the glory of the law of Moses that was the pride of Israel has now been put to shame by the death and triumph of Christ.

My bet is the anointed is primarily referring to Christ.

1
  • Welcome to Bible Hermeneutics SE and thank you for your contribution. When you get a chance, please take the tour to understand how the site works and how it is different than others.
    – agarza
    Oct 27, 2021 at 2:37

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.