Psalm 89: God cast off, rejected and became angry with His Moshiach

The word Moshiach (מָשִׁיחַ‎) in Hebrew, means messiah or Christ. The term refers to the Anointed One of God, who will sit upon the throne of David and rule forever.

Messianic Jews are sometimes pilloried for claiming that Moshiach must first suffer, before he takes his throne. The Messianic claim that Isaiah 53 refers to the Moshiach, is widely derided within Orthodox Judaism. As a result, Yeshua-centred beliefs are seen as out-of-sync with traditional Jewish messianic expectations.

Yet Isaiah 53 is not the only place we read of the suffering Servant – Psalm 89 identifies this servant as Moshiach.

Many Jews will know the Psalm from its famous ending (89v51):

אֲשֶׁר חֵרְפוּ אוֹיְבֶיךָ יְהוָה:    אֲשֶׁר חֵרְפוּ, עִקְּבוֹת מְשִׁיחֶךָ

Wherewith thine enemies have reproached, O LORD; wherewith they have reproached the footsteps of thine anointed.

The phrase עִקְּבוֹת מְשִׁיחֶךָ ikvot moshichecha , the footsteps of your messiah, is widely recognised in Judaism as referring to Moshiach.

Here is Rabbi Hillel Rivlin, a disciple of the Vilna Gaon, on this verse in Kol HaTor, which expounded the Litvish understanding of Moshiach:

As is known, the enemies of God and the enemies of Israel cause trouble to the entire process of the beginning of the Redemption that occurs in the footsteps of the Mashiach. In the Psalm, it states regarding this matter: “who taunted the footsteps of Your Mashiach” [Ps. 89:52]. Our Sages have already enumerated all the tribulations that come during the footsteps of the Mashiach.

Here is Rabbi Bar Lev:

It says about the footsteps of the Mashiach, “for they have taunted the footsteps of Your Mashiach” (Ps.  89:52)

It is not just this verse.

Here is Chabad’s official website:

See Isaiah 11:1; Jeremiah 23:5-6 and 33:14ff. See also II-Samuel 7:12-16, and Psalms 89. In this context, Mashiach is often referred to as (and identified with) David see Hosea 3:5; Jeremiah 30:9; Ezekiel 34:23-24 and 37:24-25 (cf. below. note 51).

The Chabad Rebbe identified the Anointed One of Psalm 89 as Moshiach:

The appointment of Melech HaMoshiach has in reality already occurred, as we say in the verse (Psalms 89:21), “I have found My servant David; I have anointed him with My holy oil.” All that is needed is for the people to accept him as king and for the actualization of the total unity between the king and the people — with the complete and total redemption.(The Rebbe, 25 Shevat, 5751-1991)

And again:

The sun represents Moshiach, as it is written in Psalms (89:37), “And his (Moshiach’s) throne is like the sun before Me.”

Here is Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel on Psalm 89, equating the Psalm’s main character with Moshiach:

The Holy One, blessed be He, told Moshe: “Just as I have made Yaakov a firstborn, for it says: ‘Yisroel is My son, My firstborn’ (Shemos 4:22), so will I make the King Moshiach a firstborn, as it says: ‘I also will appoint him firstborn’ (Tehilim 89:28).”

So far we know:

  1. Psalm 89 refers to Moshiach
  2. In Psalm 89:51, many scholars see the “Anointed One” as Moshiach

What then, of Psalm 89:38?

וְאַתָּה זָנַחְתָּ, וַתִּמְאָס;    הִתְעַבַּרְתָּ, עִם-מְשִׁיחֶךָ

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

If Psalm 89 is about Moshiach, then so is this verse Psalm 89:38, detailing how God unleashes his wrath against his Anointed One.

Verses 38-46 further detail the suffering of Moshiach:

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 46 How long, O LORD? Will you hide yourself forever? How long will your wrath burn like fire?

What follows is utter despair, by the Psalmist, at the unexpected turn of events, who asks how long God will allow this apparent injustice to continue.

Remember the Psalms were written before the prophets’ writings, and Psalm 89 was likely written over 300 years before Isaiah 53. Therefore, I would see Isaiah 53 as an extension of Psalm 89.

Once this is clear, there is no need to prove how Isaiah 53 is about Moshiach, because Psalm 89 already makes it clear that the Suffering Servant is Moshiach himself, and Isaiah 53 expands on this theme.

17 thoughts on “Psalm 89: God cast off, rejected and became angry with His Moshiach

  1. I like with this – it speaks of David’s Royal throne being established for ever through the Messiah. Compare also Psalm 89 with Mark 4 and the stilling of the storm on Galilee. Psalm 89:9 ‘You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them. 10 You crushed Rahab like one of the slain; with your strong arm you scattered your enemies. 11 The heavens are yours, and yours also the earth; you founded the world and all that is in it. 12 You created the north and the south; Tabor and Hermon sing for joy at your name. 13 Your arm is endowed with power; your hand is strong, your right hand exalted.’
    Tabor and Hermon are south and north of Galilee. Jesus calmed the storm on Galilee and the disciples asked, ‘who is this that even the wind and waves obey him.’ This passage proclaims Jesus as Messiah linking to Psalm 89 I believe. Rahab, the sea monster, was also a metaphor for the devil – Jesus was on his way to cast the demons out of Legion.

  2. Shimon Kepha had something to say regarding the footsteps of Moshiach:

    “For even hereunto were you called: because Moshiach also suffered for us,
    leaving us an example, that you should follow His footsteps;
    Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth:
    Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again;
    when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judges righteously:”

    • Yeshua was violently defeated by enemies, and the “sword” of his ally was put away – see Yeshua’s instructions to Simon the Zealot in the garden of Eden – those who live by the sword will die by the sword.

      • When you said the angel in Zechariah 3 took away someone’s sins, you said that the angel had to be G-d to do this. I asked you what about the angel who took away Isaiah’s sin in Isaiah 6, and you did not answer. Maybe you can answer now.

        Kenneth

        • Sure, sorry about that, I just didn’t see your reply – I’ll try to answer your point re Isaiah 6 tomorrow.

      • Joseph,

        I am sure you are busy, so I am just reminding you that you said you would answer me about Isaiah 6 and the angel that took away Isaiah’s sin. You said only G-d could do that in Zechariah 3, so I am curious how you explain Isaiah 6.

        Kenneth Greifer

      • Ok compare Isaiah 6:6-7 words by the angel:

        “Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

        With Zechariah 3 words:

        “Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.”

        In Isaiah 6, the angel essential performs the role of a cohen, he says the sin is “atoned for”, but does not specify how, and does not claim to have taken the sin away.

        You can see that the angel delivers a message in Isa6, framed as a passive sentence, but does not speak of taking an active role in the removing of the sin, as the angel of Zec3 does.

      • I guess a person could say that the coal took away the sin, so the coal must be G-d. It is kind of the same explanation for the angel in Zech. 3. You can’t prove I am wrong about the coal just like I can’t prove the angel is just an angel doing it’s job.

        Actually, I think the angel in Zech. 3 is the angel of G-d’s presence that G-d’s name is in and He speaks through to people. SO, in a way, it could be G-d speaking through it. You said to me once it has to explain that, but the trinity isn’t explained either.

        I can’t beat your argument, but I don’t think it would convince anyone who wasn’t already a believer like you.

        Kenneth

  3. Pingback: Psalm 45: The Love Song in which God makes God Moshiach |

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