Psalm 89: Foundational justice

‘Righteousness and justice are the foundations of your throne; love and truth go before you.’ (14)

‘North and south, you created them.’ Ps. 89:12

This final song in Book III is a long one, stretching to 52 verses. Themes therefore shift from praise for divine love and creativity through to an iteration of a covenant protection then finally a lament that time is short; how long must the singer wait for mercy?

The psalmist recognises that divine love and justice are at the beginning and end of creation. The song opens:

Your love forever I will sing; it is established forever, you have set your faithfulness firmly in the heavens.

Then, after a section said to be from an old hymn, he or she notes the power of creation, broadly encompassed in ‘north and south’, leading to the foundational statement quoted at the outset. Goodness, faithfulness, justice, love and truth rolled around throughout this song as pillars of the grand plan.

Together with ancient voices we can but conclude, as does Book III, with this laste verse:

Blessed be God forevermore. Amen and amen.

Psalm 89:52


The first of those themes of divine love in the opening lines is celebrated in both New Century Hymnal and Psalms For All Seasons 89B. Here is a similar setting, which incidentally well demonstrates the simple but beautiful method of singing a short refrain with verses set to a tone:

PFAS 89A is the favourite hymn I will sing of the mercies of the Lord.

For those groups using Together in Song, the Australian hymn book, No 46 by ‘safe hands’ Christopher Willcock is the choice of the moment, especially during social distancing when some will have their own copies of this hymn book.. As usual, the verses offered here may not coincide with the RCL readings.