Great Is His Faithfulness*

O LORD God Almighty, who is like you? You are mighty, O Lord, and your faithfulness surrounds you.  Psalm 89:8

Ethan the Ezrahite was feeling frazzled. He was a musician, so instead of complaining, he poured his pain and puzzlement into a song. We call it Psalm 89.

1 Kings 4:29-31 suggests that Ethan was living through the disintegration of Solomon’s kingdom when the ten northern tribes crowned Jeroboam king and the two southern tribes crowned Rehoboam.

God had told David, “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever” (2 Sam. 7:8). As Ethan witnessed the destruction of David’s kingdom, he wondered what had happened to the “forever” in God’s promise to David. In Psalm 89:44 he writes,  “You have put an end to his splendor and cast his throne to the ground.”

That verse sounds a lot more like betrayal than faithfulness. Yet at the beginning of the psalm Ethan praises the very attributes that he later indicates are missing: “I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; With my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations” (v. 1).

How can Ethan praise God’s faithfulness and love in verses 1-37 and then mourn their loss in verses 38-51? The answer is profound: what Ethan sees doesn’t alter what he knows.

Ethan knows that God is faithful. He just wants to see the evidence of God’s faithfulness while he is still alive. “How long, O LORD?” he cries in verse 46. “Will you hide yourself forever?”

We all feel like Ethan did sometimes. We want to see the fulfillment of God’s promises. However, faith requires more of us. The “forever” of God’s character is the foundation of genuine faith. He never changes. Therefore, like Ethan, we can be sure that He will keep every promise even though we may not ever see their fulfillment.

When we focus on God instead of our circumstances, we can sing, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” no matter how distraught we may be.


Read Hebrews 11:32-40. Why are all these people “commended” in verse 39? Does that comfort you or frustrate you?

How is Ethan’s testimony in this psalm an illustration of Hebrews 11: 1?

Read 1 Kings 4:29-31. What do these verses suggest about the kind of man Ethan the Ezrahite was?

To read all the lyrics to Great Is Thy Faithfulness, go to

Denise K. Loock

*Note: This devotion appears in a slightly different form in Open Your Hymnal: Devotions That Harmonize Scripture With Song. Order a copy at

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