I have discovered David My servant. – Psalm 89:20a (NET)
As an attempt is made to fathom the depths of the Hebrew Scriptures for information and for instruction, it is eminently necessary for the reader to not view these writings through the lens of what they might personally mean for them today in the specific situation or circumstance in which the reader finds him or herself. Rather, it is necessary (and expected), if one was to engage these writings as did those that composed the covenant community in the days and years after the Christ-event, to view them through the lens of the cross of the Christ.
When one does so, the words of the page are brought splendidly to life and provided with a depth of meaning and value far beyond anything that might have ever been expected, as they become imbued with the living and salvific power of the Gospel of Jesus the Christ---the crucified and resurrected Lord of all. This is quite true of the words of this Psalm. Here in the eighty-ninth Psalm, the reader is said to be hearing the very words of the Creator God when reading, “I have energized a warrior; I have raised up a young man from the people. I have discovered David, My servant. With My holy oil I have anointed Him as king” (89:19b-20).
As these words are viewed through the light that is cast upon them by the cross, Jesus is clearly and quickly to be found, especially when words such as “king,” “anointed,” and “servant” are employed. Here one also finds the term “raised up” used, which should certainly cause the reader to contemplate Jesus’ Resurrection, though such should not necessarily consider such to be an implicit reference. However, one can also here find the word “warrior,” which does not seem to fit what is known about Jesus from the Gospels.
Moving on to the next verse, the reader finds it being said that “My hand will support him, and My arm will strengthen him” (89:21), which (again, appropriately reading conscientious of the cross) can serve as a reminder that it is the Creator God Himself that will fight battles on behalf of His anointed servant King Jesus. It is on the other side of the cross and the grave that one is then able to speak of Jesus as a great warrior King, having flung Himself headlong into the most significant and terrible battle ever waged, which was the battle with death and the powers of evil, and emerging victorious. With this said, the Resurrection can then almost be thought of as the Creator God having “energized a warrior,” though it makes the analogy a bit messy and one may not necessarily want to carry it too far.
The Creator God of Israel is reported to go on to say, “No enemy will be able to exact tribute from him” (89:22a). Throughout the Scriptures, there are reports about kings and countries “paying tribute money.” Whether it was being paid to the kings of Israel, or whether Israel was paying it to an oppressing enemy, the purpose of paying tribute, ultimately, was to show subservience. It was a bowing of the knee, by the king, through an economic transaction, that represented the bowing of an entire people.
Whether it was the reported time of temptation at the hands of Satan, or the time in which He was subjected to the over-powering sway of death itself, it is understood that Jesus, the representative of Israel (the Creator God’s covenant people then, now, and forever) did not bow the knee to His enemy. He would not become subservient. He would offer no tribute and barter no deals, hoping for kind treatment. This is part of the reason that believers have the hope of a bodily Resurrection within the covenant God’s creation in the same way as that which was experienced by Jesus. Believers have that hope because Jesus does not allow His enemy to exact tribute.