Question: "Who was Ethan the Ezrahite in the Psalms?"
Answer: Ethan the Ezrahite is the songwriter-author of Psalm 89. The title of that psalm says it is “a maskil of Ethan the Ezrahite.” In addition to Psalm 89, Ethan the Ezrahite is mentioned in 1 Kings 4:31 as a wise man, yet not as wise as King Solomon, who “was wiser than anyone else, including Ethan the Ezrahite.” First Chronicles 2:6 gives the added information that Ethan had four brothers and was the son of Zerah (called Mahol in 1 Kings 4:31). He was of the tribe of Levi.
First Chronicles 15:17 mentions an Ethan who was involved with bringing of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. Since he is called “Ethan the son of Kushaiah,” he is probably a different person from the author of Psalm 89. However, 1 Chronicles 15:19 adds that the son of Kushaiah was a musician, one of the men to sound the bronze cymbals, and this had led some scholars to assume a link between the two Ethans. If they are the same person, then Ethan the Ezrahite is probably also known as Jeduthun (1 Chronicles 16:38–42 and the titles of Psalms 62 and 77).
Another way to learn about Ethan the Ezrahite is through his psalm. Verse 1 opens, “I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; / with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.” Ethan emphasizes praise to God for His covenant with David (verses 1–4) and honors God’s character and power (verses 5–18). In verses 19–37, recording God’s own words in a vision, Ethan details God’s faithfulness to David and his descendants. Then Ethan expresses lament at the king’s defeat (verses 38–45) and asks God to remember the covenant (verses 46–52).
Ethan concludes, “Praise be to the Lord forever! / Amen and Amen” (verse 52). Even in times of suffering and struggle, this psalmist calls God’s people to bless the Lord and call upon His strength in time of need.