Psalm 138

Psalm 138
Of David.

(1) I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart; before the "gods" I will sing your praise.
(2) I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your unfailing love and your faithfulness, for you have so exalted your solemn decree that it surpasses your fame.
(3) When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me.

(4) May all the kings of the earth praise you, LORD, when they hear what you have decreed.
(5) May they sing of the ways of the LORD, for the glory of the LORD is great.

(6) Though the LORD is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly; though lofty, he sees them from afar.
(7) Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand you save me.
(8) The LORD will vindicate me; your love, LORD, endures forever- do not abandon the works of your hands.

Psalm 138 brings us right back to the singer of songs and author of poems, the mighty warrior and shepherd king, a man “after God’s own heart.” David.

Commentators point out stark out differences between the last psalm and this one. Psalm 137 is a vivid picture of destruction and grief where the author refuses to sing the holy songs while his captors chide him. Then, Psalm 138 is David’s call to sing praises to the Lord with abandon. Loudly and proudly. So that even the kings of the earth will hear and join in.

Titled, Give Thanks to the LORD (ESV); Thanksgiving for the LORD’s Favor (NASB); The LORD’s Goodness to the Faithful (NKJV); and A Hymn of Thanksgiving (ICB), among others. It is a call to praise.

There is no indication of when David wrote this. Possibly as an older man, because he speaks with maturity and like one who has experienced God’s goodness. But David sang the Lord’s praises as a teenager even, so no one knows for certain. Some have suggested that David may not have written this because of his use of the word “temple.” The Bible tells us that David’s son Solomon built the temple after David died. And that David worshiped the Lord in the Tabernacle. But others say that David had called the house of worship a temple in his other writings, so the use of “temple” does not discredit the Davidian authorship.

I give you thanks, O LORD, with all my heart; I will sing your praises before the gods. I bow before your holy Temple as I worship. I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness; for your promises are backed by all the honor of your name. As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength.
Psalm 138:1-3 NLT

This is David’s prayer of love and adoration to his Father in heaven. David was a sinner. His sins are spelled out in the Bible for generation upon generation to read and learn from- hopefully. But David loved the Lord. And the Lord loved him.

God and David were (are!) close. David’s life was not easy. Not at all. But the story of his life not only speaks of a great king who stood up for what was right in the eyes of the Lord and against all odds, but his life is also proof that during times of grief, pain, danger, fear and evil, God never left him. In the good times and the bad. David’s life is one great story about how God was faithful; how He protected and watched over David, always.

What did God expect of David? Faith. Trust. His heart.

[David] is resolved to praise the Lord, and to do it with the whole force of his life, even with his whole heart.

Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892

Even David’s wife, Michal, chastised him for dancing and singing in praise to the Lord as the ark of the covenant finally came into Jerusalem. She claimed he acted unkinglike. He responded with this:

I will celebrate before the LORD. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.
2 Samuel 6:21b-22a NIV

David would sing with all his heart. Before all the fake gods of the world. Even if everyone laughed at him, including his own wife. He would sing and dance for the Lord.

He would bow down, not something that kings do easily. David was a great beloved king, but he would bow in humility before his God.

The Bible records David’s physical strength and his strength of character. He was a great warrior that men followed, pledged their lives to. But, according to David, his strength came from the Lord. Not of his own accord. All praise went to God. Always.

David had a great love for the Lord.

Every king in all the earth will thank you, LORD, for all of them will hear your words. Yes, they will sing about the LORD's ways, for the glory of the LORD is very great. Though the LORD is great, he cares for the humble, but he keeps his distance from the proud.
Psalm 138:4-6 NLT

Every king in all the earth will thank the Lord? Once they hear Him speak, they will praise His name? David uses the covenant name of God (in English translations this Hebrew word is LORD in all capital letters), YHWH. A name that the Jewish people believed was too sacred to even say out loud and therefore we don’t even know how to pronounce the name to this day. It is simple referred to as the tetragrammaton. The Lord gave Himself this name when Moses asked what name he would give the Israelite people when he took God’s message to them in Egypt.

God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.'"
Exodus 3:14 NIV

David believed that if the kings of the earth could just hear His Name, they would believe. Faith.

David says that the Lord avoids the proud, but He cares for the humble. Earthly kings were/are not known for their humility. So what do these words mean?

Maybe David is saying that if men could only hear the words of the Lord, they would believe. And he, David, needed to be that messenger. Possibly David thought of himself as a missionary. His praising, his loud singing and dancing with abandon, would reach the ears of his neighbor kings and all the kings of the earth. David wanted his praise to be so loud and proud that when they hear it, they would believe.

Worship and praise the Lord with abandon, so others will hear and wonder what the reason is for our joy and hope.

There was something about David that attracted people to follow him. They believed in him. They trusted him. He had influence. But down David’s family line was an even greater man.

The greatest man. Jesus.

And when we strive to live a life in accordance with God’s will and word, we present ourselves as mirrors of Jesus. At least, that is what we are called to do. David understood this, if he could just sing and praise the Lord all day long, more would come to know the Lord.

Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.
1 Peter 3:15 NLT

King David didn’t know Peter, nor did he hear these words. But he lived this way. He would sing and dance before Lord. He would make a fool of himself in front of man (or his wife). His eyes were upon the Lord, not upon what others thought of him.

No matter what people say of you or me, may we only care to please the Lord.

Though I am surrounded by troubles, you will protect me from the anger of my enemies. You reach out your hand, and the power of your right hand saves me. The LORD will work out his plans for my life- for your faithful love, O LORD, endures forever. Don't abandon me, for you made me.
Psalm 138:7-8 NLT

Bible commentators point out three things that David teaches us in the second half of this psalm.

The first is that God favors the humble, sometimes called the “poor in spirit” in the Bible. And God gave us the greatest example of this characteristic in His Son, Jesus.

The second is that God takes care of His children. David, though a powerful man and king, needed his God. He knew that the only true help came from His Father in heaven.

God sees you and He loves you. He walks beside you in good times and bad. Never doubt that He is there. Never doubt that He sees your pain; He knows your worries and fears, and He has you in the palm of His hand.

And finally, David’s Psalm 138 reminds us that whatever God has begun within His children, He will finish. He never walks away. He never throws His hands up and says, “you’re too hard to work with!” He has a plan for your life and even you are weak and scared, He is strong. Even when you cannot see the path before you, He is leading you.

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:6 NIV

Father in heaven, you are good and faithful. Thank you for your Word that we can hold in our hands and treasure in our hearts. Thank you that every time we read your Word, you reveal more of yourself and your love to us. We give you praise. You are the Creator of all and the sustainer of all. Give us strength to love those around us today with love that comes only from you. Amen.

He xoxo

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