PSALM 138 

1  A Psalm of David

I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto thee. 

  • Praise, is from YaDaH,  meaning to give thanks, give grateful praise
  • with my whole heart. The heart is the  seat of emotion, will, thought; The issues of life flow from the heart, Pro 4:23.
  • before the gods.  See these verses in Psalm 82 also, Psalm 82:1 God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods . . . 6 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High. 7 But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.
  • The gods spoken of in our Psalm and the ones in Psalm 82 speak of  those elders placed in the positions of leading and judging the people of Israel under Moses; they also with Moses, Aaron, Nadab and  Abihu beheld the Lord and His glory from afar, see Exo 19:13-27; 24:1-14. These gods would be comprised of the seventy men, first appointed by Moses, and continuing throughout the age of the Mosaic Law, who would later be referred to in the New Testament as the counsel. Another name we hear outside the Bible is the untranslated Greek word sanhedrin. The word mighty in Psalm 82:1 and gods in this Psalm and Psalm 82:1, 6 are from the Hebrew Elohim. According to Strong’s this word is found 245 times in the Old Testament and is translated God with the capital G 213 times always referring to the Lord, the God of the Bible, and it is untranslated Immanuel 2 times. It is translated gods with a little G 16 times and idols one time. These normally speak of idols and gods that are not gods,  see 2 Kings 19:18; Isa 37:19; Jer 2:11; 5:7; 16:20; Acts 19:26; Gal 4:8. But there are a few times where gods with the little G speaks of the judges, the mighty ones of the nation Israel, see Psa 82:1, 6 and our verse at hand Psa 138:1. Psa 82:7 rightly declares that these mighty, judging gods shall die like the regular men that they are. These are the gods among whom David is going to give his praise to the God who is the one true and living God, the LORD, Jehovah.
  • God is the One who is worthy of our wholehearted praise. And this praise (though not all praise that we are to give to God) is a praise that is based upon and that expresses our gratitude and thankfulness.
  • He has done so much for us, but tonight we will focus on just a few of the main things for which we are to be thankful.
  • Also, this praise is to be found in this case in the form of hymns of singing. And this is to be by presenting, as if it were a report, in the presence of the rulers.
  • His holiness and sovereignty are that which we should bow down to.
  • Our thankfulness is to be for His lovingkindness and His truth.
  • And this is fully revealed in His magnificent word, as we shall see in this next verse.

2 I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.

I will worship toward thy holy temple

  • worship, from SHaKaH, to prostrate oneself before the Lord, a king .. make oneself low. This is a purposeful and intentional bowing down of oneself on all fours in the presence of our great God who made us, sustains us and will judge us. Our outward expression should flow from our inward admiration of our Lord. See Gen 24:26-27.
  • thy holy temple. The temple/palace in heaven where God is enthroned. He alone is Sovereign over all His creation. And He is especially seen as The Sovereign by those who are saved and are in a covenant relation with Him. But most of all, He is the Holy One whose temple is Holy. God is nowhere declared Sovereign, Sovereign, Sovereign nor Love, Love, Love. However, both in the Old and New Testaments He is called Holy, Holy, Holy! Isa 6:3 and Rev 4:8. He is the Lord of Hosts, the Lord God Almighty and He is most recognized for His holiness. That is, that He alone is over and above all others. He is the One who is most special, most unique, absolutely pure and moral and right in all of His nature and in all that He does. We on the other hand are profane and common when compared to Him with Whom we have to do! But, and this is an important exception, all of those who are in Christ have been made holy in Him, Eph 1:3-6. When the Lord looks on us He sees us in His Son, beloved, holy and accepted! And so we are to live lives dedicated, consecrated if you will, to our great God and Savior and Lord. He is Holy, Holy, Holy and we are to reflect His nature as His children and come out from the unclean things and pursue and prefect holiness in our lives. See Lev 20:7; 2 Cor 6:17; 1 Peter 1:15-16.
  • In David’s time, the temple was not yet built, though he foresaw and planned and provided for it, see 1 Chr 291-20. He had the tabernacle nearby and he would have known that Moses built it according to God’s direction based upon that which is in heaven. See Exo 25:9, 40; Heb 8:5.

and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth

  • praise thy name. YaDaH, give grateful praise to God’s name, YeHoVaH, Jesus. It is the name of the Lord which we are to praise. There is much to be said of His name, Jehovah. Volumes could be written on His name alone as well as His compound name. But we will simply mention this: the name Jehovah, LORD as it is written mostly in our Bible, carries with it the thought of His eternal being, as we see in Rev 4:8 where the 4 heavenly beasts declare of Him that He “was,  and is, and is to come.” He is the LORD that “inhabiteth eternity” Isa 57:15. He alone is the one, true God. And He alone is the One who chose to declare Himself to us in the person of His holy and dear Son.
  • Reason for the praise of His name: for thy lovingkindness and truth. Psalm 85:10 declares Mercy and truth are met together;  righteousness and peace have kissed each other. This took place here on this earth when the Lord Jesus Christ began His earthly ministry and culminated upon His death, burial and resurrection, John 1:1, 14, 18. It reoccurs every time a lost sinner repents to God from his sins and receives by faith the Lord Jesus Christ into his life as his Savior and Lord, Rom 4:1.

Thou hast magnified Thy word above all Thy name.

  • This is one of the most amazing statements in all of Scripture. This is the thing concerning the LORD for which we should have the greatest amount of gratitude. He has chosen to reveal Himself to us, His creatures, through His spoken and written Word, the Bible, and also through His living Word, His Son Who was revealed to us in the pages of the Holy Bible. Without His word, we would be unable to know Him as He truly is. We cannot know Him totally and absolutely, but we can know Him as far as He has chosen to reveal Himself to us through His word. That is why we have no need to wander off course by seeking Him anywhere other than in His Holy Bible. Contemplative Meditation, “The Silence”, Centering Prayer, the “Jesus Prayer” and Monasticism will not lead us to hear from our God the things that He has for us. Our knowledge of Him and His will shall be found only in that one place that He values even more than His name, and that is His Holy Bible, His Word! , Quiet time in Devotionals is fine, but the best of our time is spent in the Word of God and meditating upon it as we seek the Lord in prayer. The Bible is first our milk, and then meat for growing Christian. See Deut 8:3; 1 Peter 2:2; 1 Cor 3:2; Heb 5:12-14. Also see Heb 4:12-16.
  • His Word is greater than all His name to the degree that it is the only thing that is capable of speaking to His creation about His perfect nature. We learn of His holiness, righteousness, omnipotence, infinite nature, omniscience, eternal existence, love, grace, mercy, and so much more– all through His magnificent word. It would be a shame if we Christians were to set aside, or were to neglect His word. That is because He has magnified it above all His name. Blasphemy is to speak ill of our God’s name, to use it in an improper manner, to ascribe to Him that which is not true. We need to be very careful how we treat His Word, for it is of higher esteem in our God’s eyes, than even His Holy Name!
  • A christian cannot know God apart from a search for Him with all their heart, mind and soul in His Scriptures. No amount of emotional involvement in worship will draw one nearer to God than that one already is. Drawing nigh to God comes by a decision to let God speak to us through His Word and then to respond to that Word by believing it (in our heart) to be true and then obeying from our heart what it says. The devil has knowledge of God’s Word–but he trembles in unbelief and rebellion. The christian needs to prostrate himself before God’s Holy Word in fear and trembling with a response of conviction, repentance and resolve to be obedient, Isa 66:2. Our heartfelt, emotional response in praise and thanksgiving should follow along after we have heard, thought upon  and responded in faith and obedience to His declarations from His Word.
  • This speaks also of the humility of our God. He does not impose upon us His will for us to repent and be saved. He has ordained it that we must respond to His word by repentance and  faith. He will draw us through the message of the crucifixion of His Son. But He will not impose upon mankind who will and who will not believe. His desire is for us to love Him in response to the fact that He first loved us. The Lord Jesus Himself was a humble servant that never sought the acclaim of the world. If He were here on earth today, you would not find Him on any of the reality TV shows, nor on Oprah Winfrey, CNN, FoxNews or Night-line. He did not seek the attention of the proud and wealthy, but He sought the lowly and lost sinners, offering them eternal life if they would but repent of their sins and trust in and follow Him.

3 In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul. 

  • in the day when I cried. There were many an occasion upon which David cried out to the Lord to deliver him from his distress and danger. And every single time, the Lord heard David, answered him and strengthened that wonderful shepherd, psalmist, poet, soldier  and king! It is a most marvelous fact that our God takes heed to our cries unto Him. Every christian who has ever lived can give testimony to this fact, that when in the danger and trials of troubles  they have faced, that the Lord is most gracious in giving the strength to make it through the dark valleys and nights and it always is accompanied by His Word and the comforters, supporters and counselor He sends.
  • strengthenedst me with strength in my soul. It is God that strengthens, or emboldens the heart giving the courageous confidence that nearly borders on arrogance. But it is short of arrogance, because it is not of ourselves, it is of the Lord and His Word. But it also is a strengthening of us by “shaking us” if you will. Sometimes it is necessary for Him to grab us by the shoulders and just give us a good rattling! The strength that He gives in our souls is Himself, see Psa 28:7-8; 46:1; 118:14. It is a strength that leads us to wait upon Him, or simply to hang in there when it is difficult, not seeking our own measures of defense (Psa 59:9-10), nor seeking our own vengeance as Joab did upon Abner (2 Sam 3:22-30) which David lamented (2 Sam 3:31; 1 Kings 2:5-6). It is a power worthy to sing in praise of it and its accompanying mercy, Psa 59:16-17; 81:1. It is the strength of power that belongs unto God, Psa 62:11. It is God’s power that brings His enemies into submission, Psa 66:3. He is the only refuge that can be called strong, Psa 71:7. His strength divided  the sea, Psa 74:13; 78:26. In His sanctuary in Jerusalem was both strength and beauty, Psa 96:6-7 (Today His power and beauty is in the Gospel of Christ, Rom 1:16 and in His [faithful] Churches Matt 16:18; 1 Tim 3:15). He and this strength is that which believers of all ages are to seek, Psa 105:4. It is the strength of Jesus Christ residing in Jerusalem in the kingdom, Psa 110:2. His name is a Strong Tower into which the righteous flee for their protection, Pro 18:10. This is contrasted with the rich man’s strong city which can be easily captured, Pro 10:15; 18:10-11; 23:5 (This was a difficult but needful lesson for me to learn!).
  • Finally, we find available when we are informed, or weak, as Paul was, that God’s grace is sufficient for us, and that in that weakened state we find the Lord’s strength is made ready for us. 2 Cor 12:9-10. His strengthening grace is only accessible to the humbled and weakened christian.

4 All the kings of the earth shall praise thee, O LORD, when they hear the words of thy mouth. 

  • Hiram of Tyre was close to David, heard God’s Word and even befriended and helped David in the supplies for the Temple that Solomon eventually built in Jerusalem. The Queen of Sheba beheld the wisdom of Solomon which God had given him and she marveled. Nebuchadnazer heard God’s Words from Daniel and believed and repented, Dan 2-4. Darius heard God’s Word from Daniel and responded by sending the Jews under Zerubbabel to rebuild the Temple, see the book of Ezra. Kings and rulers for the past two thousand years have heard the Gospel and God’s Word and many have been saved and followed Christ.
  • Kings also, during the Millenial Kingdom under Christ, will sing praise to the Lord. These nations will bring glorification to the LORD. See Zech 14.9, 16-21 among others.

5 Yea, they shall sing in the ways of the LORD: for great is the glory of the LORD. 

6 Though the LORD be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off. 

  • He is more highly exalted than any king, but yet is humble Himself, see Phil 2.5-11
  • Though exalted, it is the lowly He knows intimately, not the proud. He knows the thoughts of every heart, of the lost and the saved. But He does not have an intimate relationship, nor fellowship with the lost. For they will not humble themselves before Him and will not receive His Word in faith and obedience. See James 4:6 and 1 Pet 5:5. It is as if the proud lived in another country away from God. It reminds me of the Rich Man in Luke 16:19-31. He thought he was fine, being a rich pharisee in the land of Judah. He knew the Law but he was more familiar with the oral traditions of Judaism in his day. He neglected mercy for the poor as can be clearly seen in his disregard of poor Lazarus who lay by his gate hoping for some scraps from the rich man’s daily banquet table. He was a believer in the Lord by profession only, for he did not do what the Lord required, see Mic 6:8. But upon his death, he was buried. Then, of all things, fully expecting to be in heaven, he instead opened his eyes and saw that he was in hell instead, where he was continually in torment from the flames of fire. But yet, he could see at a distance Lazarus being comforted in Abraham’s Bosom, in paradise! Desperately desiring assistance to gain relief from his torment, he cried out to Abraham to send him help! But he was simply told– there is a great gulf fixed! It is that way on this side of the grave and hell as well, there is a great gulf fixed between God and the proud and sinners. People like to think that the Lord is a God of love, and He truly is. However, He is also altogether Holy, Just and Righteous. The Bible tells us that the Lord hates “all workers of iniquity” and “the wicked, and him that loveth violence”, Psa 5:5; 11:5. There are conditions to His love and those are found in the command to “repent ye and believe the Gospel” Mark 1:15. If you have never humbled yourself and confessed your sin before God and turned to Him from your sinful ways, putting your trust in Jesus Christ to save you, and calling upon Him as the Lord of your life– then I beg you to do so before it is too late! Do not end up like the rich man who too late found out that there was a great impassable gulf fixed between the torments of hell in which he suffered for all of eternity, and the comfort that Christ offers in His eternal life and heaven.

7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me. 

  • though I walk in the midst of trouble. Much like David’s 23rd Psalm declared in different words, it is certain that in this life we will face and go through much trouble and adversity. Some will be because of our own sin and its consequences arising from God’s judgment. Some will arise from God’s sending us through trials to test and build our faith and character. Some will be simply because of the fact that we have enemies in this life that would like to see nothing better than for us to fall and/or fail. Regardless of the reasons, we can have assurance that God is for us. His chastening is but for a season until we return unto Him. In our troubles we find as David did that our great God will revive us, restore life and hope to us when there seems to be none. God’s timing is perfect and when we are in His will, our enemies will not overthrow us and separate us from our God and Savior, Rom 8:28-39. Even if we are martyred for being followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we will immediately be in His glorious presence! This Psalm reminds one of Psa 23:4 in that God will use one hand with His rod to strike our enemies’ angry threats and actions. With His other hand, His right hand where our Savior is interceding for us, He will use His staff to reach down and pull us from the troubles which threaten us while we go through that frightening valley of the shadow of death! What a wonderful God we serve!

8 The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands. 

  • The LORD will perfect (bring to the end) that which concerneth me. Perfect is translated performeth in Psa 57:2. It is translated from the Hebrew word, GaMaR, Strong’s H1584, which is elsewhere translated one time each: cease, fail, come to an end. The word is only used five times in the Old Testament. It seems that David was declaring that no matter the eventual outcome of the trouble he was in, he knew that God had a plan for him and that that plan would be brought to its perfect completion. And we see that it most certainly was. See Acts 13:36. We can count on the same outcome if we continue faithful in our commitment to follow our great Shepherd the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Thy mercy O LORD endureth for ever. David knew beyond all doubt, that though he did occasionally sin, that when he did and repented and confessed that sin, that God’s mercy was still there for him of which to avail himself. I remember as a young christian thinking that if I sinned I could simply avail myself of 1 John 1:9 and that all would be fine and dandy. But Solomon, who was taught by his father David, penned Pro 28:13 and when I first saw that verse I realized that I was in error in my understanding! I will not experience God’s peace and mercy and will not be able to prosper in fellowship with the Lord and the life He has given me until I am  willing to not just confess my sin, but to also forsake it. I am so grateful that the Lord opened my eyes to this truth! David had found it out early on and it was an anchor for his soul’s fellowship with the Lord. I hope it is for yours as well.
  • David’s prayer of conclusion: Forsake not the works of thine own hands. David knew, but yet he still prayed that the Lord would not abandon His work in his life and soul. None of us want the Lord to leave off His works in, through and for us. We as Christians have the assurance that the Lord will never leave us, nor forsake us (Heb  13:5) and that it is God that worketh in [us] both to will and to do of His good pleasure (Phi 2:13). It is so reassuring for us to know that we are God’s workmanship, that He is the One in charge and that we can always count on Him to bring about His work, in His time, in our life.

Acts 13:36 For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: {after…: or, after he had in his own age served the will of God}

Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: {perform: or, finish}

Philippians 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

Let us work out our salvation which God has given us and placed in our souls, by determining to life like a saved saint of Christ. And let this be our prayer and our confidence, that the Lord would continue His works in our lives as we go forth following Christ Jesus our Lord.

To God be the Glory!