Psalm 138:1-8 OF DAVID.
1 I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise;
2 I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.
3 On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.
4 All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O LORD, for they have heard the words of your mouth,
5 and they shall sing of the ways of the LORD, for great is the glory of the LORD.
6 For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar.
7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me.
8 The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.
A few thoughts for meditation:
1) The psalm began with “give thanks” twice (vs. 1, 2). This thanksgiving is “whole hearted”. Is that your attitude and posture when you pray? In vs. 2, David specifically gave thanks for God’s “steadfast love” and “faithfulness”. The word “steadfast love” here may be better translated as “covenant love”. The reason God is steadfast in his love for us is because he has bound himself to us by his covenant. He promised to be our God and will fulfill it. To often we think of God’s faithfulness to us like the law of gravity; an impersonal force that we take for granted. But in fact God’s love and faithfulness to us was a sovereign personal choice, more reliable than gravity and entirely personal and purposeful. The same God who is “exalted above all things” take a personal interest in you, your daily needs, and your future. Isn’t that a reason to give thanks everyday?
2) David caught a glimpse into the the future of a time when all the kings of the earth, and indeed the whole world, will sing in praise to God and recognize his glory (vs. 4-5). David himself, and us along with him, do not live in such a time yet. Today, some rulers do acknowledge Christ as Lord, but many more do not and often resist the Lord, his people, or his ways. But David’s glimpse of the future is the inevitable result of God’s plan of redemption. It will happen, no matter who tries to oppose it along the way. Eventually the earth will be cleansed of all sin and evil, and every voice on the earth will ring out in praise to God forever. The great glory of the Lord makes this future goal inevitable in the new creation. No one can stop him from accomplishing his purposes for his people. Very often, our lives in this fallen world feel like being washed away by a great river, tossed through rapids and over waterfalls, but that river is actually carrying God’s people to a place of bright shores and the calm ocean of God’s glory and peace at the end. All our troubles and trials in this life are pushing us closer to that end. And importantly, all of our prayers for help now are always answered by God with that ultimate end for us in mind. He will not forsake the work of his hands (vs. 8).
3) Finally, there is a note of irony and divine reversal. This God who is so exalted and glorious over all, only draws near to the humble and lowly (vs. 6). While those who are haughty or proud, who exalt themselves against God and over his people, are far from God. It is a great mystery that baffles the world and it’s way of thinking. The more you lower yourself, the closer you are to this most high and exalted God. But the higher you elevate yourself, the further God is from you. Perhaps call it a gospel principle of personal magnetism, God is attracted to the lowly, humble, and contrite, but repelled by the proud, haughty, and rebellious. It is the lowly and trusting who will eventually be washed into the sea of glory, while the proud rulers and mighty men on the earth will be broken upon the rocks along the way.
We could spend even more time meditating on other parts of this psalm, but hopefully this is enough to get you started.