Giving thanks before God involves acknowledging His goodness and humbling ourselves.
It is interesting that this Psalm begins right after Psalm 138 where the people of God were exiled in
- Verse 1, David is willing to give thanks to the LORD before other gods.
Israelwould need encouragement in when she was surrounded by idols. Babylon
- Verse 3, David remembers how God remembered Him.
would need the same encouragement in her exile when she felt like God abandoned her. Israel
- Verse 4-5, Hits at God’s purposes for His glory. David knew that God would bring the nations to worship the true God. This would be a powerful reminder to
in the exile. Israel
- Verse 7, there are obvious encouragements to
as she too is in trouble and looks for God to judge her enemies. Here we think of Jeremiah and Ezekiel’s great pronouncements against Israel . Babylon
- Verse 8, David expresses confidence that God would fulfill His purposes with David and His house. This would have been hard for
to see when she has no king on the throne, indeed no royal city. Israel
This is not the place to get into the structure of the psalter, but suffice it to say, many scholars feel that it has an eschatological bent to it and its structure may parallel the history of
In this Psalm David comes before the Lord and gives thanks to Him.
Psalm 138:1-2 Psalm 138:1 OF DAVID. 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.
b) Notice that David bows down before the Lord, which is important in light of verse 6 and what David says about humility.
c) David is specific in His thanksgiving. He gives thanks for who things: God’s covenant love (hesed) and God’s faithfulness/truth. In Psalm 136, we have that refrain “your lovingkindness (hesed) endures forever. This is an important Biblical word which denotes God’s love and faithfulness to keep His word, particularly used to describe God’s loyal love in keeping the covenant. Of course, Israel in exile (Psalm 137, Psalm 89) would have lost site of this on an almost daily basis as she faced untold pressures of living far from the promised land.
d) David bows precisely because God is exalted. When I recognize the majesty and glory of God my true response is to humble myself. I cannot come before the Lord in thanksgiving if I am not willing to bend my new. I will never delight in God so long as I am unable to lower myself before Him. What does John the Baptist say: I must decrease so that He might increase.
Psalm 138:3 3 On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.
b) God answering us brings strength to our soul. Anyone who has labored in prayer and been worried in prayer before God about a particular situation knows the sweet release and strength that comes when the request is answered.
3) David acknowledges God’s missional purposes for God’s own glory.
Psalm 138:4-5 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.
b) The kings will sing to the Lord. They will sing because of God’s great glory. God’s plan and purpose—His mission—is to cause His glory to fall over all creation. This is the great hope of the new heavens and the new earth. Isaiah and other prophets envision the nations streaming to Zion when God’s glory dwells there. So too, David is a prophet here.
Psalm 138:6 6 For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar.
ii) It is the exact opposite with God. God “opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble”—He tries near to those who make themselves low.
Isaiah 57:15 For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: "I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.
Psalm 113:4 The LORD is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens! 5 Who is like the LORD our God, who is seated on high, 6 who looks far down on the heavens and the earth? 7 He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
James 4:6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble."
iii) If we truly know who God is then we recognize that we cannot stand before Him and make ourselves a somebody. All we can do is bow and hold ourselves at the mercy of the court.
b) David knows God is with Him when His enemies are all around.
Psalm 138:7 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.
i) God is to be thanked for how He preserves our life.
ii) He does this in two ways: (1) protecting us and (2) destroying that which threatens us.
c) David confesses that God will not cease to accomplish His purposes because God doesn’t abandon His lovingkindness or those in whom He is working.
Psalm 138:8 The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.
ii) God’s steadfast love, his bond of covenantal love does not break. When God is working to redeem His people, He does not set them aside or give up. The gospel of John tells us that Christ will raise up His people in the last day, and when the sheep are in His hand, no one can take them away.
5) Christotelic Reading
a) The way the God ultimately fulfills His purposes for David is in the Lord Jesus Christ—the Son of David. Like David, Jesus walks into the midst of troubles and yet God does not preserve Jesus’ life. He lets it get struck down. However, Jesus is delivered. In the resurrection He is raised up to defeat death and triumph. In the power of God on the cross, God stretches His hand against out enemies—the chief enemy which is death and Satan—the powers.
b) In this way, God keeps His promises of lovingkindness both to His Son Jesus and to His people. Kings themselves come before the Lord. In Acts—Paul proclaims the gospel to Festus. He eventually, according to Philippians, saw some in Caesar’s own household believe. Paul anticipates kings coming to the gospel:
1 Timothy 2:1-3 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,
i) We need to bow before the Lord this season as we thank God.
ii) We must not lose sight of God’s faithfulness when we go through troubles. This faithfulness extends to us through Christ in the gospel.
iii) In Christ, we find our prayers are answered. God may not answer a ‘yes’ to every individual prayer that you offer—but God’s plans, God’s promises are not thwarted. In fact, these are answer yes.
iv) God does not give up on you no matter how much you wander. God does not forsake you. Those who are truly His will not be lost. If you are wandering, if God seems distance the appeal is “return, repent”. The person cannot claim to be a Christian and wonder from God rebuking him and expect to get a fire insurance card. Yet from the true believer who does struggle with sin, and face person crises that stir up fear and doubt: trust God. Return to His loving arms. Humble yourself and acknowledge who He is.
v) This is a season of Thankgiving. Give thanks. Do not give thanks haphazardly. Give thanks with your whole heart. Ask Christ to improve your soul so that you might better give thanks. Meditate on the cross and all the good benefits that flow from it. Be rigorous in giving thanks.