PSALM ONE HUNDRED THIRTY-EIGHT
Outline
  1. Thanks for Magnifying Doctrine (vv.1-3)
  2. When the Kings of the Earth Render Thanks (vv.4-6)
  3. Help for One Man (vv.7,8)
TITLE A Psalm of David (dwId'l. [prep.w/pr.n.]).
Thanks for Magnifying Doctrine (vv.1-3)
Confidence in the God of gods (v.1)

VERSE 1 I will give You thanks with all my heart (^d>Aa [Hiphil.impf.1.c.s.w/2.m.s.sf., yadhah, throw; acknowledge; give thanks] yBili-lk'b. [prep.w.n.m.s. + n.m.s.w/1.c.s.sf., lebh, heart]);

I will sing praises to You before the gods (`&'r,M.z:a] [Piel.impf.1.c.s.w/2.m.s.sf., zamar, sing praise] dg<n< [prep., neghedh, what is conspicuous, what is in front of] ~yhil{a/ [n.m.p., elohim, gods, God]).

Thanks for the Davidic Promise (v.2)

VERSE 2 I will bow down toward Your holy temple (hw<x]T;v.a, [Hithpael.impf.1.c.s., shachah, to bow down] lk;yhe-la, [prep. + n.m.s.cstr., hekhal, temple] ^v.d>q' [n.m.s.w/2.m.s.sf., qodhesh, separateness, set-apartness, holiness]),

And give thanks to Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth (hd,Aaw> [conj.w/Hiphil.impf.1.c.s., yadhah, give thanks] ^m,v.-ta, [dir.obj. + n.m.s.w/2.m.s.sf., shem, name, reputation] ^D>s.x;-l[; [prep. + n.m.s.w/2.m.s.sf., chesed] ^T,mia]-l[;w> [conj.w/prep. + n.f.s.w/2.m.s.sf., emeth, truth, doctrine]);

For You have magnified Your word according to all Your name (T'l.D;g>hi-yKi [conj. + Hiphil.pf.2.m.s., gadhal, to grow; to magnify] `^t,r'm.ai [n.f.s.w/2.m.s.sf., emerah, word, utterance] ^m.vi-lK'-l[; [prep. + n.m.s.cstr. + n.m.s.w/2.m.s.sf., shem, name]).

Answered Prayer and Boldness in Adversity (v.3)

VERSE 3 On the day I called, You answered me (~AyB. [prep.w/n.m.s., yom, day] ytiar'q' [Qal.pf.1.c.s., qara, call] ynInE[]T;w: [conj.w/Qal.impf.2.m.s.w/1.c.s.sf., anah, answer]);

You made me bold with strength in my soul (ynIbehir>T; [Hiphil.impf.2.m.s.w/1.c.s.sf., rahabh, behave arrogantly, behave boldly; make bold] `z[o [n.m.s., oz, strength] yvip.n:b. [prep.w/n.f.s., nephesh, soul]).

ANALYSIS: VERSES 1-3

  1. A run of eight psalms of David starts here, bringing to a conclusion his contribution to the book of Psalms, altogether nearly half of the collection.
  2. We are aware again of the presence of enemies, and of the special gratitude of one man who has been much threatened but much protected.
  3. Psalm 138 is a song of thanksgiving.
  4. The repeated word thanks occurs in verses 1, 2, and 4.
  5. This song has in its background the revelation of the Davidic Covenant.
  6. This is not readily apparent from a cursory reading of the psalm.
  7. The psalmís opening verse suggests someone who had much to be thankful for.
  8. At some point later in Davidís career he looks back and reflects upon Godís grace and faithfulness to him.
  9. It produces within him heartfelt thanks.
  10. In his private meditations he tells the Lord that he will appear before Him and render to Him the adoration He is due.
  11. David, the accomplished musician, will render thanks with songs of praise (v.1).
  12. He vows to do so with "all my heart", indicating someone who is filled with gratitude for all the grace benefits that were his.
  13. Again, the focus is the blessings associated with the covenant of 2Sam.7.
  14. So overwhelming is his sense of wonder and indebtedness that he moves his thanksgiving to a broader canvas (v.1b).
  15. He sings with enthusiasm: his personal experience constitutes for him proof positive of the reality and power of the God of Israel, and so there comes into the picture a defiant challenge to all rival claims.
  16. The words "before the gods" is a reference to the gods (religions) of the surrounding nations (cp. Pss.95:3; 96:4; 97:9).
  17. Like anyone else, David had felt the pressure of "other gods" (1Sam.26:19), but had throughout his career turned aside from the service of idols (Ps.31:6).
  18. Somewhat as we may feel the force of other ideologies, or of demonic powers.
  19. David resolves to worship God as a defiant gesture towards the forces of evil that are behind the false religion that holds the many in bondage.
  20. Verse 1b is no empty gesture, any more than v.2a.
  21. The words "holy temple" are surprising on the lips of David, as the Temple proper was not erected until after Davidís death.
  22. It was Davidís desire to build God a house, but this desire was denied him.
  23. The term temple is used of the heavenly reality (Ps.11:4) as well as the earthly counterpart.
  24. What are we to make of Davidís reference here?
  25. David uses the term in a context that unmistakably refers to the earthly symbol (Ps.27:4).
  26. What David bowed down before was the tent, which soon would be replaced by Solomonís Temple.
  27. The tent of the tabernacle is specifically called "the temple of Yahweh" in 1Sam.1:9 and 3:3.
  28. If this psalm was composed after David brought the Ark to Jerusalem (which event occurred just before the covenant made with David, and before David asked to build the Temple), then that which he actually bowed down before was not the tabernacle at Shiloh, but a tent set up on the site of the future Temple to house the recently discovered Ark of the Covenant (2Sam.6:17).
  29. So it was apparently before this humble and temporary abode that this great king prostrated himself.
  30. The humble and unpretentious dwelling place for the Ark did not inhibit Davidís public acknowledgement toward the symbol of the Source of his considerable blessings.
  31. The Tabernacle and the Temple which followed symbolized the POG as centered in the Person and Work of Christ.
  32. These structures were designed to teach by shadow and ritual the plan of grace to all who attended services.
  33. The source of Davidís personal blessing was his adherence to the reality (BD) behind the shadow.
  34. Bowing down before the symbol, David gave thanks for Godís devotion (chesed) and truth (v.2b).
  35. It was the truth and Godís perfect commitment to it that had brought all the glory and blessing that was Davidís throughout his illustrious and tumultuous career.
  36. In particular, David was thankful for the special blessing associated with the covenant of 2Sam.7.
  37. This is what is behind line 3 of v.2.
  38. Verse 2c states the reason for Davidís gratitude, expressed by gesture and by the fruit of his lips.
  39. "You have magnified Your word (promise)" is seen in all the things God did to preserve and exalt David by keeping the specifics of the covenant inviolate.
  40. This includes the preservation and promotion of David during the early part of his career.
  41. It includes the blessing of an heir to take Davidís place on the throne.
  42. Everything God did for David was "according to" the standard of Who and What God is ("all Your name").
  43. Everything that is prescribed for faith (what we are to believe as truth) and practice (commandments) is totally backed up by the sum of the divine attributes (cp. Isa.42:21).
  44. How David was able to handle threats to overturn his vital interests is addressed in v.3.
  45. "On the day" refers to those occasions when the psalmistís life was threatened.
  46. His sure recourse was to call upon God in his time of need.
  47. This occurred frequently in his long career.
  48. God came through each and every time.
  49. Sometimes David was driven to the breaking point, but he was granted both the inner and outer grace to prevail.
  50. In v.3b he acknowledges the inner courage to overcome fear and doubt and to do the things he needed to do as God showed him the way.
  51. There were occasions when he could do nothing but wait for divine intervention, and there were times when he was called upon to take decisive action.
  52. There is an aggressive spirit in v.3b.
  53. Through the doctrine within and the operation of the HS which David had, he was able to conduct himself equal to the occasion.
  54. When confronting enemies on the field of battle, David proved himself to be valiant.
  55. His courage was based on his understanding that he was doing what God wanted him to do and would be protected in the heat of combat.
  56. He was not arrogant or cocky, but he was a man of great courage and fortitude.
  57. The apostle Paul, functioning as unto the Lord, was the same kind of person, serving in a completely different set of circumstances (cf. 2Cor.12:8-10).
  58. God supernaturally supplies those who rely upon Him with the inner dynamics to deal with difficulties.
  59. God does not put us in the arena of testing and fail to supply us with the inner grace to serve and glorify Him.
  60. God is there to make us equal to the occasion however threatening and unpleasant it may be.
When the Kings of the Earth Render Thanks (vv.4-6)
Thanks for Wisdom (v.4)

VERSE 4 All the kings of the earth will give thanks to You, O LORD (#r,a'-ykel.m;-lK', [n.m.s. + n.m.p.cstr., melek, + n.m.s., erets, earth] ^WdAy [Hiphil.impf.3.m.p.w/2.m.s.sf., yadhah, give thanks]),

When they have heard the words of Your mouth (yKi [conj., "When"] W[m.v' [Qal.pf.3.c.p., shama, hear] `^ypi-yrem.ai [n.m.p.cstr., emer, word, + n.m.s.w/2.m.s.sf., peh, mouth]).

 

Songs Celebrating Godís Glory (v.5)

VERSE 5 And they will sing of the ways of the LORD (Wryviy"w> [conj.w/Qal.impf.3.m.p., shir, sing] yker>d;B. [prep.w/n.m.p., derek, way] hw"hy> [pr.n.]).

For great is the glory of the LORD (yKi [conj.] lAdg" [adj.m.s., gadhol, great] dAbK. [n.m.s.cstr., kabhodh, glory] `hw"hy> [pr.n.]).

Godís Glory Discriminates Among Men (v.6)

VERSE 6 For though the LORD is exalted (~r'-yKi [conj. + Qal.pt.m.s., rum, be exalted, high] hw"hy> [pr.n.]),

Yet He regards the lowly (lp'v'w> [conj.w/adj.m.s., shaphal, low, humble; "lowly"] ha,r>yI [Qal.impf.3.m.s., ra-ah, see; regard, look after]),

But the haughty He knows from afar (H;bog"w> [conj.w/adj.m.s., gabhah, proud, haughty] `[d'yEy> [Qal.impf.3.m.s., ra-ah, see; regard; "knows"] qx'r>M,mi [prep.w/n.m.s., merechaq, far country, distant place]).

ANALYSIS: VERSES 4-6

  1. The theme of the psalm continues in this strophe.
  2. The setting shifts to the prophetic arena.
  3. David envisages a time when there will be universal acclaim of the Lord among "the kings of the earth" (v.4a).
  4. This is made possible due to the Messianic/Davidic legacy.
  5. When the greater Son of David, the LJC, reigns over the nations, their leaders will do homage to the King of kings and Lord of lords.
  6. They will learn doctrine and how to conduct themselves as righteous kings from Christ, the ruler of the world (v.4b).
  7. Like David who listened to the voice of God, so these individuals will appreciate the guidance they will receive from Jesus Christ.
  8. These men will be constantly informed so that they can conduct both personal and official matters in accordance with Righteousness and Justice.
  9. Their subjects will be greatly blessed as a result of this steady stream of divine wisdom.
  10. Remember, the nations will still have to contend with the sin nature.
  11. People will still be required to make the adjustments to God.
  12. During the Age of Christ there will be concerted thanksgiving from the monarchs of the earth, praising God for their dispensational good fortune.
  13. The theme of kings serving God in the Kingdom is seen also in Pss.68:29 and 72:11.
  14. Like David of old, the future monarchs of the Millenium will "sing of the ways of the LORD" (v.5a).
  15. "The ways of the LORD" include all the things He sponsors and supports.
  16. This includes the plan of salvation as well as Ph2 issues.
  17. All the divine institutions will be honored.
  18. God will be celebrated as Creator.
  19. The societies around the globe will have a rich culture promoting BD.
  20. Divine truth will be as prevalent as it is scarce in the ages preceding the Second Advent.
  21. The true God, and so wonderful a God, cannot be forever hidden, known only to a few.
  22. The time of His universal acclaim on earth is just around the corner.
  23. Davidís experience of grace will be repeated many times over in the rulers who live when Christ reigns upon the earth.
  24. Then, and only then, will Godís will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
  25. Godís glory will then be evident and it will be great by any standard (v.5b).
  26. Like David, these blessed monarchs will celebrate it as a part of their individual personal experience.
  27. The conditions will be much more favorable than those of Davidís day or any other time, but the principles will remain the same.
  28. Positive volition to the truth will garner tremendous blessing for rulers and subjects alike when Christ rules from Jerusalem.
  29. The glory of God is not seen simply in terms of power, but of magnanimity.
  30. Divine character and discrimination, no less than His Sovereign might, is His glory.
  31. His glory is also His Righteousness and Justice and manifestations of His love.
  32. This in turn reveals men in their true colors.
  33. Though God is highly exalted, He condescends towards those who subordinate themselves to His ways (v.6a,b; cp. 1Pet.5:6).
  34. David understood that God viewed men differently than men tend to regard each other.
  35. People cater to others based on their station in life.
  36. God, who holds the highest of positions, is not impressed with people based on the criteria that impresses man.
  37. God, possessing perfect character, looks with favor upon those who walk in His Righteousness.
  38. They are called in v.6b "the lowly".
  39. This is descriptive of their mental attitude and not their sociological standing in society.
  40. Throughout His life David fell into the category of "the lowly", or more precisely, "the humble".
  41. God has intimate "regard" for the humble, for they are the ones who honor Him.
  42. Apart from the Age of Christ, they are the few and the despised.
  43. The pretentiousness of "the haughty" belongs to quite a different class than His (Ps.101:5b).
  44. They as individuals may share power, fame, and things, but when it comes to eternal and spiritual values, they are of a different kingdom.
  45. The two concepts of greatness (God, as over against the rich and famous) have no meeting point.
  46. Davidís own experience enables him to deduce a general principle of divine magnanimity.
  47. That principle is the polarity of divine dealings with individuals.
  48. God has a benevolent concern for those who subordinate themselves to Him, even when it seems to be not in their best interests (v.6b).
  49. But God has ill-boding Omniscience with respect to the behavior of the self-seeking.
  50. God is remote and distant from those who have little regard for Him.
  51. He knows all about them, but He separates Himself from them in the sense that He gives them over to their own ways and lets them reap the consequences of their chosen paths.
  52. Finally, they die and face Him in judgment.
  53. He is not there for them in their hour of need.
  54. God "knows" them, but from a place remote to the benefits of His timely help.
  55. God is against all such types and will bring them into judgment (Prov.16:5,18; 18:12).
Help for One Man (vv.7,8)
Help for the Present (v.7)

VERSE 7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me (%leae-~ai [conditional part. + Qal.impf.1.c.s., halak, walk] br,q,B. [prep.w/n.m.s., qerebh, middle] hr'c' [n.f.s., tsarah, trouble] ynIYEx;T. [Piel.impf.2.m.s.w/1.c.s.sf., chayah, to live; preserve alive]);

You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies (xl;v.Ti [Qal.impf.2.m.s., shalach, send, stretch out] ^d,y" [n.f.s.w/2.m.s.sf., yadh, hand] l[; [prep., against] @a; [n.m.s., aph, nostril; wrath] yb;y>ao [Qal.pt.m.p.w/1.c.s.sf., ayabh, be hostile; enemy]),

And Your right hand will save me (ynI[eyviAtw> [conj.w/Hiphil.impf.2.m.s.w/1c.s.sf., yasha, save] >`^n<ymiy [n.f.s.w/2.m.s.sf., yamin, right hand]).

Help for the Future (v.8)

VERSE 8 The LORD will accomplish what concerns me (hw"hy> [pr.n.] rmog>yI [Qal.impf.3.m.s., gamar, to end, complete] ydI[]B; [prep.w/1.c.s.sf., ba-ar, round about, on behalf of]);

Your lovingkindness, O LORD, is everlasting (^D>s.x; [n.m.s.w/2.m.s.sf., chesed] hw"hy> [pr.n.] ~l'A[l. [prep.w/n.m.s., olam, ever]);

Do not forsake the works of Your hands (`@r,T,-la; [neg. + Hiphil.impf.2.m.s., raphah, sink, relax; abandon] yfe[]m; [n.m.p.cstr., ma-asheh, deed] ^yd,y" [n.f.dual.w/2.m.s.sf, yadh]).

ANALYSIS: VERSES 7,8

  1. Meanwhile, the vision of vv.4,5 waits to be realized, and testing from the source of enemies remains an ever-present fact of life.
  2. David, the adjusted monarch, remains true to God and this stirs up trouble to the end of Ph2.
  3. In addition to the inner strength of v.3b, there is the outer help God supplies against enemies foreign and domestic.
  4. Verse 7a is clearly reminiscent of Ps.23:4.
  5. David knows that even though he "walks in the midst of trouble" that God "will preserve" him alive through it all.
  6. This understanding came from one of the promises in the Davidic Covenant (cf. 2Sam.7:11,12).
  7. David knew that none of his enemies would prevail over him, and that he would die of natural causes.
  8. He gives God the credit for his preservation.
  9. His was a very dangerous niche.
  10. The preservation of David in the midst of the battles had as its corollary the power of God "against the wrath of my enemies" (v.7b).
  11. The same power that was behind the scenes protecting king David was also manifest against his enemies in due course.
  12. On numerous occasions David was snatched from the jaws of destruction and his enemy was consumed by Godís wrath.
  13. David was fully cognizant of the fact that his preservation and deliverance was "the hand" of his Omnipotent protector (v.7a,c).
  14. Verse 7 shows the Lordís control over the battle that was against His servant, both as the preserver of life and as being smarter and stronger than the enemy.
  15. Verse 8 looks beyond the immediate scene to the finished goal that God had in mind for His servant.
  16. David acknowledged that the Lord would be there for him as He had in the past.
  17. David understood that all that God had for him to accomplish in Ph2 would come to pass (v.8a).
  18. "What concerns me" is a reference to a finished course (cp. Acts.13:36).
  19. David finished his Ph2 with flying colors.
  20. All the major things God had for him to accomplish were accomplished in his lifetime.
  21. Davidís positive volition and the hand of his unseen benefactor were the essential ingredients.
  22. Godís absolute devotion (chesed) to His word was the key to Davidís grace accomplishments.
  23. What David accomplished under God in his lifetime was considerable.
  24. Verse 8a concerns what he knows at this point in his life to be true: that God will supply everything he needs to end his Ph2 in good order.
  25. Verse 8b is the motto of this thanksgiving hymn concerning the constancy of divine care over his life.
  26. Verse 8c is a prayer that God will keep holding up His end so that nothing that "concerns" David will be allowed to lapse.
  27. He desires to accomplish all that God has for him to do and so inherit Ph2 and Ph3 blessing at a very high degree.
  28. "The works of Godís hands" refers to all that He supports in accordance with truth and righteousness (cp. Job.10:3).
  29. The works that God supports, David supports.
  30. He has committed his entire life to Godís works and ways, so naturally he very much desires that God will continue to stand behind His plan long after David is gone.
  31. God cannot "forsake" His works, as He is +R, V, and I.
  32. Whatever God sets His hands to He accomplishes, no matter how long it takes.
  33. Since His devotion is everlasting, there is no cause for concern.
  34. All His promises, commandments, and prophesies He will validate to the joy of positive volition and to the shame of negative volition.
  35. To ask God to do something He cannot fail to do is not a sign of self-doubt, but is an indication of the zeal of the psalmist.
 
END: PSALM ONE HUNDRED THIRTY-EIGHT
JACK M. BALLINGER
MAY 13, 1998
© Copyright 1998, Maranatha Church, Inc.