A Song of Praise, Hope and Confidence - Psalm 138

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When God gave us the psalms, He gave us a good gift. In the psalms we get to hear the greatest songs of all time. Songs written by real people living real lives and at the same time songs inspired by God. Songs that help us understand the character of God and how who He is connects to who we are and how we face life in this world.  

The psalms are a good gift, and in Psalm 138 David provides us with a song praise, hope and confidence in God. It’s a song about answered prayers and the faithfulness of God. A song of surety that God will finish what He has started in His people and in the world. It’s a psalm that should lead us to gratitude, renewed hope and strength for the difficult days of life. 

A song of thanks for God’s faithfulness (vv. 1-3)

  • A whole-hearted expression of thanks and praise (vv. 1-2a) – As we move through the psalm we will learn more about the why of David’s thanks and praise, but in the first two verses we learn about the depth and manner of his response to God. His praise is whole-hearted and it rises above his praise for any other ‘gods’ (Psalm 96:4-6). At the same time His praise is humble and reverent.
  • Praise and thanks for God’s love and faithfulness (v. 2b) – The first reason for David’s praise and thanks is the steadfast love and faithfulness of God. These words work together to describe the never-changing, never-failing, never-fading covenant faithfulness of God. 
  • Praise and thanks for God’s commitment to His Word (v. 2c) – God has exalted above all things His Name and His Word. This is a statement about the value and reliability of God’s character and His promises. David is giving thanks to God because His Word is sure and certain and can always be trusted (Isaiah 40:8; Matthew 24:35).
  • Praise and thanks for God’s answer to prayer (v. 3) – Here we see how God’s character and faithfulness have been proven in David’s experience. We don’t know the context or the situation, but what we do know is that when David called out God increased the strength of his soul. Maybe a strengthened soul is what David asked for; or maybe this is God, in his faithful love, providing David with the strength he needs to endure whatever situation he is facing.

A song of hope for future praise (vv. 4-6) 

  • A day when kings will bow (v. 4) – While the song begins with individual praise, in the second stanza David reflects on the day when all people will see God for who He is and when even the kings of earth will recognize the need to give thanks to God. One day all kings will bow before the King of kings (Revelation 21:22-27). 
  • They will hear His words and give thanks (v. 4b) – In the first section David spoke of the supremacy of God’s word. Now he says that it is because of the nature of God’s word (the surety of His promises) that kings will give thanks.
  • They will see His glory and sing (v. 5) – David knows the greatness of the glory of God and he knows that a day is coming when all will see and respond to the glory of God (Habakkuk 2:14). Even those who are mighty by worldly standards will bow before His glory.
  • God’s favor toward the lowly (v. 6) – After speaking of the greatness and glory of God David gives us this great Gospel truth: That even in all His glory and greatness God shows compassion and care for those who come to Him in humility. On the other hand, God opposes the proud and they will not experience His presence (James 4:6).

A song of confidence in God’s ongoing care (vv. 7-8)

  • God’s help in trouble and His power over enemies (v. 7) – In this final stanza David expresses His confidence in God’s ongoing care. David is a man who faced much trouble, and yet he is sure that God will preserve Him through trouble and save him from his enemies (Psalm 23:4-6).
  • God’s faithfulness to His promises (v. 8a) – In verse 8 David expresses his confidence in the fact that God will finish the work that He has begun in the life of his servant. This is a promise that echoes throughout Scripture – God has a plan and He will accomplish His plan in the lives of His people (Romans 8:30; Phil. 1:6; 1 Thess. 5:23-24).
  • A final plea for God to be faithful (v. 8b) – After declaring his confidence in the faithfulness of God David concludes with a prayer calling on God to be faithful. God is honored as His people come to Him in prayer and call on Him to fulfill His word. David believes that God is faithful and even this prayer is a demonstration of David’s confident belief that God can and will do the things that He has promised.