At times when we feel a disconnect from God, we can feel lost, our anchor adrift and the silence that comes when we are not communing with God as we should can be soul crushing. In those moments, clarity of who truly is the solid rock on which we stand comes into focus.
Psalms are like a lifeline to me in those moments, they help me stay focused on God, voicing words that I struggle to find and remind me of His constant presence.
Psalm 138 is a psalm written by David when he was in less than ideal circumstances. David praised, thanked God and expressed an assurance that God will work out all according to His plan and also that which will be good for him.
When our soul is weary, praise can very easily slip out of or be minimised in our regular conversation with God. Our prayers get more inundated with pleas and petitions. This beautiful Psalm is a reminder to never cease to praise God, to not tie how much we praise Him based on our situation or our emotion. The Lord is worthy of praise all day and every day. We are to praise God when our hearts are filled with joy or heavy with a burden not because of what He can do for us but just because of who He is.
Psalm 138:1 “I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; before the “gods” I will sing your praise.”
David begins the Psalm with a determined proclamation that he will praise God with all of His heart. He holds nothing back in his praise, these are not empty words from David but genuine heartfelt praise. There is also joy in that praise when he says he will sing God’s praises. Joyful praise in the midst of a trial is a humbling lesson for us to take.
Verse 2a “I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name” – an outward act of praise and worship. This act of worship comes after he mentions his heart posture when it comes to praising God. It was not a bowing for others to see but a genuine follow through of how he felt within.
Verse 2b and 3 “For your unfailing love and your faithfulness, for you have so exalted above all things your name and your word. When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me.”
David mentions the reasons for his praise
- For who God is – a loving and faithful God
- For God’s name and word – There is power in the name of God. God’s word reminds David of God’s truth, His character and His promises, giving him hope for his protection and deliverance.
- For God providing him with what he needed in the midst of his situation – strength, courage and a boldness to hold onto hope. His circumstance was not yet changed, neither his enemies quietened, but God’s provision was a means for David to grow stronger in his faith, to take him deeper in his dependence on God and for an increase in trust and assurance that God will never leave or forsake him.
Verse 4-5 “May all the kings of the earth praise you, Lord, when they hear the words of your mouth. May they sing of the ways of the Lord, for the glory of the Lord is great.”
David wishes for a time ahead where all kings would praise God. He probably is looking forward to a time when the kingdom of God would be established.
But as I read this verse, it also felt very much like a prayer for the very same people who are after his life, for them to know the Lord too.
And how would they come to know God? It would be through others who would speak the word of God to them. And that they would find joy in praising God for His ways, for there is no one greater.
When we praise God, it helps us let go of that burden of hate that we can carry. It helps us forgive and realise that it should not be punishment for those that hurt us that we should seek but a heart change that can come only with God within them.
Verse 6 “Though the Lord is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly; though lofty, he sees them from afar.”
The Lord regards the humble and invites them into fellowship and a relationship with Him. He does not draw near to the proud. Reminding us that God sees the heart of a person. Our acts or behaviour of goodness and humility should be an extension of what is within us and should be an outflow of His presence within us.
Verse 7 “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand you save me.”
David embodies a confidence in God’s presence and protection right in the midst of his valley moments. He acknowledges that it is God alone who preserves his life. His skill, intellect or those that fight with him are given by God for David. He also describes a very personal way in which God himself protects him when he mentions God stretching out His right hand to protect him. What a blessed feeling to know that the Lord looks after us in such a manner.
Verse 8 “The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; your love, Lord, endures forever, do not abandon the works of your hands.
This verse is a prayer that the faithfulness and love of God which he praises in earlier verses will truly ‘endure forever’ and along with that prayer is an assurance of that forever. There is an ultimate surrender to align his life and his purpose to that which God has planned for him. Through all that we go through, as long as we surrender to Him, God shapes us and He continues to work on us until we go home to be with Him.
God’s goodness never ceases and neither should our praise. May our hearts, our words and our actions overflow with praise to the one who alone is worthy of all praise.