Psalm 138 : A Psalm of David

(Psalm 138) A Psalm of David

“A God Who Hears, Who Acts, Who Purposes”


(Psalm 138) 1. “I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart; before the “gods” I will sing your praise. 2. I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. 3. When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stout-hearted. 4. May all the kings of the earth praise you, O LORD, when they hear the words of your mouth. 5. May they sing of the ways of the LORD, for the glory of the LORD is great. 6. Though the LORD is on high, He looks upon the lowly, but the proud He knows from afar. 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. 8. The LORD will fulfil His purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever—do not abandon the works of your hands.”

If anyone had reasons to praise God it was David. Time and time again in the psalms he praises the LORD with a thankful heart for the great deliverances in the past when he was passing through the deep and dark valleys of dangerous and threatening situations, through times of depression, times of feeling alone, in times of destress when it seemed his enemies would triumph over him and when it seemed God was not listening and the answers to David’s prayers were delayed.

However, he clung to the LORD in times of great distress and drew his spiritual sustenance from Him alone and comforted himself in the LORD (1 Samuel 30:6). In the psalms David wrote he always said; “I will praise the LORD” and often in adverse situations which did not facilitate praise and thankfulness humanly speaking but evoked fear and anxiety in David. His will was involved even when feelings were absent and anxiety was present deep down on the inside of him.

Praising God is primarily an act of the will but when the will is exercised by faith, even though feelings and emotions are absent, it gets God’s ear and pleases Him (Hebrews 11:6). Our emotions are fickle at the best of times and transient yet the right kind of emotions will follow the action of our will as we develop the habit of praise with a thankful heart. Praise offered in faith accompanied by transparency with the LORD will always get a favourable response from Him because His ears are always open to the cries of His saints.

As it is written; “The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are inclined to their cry” (Psalm 34:15). Praise offered up to God with childlike trust and confidence in Him will slaps shut the mouth of the accuser of the brethren and drive him away (Psalm 8:2).

For David his praise was always with all of his heart with nothing held back because He knew just how great God was especially in times past when David faced circumstances that were beyond his ability to handle in his own strength. In this psalm there are three of God’s Divine virtues David extolls.

1. He is the God Who Hears (Verses 1-3)

(Vs.1) “I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart; before the “gods” I will sing your praise.

When we praise the LORD by faith Satan along with his principalities and demons in the fallen unseen spiritual realm sit up and take note. The “gods” are these entities that are constantly seeking to derail our faith and confidence in God and in His promises. Satan is called the accuser of the brethren and he constantly criticises and condemns us before God day and night without letup (Revelation 12:10).

At the same time he seeks to drag up our past sins and failures to get us discouraged and to doubt that God has really forgiven our past especially since we have confessed and forsaken those sinful things that we did.  This is why we must ask the LORD to cover and to protect us with the blood of Jesus moment by moment of every day. Satan hates the blood and when we testify to what the Bible says that the blood of Jesus does in us and for us we are empowered by the blessed Holy Spirit to overcome all of the wiles and accusations of the devil! (Revelation 12:11). 

David knew experientially that if he was to praise God then he should do it with all of the energy and enthusiasm he could muster even if he did not feel spiritual. It was an act of his will. Of course there were times when he did dance before the LORD and loudly proclaimed the wonderful attributes of the Triune God whom we worship as New Covenant believers. Also when we praise God and extol His virtues and especially testify to the cleansing and keeping power of Jesus’ blood we are taunting the principalities in the unseen spiritual world. We are announcing to them our victory in the Messiah and our acceptance by God as His blood purchased, blood redeemed children who have been forgiven for all of their sins and cleansed from them by the blood of Jesus and because of His love for us has loosed us from their grip in our lives (Ephesians 1:7) (Revelation 1:5) (1 John 1:7-9). If we are to praise God then we should do it with our whole heart because He is worthy of it and because He is the God who Hears the prayers of His servants.

(Vs.2-3) “I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stout-hearted.

Notice the “I will” once again. David would always face the tabernacle that housed the Ark of the Covenant. It would remind him that God dwelt among His people. Now as New Covenant believers we are individually and corporately God’s living Temple made up of living stones (1 Corinthians 3:16) (1 Peter 2:5). The Holy of Holies we saw in the Temple is now our inner spiritually regenerated inner spirit that controls our soul being our thoughts, our emotions and especially our will. We are joined to the LORD, out Triune God and one in spirit with Him having had our inner regenerated spirit fused together with his Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17). We have the boldness to come into the very throne room of God by the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 10:19-20).

Now what does David praise the LORD for? He praises the name of the LORD because experientially he had the inner revelation of the Spirit and by the past deliverances God has given, that He is worthy to be praised because of His love and faithfulness. David knew that God always proved to be faithful and that He never changes and David knew this to be true. He also knew that God had exulted above everything else His name and his Word.

When praising the LORD we can know, acknowledge and experience His divine attributes and thank Him for whom He is (Isaiah 9:6-7). However, we cannot know His name because He is limitless, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, and the one who inhabits the whole universe and dwells in eternity and to know His name in its fullness would limit Him. His name is beyond all human comprehension (Genesis 32:29) (Judges 13:18).

When Moses asked God His name so that he might tell the Israelites who it was that had sent him to deliver them from Pharaoh God replied “Tell them I AM has sent you!” In other words He was saying to Moses “I AM all you need me to be for the situation you will be facing and that is all you need to know!” God is the great “I AM” in all things both in the visible and invisible realm.

In John’s Gospel the Lord Jesus, the visible and exact image and manifestation of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15) said He was the “I AM” seven times declaring Himself to be God and equal with God, and the one who had eternally existed in and with God before his incarnation in the womb of Mary (John 1:1-4) (1 John 1:1-4). What God has said in His Word He will perform exactly as He has said it (Jeremiah 1:12) (Isaiah 55:10-11). David was proving this awesome truth every day of his life.

When David called on God times without number there was a response and David’ anxious heart was transformed by the power of the Spirit to become stout hearted, resilient and to stand bravely with absolute confidence in the LORD against all of his enemies both in the natural realm and in the unseen spiritual realm. David knew that when the enemy came in, that like a flood the Spirit of the Lord would raise up a battle standard against him (Isaiah 59:19). Indeed David knew by experience that God is the God who hears!

2. He is the God Who Acts (Verses 4-6)

(Vs.4-5) “May all the kings of the earth praise you, O 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 was anticipating a time when the kings of the earth would praise God acknowledging Him as the King of all Kings and as the LORD of all Lords both in this physical world and in the unseen spiritual realm. We know that at the name of Jesus when He returns that those who are still living on earth will bow to Him. Rabbi the apostle Paul wrote; “It is written: “As surely as I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow before Me; every tongue will confess to God” (Romans 14:11).

He also wrote concerning the Messiah our Lord Jesus; “Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Messiah is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:8-11).

As the psalmist also wrote; “Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; Take warning, O judges of the earth. Worship the LORD with reverence And rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, For His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” (Psalm 2:10-12).

The kings of the earth may oppose the LORD and violate His laws and commandments and persecute His saints but their day of reckoning is coming and those who survive the Messiah’s Second Coming will be forced to praise Him whether they like it or not! Ultimately in the Millennial Messianic kingdom the kings of the nations at that time will praise the LORD for his acts of power and for the salvation He provided in the Messiah in the previous age.

As it is also written; “And many peoples will come and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us His ways so that we may walk in His paths.” For the law (Torah) will go forth from Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. Then He will judge between the nations and arbitrate for many peoples. They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer take up the sword against nation, nor train anymore for war” (Isaiah 2:3-4). David knew that the ways and the glory of the LORD were great!

(Vs.6) “Though the LORD is on high, He looks upon the lowly, but the proud he knows from afar.”

David was always conscious that God looks upon those who humble themselves in His presence and seek only to bring Him the glory, the praise and the honour He so richly deserves. David understood this very well after he had committed murder and adultery; “For You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; You take no pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. In Your good pleasure, cause Zion to prosper; build up the walls of Jerusalem” (Psalm 51:16-18). We are also told in God’s Word; “A bruised reed He will not break and a smouldering wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice” (Isaiah 42:3).

If we are aware of our sinful tendencies and that in our fleshly nature dwells nothing good spiritually speaking, and feel our continuous need of God’s enabling grace and strength, and with an awareness of His mercy present our bodies as a living sacrifice to Him, giving Him the keys to our life, then this will be our true spiritual worship acceptable to Him and He will look upon us with compassion and answer us according to His good, acceptable and perfect will (Romans 12:1-2).

On the other hand those who are proud, self-willed, ambitious, subjecting themselves to the lust of the eyes, to the lust of the flesh and to the pride of life with no time for God, even though they may know the truth, will never prosper spiritually but will find themselves cut off from God and He will be far away from them because He knows what they are up to. While God knows all things He is always working and through His Son upholding all things by the Word of His power, that same Word that created the whole universe and the constellations and planets.

As we read in the Psalms; “Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the people of the world revere Him. For He spoke, and it came to be; He commanded, and it stood firm!” (Psalm 33:9).

As it is also written; “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” (Hebrews 1:1-3). While God resists the proud He also gives grace to the humble of heart and David knew that God was the God who acts!

3. He is the God Who Purposes (Verses 7-8)

(Vs.7-8) “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. The LORD will fulfil His purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever—do not abandon the works of your hands.”

One thing that David knew for sure and without a shadow of a doubt that God is sovereign and that He does what He wants, when He wants, in the way He wants, and with whomsoever He wants and asks no man’s permission. One just has to read Psalm 139 written by David to know this fact that sustained him throughout his lifetime and that comes through time and time again in the Bible that God inhabits eternity where time does not exist. In eternity there is no past, present or future as we know things down here in time. David knew that everything had been planned for his life even before he was conceived in his mother’s womb (Psalm 139:16).

Trouble was never far from David and if we belong to God and are aliens and strangers in this world and by the power of the blessed Holy Spirit of God seeking to resist its lures and lusts, then we too in this life will have trials and tests, heaviness through manifold temptations and times of depression and doubt concerning the love of God for us and in His divine providence. Time and time again throughout his entire life David had seen the LORD empowering him to walk in the midst of trials, temptations and tests and that God always preserved him in them and through them, not always delivering him from them. David’s enemies were always out to get him and he saw the LORD stretch out His hand against the anger of his enemies and that it was God’s right hand that saved him every time. These situations God used to give David a thankful heart and a spirit of praise!

God’s right hand in the Old Testament was His pre-incarnate Son the Messiah our Lord Jesus before He took upon himself a human body. He was the Angel of the Lord and the one who visited God’s people in the Old Testament. In fact our Lord Jesus has always existed from all eternity. The Bible in both Testaments is very clear on this fact and absolutely irrefutable!

David affirms that the specific purpose God has for his life will be fulfilled. This is true for all of us who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus and accepted by God in Him. It is all the grace of God and by His grace alone. Faith is the key that activates this grace. Even before we were saved His grace (unmerited, unearned favour) was at work on us and going before us even when we were not aware of Him.

As Rabbi the apostle Paul writes; “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Messiah Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

And again he writes; “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Messiah our Saviour, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:5-7).

David also knew that God’s love abides forever and this truth in itself is all the way through the psalms of David and the other psalmists as well. God’s love is also an enduring love and where we are concerned in dealing with us God needs a great deal of patient endurance does He not! Long after we run out of patience many times He endures patiently and when we stray in love He seeks us out and places us once again on the broad shoulders of the good shepherd who carries us back into the sheepfold of God.

This is the way of the good shepherd the Messiah our Lord Jesus who Himself said; “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. “What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish” (Matthew 18:11-14).

David the shepherd boy knew this truth when he also wrote; “The LORD is the strength of His people, a stronghold of salvation for His anointed. Save Your people and bless Your inheritance; shepherd them and carry them forever” (Psalm 28:8-9). The 23rd psalm is a classic example of this great Biblical and eternal truth. As Moses wrote in the Torah; ““There is none like the God of the people of Israel, who rides the heavens to your aid, and the clouds in His majesty. The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He drives out the enemy before you, giving the command, ‘Destroy him!’” (Deuteronomy 33:27).

Even though at times it seemed to David that God had abandoned him he found the supernatural strength to recon on the fact that even when he was walking through a troubled and even a prolonged situation or circumstance that needed God’s enabling power, he remained confident that God would always preserve his life, not always from his trouble or test, but preserve him in it and through it until he came into a place of victory, even into the rest of faith! (Hebrews 4:9-10).

He also knew that those who opposed him God would deal with them decisively and that by the one who was at God’s right hand, the pre-existent Messiah, being God the Son before His incarnation. David also had the confidence that God would fulfil His pre-ordained purposes for his life and ministry from God (Psalm 51:12-15). He always counted and relied upon the eternally enduring love of God he had seen displayed even from his youth as a shepherd boy when he had to protect the sheep and take out the predators being a lion or a bear intent on ripping apart the flock. He saw God’s protective love displayed when he took out Goliath and through his many victories over the Philistines!

David knew that God would never abandon those whom He had created for His glory and sovereign purposes being the work of His hands. As the sheep of God’s eternal flock we can count on three things from this psalm of David. Firstly; God is the God who hears us in our time of affliction or when we praise Him by faith and that with our entire being. Secondly; God is the God who acts on our behalf when we have no strength within ourselves to resist Satan and his fallen spiritual principalities arrayed against us. Thirdly; God is the God who purposes what He has pre-ordained for our life and service for Him and the gifts we need to successfully complete the task He has assigned to us.

At the end of his horrific afflictions, after God had restored Him in every way, did not Godly Job say of the LORD; “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2). This is eternally true dear tried and tested saint of God! As the late David Wilkerson, that great man of God always said; “God still has everything under control!” And He does you know! Selah!