Psalm 138

The Psalms

Psalm 138
Our LORD over all ‘gods’

Psalms index

Psalm 138 (NIV)

1 Of David.

I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart; before the “gods” I will sing your praise. 2 I will bow down towards 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 for ever—do not abandon the works of your hands.


Psalm 138 – Our LORD over all ‘gods’

(Verses 1-3) This psalm of David combines so many helpful truths and principles we find throughout the psalms. He applies them to his current situation. God’s truths are never just to be looked at as an antique collector looks through an antique shop window. They are for us to apply as we live for the Lord Jesus Christ. They bless, rebuke, challenge and lead us, as well as lead those to Christ who have not yet turned from their sins and trusted in our crucified, risen, and ever-living Lord.

David’s commitment shines out through all this. He is determined to praise the LORD with all his heart. He shuns the petty ‘gods’ of his world, just as we must shun the ‘gods’ of our world: materialism, false religion, ungodly living, wrong views of sex and behaviour, lust for entertainment—we could go on and on. All are nothing compared to knowing the Lord Jesus Christ.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11).

When you realise that Jesus’ ‘death on a cross’ was to bear God’s punishment and wrath on your sins, it is mind-blowing. When you then think about His resurrection from the dead and His risen life, by which through the Holy Spirit He enters the lives of those who trust Him, you become lost for words! David praised God, looking towards Zion’s temple. We just look to Jesus. He answers us, just as He answered David. May He make us ‘bold and stout-hearted’ too, in living for Jesus and making Him known.

(Verses 4-5) We can understand why King David wants all mere human kings to hear God’s word, praise Him, sing of His ways, and realise His glory. It far exceeds his and theirs in quality, amount, and time span.

(Verse 6) Our glorious and exalted LORD on high, is not attracted by man’s pomp and pride. He looks for sinners who admit they need God’s mercy, grace, pardon and help. The way ‘up’ is ‘down’. Do you recall this encouraging prayer? ‘But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner”’ (Luke 18:13). Jesus said that this sinner’s prayer was answered by God.

(Verses 7-8) David found that God blessed, preserved, and saved him ‘in the midst of trouble’ and even when his foes sought his life. God’s enduring love and purposes for His servant never faltered. The same is true for you, if you know and follow the Lord Jesus. Please read Romans 8:28 and 37.