The Psalms

Psalm 138 Praise For His Word, Name, And Work.

Nothing short of whole-hearted commitment will do with the LORD. He sees and knows (v. 1a). But also, the double minded person is unstable in all their ways. There is no security for a fence sitter, which is ironic, since peace and security is usually what a fence sitter seeks. It is not being diplomatic. Diplomats have a clear objective, the double minded confuse even themselves. Of course, there are no gods but One (v. 1b). But the psalmist does make a statement of the exclusive claims of his King. It may be that he also is making a statement against those leaders who fancy themselves as gods (Cf. Pss. 82; 119:46). David, as King, knew who he must worship (v. 2a Cf. Ps. 28:2; I Kgs. 8:29). “Lovingkindness” is a uniquely covenantal term, used also to describe the transition to the new covenant. It is the same expression of everlasting love and rest as was known by those who “found grace in the wilderness” (v. 2b Jer. 31:2-3). David also gave praise to the LORD for His truth.

This psalm is a reminder that the LORD’s acts in history are never divorced from His truth. The bible knows no such dichotomy. There is no existentialist thought of the experience carrying more weight than the word, quite the opposite. Experience, and also metaphysics generally, must take a back seat to epistemology, even in the area of theology. Of course, the lovingkindness of the LORD is also history. Some would suggest that who God is should be the first question, before we ask what He has said. However, without the word we wouldn’t even know the right question, or that God even truly existed. Even as regards so called “natural” revelation, it is God’s will to reveal himself, not man’s power to inquire. This we know from the word. Therefore David says, “You have magnified Your word above all Your name.” (v. 2b) Concerning Messiah Isaiah prophesied, “The LORD is well pleased for His righteousness’ sake; He will exalt the law and make it honourable.” (42:21)

David testifies that the LORD indeed answers prayer and gives strength to those who ask for it (v. 3). He also knows that one day all the kings of the earth will praise the LORD when they hear the words of His mouth (v. 4 Cf. Pss. 2, 102:15; 110; Rev. 21:24). The LORD’s ways are never divorced from His glory rather, the former manifests the latter (v. 5). The transcendent LORD is also near to the lowly and humble. But to the proud He remains distant (v. 6 Cf. Ps. 113:4-7; Pr. 3:34; Is. 57:15; Lk. 1:48; Js. 4:6; I Pet. 5:5). It is the covenant that seals these truths to us. The LORD does not always remove the trouble, but He will revive us and save us in the midst of it (v. 7 Ps. 23:3-4). This salvation which He has begun in us He will perfect concerning us, for His mercy “endures forever.” (v. 8 Cf. Ps. 57:2; Phil. 1:6; ). When it says that the LORD “regards” the lowly, it means He acts in history on behalf of His covenant people-He will not “forsake the works of His hands.”

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