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This is a Psalm of thanksgiving to God for those great deliverances which he had granted to David from Saul and other enemies; by the remembrance whereof David encourageth himself to trust in God in all him future difficulties.
David praiseth God for his goodness and truth showed to him, and foretelleth that the kings of this earth shall also praise him, Psalms 138:1-6, and professeth the fruit of his trusting in God in the midst of troubles, Psalms 138:7,Psalms 138:8.
1. Before the angels, who were represented by the cherubims upon the ark, who are called gods, Psalms 8:5; Psalms 97:7, compared with Hebrews 1:6; Hebrews 2:7, who also are present in the congregations of God’s people, 1 Corinthians 11:10. Or rather,
2. Before kings and princes, by comparing this with Psalms 138:4, All kings (provoked by my example) shall praise thee; and with Psalms 119:46, I will speak of thy testimonies before kings. And these are most commonly called gods in Scripture, as Exodus 21:6; Exodus 22:9,Exodus 22:28, compared with Deuteronomy 19:17. Besides, David mentions this as something singular and extraordinary, and designed by him; whereas the doing of this before the angels is common to all, and is unavoidably necessary.
Toward thy holy temple, where the ark was. He saith
toward it, because he was not permitted to enter into it.
For thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name; for thou hast glorified thy word or promise, or thy faithfulness in fulfilling thy promises unto me, more than any other of thy glorious perfections by which thou art known. Not that one of God’s attributes is really and in itself more great or glorious than another, or can be made so, but because one may be more celebrated and admired by men than another, as here God’s gracious promise made to David, and the wonderful accomplishment thereof in spite of all those difficulties which stood in the way, and which seemed to men to be insuperable, was at this time more observed and admired than any other of his attributes or actions. But here we must remember, that amongst the rest of the promises made to David, one was that the Messias should come out of his loins, and that those parts of the promised mercies which David had actually received were pledges to assure him that he should receive the rest in due time, and especially that great and eminent word of promise concerning the Messias, which might well be said to be magnified above all God’s name.
The last clause limits and explains the former, how God answered him so speedily, not by giving him the thing which he desired in that very instant, but by giving him inward support and patience to wait God’s time, and to bear all his troubles cheerfully in the mean time, which was a singular mercy, and indeed greater than the actual donation of any temporal blessing.
1. All neighbouring kings; or,
2. The generality of kings and princes upon earth. And so this is a prophecy of the calling of the Gentiles, which seems to be confirmed by the next verse, which expresseth their extraordinary joy; and an eminent advancement of God’s glory, which agrees much better to this great occasion, than to that of David’s exaltation to the throne, wherein the other kings of the earth were not much concerned.
The words of thy mouth; either,
1. Thy promises declared unto them by me; or,
2. The gospel preached among them.
In the ways of the Lord; or, of, or for, or because of the ways of the Lord, i.e. his wonderful counsel and gracious providences towards themselves and others.
Great is the glory; or, great shall be the glory. At that time the worship and glory of God shall not be confined to one small land, as now it is, but shall be extended to all the parts of the world.
Unto the lowly; unto such as are mean and obscure in the world; to me, a poor contemptible shepherd, whom he hath preferred before great princes, and to such as are little in their own eyes.
But the proud he knoweth afar off; but for the great men of the world, who are lifted up in pride, he looks upon them as they do upon others, with scorn and contempt, and at a great distance, as disdaining to admit them into his presence. But the words may be, and by divers interpreters are, rendered otherwise, And he who is high, or the lofty one from afar, (i.e. from his high and holy place, even the highest heavens, where he dwells, notwithstanding that distance,) doth know them, or will own them. So this is the repetition of the former sentence, as is very usual in this book. And this seems best to suit, as with the foregoing, so also with the following words, and thus all will be understood of one and the same sort of persons.
Walk in the midst of trouble, i.e. be encompassed with dangers.
Thou wilt revive me; thou wilt cheer my spirit, and preserve my life.
Thou shalt stretch forth thine hand; put forth thy almighty power, to oppose and restrain their rage, and to save me from them, as it follows.
Will perfect that which concerneth me; will finish that great work of my deliverance and advancement, which he hath undertaken and carried on hitherto.
Endureth for ever; it is not inconstant and changeable, as men’s affections are, but everlasting. And this may be either a proof of the fort, going assertion, the Lord will perfect, &c. or an argument to enforce the following petition, therefore
forsake not, & c. Forsake not, or leave not, or do not desist from or give over. The works of thine own hands; the work of my salvation, which is thus far advanced, not by any human help, but by thine own extraordinary power and providence, and therefore it is not for thine honour to desert it at last. This he calls works in regard of the many and various parts and actions which concurred to this work.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Psalms 138". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12