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David praiseth God for the truth of his word: he prophesieth that the kings of the earth shall praise God: he professeth his confidence in God.
A Psalm of David.
Title. לדוד ledavid— This psalm, though first composed by David, as a thankful acknowledgment of God's goodness to him in advancing him from a low and afflicted condition to the royal dignity, yet was afterwards, as we may gather from the Septuagint translation, made use of by Haggai and Zechariah at the rebuilding of the temple.
Psalms 138:1-2. Before the gods— We have shewn, that the word אלהים elohim, here rendered gods, signifies either angels or princes, judges or rulers; in either of which senses it may be taken in this place. Houbigant however renders it, Before God will I sing unto thee; meaning, "in thy presence, or before thy sacred oracle, I will sing thy praises;" and the next verse seems to countenance his opinion; for, towards thy holy temple, may be rendered, towards the palace of thy holiness; i.e. the sanctuary and the mercy-seat. See Psalms 99:5. For thou hast magnified thy name, means, "Thyself, and thy attributes;" and by magnifying his word, is meant, his making great and excellent promises, and then punctually performing them. How God's word, or truth, or promise, was fulfilled to David, see 1 Samuel 16:13. This clause might be better rendered, Thou hast magnified above all things thy name, and thy word. Houbigant has it, For thou hast made thy word more excellent than all thy glory.
Psalms 138:4. When they hear— Or, For they shall hear.
Psalms 138:5. Yea, they shall sing— And shall sing of the ways of the Lord, that great is the glory of the Lord. "They shall make the ways of the Lord, his glorious acts, the subject of their songs; they shall say, that great is the glory, &c." to the end of the 6th verse; where he knoweth afar off, according to some, signifies, estrangeth himself from them, and despiseth them, though he knoweth them, since he knoweth all things, and will consequently punish them. But Mudge renders the clause, And descrieth the haughty from his distance: "He seeth the lowly and the haughty, and distinguisheth them at the distance at which he sits exalted." See also Houbigant.
Psalms 138:7. Thou shalt stretch forth thine hand— Thou wilt lay thy hand upon the fury of my enemies; i.e. "Thou wilt keep it down, and restrain it." Mudge; who renders the first clause of the next verse, The Lord will completely cover me all around. The last words seem to put God in mind of his favour to the Jewish nation, and to pray that he would not leave unfinished what he had begun to do; perpetuating to all nations the great things which he had done for that nation.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, David's harp is continually in tune.
1. He resolves, with warm affection and simplicity of heart, to praise God, before the gods, in the presence of kings or magistrates, or the angels, with boldness, not ashamed to glory in his dependance upon God. I will worship towards thy holy temple; to the place of the ark did they always direct their faces, when assembled in the courts of the sanctuary, or worshipping in private. For the only prayers or praises which ascend with acceptance, are those which are offered with our eyes to him who is the true tabernacle, Jesus Christ, by whom we have access unto God.
2. Abundant cause he had for thanksgiving. For thy loving-kindness, manifested in all the temporal and spiritual blessings bestowed, and for thy truth, having experienced the faithfulness of his promises: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name; great hath God's name appeared in the works of creation and providence, but greater in his word of grace, wherein the most transcendent displays of his glory are made: or this may refer to Christ, the essential word, who is exalted above every name, and in whom God's name is magnified, beyond all other revelations formerly made to his church. In the day when I cried, thou answeredst me, attentive to my prayer, and giving all I asked, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul, that he was enabled to stand under the pressures of affliction and temptation, and to overcome all his enemies; for which inestimable mercies he justly owed the grateful return of praise. Note; (1.) They who trust God's truth will prove his faithfulness. (2.) When we fly to God in prayer, he will not leave us destitute. (3.) In all our trials, if God strengthen us in our souls, we shall gain by our afflictions.
3. Others, even all the kings of the earth, shall join his songs, when, hearing the words of his mouth in the preaching of the gospel, the fulness of the Gentiles shall come in, and their kings become nursing fathers, singing in the church of the good ways of the Lord, his mercy, grace, and love in a Redeemer, and ascribing to him the great glory which is his due. Hasten it, O Lord, in its season!
2nd, This is either the song which the kings of the earth should sing, or the Psalmist's profession of his confidence in God.
1. The humble he will regard, the proud he will destroy, Though the Lord be high in glory, exalted above all blessing and praise, yet hath he respect unto the lowly, vile in their own eyes, conscious of their sin, weakness, and wretchedness, and casting themselves wholly on the riches of God's grace in the Redeemer; these God regards with love, and delights to bless: but the proud, who are puffed up with worldly advantages, or vain of their attainments in wisdom, or highly elated with the conceit of their own righteousness; such doth God abhor: he knoweth them afar off, sees their inmost soul, and will visit them in his displeasure.
2. The experience which the Psalmist had of God's care, encourages his confidence to trust in him at all times. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, and that is often the bitter portion of the dearest saints of God, whom he is pleased to exercise with afflictions, thou wilt revive me when ready to sink under the burden, thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, to restrain or destroy them, and thy right hand shall save me, thy power and grace, or Christ, the Right Hand of the Lord, the Saviour of all who trust in him. The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me; in his hands all the concerns of the faithful are safe. Thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever, and cannot disappoint any faithful soul that ever trusts thereon: forsake not the works of thine own hands, perfect the salvation of thy people; and as my soul is thine by creation, redemption, and grace, forsake me not, but love me to the end, that I may be thine for ever.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 138". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 12 / Ordinary 17