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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Psalms 138

Introduction

A Psalm of David.

The psalmist is one whose experience and person enlist the public attention. He speaks as a public man; his words have even a prophetic, Messianic leaning, and open up views of the gospel kingdom. He had been in great trouble, but God had fulfilled his word in giving deliverance; and the story of his experience should have its effect on kings and peoples to call them to the worship of God. In view of all this, his confidence is strengthened in God, who will still carry forward to completion all his plans. The strophic divisions are three: Psalms 138:1-3, an acknowledgment of God’s goodness in hearing his prayer and giving deliverance; Psalms 138:4-5, the gracious effect of this example of divine goodness on the nations; Psalms 138:6-8, his renewed confidence in God for future aid.

The Hebrew title assigns the psalm to David, and the spirit and contents are in harmony with the title. Many suppose it to date after the promise of 2 Samuel 7:0. Its appearance late in the collection of the Psalms, in the fifth and last book according to the arrangement of the Hebrew Psalter, indicates that it is a compilation from a later hand, who adapted it to church use after the exile. This seems indicated by the Greek title, Ψαλμος τω Δαυιδ , Αγγαιου και Ζαχαριου , which should be rendered, A psalm of David, by Haggai and Zechariah, that is, revised and arranged in its present place in the Psalter by these prophets. Nothing less can be made of this Greek addition to the Hebrew title than that, according to Jewish tradition, three hundred years before Christ, such was the belief. If so, it might well suit the occasion of the triumph of the Jews over their persecuting neighbours, which resulted in the completion of the second temple, and the bringing of the Jewish cause freshly and favourably before the minds of kings and nations, to the great joy and prosperity of the returned exiles, as recorded Ezra 5:6

Verse 1

1. Before the gods Certainly not the heathen idols, which are contemptuously called nothings. See on Psalms 96:5. “Before the gods,” means in their presence. Clearly this is an instance where אלהים , eloheem, denotes princes, kings, dignitaries, and should read: “Before the princes or kings,” etc. See on Psalms 82:1; Psalms 82:6. Compare John 10:34-35

Verse 2

2. Thy holy temple Here denoting the place of thy holiness.

Worship Bow down, prostrate myself.

Loving kindness and… truth Mercy and truth, as Psalms 25:10 the ground and theme of his thanksgiving, which is expressed with “all his heart,” joyfully and publicly before kings, and prostrate before God in the place of his worship. The style is strongly Davidic.

Magnified thy word That is, given it strength and honour by fulfilling it.

Above all thy name Taking “name” in its true philosophical and lexical idea, as the sign or memorial of a thing or person, and the understanding of a name to be the true conception of the thing it represents, the under thought, the phrase “above all thy name,” would mean, above all other manifestations of thyself. The divine word, which had been now so wonderfully verified in David’s history, and which still, in promise, ran forward “for a great while to come,” (2 Samuel 7:19,) “magnifying” itself into visions of Messiah and his future Church, had transcended all other memorials of himself. The phrase should be taken in connexion with 2 Samuel 7:18-29. See introductory note.

Verse 3

3. Strengthenedst Literally, Thou hast caused me to rise up.

With strength in my soul A more clear, direct profession of spiritual strength supernaturally bestowed could not be given in the words of any language. More amplified, but not more unequivocal, is the expression of Paul, “Strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.” Ephesians 3:16

Verses 4-5

4, 5. The kings of the earth shall praise thee The words give the moral tendency and intent of this wonderful display of divine mercy, and, as a general thing, its ultimate effect namely, to cause the nations to confess and praise Jehovah. A result to be fully realized only in gospel times through the unfoldings of the great gospel word.

Verse 6

6. See on Psalms 113:5-6.

Afar off That is, though God is apparently “afar off,” in the highest heaven, yet he knoweth the proud, and taketh cognizance of all their thoughts and acts. See on “afar off,” Psalms 139:2, and on this judicial knowing, Jeremiah 29:23. It is opposed to his having respect to, or seeing with approbation, the “lowly” of the previous line.

Verse 8

8. Perfect that which concerneth me He will finish, accomplish, all that relates to my welfare. Nothing shall fall to the ground. All shall work for good, tending to one complete result. See Psalms 57:2, and compare Philippians 1:6.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 138". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/psalms-138.html. 1874-1909.