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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Psalms 138

 

 

Verse 1

I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto thee.

Psalms 138:1-8 -David will praise God with his whole heart, for the Lord's wonderful promise exceeding all His earlier deeds, and such as the pagan gods had never fulfilled to their rotaries; this was in answer to prayer (Psalms 138:1-3). All kings shall praise Yahweh, because, though high, He respects the lowly (Psalms 138:4-6); therefore David is assured that Yahweh will revive in trouble, save, and perfect him (Psalms 138:7-8).

A Psalm of David. This is one of the many psalms of David called forth by the promise of the perpetuity of his house and his throne, given by God through the prophet Nathan, (2 Samuel 7:1-29 : cf. Psalms 18:1-50; Psalms 21:1-13; Psalms 61:1-8; Psalms 72:1-20; Psalms 101:1-8; Psalms 103:1-22;

110.)

I will praise thee with my whole heart. Ps. ; 101:1 ascribes praise to God for the same gracious promise, (2 Samuel 7:1-29). The largeness of the benefit called for the praise of the "whole heart," not merely partial praise.

Before the gods will I sing praise unto thee. He virtually challenges the pagan so-called "gods" to verify, if they could, their claim to divinity, by showing any boon like this which they had ever bestowed (cf. Isaiah 43:9; Isaiah 41:20-21). Kimchi explains "gods" as 'the judges' and 'magistrates.' So Chaldaic Targum, Syriac, 'before kings' (cf. Psalms 138:4, "All the king of the earth," Psalms 119:46). So Psalms 82:1; Psalms 82:6, "gods;" see notes there (Exodus 21:6; Exodus 22:28). The Septuagint, Vulgate, Arabic, and Ethiopic translate, 'before the angels.' The mention in Psalms 138:2 of God's "holy temple" is thought by Hammond to confirm this, as the cherubim in it answers to the angels here. The angels are present as witnesses of men's worship in the house of God. Compare Ecclesiastes 5:6; 1 Corinthians 11:10; Ephesians 3:10; 1 Peter 1:12. The English version gives good sense: Hengstenberg supports it. Otherwise, 'before judges,' or 'rulers' seems the most probable rendering. But the English version is favoured by 2 Samuel 7:22-23, which, in a similarly triumphant tone, declares, in connection with God's promise to David, the superiority of Yahweh to the pagan gods (cf. Psalms 135:5).


Verse 2

I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.

I will worship toward thy holy temple (Psalms 5:7), and praise thy name for thy loving-kindness and for thy truth - (Psalms 25:10.) The promise guarantees the loving-kindness; the truth of the Lord fulfils it (2 Samuel 7:28).

For thou hast magnified thy word about all thy name - thou hast bestowed the promise of perpetuity to my house and my kingdom, which rises in grandeur and goodness above all thy past manifestations of thyself in behalf of thy people (2 Samuel 7:10; 2 Samuel 7:12-13; 2 Samuel 7:15-16; 2 Samuel 7:21-22; 2 Samuel 7:24-26; 2 Samuel 7:29 : Ps. 138:29 especially, "For thy Word's sake ... hast thou done all those great things;" Ps. 138:26 , "And let thy name be magnified forever" - an undesigned coincidence of language between the history and the psalm). In Messiah alone the greatness of the promise finds, and shall hereafter more fully find, its realization for Israel and the whole world.


Verse 3

In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.

In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul. The promise in 2 Samuel 7:1-29 was the answer to David's prayer, Psalms 21:2; Psalms 21:4; Psalms 61:5. His prayer was that his life might endure in the person of his seed. In Messiah "his name shall endure forever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun" (Psalms 72:17). As the first clause states the fact, so the second the manner how. "Strengthenedst me" - literally, 'thou madest me proud' [ raahab (Hebrew #7294)], not with the "pride" that "goeth before destruction," or the "haughty spirit" that goeth "before a fall," but through the strength of God, in which alone he glories (Psalms 18:29; Jeremiah 9:23-24).


Verse 4

All the kings of the earth shall praise thee, O LORD, when they hear the words of thy mouth.

All the kings of the earth shall praise thee, O Lord, when they hear the words of thy mouth - when they see the marvelous agreement between the fulfillment and the promise of God, (2 Samuel 7:1-29.) Under Messiah, in the latter days, "all kings shall fall down before Him, all nations shall serve Him" (Psalms 72:10-11; Psalms 102:15; Psalms 102:22; Psalms 68:29; Psalms 68:31).


Verse 5

Yea, they shall sing in the ways of the LORD: for great is the glory of the LORD.

Yea, they shall sing in the ways of the Lord: for great is the glory of the Lord. Maurer translates, 'they shall sing of the ways of the Lord' - i:e., they shall praise His and gracious and glorious dealings, So Syriac. But "sing IN" [b


Verse 6

Though the LORD be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off.

Though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly. The loving condescension of the high God, in having respect to the lowly and needy (as I, David, was raised from a sheepfold, and from outlawry, to be King of God's people, Psalms 113:4-8), attracts all to Him; especially the elevation of the antitypical David, Messiah, from the humiliation of His first coming to the manifested glory and majesty of His second coming, shall cause "all kings" to "praise" Him. Hengstenberg makes God's height the ground on account of which He raises the lowly, and brings down the proud. 'For the Lord is high, and therefore He hath respect unto the lowly.' But the contrast between "high" and "lowly" favours the English version. Lowliness of mind, as well as of position, is implied in "the lowly," as the antithesis to "the proud" requires.

But the proud he knoweth afar off. "The proud" are the haughty world-powers, the foes of David, and in the ulterior sense the foes of the Divine Son of David (cf. Psalms 138:7, "the wrath of mine enemies;" Proverbs 3:34; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5; Psalms 18:27). The lowly whom the world eyes from afar, and supposes God has forgotten, God regards with tender favour, because they rest all their hopes in Him, and not in themselves; whereas those proud because of their worldly greatness He thoroughly knows, but knows only so as to put them to a distance, saying, "Depart from me, ye cursed" (cf. Luke 16:26, "between us and you there is a great gulf fixed." Matthew 25:41; Psalms 73:27). They put God far from them (Jeremiah 12:2), therefore, in just retribution, God "knoweth" them only to put them "afar off."


Verse 7

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me} - (Psalms 23:3-4.) So as to the three youths in the fiery furnace, their persecutor, Nebuchadnezzar, said, "Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God." Also Psalms 30:3, and Psalms 71:20.

And thy right hand shall save me - (Psalms 17:13; Psalms 60:5.)


Verse 8

The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.

The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me. The fact that the work of salvation, begun in us, is the work of God, is a token of assurance that He "will perfect" it (Psalms 57:2; Isaiah 26:12; Philippians 1:6).

Thy mercy, O Lord, endureth forever - (Psalms 103:17; 2 Samuel 7:13; 2 Samuel 7:26.)

Forsake not the works of thine own hands - leave not incomplete the work of salvation for myself, my seed, and through it for my nation, and for the whole world. God had begun the work by delivering David from his enemies, and raising him to the throne.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 138:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/psalms-138.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, November 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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