Psalm 138

Thank You, God, For Standing By Me

By David.

1 I will give you thanks with my whole heart.
Before the gods, I will sing praises to you.
2 I will bow down toward your holy temple,
and give thanks to your Name for your loving kindness and for your truth;
for you have exalted your Name and your Word above all.
3 In the day that I called, you answered me.
You encouraged me with strength in my soul.
4 All the kings of the earth will give you thanks, YHWH,
for they have heard the words of your mouth.
5 Yes, they will sing of the ways of YHWH;
for great is YHWH's glory.
6 For though YHWH is high, yet he looks after the lowly;
but the proud, he knows from afar.
7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you will revive me.
You will stretch forth your hand against the wrath of my enemies.
Your right hand will save me.
8 YHWH will fulfill that which concerns me;
your loving kindness, YHWH, endures forever.
Don't forsake the works of your own hands.

World English Bible Version

Do you have a life-long friend? How has this friend stood by you through the good and the bad times?

Good friends are hard to find. This truism reaffirms itself over and over. A good friend is a treasure, for he or she will stand by you through the tough times, even from a long distance. This is the kind of person that will support you and help you throughput life.

God is this kind of friend. Our Creator not only made us and sustains us, he actively works in our lives for our ultimate good. He is present through times of blessing and tragedy. He deserves our thanks and praise for his constant care.

Psalm 138 thanks God for his unwavering presence. This psalm of thanksgiving was one of the last "Davidic" songs in the book of Psalms. The tone and detail of the verses revealed its origin lie outside of Judea in the Diaspora. Consider 138:1-3. The psalmist worshiped YHWH in the presence of other gods (in the midst of pagan temples in a foreign city); he "sang" the psalm and bowed toward the Temple in Jerusalem. Such a public display was meant to reaffirm one's dedication to the covenant ("love and fidelity" in 138:2a). What was the reason for this display? The singer believed in the "living" God who asserted his authority over the other "gods" by his power (name) and his activity (promise). This God YHWH was active in the life of the worshiper (he answered prayer and strengthened the spirit of the psalmist in 138:3).

In 138:4-5, the singer described the universal dominion of the Jewish God. All kings would worship when they hear the words of YHWH. These words could be the Law or the sound of nature (thunder, earthquakes, etc); the author did not distinguish between genuine awe or fear. The results of God's universal dominion was particular, however. In 138:6-8a, the singer described the saving actions of YHWH in personal terms. The psalmist was lowly, yet God would help him; the singer lived among his enemies, yet God would guide him through without fail. YHWH would stand by the singer to the very end, because of God's promise implicit in his covenant ("YHWH, your love endures forever!"). The psalm ended with a prayer for enduring protection.

We should take Psalm 138 to heart. Even when we are on "foreign" turf, far away from home, we can take comfort in a God who is with us and for us. He is "our" God because of his activity and presence in our lives. He deserves our thanks.

How can you thank God for his care this week?