World Wide Study Bible
a Bible passage
138. Psalm 138
1I will give thee thanks with my whole heart:
Before the gods will I sing praises unto thee.
2I will worship toward thy holy temple,
And give thanks unto thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth:
For thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.
3In the day that I called thou answeredst me,
Thou didst encourage me with strength in my soul.
4All the kings of the earth shall give thee thanks, O Jehovah,
For they have heard the words of thy mouth.
5Yea, they shall sing of the ways of Jehovah;
For great is the glory of Jehovah.
6For though Jehovah is high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly;
But the haughty he knoweth from afar.
7Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me;
Thou wilt stretch forth thy hand against the wrath of mine enemies,
And thy right hand will save me.
8Jehovah will perfect that which concerneth me:
Thy lovingkindness, O Jehovah, endureth for ever;
Forsake not the works of thine own hands.
8. Jehovah will recompense upon me, etc. The doubtfulness which attaches to the meaning of the verb גמר, gamar, throws an uncertainty over the whole sentence. Sometimes it signifies to repay, and, in general, to bestow, for it is often applied to free favors. 198198 “Il signifie aucunefois Rendre, recompenser, et mesme generalement ottroyer,” etc — Fr. Yet the context would seem to require.another sense, since, when it is added as a reason, that Jehovah’s mercy is everlasting, and that he will not forsake the works of his hands, the better sense would seem to be — Jehovah will perform for me, that is, will continue to show that he cares for my safety, and will fully perfect what he has begun. Having once been delivered by an act of Divine mercy, he concludes that what had been done would be perfected, as God’s nature is unchangeable, and he cannot divest himself of that goodness which belongs to him. There can be no doubt that the way to maintain good hope in danger is to fix our eyes upon the Divine goodness, on which our deliverance rests. God is under no obligation on his part, but when, of his mere good pleasure, he promises to interest himself in our behalf. David concludes with the best reason, from the eternity of the Divine goodness, that the salvation granted him would be of no limited and merely evanescent character. This he confirms still farther by what he adds, that it is impossible God should leave his work, as men may do, in an imperfect or unfinished state through lassitude or disgust. This David is to be understood as asserting in the same sense in which Paul declares, that “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” (Romans 11:29.) Men may leave off a work for very slight reasons which they foolishly undertook from the first, and from which they may have been diverted through their inconstancy, or they may be forced to give up through inability what they enterprised above their strength; but nothing of this kind can happen with God, and, therefore, we have no occasion to apprehend that our hopes will be disappointed in their course towards fulfillment. Nothing but sin and ingratitude on our part interrupts the continued and unvarying tenor of the Divine goodness. What we firmly apprehend by our faith God will never take from us, or allow to pass out of our hands. When he declares that God perfects the salvation of his people, David would not encourage sloth, but strengthen his faith and quicken himself to the exercise of prayer. What is the cause of that anxiety and fear which are felt by the godly, but the consciousness of their own weakness and entire dependence upon God? At the same time they rely with full certainty upon the grace of God, “being confident,” as Paul writes to the Philippians,
“that he who has begun the good work will perform it till the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6.)
The use to be made of the doctrine is, to remember, when we fall or are disposed to waver in our minds, that since God has wrought the beginning of our salvation in us, he will carry it forward to its termination. Accordingly, we should betake ourselves to prayer, that we may not, through our own indolence, bar our access to that continuous stream of the divine goodness which flows from a fountain that is inexhaustible.