I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart;
before the gods I sing your praise;
I bow down toward your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness,
for you have exalted above all things
your name and your word.
On the day I called, you answered me;
my strength of soul you increased.
All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O Lord,
for they have heard the words of your mouth,
and they shall sing of the ways of the Lord,
for great is the glory of the Lord.
For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly,
but the haughty he knows from afar.
Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
and your right hand delivers me.
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands.
It has been a great joy for me personally to walk through the Psalms over this month. I know I have needed much of the refreshing and rest I have found in each one we have covered. I hope you have been strengthened and encouraged as well by these passages; knowing that they have as much for us now as they did when they were written. Perhaps you have found a bit of a rhythm in your quiet times that this blog has either reinforced or helped you to develop. It’s a place to start from and what I type about, what I podcast about…I want it all to be used to encourage you the reader and hearer to go further. I know I need that at times myself!
So we are ending this Summer Of Psalms series with a look at a Psalm that perhaps isn’t super notable (compared to the other 4 we’ve discussed). But in reading Psalm 138 a few weeks ago, I was impacted by just how much I need to incorporate an attitude of gratitude within my daily walk. Be thankful. Be grateful. That’s what struck me initially about this Psalm and although it says other things, it comes back to this main idea that God is worthy of a thankful heart. My heart does not naturally go there each day. In fact most days it’s easier to find what I’m not grateful for than what I am.
Once again we are going to pull out some themes here to guide us as we reflect on these 8 verses. Nothing here is exhaustive. It never could be. But the wonderful thing about Scripture is that you can keep coming back to it again and again and the Lord will reveal something new to you. It is alive and vibrant! Let’s go!
1. Thankfulness and gratitude must mark our worship
Give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness. Lately I’ve tried to let my mind go into a place of thankfulness in my prayer time. Even before I start to list off prayer requests, I just try to empty my mind and think upon the goodness of God. That goodness draws me into a place of gratitude. I start to think about my wife, my family, my church, my job, my home, and on and on. And He has blessed me. But even without those things, am I able to simply say “Thank You Lord!”? The Psalmist is coming from a place of pure devotion out of a response to Who God is. We must develop that understanding as well and be drawn into deeper and deeper trust in Him.
2. God hears us when we call to Him
I’ve seen this theme a lot throughout the Psalms and it’s not just in the Psalms; it’s reflected in the stories, both Old and New Testament. When we talk about David or Israel, we see a man and a nation that was conceived and brought into existence by His very word. David was blessed by God and considered a man after His own heart (“The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people” 1 Samuel 13:14). God was with David and protected him. Think of his encounter with Goliath, when he fled Saul, or the numerous battles David faced as Israel fought enemies in the land. God answered David and He still answers us today when we call to Him: On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.
3. God preserves the life of those who walk with Him
On a related note, the Psalmist (David) realizes that not only does God answer our call, He walks with us and preserves our life. I am reminded of both Psalm 23 and Psalm 91 when I consider this line: Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me. David’s fellowship with the Lord, that closeness, carried with it a by-product of deliverance and favor. This doesn’t accompany every Christian. Sadly beyond just checking off a list of do’s and don’ts, there isn’t a real relationship for many believers. That is what the Lord is after and David had found it. His life is prolonged, He is protected; evil ones can do no harm to him.
4. God finishes what He starts
I believe this Psalm finishes up with a promise. The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. The idea here is that God has begun a work and He will bring it to completion. God doesn’t start a job and then lose interest or leave it unfinished. God doesn’t get distracted. He doesn’t forget to complete a task. No, that is how man operates but it is not the nature of our God. The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me sounds a lot like Philippians 1:6 “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” The work God is doing in us is not finished until Jesus returns. There is a starting date and an ending date and the project (your soul and mine) will be finished at the time we reach heaven. Hallelujah, amen! He will do it.
As we end today, I want to focus back again on the idea of gratitude within the midst of this Psalm. If we think about all that we have considered (God hears us when we call, He preserves our life, He finishes what He starts), we should be able to live in a position of thankfulness on a daily basis. The Psalmist sets a backdrop in which, if all of this is true, we really have no other option than to consider how truly good the Lord is. That draws us into place where we praise Him and thank Him.
I hope this Psalm today and others this month have served to deepen your trust in the Lord. Yes the Psalms express a wide range of emotions. Yes they are raw at times. But nowhere in the Psalms do you see an abandonment or a falling away from God. In every aspect, the Psalmist is led to say “Despite what I am going through, I will trust Him.” Is that the mark on your life and mine if we are honest before Him today? Let us be able to say God I know your plans are for good and not for harm. God I know I can trust You no matter what I face today!
I love you guys and love walking this journey with you. Have a blessed day!
Sign up to get these blogs delivered to your email inbox! Visit http://derekcharlesjohnson.com/as-bold-as-lions
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Ephesians 5:15-17