By Ben W. Curtis
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Tracy City
“The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me” (Psalm 138:8). I believe this truth now more than ever, because I have a history with God. When our son was 2 years old, he was misdiagnosed with a virus. After several days of a persistently high fever, and many tests and consultations, he was diagnosed with a very serious auto-immune disease which attacks the lining of the heart. To make matters worse, the accumulated pressures of ministry, seminary, and medical bills caused me to begin having panic attacks. It felt like we were going through the valley of the shadow of death. Today, I can say with thanksgiving that God not only brought our family through this trial, but has delivered us through many more.
In Psalm 138, David’s heart is filled with worship, because he had a history with God. In verse 1, he proclaims God’s superiority in the hearing of the false gods of the nations (I Samuel 5:26). He calls attention to God’s character by giving thanks for His “steadfast love” and “faithfulness” (Psalm 138:2), the very words the Lord had used to reveal himself to Moses (Exodus 34:6-8). David understands that God’s works are grounded in His Word, and that “who God is” forms the basis for “what God has done.” His confidence is in God’s faithful covenant love, which has been demonstrated in the Lord’s answer to his prayer (Psalm 138:3) and the way he regards the lowly (Psalm 138:6). In times of trouble, our first impulse should be to get alone with God. In the very act of remembering God’s character and rehearsing His past faithfulness, we often find encouragement and renewal.
In Psalm 138:4-6, the psalmist’s history with God prompts a longing for the nations to praise God (Psalm 68:29-32; Psalm 72:10-11; Psalm 102:15-16). The greatness of the Lord’s glory is especially noted in verse 6: “For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly.” Kings are converted the same way as their subjects: through knowing the “words” and the “ways” of the Lord (Psalm 138:4, 5). Spurgeon’s insight is helpful: “David, the king, cared for kings’ souls, and it will be wise for each man to look first after those who are of his own order (i.e., vocation).” When is the last time you praised God in front of your unbelieving peers and colleagues? David is convinced that if the kings of the earth could only see the glory of his God, they too would bow their knee to Him in thanksgiving.
In Psalm 138:7-8, David is certain that the Lord will deliver him from his enemies and fulfill his purposes for his life. Even as he rests in these assurances, the psalmist expresses his faith in a final plea: “Do not forsake the work of your hands” (v. 8). Just as God had answered David’s prayer in verse 1, we know that He answered this final prayer as well. He established David’s dynasty and eventually sent David’s greatest son, the Messiah. As God’s lowly servant, Jesus defeated our greatest enemies through His death and resurrection, and fulfilled all of the Father’s purposes. As we join David in thanksgiving, we can be confident that “He who began a good work in (us) will bring it to completion” (Philippians 1:6). Why? Because God is faithful and we have a history with Him.