Summary-Psalm 138 in its metrical form comes from the Genevan Psalter which recently celebrated its 450th birthday just last year. The Protestant Reformation brought many changes to how God was worshiped by His people. For over a thousand years, church members could not understand the Bible as it was read to them in Latin. Reformers like Martin Luther and John Calvin worked tirelessly to translate the Bible into such languages as French and German, so that people could hear and understand for themselves what was being read each Lord’s day from the pulpit. Another triumph of the Reformation was the inclusion of the congregation in singing the psalms. They no longer needed trained choirs to hear the psalms chanted in Latin. Now everyone could lift up their voices and praise God through the singing of the psalms in their own language. This psalm, written in English, is a testimony to our reformed forebearers’ dedication in equiping us to lift up praises to God in music.
Insight–Do you know the difference between a christian, and an atheist? The answer can be summed up with one word–gratitude. We see many people in the world who receive God’s blessings. The Bible tells us that God showers these blessings from above on both the righteous and unrighteous. The big difference between the two is not what they get, but how they respond. Psalm 138 is a song written by David to help us respond rightly to our Heavenly Father in worship by saying thank you to Him. King David commands us to thank God with all our hearts, to sing forth our praises, “because He loved us and is faithful to us” (v 2). The word for love here is “hesed” or God’s covenant love. David may have originally written this psalm in response to God’s covenant blessing promised to him in 2 Sam 7. He may have written it for the many times that God saved David from his enemies. Whatever the reason, this psalm repeatedly tells us to say, “thank you.” We sing, “thank you”, as we are saved from our enemies. We say, “thank you” when God delivers us from anger of our foes. We say, “thank you” for everything that God provides, for His faithfulness to His promises, for his love. He promises to be our covenant God. As we sing this psalm of praise, give thanks to God that you can sing it in your own language. It is indeed a blessing to be able to do so.
Contributed by Mike Fenimore