David wrote Psalm 138 to thank the Lord for His help to him as Israel’s king. The following is a section-by-section summary of David’s thoughts, applied to us today. We learn from him that we must…
First, give thanks to the Lord (Psalm 138:1–3).
David begins by giving thanks to the Lord from his whole heart (Psalm 138:1). Similarly, he declared his praise to the Lord “before the gods” (Psalm 138:2). David’s meaning for “the gods” could have been the false gods of Israel’s enemies, a reference to angels in heaven, or human rulers on earth (cf. Psalm 82:6 with John 10:34–35). Perhaps the last option is best as David speaks of kings in Psalm 138:4–5. Whoever his audience was, they heard David give thanks to the Lord for His steadfast love and faithfulness, shown by giving strength to his soul in his day of need (Psalm 138:2–3).
Like David, we should be a thankful people, calling to the Lord for help as necessary and thanking Him when He gives it.
Second, look forward to when everyone gives thanks to the Lord (Psalm 138:4–5).
David was one king thanking the Lord. Then he promised all kings would give thanks to the Lord for His words and ways (Psalm 138:4). Together they would sing of His glory (Psalm 138:5). Perhaps they do so as they lead their nations to bring their glory into the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:23–26).
In Testaments Old and New, the Bible promises a day of perfect praise. As we give thanks to the Lord right now, so also one day the whole world, kings and their nations, will praise the Lord in perfect harmony. What a day that will be!
Third, know that the Lord will bring us to that day (Psalm 138:6–8).
David’s trouble from his enemies humbled him before the Lord, and, though king, he made himself lowly to ask for the Lord’s help (Psalm 138:6–7). The Lord gave it and fulfilled His purpose in David’s life—not to forsake him but to preserve him as king over Israel (Psalm 138:8). This love and protection were the Lord’s steadfast love to David, something that lasts forever (Psalm 138:8). David would be one of all the kings who would praise the King of kings forever.
Sometimes we wonder if present difficulty will ever allow us to see that day. Sometimes difficulty clouds out that day in our minds altogether. However, when we are beset by trouble and the Lord’s enemies seek to take us down, we must humble ourselves before the Lord and ask Him for His help. As with David, He is fulfilling His purpose in each of us, working all things together for good (Romans 8:28; Philippians 1:6). He will never leave us nor forsake us. His steadfast love endures forever, helping us even now (1 Thessalonians 5:23–24; Jude 24–25). For this, we can give thanks.