God of the Nations and the Lowly - Psalm 138
The God of the vast harvest fields, is also the gardener who tends to the individual branches on his vine.
We have been working our way through the book of Acts in our weekly Bible study with the Dundonald staff and Co-Mission Resources Team. Among the many encouragements I’ve received through Acts, is the repeated reminder that the God of the rapid spread of the gospel is also the God of the inward change in the lives of individuals;
God calls many thousands to himself in a single day, and also arranges an intersection between one enquirer and a potential evangelist on a desert road.
Cities are turned upside down (right side up?!) by the good news of Jesus, while stories of one household coming to faith are also celebrated.
The God of the vast harvest fields, is also the gardener who tends to the individual branches on his vine (Luke 15:1 – 2).
Psalm 138 reminds us that this aspect of God’s character has always been true! David speaks of his own relationship with God, which spills over into praise. But he also knows that God is worthy of praise from “the kings of the earth,” and he encourages them to join in. It’s appropriate for all the earth to acknowledge the glory of the Lord.
And yet David is also convinced that God cares for and preserves the lowly, his faithful people who have nothing particular to commend them to his attention, other than that they are his. These people are all different, and yet God sees them all, and shows his glory to all.
Most of us, I imagine, feel ourselves to be more alike the lowly than the kings of the earth! But whoever we are, Psalm 138 encourages us to praise God, with all his people! This is the first Psalm of David in group of eight Psalms, David’s final contribution to the book. And what a contribution! A reminder to us, God’s people, whoever we are, to praise God boldly, whether or not others join us, and in the face of whatever contrary message we face!
As we’ve done for each Psalm in this series, I’ve expanded upon each line in the form of a prayer. Perhaps you might pray it as you prepare to join in with our online service stream this week, to ready your heart and mind to praise our God.
1 I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; before the “gods” I will sing your praise.
Our great God, it is a privilege to sing your praise, even amidst the competing messages of our word, and even if no one else were to join with us. Please enable us to be those who worship you always, in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23).
2 I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your unfailing love and your faithfulness, for you have so exalted your solemn decree that it surpasses your fame.
Though we are small in all creation, you have come to meet us and shown us your love, not in a building, but in your Son, Jesus. A greater demonstration of your love we cannot imagine or comprehend.
3 When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me.
We thank you that though we have nothing to offer you, you hear our prayers. And for you to hear is to answer. How can we refrain from pouring out our hearts in prayer when this is the access we’ve been given!
4 May all the kings of the earth praise you, Lord, when they hear what you have decreed.
You are worthy of praise from every person, high or low, and every nation, near and far. Use our feeble efforts to speed the day when multitudes from every nation will praise, you and your Son (Revelation 7:9).
5 May they sing of the ways of the Lord, for the glory of the Lord is great.
You have shown us the wonders of your character, and the depths of your love, through your faithfulness to your people, and pre-eminently in sending your Son, to die in our place, and save us from hell for heaven. Oh to sing of this glory forever!
6 Though the Lord is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly; though lofty, he sees them from afar.
We thank you that when we feel small, insignificant, weak, or forgotten, the reality of our relationship with you, seated with Christ in the heavenly realms is unshaken.
7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life.
We praise you that you are always with us, and you have preserved us as your people, even in the uncertainty and difficulty of this global pandemic we now experience.
You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand you save me.
You are just, and there will be none who escape justice, and none to whom justice is denied. When life seems unfair to us, remind us of your righteousness and justice, we pray.
8 The Lord will vindicate me; your love, Lord, endures forever— do not abandon the works of your hands.
Convince us afresh of your unfailing love, that we might be ever mindful of your work in us by your Spirit, and that you have begun a good work in us, and will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).