Psalm 138

Psalm 138[a]

Thanksgiving for God’s Favor

1 Of David.

I offer you thanks, O Lord, with all my heart;[b]
before the “gods” I sing your praise.
2 I bow down toward your holy temple
and I praise your name[c]
for your kindness and your faithfulness,
for you have exalted above all things
your name and your word.
3 On the day I cried out, you answered me
and granted strength to my spirit.
4 [d]All the kings of the earth will praise you, O Lord,
when they hear the words of your mouth.
5 They will sing of the ways of the Lord:
“How great is the Lord’s glory!”
6 For though the Lord is exalted, he cares for the lowly,[e]
but he remains far distant from the proud.
7 Although I walk in the midst of hostility,
you preserve my life.
You stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
and with your right hand[f] you deliver me.
8 The Lord will fulfill his plan for me.
Your kindness, O Lord, endures forever;
do not forsake the work of your hands.[g]

Footnotes

  1. Psalm 138:1 This psalm begins a collection of eight Davidic psalms (Pss 138–145). The believer, representing the people of Israel, knows from experience the God who saves the human race from its distress. He does not want to keep this conviction for himself but to share it with all peoples, all human beings. A deep faith in a universal plan of the Lord illumines this beautiful thanksgiving prayer.
    We can pray this psalm keeping in mind the various victories that God empowers his Church to achieve against her material and spiritual enemies. These enable us to bless our Savior and to indicate the praise offered to him by earthly powers who witness and suffer under these victories.
  2. Psalm 138:1 The psalmist stresses that praise belongs to the Lord alone and not to the gods of the nations, whose kings will have to submit to the Lord. After the word “heart” the Greek adds another line: “for you have heard the words of my mouth,” which is not in the Hebrew; it seems to have been a variant of verse 4b accidently inserted here. Heart: see note on Ps 4:8. Gods: the Hebrew is elohim, which is the word for “God,” “gods,” and sometimes “godlike beings,” such as the angels. The Septuagint and Vulgate have “angels” (see Ps 8:6); other versions, “kings” or “judges.”
  3. Psalm 138:2 Name: see note on Ps 5:12. Kindness: see note on Ps 6:5. Your word: i.e., God’s promise. By his faithfulness to his promise, God has made his name renowned.
  4. Psalm 138:4 The psalmist prays that the nations, together with their gods and kings, will also pay homage to the Lord (see note on Ps 9:2). For the words and ways of the Lord reveal how great is his glory (see Ps 57:6; Isa 40:5; 60:1).
  5. Psalm 138:6 The Lord lifts up the lowly (see note on Ps 113:7-9; Lk 1:48, 52) and puts down the proud (see notes on Pss 31:24; 131:1; see also Ps 101:5).
  6. Psalm 138:7 The psalmist describes the Lord extending his hand to offer help while passing judgment on those who cause his adversity (see Ps 144:7; Ex 3:20; 9:15). Right hand: symbol of strength (see Pss 60:7; 139:10).
  7. Psalm 138:8 The Lord has loving concern for his people and creation (see Pss 90:16; 92:6; 143:5; Isa 60:21; 64:8) and has a purpose for them (see note on Ps 57:3).

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