top of page

Proper 5B Psalm

Frederick Amolo

About the Contributor

Introductions

The authenticity of Christian faith rises or falls on the strength or weakness of the three great pillars; faith, love and hope. In reality, hope was and has been the biblical Christian secrete for God’s people in history. The people of God flourished as they fight against hopelessness and despair that has permeated the world. Although the world around us discourses despair, hope has been realized to have come only from God. Christian hope therefore is confidence that God will bring to pass what he has promised. It is a feeling of expectation and desire, being optimistic and positive that circumstances will change for better with God. That kind of optimism generates worship and prophecy that ultimately inspire confidence in God.

This hope in God is demonstrated by David in this Psalm 138. This has come against the backdrop of Palms 37 where David was quiet and could not speak amidst his enemies by the rivers of Babylon (v. 4). Psalm 138 is a psalm of David, probably, coming as a result of great victory and deliverance that God has showed him against his enemies. In this respect, against the odds of despair, he gains confidence in God and proclaims God’s goodness. Retrospectively, he praises God with thanksgiving upon the experiences of God’s goodness (v.1-3) and at the same time looks forward with comfort and hope (v. 4-8).

There are few main concerns that David brings out in this text for our Christian consideration in our walk with God. When God is faithful, loving and considerate, how then should we express his worth? What would our praise to God influence in this society? And what comfort should reign in us?

1. Praising God in Honesty and enthusiasm

Faithfulness is God Character, a theme that runs across the whole bible especially the book of Psalms. Jacobson concludes that the theological witness of the Book of Psalms is that the Lord is faithful.[1] In a sure knowledge of God’s faithfulness and steadfast love, David praises God with honesty and enthusiasm (upright intent, fervent love and wholeheartedness). His praises to God is also full of freedom and boldness (regardless of status in society or human or Angel) and in the manner approved by God (holy temple). David’s praise is linked to God character founded on his faithfulness (v. 1-3). This faithfulness of God makes him dependable and reliable to demonstrate His love towards anybody who seeks him.

David demonstrates to our Christian community that God’s love is practical in life. David saw God’s essential word as greater in accomplishing his purpose as well as God being gracious to an extent that humanity finds comfort. God’s word has brought goodness, mercy and promise. To that effect David has experienced sweet spiritual union and communication as God answers his prayers and strengthens his soul (v.3). This spiritual relationship is our Christian experience when the Holy Spirit regenerates us into being alive in Christ. This is the desire of our human heart to have a close fellowship with God though Christ as empowered by the Spirit.

2. The influence of God’s love in society

It is worth noting that David realized that his praise to God will affect his society and neighborhood. As a king in Israel, he hoped that his peers, comrades and colleagues be brought into an experience with God. As may have happened (2 Chronicles 9:23), the projected outcome is that the kings of the earth shall worship God according to His revelation to them. It is in the honor of God that all kings of the earth worship him as they express his goodness on earth (v4).[2]

The probable agenda of David is to show God’s love to people to enable them respond to God. This is generally the mission agenda of God in shedding his love abroad to his people. The people of God therefore should understand and respond appropriately to God’s love.[3] This in turn should be a witness to the society on God’s unfailing love and by extension attract society to God. In Christian quarters today, this is known as relational evangelism.

3. The prevalent hope in God’s unfailing love

David asserts that God favour casts a gracious consideration upon his people regardless of their status. God respects the weak and lowly but disowns the proud. In God’s caring concern, He takes care of the afflicted and oppressed. In this David finds encouragement and hope (v.6-7). This hope is founded on three main assurances; that God’s divine consolation would revive his heart and walk with him in the days that fear reign in his life, that God would protect and plead his case against his enemies, and that God would work out his deliverance.

David has the assurance that whatever God has begun to do in his life will not fail but will be accomplished (v.8, cf Phil. 1:6). David therefore knows that God has the full knowledge of our desires and needs and thus will order them for the best. In this respect David ground his hope on God’s mercy that lasts everlasting.[4] This confidence and hope quickened David’s prayer and begun to petition God not to forsake him but to remember him in his perfect love. This is our Christian assurance that God who perfects of our faith shall stand with us the very end of the earth.

Conclusion

The psalmist has attempted to bring into our notice the character of God founded in His steadfast love and faithfulness. This character makes God trustworthy and brings hope in us that God’s guidance and providence is best for us. In this text, we are reminded that we belong to God and thus God gives us his mercy. Humanity therefore needs to accept the help that comes from him. The psalm ends with a request for continued help: Do not forsake the work of your hands. Each of us is the work of God’s hands. And to be a follower of the Lord means to know that we cannot and need not do it all on our own. Let us depend on God for he is faithful.

[1] Jacobson, Rolf, A Commentary on the book of Psalms 138:1-8, available @ https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1024. Accessed 03/05/2018

[2] Walton, H. John, Psalms: A cantanta about the Davidic Covenant, JETS 34/1 (March 1991, 30), available @ http://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/34/34-1/34-1-pp021-031_JETS.pdf

[3] Yarbrough Brandson in his paper, Christian Love in Public Discourse, underscore the need for Christian understanding and appropriating God’s love in their responses (p. 143), in Vickers, E. Jason, Ed. Wesleyan theological Journal Volume 51. No. 2 Fall 2016.

[4] Expositors Bible Commentary interesting adds value to this saying that “He never stops till He has completed His work; and nothing short of the entire conformity of a soul to His likeness and the filling of it with Himself can be the termination of His loving purpose, or of His achieving grace.” Nicoll, William R. “Commentary on Psalms 138:4“. “Expositor’s Bible Commentary”. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/teb/psalms-138.html.

Lecturer: Religion Department Africa Nazarene University, Kenya

0 comments

Comments