I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart; before the “gods” I will sing your praise.

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.

When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me.

May all the kings of the earth praise you, LORD, when they hear what you have decreed.

May they sing of the ways of the LORD, for the glory of the LORD is great.

Though the LORD is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly; though lofty, he sees them from afar.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand you save me.

The LORD will vindicate me; your love, LORD, endures forever—do not abandon the works of your hands.” (Psalm 138, NIV)

Here is a simple Psalm, written by David and addressed to the LORD. Here is an instructive text for us to learn more of prayer and praying that we can apply to our lives in our time and world. Here are words of commitment to God, benediction for our world and faith in God’s faithfulness.

First, we find David expressing his commitment and resolve to the Lord.

“I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart; before the “gods” I will sing your praise. 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.” [Verses 1-2]

David begins with a commitment of his will to praise the Lord with all his heart. He does not simply say “I praise you, Lord” as a verbal act of worship in the moment. He commits to praise as an ongoing sacrifice of all his being to all of God’s being. This is also a commitment to live a life of praise and honor to the Lord, every day, in every place and in every conversation and interaction with everyone within David’s circle of fellow humans.

The word translated “gods” is 'elohiym; which refers to rulers and judges as well as God, the “gods” of paganism, angels and demons. In the context of this psalm, as commentator Matthew Henry wrote, the “gods” are “…the princes, and judges, and great men, either those of other nations that visited him or those of his own nation that attended on him, even in their presence.” David also may have been referring to the invisible presence of angels and even demons who attend at the gatherings of God’s people.

David’s commitment is to openly praise the Lord in the Temple, but also, he commits to worship, praise and honor God wherever he finds himself; “I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your unfailing love and your faithfulness.” This is not a physical act, requiring David, or anyone else, to bow in the direction of some place on earth. This is the expression of “the man after God’s own heart” turning his deepest self toward the LORD in heaven. As Jesus taught His disciples regarding prayer, we address “…Our Father in heaven”; not in Jerusalem or Rome or 8 Balmat Fowler Rd.

This also reflects David’s commitment to live in confidence; not only praising God in worship but trusting Him in life for His unfailing love and faithfulness. God’s love and faithfulness were experienced by David. And David also knew of what others had experienced through the revelation of God found in His word; “for you have so exalted your solemn decree that it surpasses your fame.” We have the complete revelation of God in the Old and new Testaments of the Bible. As St. Paul wrote to Timothy, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” The Bible is not a “god”. The Bible is the vehicle which brings us see the “fame” of God, not by word of mouth but from the Words of God Himself. David states, “When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me.” [Verse 3] When we call the Lord, He answers us in Spirit and Truth.

Examining David’s heart commitment to the LORD in this Psalm, where are we in our commitments to the same LORD? Are we willing to commit to the same level of “every day in everyway praise and honor of the LORD before the “gods” we live with, neighbor with, work with and interact with? Or, is our faith relegated to an hour or so once a week in a church building, if it’s convenient for us to attend? Because the LORD impacted his life, David made the commitment of his will to live a life of praise and honor among all his family, friends, associates and neighbors. He sought with all his heart to impact the world with the LORD’s unfailing love and faithfulness. Will we do the same?

The next section of Psalm 138 contains words of benediction for the world in which David lived; “May all the kings of the earth praise you, LORD, when they hear what you have decreed. May they sing of the ways of the LORD, for the glory of the LORD is great.” [Verses 4-5]

David’s commitment was from the depths of his heart to the ends of the world. His desire was, that all the leaders of the world he knew would come to know the LORD he knew. In our world, what is our heart’s desire? Is it more important that our favorite political party be in power, or that the power of God be in our political leaders? And what do we do when those who we oppose politically attain the preeminence? Do we spend our time worrying about what’s going to happen, criticizing every word the leaders speak, expressing our displeasure and even hatefulness towards “the other side” on social media?

Not all the kings in the nations surrounding the City of David were believers in the one true God. Yet in David’s prayer we find good words expressed that his neighboring kings might come to know and praise the LORD. The Apostle Paul, writing again to Timothy, taught; “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” [I Tim. 2:1-4] Whether we are Democrats or Republicans, Americans or aliens, as Christ followers our prayers and our lives should be benedictions for the nations.

David concludes this prayer, reminding all who read this psalm that the LORD cares for even the least of us, He preserves all of us, His love is unfailing, and He will not abandon what He has decreed for all who believe.

“Though the LORD is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly; though lofty, he sees them from afar. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand you save me. The LORD will vindicate me; your love, LORD, endures forever—do not abandon the works of your hands.” [Verses 6-8]

All these words can be summarized in:

John 3:16; “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Psalm 23; “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Phil. 1:4-6; “In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Call the LORD, He will answer. May God’s answer be grace, mercy and peace to you and through you to the world.