- April 27, 2014
- By Carolyn Porterfield, Multicultural Consultant, Texas WMU, Dallas
• The Bible Studies for Life lesson for May 11 focuses on Psalm 138:1-8.
Hope is a confident expectation in God. For several weeks, we have been examining hope from different perspectives. In Psalm 138, we look at hope expressed from a grateful king.
Abraham Lincoln said, “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” The perspective we choose often decides how we deal with life’s challenges. If King David had to decide what to be grateful for, he would have chosen the thorn bush with roses. How do I know that? Study Psalm 138, and you will, too.
Praise and thanksgiving are common themes in the Psalms. They are like two sides of a coin. You cannot have one without the other. You express praise by focusing on God’s character. You thank him for what he has done on your behalf. In Psalm 138, give attention to David’s praise and what it reveals about God’s character. Consider his gratitude for the ways God works in his life.
Unrestrained praise bursts forth from one who was devoted whole-heartedly to God. He wanted everyone to know the name of his God. In his culture, a person’s name spoke of his character. David sang of God’s love and faithfulness. Listen—can you hear the music swelling and the words reaching deep into your soul? “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods” (Psalm 96:4).
David’s worship wasn’t contained in one place. He praised his God “before the ‘gods’” and as he bowed toward the temple (Psalm 138:1-2). David wanted his people to acknowledge the greatness of their God. But kings who neither knew nor worshipped God surrounded his kingdom. The psalmist reminds us in Psalm 96:3 how far our praise is to extend: “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.”
A woman heard Psalm 96:3 taught in a Bible study and said: “I sing praises to my God while I work in my yard. But my neighbors don’t speak my language. Maybe I need to learn to speak theirs so they can understand my praise.” David wanted those around him to hear him praise the great God he served. What are you willing to do so people around you will know the God you praise?
What did God do for David that evokes this gratitude? In times of trial and need, David called to God for help. God heard and answered. He took a small shepherd boy and made him bold and victorious in battle. God choose the least of Jesse’s sons and made him a great king.
David’s words in verses 4-5 reveal God’s desire for everyone to know and praise him. Do you glimpse the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20 here? Do you hear the Apostle Paul’s challenge to the church in Rome: “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:14).
The kings of the earth cannot praise a God they do not know. They cannot sing of the ways of the Lord unless they know what they are. David expressed his gratitude in song and praise so others would know that “the glory of the Lord is great” (Psalm 138:5).
People all over the earth today live without hope. UNICEF reports, “Every day, 18,000 children under the age of 5 die from things we can prevent. They die of things most people in the United States rarely worry about. Malnutrition. Unsafe drinking water. The lack of affordable vaccine.”
God is provider, healer and more. But so many don’t know him in these ways. Do you? Then tell someone who is in need of a provider God will provide. Tell someone who is in need of a healer that God will heal. Tell someone in need of hope that God is our hope.
David spoke honestly about his life. He accepted trouble was part of his life because his enemies were against him. But he also acknowledged God preserved his life and saved him from those who sought to destroy him.
Proverbs 3:33-34 affirmed what David wrote about the lowly and the proud. “The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the righteous. He mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble.”
We may think God doesn’t see or care when those who mock him are against us. This is not true. God does see. God does care. God will act. Our confident expectation in God is he will deal with them in his way and time.
David believed God would fulfill his plan for his life. David didn’t know all the details of the plan, but he knew the God in whom he put his hope. He declared God’s love would endure forever. His confident expectation was God would not abandon him because he was the work of God’s hands.
Praise and gratitude should not be relegated to one building called a church or one hour a week called worship. Share with your whole heart the hope you have found in Christ. Share that good news until it reaches the whole earth. Share it all the time as God gives you opportunity. Hope experienced is meant to be hope expressed.