Psalm 138 – How the Song Sounds from the Pit

Psalm 138 Bible with Theo Orange Dark Chocolate

Today’s ChocolateTheo Orange 70% Dark Chocolate

Today’s PassagePsalm 138

King David’s back today with another psalm of thanksgiving. Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether you’re looking at a psalm of simple orientation or new orientation, and for me, this is one of those psalms.

But we’ve got a hint as to how we might classify it. We thank people for reasons, and God is no exception. What has God done to incline David to thank him? The king himself tells us: “On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul” (3). David called out, “Lord!” and the Lord delivered with same-day service. He gave David the courage and strength to face the difficulty before him.

As a consequence, David can face the present with confidence. He says to God, “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me” (7). He knows his own limits; he knows that troubles exist which can take him down, throw him into the pit of disorientation, even kill him. But he also knows that God’s Interposing Right Hand can withstand the wrath of any created thing and save him from trouble. He’s had a taste of God’s omnipotence and kindness coming together to go to bat for him.

But as always, I find myself asking how these words must sound to someone in a state of disorientation. “Good for you, David,” comes the voice from the pit. “You’re happy because God saved the day. Well, guess what? I’m in this pit, I’ve been praying for rescue for more than a day, and oh look, no God! I can’t even see you from inside this pit, I just hear you singing. For all I know, you could be in a pit too, and delusional. So forgive me if I’m a little dubious that your God will ever come through before we die in these pits!”

And I could offer my own words to the person in the pit. But I’ll let David answer, as he nears the end of his song: “Your lovingkindness, O Lord, is everlasting; do not forsake the works of Your hands” (8). God’s omnipotence means that he can do anything. He could leave the world behind, or smite the people in the pit himself. David knows that reorientation can turn into stagnant orientation through habit and complacency, and he knows he has no authority to force his demands upon God.

So he ends with an imperative appealing to God’s own character: “Do not forsake the works of Your hands.” Fact is, the world is riddled with pits, and David knows how easy it is to fall into them even with the Lord by his side. And at any given moment? The only thing keeping God from leaving is God.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.