(Part 3) Psalm 138: How To Stay Encouraged in Troubled Times
By Pastor Robbie Casas
C. Be Assured of the Lord’s Deliverance (vv. 7-8)
Read Ps 138:7-8:
7 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.
8 The Lord will accomplish what concerns me;
Your lovingkindness, O Lord, is everlasting;
Do not forsake the works of Your hands.
If in vv. 1-3 we see David’s resolve in deliberately choosing to thank and praise God (“I will” 4 times), in vv. 7-8 we see God’s assurance of deliverance 4 times as well: “You will revive… You will stretch forth Your hand… Your right hand will save…. The Lord will accomplish….” These words are all in the language of faith. David’s “I will”’s and the Lord’s “You will”’s form a beautiful inclusio – bookends – in this psalm.
We see 4 assurances in this passage.
“7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me.”
The word translated “revive” (NASB/KJV/NKJV) is literally “keep me alive”; hence, “preserve” in the ESV/NIV. The word “trouble” is general, making this easily applicable to later readers in their own specific circumstances. So, the first promise of assurance is that of preservation.
“7… You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies.”
Often in Scripture, when God “stretch[es] forth [His] hand” it is to bring down His judgment (Ex 15:12; Isa 5:25; Jer 51:25; Ezek 6:14; 25:13). God will bring judgment on David’s enemies who are wrathful toward him. The second promise of assurance is that of retribution.
“7… And Your right hand will save me.”
God’s right hand is often associated in Scripture with power (Ex 15:6; Ps 20:6), salvation (Ps 44:3; 60:5), protection (Ps 74:11), favor (Ps 77:7-10), authority (Ps 110:1; Eph 1:20), among other things. It is God’s “right hand [that] will save [David].” The third promise of assurance is that of salvation.
These first three promises of assurance can all fall under the single promise of deliverance. For the believer in Christ, there is always the assurance of deliverance from trouble. Allow me to qualify this a bit.
God’s deliverance may at times be what I would call a temporal deliverance– His present deliverance from what we might be going through, sparing us from the negative consequences of our troubling circumstances. Scripture is replete with examples of temporal deliverance, but one example is Paul’s deliverance from death at the shipwreck in Acts 27.
There are times, however, that God’s deliverance may be a final deliverance– His ultimate deliverance which we will experience either at the end of our lives or at Christ’s coming. This means we will go through the full experience of trouble, but God will see to it that we remain faithful and persevering until the finish line. Paul experienced this with his thorn in the flesh in 2Cor 12 and in his last imprisonment that led to his execution (cf. 2Tim 4:6-8).
“8 The Lord will accomplish what concerns me.”
The word “accomplish” means to “to complete”; it is translated “fulfill”in the ESV, “perfect” in the KJV/NKJV. (The NIV translates it as “vindicate”which is more an interpretation already and which I don’t agree with.) Paul echoes this same promise in Phil 1:6: “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” David’s assured confidence stood on the understanding that the Lord had a purpose for him. The fourth promise of assurance is that of completion.
WHETHER GOD'S DELIVERANCE IS TEMPORAL OR FINAL, IT IS A SURE DELIVERANCE THROUGH WHICH GOD WILL ACCOMPLISH ALL HIS GOOD AND HOLY PURPOSES FOR US – PURPOSES FOR OUR GOOD AND HIS GLORY. This once more elicits praise from David: “8… Your lovingkindness, O Lord, is everlasting.” The promise of a sure deliverance should help us stay encouraged in troubled times.
“… Do not forsake the works of Your hands.”
This part of the verse seems out of place after all the positive things that provide encouragement. But, in truth, it is still related.
The phrase “the works of Your hands”, I believe, is David’s reference to himself and to what God has so far wrought in his life. He was God’s “work in progress” whose purpose God will still accomplish. Although David had the confident assurance of God’s deliverance, he, nonetheless, in dependent prayer asked the Lord to not forsake him. In other words, “Lord, do indeed accomplish Your purposes for me by not abandoning me to my troublesome circumstances.” This was a prayer affirming what David knew God had promised.
This shows us that God’s promise of deliverance does not dampen prayer; it fuels it.
To stay encouraged in troubled times, we are to be resolutely thankful for the Lord’s love and faithfulness, remembering that God is always worthy to be thanked and that, therefore, there is never a time so dark in which we cannot thank God.
We are to be hopeful for the Lord’s final vindication, especially even though most of the world continues to spurn Him and to disregard His holiness in the face of this Covid crisis. Our God will be honored and glorified in the end.
Finally, we must be assured of the Lord’s deliverance – whether a deliverance today or a deliverance in the end. Let us stand in assured confidence on the understanding that the Lord has a purpose for us in all the troubling times we go through which He will definitely and perfectly fulfill.
May our most wonderful Lord Jesus Christ and His grace be magnified through our encouragement in Him in all this!