(Part 2) March 29, 2020 Sunday Sermon:
Psalm 138: How To Stay Encouraged in Troubled Times
By Pastor Robbie Casas
B. Be Hopeful for the Lord’s Vindication (vv. 4-6)
Read Ps 138:4-6:
4 All the kings of the earth will give thanks to You, O Lord,
When they have heard the words of Your mouth.
5 And they will sing of the ways of the Lord,
For great is the glory of the Lord.
6 For though the Lord is exalted,
Yet He regards the lowly,
But the haughty He knows from afar.
We are all too familiar with the pride of government leaders and politicians. Add to this the endemic corruption in the great majority of these people, then you have a picture of wickedness in the highest places. But I am not speaking only of our local political scene from the highest offices of the land to the lowliest barangays. We know of the foolish boastings of leaders of powerful nations; we have seen how some have led their nations in taking advantage of lesser and weaker ones, bullying their way in their lust for more power and resources.
The godlessness, the absence of any trace of the fear of God among them is not only appalling but cries out to heaven for the vengeance and vindication of God.
How we long for that day when “10… EVERY KNEE WILL BOW… 11 and… every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:10-11), don’t we?
Well, let us be of good cheer, because that day will come when all men, including, yes, the highest leaders of the land, will be terribly humbled by God before Him as they cower in fear before His glory. Ps 102:15: “So the nations will fear the name of the Lord and all the kings of the earth Your glory.”
But in this next section of Ps 138, David, as if knowing that his own personal praise was so insufficient and unworthy of the God’s greatness, foresaw a more positive time when “All the kings of the earth will give thanks to [the] Lord” (v. 4). He envisioned all the rulers of the world worshipping the Lord, thanking Him “when they have heard the words of [His]mouth.”
I believe this phrase “the words of Your mouth” may refer to a time when God would open their eyes and reveal to them who He is, and this would cause them in the end to thank Him.
The Expositor’s Commentary offers another view: “The reason for [David’s] confidence lies in his conviction of the Lord’s fidelity to ‘the words’ of promise with regard to his people.” In other words, a time will come when these leaders and their nations will see God vindicate His people according to His promises even from the earliest parts of Scripture and realize how wrong they have been in oppressing God’s people. In the light of today’s ever-increasing worldwide anti-Semitism, this is significant and encouraging.
But whatever those words mean, it will cause these “kings” to “sing of the ways of the Lord, for great is the glory of the Lord” (v. 5). They will see God’s “ways”proven right, thus revealing His glory.
One way God’s glory will be revealed (even as it is now) is seen in v. 6: “For though the Lord is exalted, yet He regards the lowly, but the haughty He knows from afar.”
God bends with a special grace toward those who humble themselves before Him. This has always been a consistent truth about God. Isa 57:15: “For thus says the high and exalted One who lives forever, whose name is Holy, ‘I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.” (Interestingly, the first half of this verse corresponds with the first half of Ps 138:6.) Jas 4:6: “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (Here, Js 4:6a corresponds to the last part of Ps 138:6c, while Js 4:6b to Ps 138:6b.)
God’s glory is further magnified when, even in His “exalted” position, “He regards the lowly.” When God as the Most High is able to humble Himself to stoop down to consider us, it glorifies Him as both gracious and humble.
This divine condescension at least twice amazes David in the Psalms. Ps 8:3-4: “3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; 4 What is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him?” Ps 18:35: “You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, and Your right hand upholds me; and Your gentleness makes me great.”(The word “gentleness” is literally “condescension” or “humility”. The HCSB translates this last part “… Your humility exalts me.”)
This humbling of the Lord is expressly and most gloriously seen in the Christ’s incarnation and crucifixion, “6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:6-8).
Going back to Ps 138, it needs pointing out that what is mentioned in vv. 4-5 never happened during the OT period. If anything, the kings of the earth were opposed to God (see Psalm 2). It was only after the coming of Christ that the way of salvation through the gospel was extended and introduced to the nations. And although today while most of the world continues to spurn God and to disregard His holiness, and while many despise Israel with murderous hatred, in the end, all the kings of the earth will fear God (Ps 102:15) and will bring their glory into the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:24).
So to stay encouraged in troubled times we need to be hopeful for the Lord’s final vindication – our God will be honored and glorified in the end.