I thank you with all my heart; * before the gods I sing to you.
I prostrate toward your holy temple, * and I thank your Name.
Through your kindness and your fidelity * you surely glorified * your Name and your
promise before all.
When I called you granted me triumph; * you helped me storm with my ardor strong.
All the kings of the earth will praise you, Yahweh, * when they hear the words
of your mouth.
And they will sing of Yahweh's dominion: * "How great is the glory of Yahweh!"
Though Yahweh is the Exalted, * he regards the lowly one; * though the Lofty,
he cares even from a distance.
When I march amid my adversaries, * keep me alive before the fury of my enemies.
Stretch forth your left hand, * and give me victory with your right hand. * May Yahweh
avenge me so long as I live!
Yahweh, your kindness is eternal; * the great work of your hands do not abandon!
1. For David himself.
138:0 This is Psalm 138 (Vul 137) in the whole book, the 38th in the third part. After he had invited the people to praise God, he added the excuse that some gave that they should rather mourn in Babylon than sing. But because this is not a general situation, since the perfect are already somehow liberated from slavery, and these can sing with a confession of praise, in this Psalm, as one of these, he sings praise to God and invites those who are like him to join in.
The title shows that the Psalm belongs to the true David, the perfect man with good looks and a strong hand. It is also to be sung to David himself, that is, to Christ, who has such perfection.
The Psalm is divided into two parts: (1) he himself sings praise, (2) he invites other perfect people to do the same: "May all kings". In the first (1) he promises to praise, (2) he asks for the fruit which should come from praising God: "Whatever day I call". In the first (1) he promises to praise, (2) he determines the quality and manner of his praise: "with all my heart".
I will praise thee, O Lord,
I thank you
136:1.1.1 The idea is: If you others excuse yourselves that you cannot praise God in Babylon, nevertheless I will praise you, Lord. -Sir 51:1 I give your thanks, O God of my father, with praise that is delightful and refreshing. -Ps 42:5 amid loud shouts of thanksgiving, amid a crowd of pilgrims.
I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart: for thou hast heard the words of my mouth.
I thank you with all my heart;
136:188.8.131.52 Here he shows the quality of his praise, which is (1) with his whole heart, (2) with a pure heart: "in the sight of the angels", (3) with a devout heart: "I will worship". In the first (1) he promises integrity of heart, (2) he adds the reason: "for you have heard". The idea is: I will praise, but how? Like those in Isaiah 29:13 These people draw near with their mouths and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me. -Jer 12:2 You are near in their mouths yet far from their hearts ? No, but with all my heart. -Judith 4:15 They cried out to the Lord with all their might (Vul: heart) to look with favor on the whole house of Israel. -Dan 3:41 And now we follow you with all whole heart and fear you, not with a divided heart -Hosea 10:2 Their heart is divided and they must bear their guilt, nor a devious heart -Ps 12:3 With a double mind they speak. -Sir 2:12 Woe to faint (Vul: deceitful) hearts. [I praise] with all my heart, not holding back any of it, but pour it out entirely. -Lam 2:19 Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord!
Why? Because you heard the words of my mouth, as I know by experience. -Is 30:19 He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when he hears it, he will answer you. This verse does not mean that the Lord hears the voice of the mouth without hearing the heart, but that his hearing is so rapid that he grants the request while the petition is still on the petitioner's lips.
I will sing praise to thee in the sight of the angels:
before the gods I sing to you.
136:184.108.40.206 Here he shows that he prays with a pure heart, with the idea: I praise you with all my heart, and also I will sing praise to you by word and deed in the sight of the angels, taking them as a model, so that, like them, I do not look for anything earthly. -1 Cor 14:15 I will sing praise with the spirit, but I will sing praise with the mind also. As for the angels -Rev 7:11 they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God. The angels take great delight in prayer that comes from a single and pure heart. -Ps 68:26 The singers (Vul: princes, i.e. angles) in front, the musicians last. -Cant 8:13 You who dwell in the gardens, my companions are listening for your voice; let me hear it.
2. I will worship towards thy holy temple, and I will give glory to thy name. For thy mercy, and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy holy name above all.
I prostrate toward your holy temple, and I thank your Name. Through your kindness and your fidelity you surely glorified your Name and your promise before all.
136:220.127.116.11 Here he promises to praise with a devout heart, one that is recollected from all distractions and cautiously preventing it from straying. The idea is: I will sing with a pure heart and will worship, going up to your holy temple, which is my own heart which you have sanctified. For there you wish to be worshiped -John 4:23 True worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. The spirit is the temple of God -1 Cor 3:17 God's temple is holy, and you are that temple. One who prays there is heard. -1 Kings 8:30 Hear the plea of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. -Joel 2:32 Everyone who calls on the name of Yahweh shall be saved.
And, going into the temple, I will praise your name renowned for power. -Sir 51:2 I will make nown your name. -Acts 4:12 There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.
He then gives the subject of the praise: (1) the calling of sinners to repentance, (2) the delivery of what was promised: "and your truth", (3) the giving of credit to the one through whom this was done: "for you magnified". The idea is: I praise you for your mercy, because you call sinners to repentance -Amos 5:8 who calls for the waters of the sea, fluid and bitter sinners, and pours them out on the surface of the earth, that is, dissolves them into tears.
and your truth, by which your reward and deliver what your promise -Num 23:19 God is not a human being, that he should lie, or a mortal, that he should change his mind. -Ps 25:10 All Yahweh's paths are kindness and truth. -Prov 14:22 Those who plan good find loyalty and faithfulness. -Prov 16:6 By loyalty and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for.
Your mercy and truth have been effective because you have magnified your holy one, Christ [changing the comma in Vul to get a different reading] -Ps 16:10 You will not let your worshipper see the Pit -over every name, that is, over every created thing that can have a name. -Phil 2:9-10 He gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth. -Is 2:2 It shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it. -Is 60:12 The nation and kingdom that will not serve you shall perish. -Mat 28:18 All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
3. In what day soever I shall call upon thee, hear me: thou shalt multiply strength in my soul.
When I called you granted me triumph; you helped me storm with my ardor strong.
136:1.2 After promising to praise, he asks God to hear him and grant him the fruit of his praise: (1) asking God always to hear him, (2) specifying the petition he wants to be heard: "you shall multiply". The idea is: I promise to praise you, Lord, and ask you to hear me, not just sometimes or once, but on any day I call upon you -Ps 102:3 On the day I call be quick to answer me. If you do so, I know that you will multiply strength in my soul which praises and trusts in you. Note that whoever prays outside the shadow of cupidity and sin, which is to pray in the daylight, the Lord multiplies strength in his soul. -Sir 1:6 (Vul addition) Who has understood the abundance of her ways? No one. And it was said to a person purified from sin through fasting and almsgiving (Is 58:11) He will fill your soul with spendors (Vul). These splendors are virtues, and of this multiplication and abundance we hear -Job 5:26 You shall come to your grave in ripe old age (Vul: in abundance).
4. May all the kings of the earth give glory to thee: for they have heard all the words of thy mouth.
All the kings of the earth will praise you, Yahweh, when they hear the words of your mouth.
136:2.1 After promising to praise God, he invites others to join him, urging them (1) simply to praise God, (2) to do so joyfully and with song: "and let them sing". In the first, (1) he asks them to praise, (2) he shows that they ought to do so: "for they have heard". The idea is: As I praise, so may all the kings of the earth praise you, that is, all holy and good rulers, who are like a kingdom praising [you, their] King. -Rev 1:5 the ruler of the kings of the earth. -Rev 19:16 King of kings and Lord of lords. -Prov 21:1 The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of Yahweh; he turns it wherever he will. The kings of the earth are those who repress and curb carnal and earthly emotions, according to Genesis 9:2 The fear and dread of you shall rest on every animal of the earth.
They ought to praise, because they have heard, willingly obeying and receiving from preachers, the words of your mouth, which previously only Jews heard, when they said (Ex 24:7) All that Yahweh has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient. Later this call was made to all kings. -Wis 6:2 Give ear, you that rule over multitudes, and by hearing it they avoided confusion -Sir 24:21 He who obeys me will not be put to shame. And they obtained the beatitudes, at least in hope -Luke 11:28 Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it.
5. And let them sing in the ways of the Lord:
And they will sing of Yahweh's dominion:
136:2.2.1 Here he urges them to praise joyfully, showing: (1) that they should praise, (2) what they should sing: "for great", (3) proving that they should praise: "for the Lord is high". The idea is: I wish they should praise, and even sing to him, as they keep to the ways of the Lord by being merciful and truthful. These are beautiful ways and peaceful paths, because (Is 2:2) he will teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths. That is why they should praise him there. -Tob 13:17 The gates of Jerusalem will resound with songs of exultation; and all her houses will say, Hallelu-Yah!
for great is the glory of the Lord.
"How great is the glory of Yahweh!"
136:2.2.2 Here is what they should sing: for great is the glory of the Lord, and not their own glory. -Is 6:3 The whole earth is full of his glory. Those who follow his ways can very well sing this, because (Sir 23:27, Vul addition) To follow God is a great honor.
6. For the Lord is high,
Though Yahweh is the Exalted,
136:18.104.22.168 Here he proves that they should sing joyfully, for three reasons: (1) his majesty, (2) his kindness: "and looks", (3) his severity: "and the high", (4) with a proof for the second, concerning his kindness: "if I should walk", (5) a proof of the third: "you stretched your hand", (6) a proof of the first: "and your right hand". The idea is: I want them to praise the Lord with song, and they should do so, because the Lord is high in majesty. -Is 55:9 As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. -Job 11:8 It is higher than heaven- what can you do? -Job 36:22 See, God is exalted in his power; who is a teacher like him?
and looketh on the low:
he regards the lowly one;
136:22.214.171.124 And he looks on the lowly with eyes of mercy and kindness -Gen 29:32 Yahweh has looked on my affliction. -Luke 1:48 He has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. -Is 66:2 This is the one to whom I will look, to the humble and contrite in spirit, who trembles at my word. -Wis 6:6 The lowliest may be pardoned in mercy.
and the high he knoweth afar off.
though the Lofty,
136:126.96.36.199 And the high, the proud, he knows from afar, being indignant at them, which shows his severity. -James 4:6 God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
7. If I shall walk in the midst of tribulation, thou wilt quicken me:
When I march amid my adversaries, keep me alive
136:188.8.131.52 Here he proves that God is really kind and cares for the lowly, with the idea: I said he was kind, and really so, because if I walk in the midst of tribulation, as in a furnace of burning fire, you, Lord, will keep me alive. -Is 38:16 Restore me to health and make me live! -Is 43:2 When you walk through fire of tribulation and temptation, you shall not be burned, as I infuse grace and keep you alive. -Gregory: When the Lord afflicts us externally, internally he refreshes us. For, when exteriorly he humbles the power of the body, internally he strengthens the resolve of the spirit. -1 Sam 2:6 Yahweh kills and brings to life, killing by inflicting pain, bringing life by infusing grace.
and thou hast stretched forth thy hand against the wrath of my enemies:
before the fury of my enemies. Stretch forth your left hand,
136:184.108.40.206 Here he proves the third, that he is severe ["severus" for "securus"], with the idea: He keeps me alive when I am afflicted, proving that he is kind. But also, Lord, you stretched your hand against the wrath of my enemies, afflicting my angry enemies, proving that he is severe. -Ez 25:13 I will stretch out my hand against Edom, and cut off from it humans and animals. -Nahum 1:2 Yahweh takes vengeance on his adversaries and rages against his enemies.
and thy right hand hath saved me.
and give me victory with your right hand.
136:220.127.116.11.1 Here he proves the first, his majesty, (1) asserting that he was saved from the power of the enemy, (2) telling how this was done: "The Lord will repay". The idea is: You are truly exalted, because, after keeping me alive through affliction and extending your hand against the enemy, your right hand, that is, your power and majesty, saved me, something which no one else could do. The right hand of the Father, as often said, is the Son, in whom he saves people. -Is 41:10 I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. -Wis 5:16 With his right hand he will cover them, and with his arm he will shield them. -Prov 3:16 Long life, that is, eternity, is in her right hand. For the giver is the son of eternity.
8. The Lord will repay for me:
May Yahweh avenge me so long as I live!
136:18.104.22.168.2.1 Here he shows how he was saved, or the causes of his salvation: (1) the payment of the debt of the human race, (2) the continuation of his mercy by conserving us: "your mercy", (3) God's love for his creatures: "despise not". The idea is: I said with most certain hope that he saved me. How? Because the Lord will pay for me, liquidating the debt of punishment, which I am unable to pay. -Job 9:15 I cannot answer him; I must appeal for mercy to my accuser. -Micah 6:6 With what shall I come before Yahweh, and bow myself before God on high? -Rom 8:32 He gave him up for all of us. -1 Cor 6:20 You were bought with a great price. -Sir 29:15 Forget not the kindness of your backer, for he offers his very life for you. You could not pay, and he paid. Or: The Lord will repay -Ps 31:24 Yahweh pays back heavily any who act presumptiously. and that for me, although I do not put myself forward. -Rom 12:17 = 1 Thes 5:15 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. But God will pay back.. -Deut 32:35 Vengeance is mine, I will pay them back in due time. -2 Thes 1:6 It is indeed just of God to repay with affliction those who afflict you.
thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever:
so long as I live! Yahweh, your kindness is eternal;
136:22.214.171.124.2.2 The Lord will repay, yet his mercy will not stop. Rather, your mercy, Lord, endures forever. -Sir 40:17 Goodness is like a garden of blessings, and justice endures forever.
O despise not the works of thy hands.
the great work of your hands do not abandon!
136:126.96.36.199.2.3 The idea is: You pay our debt and show us your unique mercy. Likewise, despise not the work of your hands, which is what we are, but love it always and promote it as best you can. -Is 64:8 Yahweh, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. -Job 10:8 Your hands fashioned and made me. Therefore, do not despise this work, if it lies in the mud of the present misery, but all the more stretch out your hand. -Job 14:15 Extend your right hand to the work of your hand (Vul), to rescue it and bring it to eternal glory, by the action of Him whose right arm is blest forever. Amen.