Psalms 138

Dr. Steve Viars October 30, 1993 Psalms 138:

- this morning we're going to move into a new Psalm - Psalm
  - often when we think of the Psalms, we think of the word
  - because they were used as part of Israel's worship, many
     of the Psalms tell us how and why we should praise our

- we've also been seeing in this study that the Psalms
   address a lot of other topics
     - cf. in the last few weeks we've discussed child-
        rearing, jealousy/envy, trusting the Lord, how to
        handle guilt, etc.

     - Psalm 138 is a Psalm that directly addresses the issue
        of praise.
        - a simple definition of praise is "the acknowledging
           of God's perfection, works, and benefits." (Unger)

- the Scripture tells us that one day, "every knee will bow,
   and every tongue shall confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord
   to the glory of God the Father."  (Phil. 2:11)
- some will not be willing to admit this truth until they
    face the Lord as judge...
     - however you and I have the wonderful privilege of
       learning to praise Him, and choosing to praise Him out
       of love and appreciation for all He's done for us.

- in this Psalm, David's going to speak to us about the
   extent of our praise, and the content of our praise.

(- see Trans. on relationship of the two points)

- READ Psalm 138
- let's begin talking about:

I. The Extent Of Our Praise

    - David says in verse 1 - "I will praise the Lord with my
        whole heart."

    - so when we think about the issue, "to what extent
      should I praise the Lord?", David's answer is:

    A. With all your heart

    1. what is your "heart?"

        - we probably need to mention that when the Bible
          talks about the word "heart", it's not speaking
          about the seat of the emotions, or the place that
          goes "pitter patter" when your wife kisses you.
        - the word "heart" in the Bible is talking about the
          "inner person", the "control center" of man", the
          "totality of the inner man in relationship to God."

       - the point that David is making is--that he wants his
          praise to be characterized by "wholeheartedness."
  - one writer said it this way--"all of the parts and powers
    of his inner being were committed to extolling his Lord."

- now I hope none of us would allow those words to roll off
   our lips "too easily."
   - the matter of praising God wholeheartedly (or even
       shooting toward that goal) is a serious issue that
       surely doesn't come naturally...
        - and it surely doesn't describe the average American

    2. what are some alternatives to wholehearted praise to

        - please turn over to Gen. 6:5

        a. wholehearted corruption

          - this passage describes our condition before
          - there was no cause to praise the Lord, and no
              occasion to do so.
          - many people go months, years, or even an entire
             lifetime and never say a positive word, or think
             a positive thought about the God of heaven.

          - some folks are very wholehearted--it's just that
             they're wholehearted about the wrong things.

- probably the more likely category is what we might call:

    b. half-hearted devotion

        - in other words, if a believer in Jesus Christ is
           not like David in Psalm 138:1 who sought to praise
           God with his whole heart, what is he/she most
           likely to be?
        - the answer is -- half--hearted in their devotion
           and praise---or, possessing a divided heart.

        - a good example of this condition is found in
            Jeremiah 3:6-11.  (Israel - northern kingdom,
            Judah, southern kingdom)
              - cf. especially verse 10

        - we're going to talk more about the issue of "idols"
          in the second half of verse one, but the point here
          is that David did not want to be a a person whose
          praise/devotion was only half-hearted.

- let's think about this question for a moment:
   INPUT - what might be some causes of half-hearted
      devotion/praise?  (pride-I accomplished it myself,
      bitterness-I won't praise God for that because I don't
      understand/appreciate it.)

- David tells us something else about the extent of his
   praise in the second half of verse 1.
    - INPUT - what is it?

B. Before the "gods."

    - you understand, that when David talks about the gods,
      he's not saying that he considers them to be genuine
    - Paul made the same argument in I Cor. 8:4 - "we know
       that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there
       is no other God but one."

    - so David's not saying that He's going to praise the
      real God in front of the false gods/idols because
      that's going to have any impact on the false gods/idols
         - INPUT - but who is it going to have impact on?
            (the people who wrongly worship the false gods.)

- this part of the verse brings up a critical concept for you
   and I to get a handle on.
- let's try to do it by thinking together about two critical
    questions: (on white board)

    INPUT - what are some of the "gods" that people (or even
       you or me) might "worship" (serve/praise) today?

    - INPUT - what are some contexts in which you and I might
        be tempted to praise the Lord in?

          (apply to child-rearing--contexts in which our
           children might be tempted not to praise the Lord

          - by the way, while we're on this subject, there
            are some activities/events your child might want
            to get involved in that are, by their very
            nature, contrary to what we're talking about.
             - either by the purpose of the event
             - or by the kind of music
             - or by the kinds of activities

- you'll have to decide for yourself and you'll have to
   decide for your children how important the concepts in
   this verse really are.
- you're also going to have to decide what God wants you to
   do when your children don't agree with what the direction
   you're trying to give your family on some of these issues.
- I'm not talking about taking an immediate bottom line
   - of course there's room for discussion and additional
      study of the Scripture.

- but let me ask you this--is there ever a place in your
   thinking where a bottom line would have to be drawn?
    - some parents allow their children to run the home.
    - for some, whether the child is happy, and satisfied,
       and pleased is the controlling issue in the home.

    - please let me remind you that the Lord didn't put you
        in the home to win a popularity contest.
    - in fact, the Scripture strongly condemns parents who
       don't show godly and biblical leadership in their

I Kings - 1:5-6 - (context - one of David’s own sons has
  rebelled against him) - "Then Adonijah, the son of Haggith,
  exalted himself, saying, I will be king, and he prepared
  chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him.
  And his father had not displeased him at any time, saying,
  Why have you done so...?"

- you read about the same thing in I Samuel 3 concerning Eli
   the priest where the Lord said, "For I have told him that
   I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he
   knows, because his sons made themselves vile, and he
   restrained them not."

- Eli found himself on the shelf--no longer useful for God
    and His service
      - and that’s the case with many Christian parents who
         have valued "pleasing their children" more than
         they've valued "pleasing the Lord" and as a result
         they've limited the spiritual service of the entire

- David's talking about the extent of his praise
   - "with my whole heart will I praise the Lord--regardless
      of where I am or how those around me might respond."

- let me ask you this--is that the testimony of your heart?

   - we're no talking about you being a fanatic or standing
     on top of your desk at work and shouting Bible verses...
      - but do you look for opportunities to praise the Lord?

      - cf. comments about the house - "The Lord's been good
         to us."

- there are all sorts of natural ways to give God praise if
   we look for them
     - the problem is that some folks are ashamed of the
       gospel, ashamed of the Bible, ashamed of the Lord.

     ***- recommend "Ashamed of the Gospel"

- I'm going to move over verse 2 more rapidly, but we see the
  same kind of ideas concerning the extent of David's praise.

C. Directed toward the holy temple.

    - a person who wanted to praise the Lord in Jerusalem
      would naturally turn toward the tabernacle and later
      the temple because that was the special place where
      God's people met for corporate worship.
    - David was not ashamed of worshipping in that way, and
       he wouldn't let other things get in the way of his
       desire to praise God.

D. Involving God's name

    - he wanted to be a man who "praised His Lord"
    - he said "I will praise thy name"

    - he didn't want there to be any question about who he
       believed was responsible for the goodness and blessing
       he enjoyed.
- we'll have to move more quickly through the rest of the
   verses, but let's talk now about...

II. The Content Of Our Praise

    A. For God's personal characteristics - 138:c

        - David brings out two of the most important
          attributes of the Lord--his loving kindness (grace)
          and his truth.

        - we see those same attributes mentioned often in the
           - Psalm 40:11 - let thy loving kindness and thy
               truth preserve me.
           - Psalm 89:33-37

         - of course those attributes are perfectly
             exemplified in our Lord.
         - that’s why John said in John 1:17, "for the law was
            given by Moses, grace and truth by Jesus Christ."

- now what we're talking about here may explain why those in
   our generation don't seem to be as interested or able to
   praise the Lord in the way David is talking about.
- the ability to praise the Lord is directly connected to our
    knowledge of Him, and our desire to know Him more.
    *** - the pre-requisite to praise is right theology.

    - CT article.

      - point is - a person ought to come to church (or to
          his/her own study of the Scripture) asking
          questions like:

        1) what does the Bible say the God of Heaven is like?

        2) how is this different than my view/beliefs and how
           do I need to change to demonstrate my submission
           to the Scriptures?

        3) Since God is holy, how can I be reconciled to God
            in my sinful state?

        4) How does God want me to live after I've been
            reconciled to Him and how can I get busy ay
            changing as quickly as possible?

- but this article is showing that’s not the way many
   folks are approaching their relationship with the Lord.
- (by the way, when a publication as far to the left as CT
   gets concerned about something, we better all get
   concerned about it.)

- many are coming back to the church with questions like:
    1) What has God done for me and how can he help me?
       (maybe not intrinsically wrong--but definitely
        intrinsically incomplete).

    2) what does the Bible say about God--and then I'll tell
        you if that goes along with my belief--if not, I'm
        not going to change.
- the point is - there's no place for truth//sound theology
    in the minds of many believers today.

- quote MacArthur - page xi-xii.

- the same point is made in a book I mentioned to you a
   couple of weeks ago entitled "No Place For Truth--Whatever
   Happened To Evangelical theology?"

   - part of the argument of the book is that our culture has
     placed such a premium on television, and videos, and
     other forms of entertainment--that we're no longer able
     to think.

   - the point is -- you and I couldn't possibly do what
      David is advocating unless we have a genuine place in
      our lives and hearts for learning more about the Lord
      through His Word.

    - The prerequisite to praise is right theology.

- let me just mention the other things David praises the Lord
    for to complete your outline.

B. Answered prayer - 138:3a

C. Strength - 138:3b

D. Future world dominion - 138:4, 5

E. His attitude toward men - 138:6

F. His preservation - 138:7


G. His faithfulness

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

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