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Psalm 138[a]

By David.

138 I will give you thanks with all my heart;
before the heavenly assembly[b] I will sing praises to you.
I will bow down toward your holy temple,
and give thanks to your name,
because of your loyal love and faithfulness,
for you have exalted your promise above the entire sky.[c]
When[d] I cried out for help, you answered me.
You made me bold and energized me.[e]
Let all the kings of the earth give thanks[f] to you, O Lord,
when they hear the words you speak.[g]
Let them sing about the Lord’s deeds,[h]
for the Lord’s splendor is magnificent.[i]
Though the Lord is exalted, he looks after the lowly,
and from far away humbles[j] the proud.
Even when I must walk in the midst of danger,[k] you revive me.
You oppose my angry enemies,[l]
and your right hand delivers me.
The Lord avenges me.[m]
O Lord, your loyal love endures.
Do not abandon those whom you have made.[n]


  1. Psalm 138:1 sn Psalm 138. The psalmist vows to thank the Lord for his deliverance and protection.
  2. Psalm 138:1 tn The referent of the Hebrew term אֱלֹהִים (ʾelohim) is unclear. It refers either to the angelic assembly (see Gen 3:5; Ps 8:5) or to the pagan gods (see Pss 82:1, 6; 86:8; 97:7), in which case the psalmist’s praise takes on a polemical tone.
  3. Psalm 138:2 tc The MT reads, “for you have made great over all your name your word.” If retained, this must mean that God’s mighty intervention, in fulfillment of his word of promise, surpassed anything he had done prior to this. However, the statement is odd and several emendations have been proposed. Some read, “for you have exalted over everything your name and your word,” while others suggest, “for you have exalted over all the heavens your name and your word.” The translation assumes an emendation of “your name” to “your heavens” (a construction that appears in Pss 8:3 and 144:5). The point is that God has been faithful to his promise and the reliability of that promise is apparent to all. For a fuller discussion of these options, see L. C. Allen, Psalms 101-150 (WBC), 244.
  4. Psalm 138:3 tn Heb “in the day.”
  5. Psalm 138:3 tn Heb “you made me bold in my soul [with] strength.”
  6. Psalm 138:4 tn The prefixed verbal forms here and in the following verse are understood as jussives, for the psalmist appears to be calling upon the kings to praise God. Another option is to take them as imperfects and translate, “the kings of the earth will give thanks…and will sing.” In this case the psalmist anticipates a universal response to his thanksgiving song.
  7. Psalm 138:4 tn Heb “the words of your mouth.”
  8. Psalm 138:5 tn Heb “ways.”
  9. Psalm 138:5 tn Heb “great.”
  10. Psalm 138:6 tc The form of the verb is יְיֵדָע (yeyedaʿ) commonly understood to be Qal of יָדַע I (yadaʿ), although the Qal should not have two yod’s. Most likely one י (yod) should be deleted as dittography, or the second should be read as a ו (vav) and the form be understood as a The Hifil of יָדַע II (yadaʿ) means “to humiliate,” causative of the Qal “be submissive, humbled, quiet” (cf. Job 21:19; Prov 5:6; Isa 45:4; Jer 14:18; Hos 9:7). DCH supposes that the Qal can mean “to humiliate” in this verse. The more common homophonous root יָדַע means “to know,” sometimes with the nuance “to care for.” Alternatively the adjective גָּבֹהַּ (gavoah) can be understood as the subject, referring to God, “the exalted one cares for [the lowly] from a distance,” but the parallel thought in the next verse favors a contrast in this verse also.
  11. Psalm 138:7 tn Or “distress.”
  12. Psalm 138:7 tn Heb “against the anger of my enemies you extend your hand.”
  13. Psalm 138:8 tn Heb “avenges on my behalf.” For the meaning “to avenge” for the verb גָּמַר (gamar), see HALOT 197-98 s.v. גמר.
  14. Psalm 138:8 tn Heb “the works of your hands.” Many medieval Hebrew mss read the singular, “work of your hands.”