Psalm 98 is a Psalm of David and gives us a glimpse at the heart of a man who dedicated his life to living in continual praise and thanksgiving. This is a Psalm of public praise to God for his faithfulness in making and keeping His promises and for answered prayer. It is directed as a prayer of offering of thanks to God for his constant care. It is also a Psalm of heartfelt worship and humble gratitude towards a God who is everlasting, compassionate and faithful to keep his promises. In this expression of his gratitude, he has left us all a worthy example of how we should respond to God’s wonderful deliverance.
Vs 1a: “I will give you thanks with my whole heart” – David publicly and unreservedly proclaims that he gives God thanks with his whole heart.
Whole heart – inner part, inner man, mind, will soul… his whole being. David is not only giving ordinary or mundane gratitude; he is not just giving lip service to God. According to John Calvin, David’s heart is, “one that is sincere and not double.” It is genuine heartfelt thankfulness.
Vs 1b “before the gods I sing praise” – He unashamedly sings before the gods praise. The word gods can be translated as angels, kings or the gods of the kings. It seems the most probable translation would be “before the rulers and kings I will sing praise” since the Israelite's were monotheistic in worship.
Vs. 2a: “Bow down toward your holy temple” – David prostrates himself in reverence toward the tabernacle which represents the presence or the dwelling place of God. He knew his proper place before an Almighty God. He was not proud, instead he was humbled at the presence of God. This was not the actual temple since the Temple had not been built yet, so it was probably the tent or tabernacle that David bowing towards.
Vs. 2b: “I give thanks for…” – Three things David gives thanks to God for.
- His name – God’s reputation, fame, and glory. His name is who He is; the eternal one, the One who has always been and will always be.
- His steadfast love – God’s continual mercy He shows to His people. His loving kindness. Despite unfaithfulness God still loves His people.
- His faithfulness – God has made promises and He is trustworthy to keep His promises.
Vs. 3: “On the day I called you answered…” – David praises God for his answered prayer. As a result of the answered prayer his faith and spirit was strengthened in God. Aren’t we all encouraged or strengthened in faith when we actually witness an answer to prayer. When what we have prayed for comes to pass it certainly builds our faith and encourages us.
Vs 4 - 5: “All the kings of the earth…” – This is either a prayer request or a confident expectation. Regardless in David’s soul strengthening answered prayer he is confident that there will be a day when all rulers will acknowledge God as Supreme ruler.
Vs 6: “For the Lord is high, he regards the low…” These are words of comfort and encouragement to David and should be for us as well. As great, magnificent, awesome, amazing and awe inspiring God still cares for the common person. He is a God who is for the broken, humiliated, lowly and repentant.
In Psalm 51 David writes, “A broken spirit and a contrite heart the Lord will not despise.” Those who are humble and know their place before the Almighty God; He will remain close to and give regard to.
The proud, self dependent, unrepentant and haughty person will be distant from God. He will remain distant because proud individuals see no need for God, other than for personal gain or benefit (note he does not abandon them he just cannot get close to them, and not because he can’t but because the proud won’t let him come close). The proud are too proud to admit their failures, short comings or even acknowledge their sins. They come to God when things get tough and they can’t get themselves out of the predicament they are in.
Vs 7 – 8: “Though I walk in the midst of trouble…” David speaks of God’s protective hand in preserving him in times of danger and trouble. Even though his life is endangered by his enemies God has remained faithful in providing protection for him.
“right hand of power” – God’s almighty and divine power in physical and spiritual salvation. It is only God who saves.
Psalm 98 (For us today)
Upon reading this Psalm it is nearly impossible to not respond with the same amount of gratitude and praise towards God as David did. When I think back to when the Holy Spirit called me from the self-centered sin infested life I was living and I was invited to become an adopted son of the Almighty God, how can I not thank God with my whole being? A casual “thanks” is not enough to express the heartfelt gratitude I have towards the God who reached down and called me to be his child. It is not enough for me to give him lip service. I respond to God by giving him my whole being; my everything; I devote my life to serving Him (not as a way of trying to pay back what I could never pay back) but as an act of thanksgiving and gratitude.
MacDonald, W., & Farstad, A. (1997, c1995). Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments (Ps 138:1). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
MacDonald, W., & Farstad, A. (1997, c1995). Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments (Ps 138:2). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.