Theme: God’s Word and God’s Name
In this week’s lessons, we are again directed to the privilege of offering to the Lord our worship and our thanks for who he is, for what he has done, and for what he promises to do for his people. 
Scripture: Psalm 138:1-8
In yesterday’s study we looked at the meaning of the puzzling phrase “before the gods.” In today’s study we look at the meaning of the NIV’s words “for you have exalted above all things your name and your word” (v. 2). That is only an interpretation because the verse actually reads, “you have exalted your word above your name.”
2. God’s “word” exalted above God’s “name.” Verse 2 says literally, “You have magnified your word above all your name.” This seems a strange thing to say since God’s name, which is a way of referring to all that God is, is above everything. How can God’s word be exalted above that which is above everything else? Seeing this difficulty, some translators have guessed that the letter waw (meaning “and”) has been erroneously omitted from the text. Then they reinstate it to get something like the meaning found in the NIV: “You have exalted above all things your name and your word.” Derek Kidner agrees with this emendation on the grounds that “Scripture does not encourage bibliolatry.”1 Other people render the verse: “You have magnified your name … in your word.”
The problem is that the text does not say either of these things as it stands, and the actual reading may be best despite its initial difficulty. It would be as if God is saying, “I value my integrity above everything else. Above everything else I want to be believed.” The verse does not have to mean that God’s other qualities are moved to second place. 
If what is driving David in his thanksgiving is gratitude for the great blessing promised by God’s establishing his throne forever, the verse becomes entirely appropriate. For what David would be doing is fixing his confidence on God’s word. There is nothing in human life to suggest that an earthly dynasty is forever. All things human perish. Heaven and earth themselves will pass away (Matt. 24:35). But if God has promised David an everlasting dynasty, then God will surely perform what he has promised. 
In fact, the reference to God’s supremely exalted word may refer to 2 Samuel 7, for in verses 20 and 21 of that chapter David responds to God’s promise of an eternal kingdom noting, “What more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Sovereign LORD. For the sake of your word and according to your will, you have done this great thing and made it known to your Servant.” 
But enough of the problems. What is David praising God for in these verses? The answer is his “covenant love” (hesed) and “faithfulness” (v. 2). Surely there are no greater qualities of God than these where the people of God are concerned. 
Yet strikingly, these two attributes are under attack today. In fact, they have always been. Men attack God’s covenant love because they want to substitute a religion of their own sullied works. They do not want grace; they want recognition of their own nonexistent merit. And they attack God’s truth or faithfulness to his truth because they prefer their own perceptions or hunches instead. 
These were the same attacks Satan used in his temptation of Eve in the garden of Eden. His first temptation was an attack on God’s goodness, for the question “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” means “If God has forbidden one tree, he might as well have forbidden you to eat from all the trees; clearly he does not have your best interests at heart.” His second temptation was an attack on God’s word: “You will not surely die.” That means, “God is lying.” 
David had learned that God does not lie and that all his thoughts and actions toward us flow from love and persist in faithfulness. God is good, and he is always good. Therefore, David wanted to thank God for his goodness and praise him for his covenant love and faithfulness before everyone. 
There is one thing more. Not only does David praise God for what he is in himself, namely. his love and faithfulness. He also praises him for providing what he needed when he needed it and that immediately. David records that he called on God, who answered him right away. Moreover, God made him bold and stouthearted, no doubt in the face of the attacks of his enemies that he mentions further on in v. 7.
1Derek Kidner, Psalms 73-150: A Commentary on Books III-V of the Psalms, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1975), p. 462. 
2Of the commentators writing on this verse the most helpful is probably Charles Spurgeon, who collects a variety of views all based on the wording of the text as it stands (The Treasury of David, vol. 3b, Psalms 120-150 [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1968], pp. 249-252). 
Study Questions: 

What is the second troubling phrase in Psalm 138? How does Dr. Boice explain this phrase? 
For what qualities does David praise God? Why are these qualities under attack? 
What did God provide to David? 

Reflection: Thank God for providing for you when you needed it. 
Key Point: God does not lie… all his thoughts and actions toward us flow from love and persist in faithfulness.

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