He’s Still Working On Me
Pastor Tommy Wensil
Psalm 138 begins a range of 8 psalms that some believe are the last from the pen of the sweet psalmist of Israel (2 Sam. 23:1). It is significant that all these psalms are written in the first person, and each bears the title "A Psalm of David." Many expositors believe that this psalm was written in conjunction with David’s desire to build the temple as recorded in 2 Samuel 7. This psalm bears the keynotes of wholehearted worship and praise (vv1-3) with a closing note of assurance concerning the work of God in the life of the believer (Ps. 138:8).
I. Resolve– Ps. 138:1-3
The psalmist David opens this psalm with a note of holy resolve and spiritual determination to do God’s will. Resignation and resolve begin with the will, which strives to do God’s will.
A. The Will of God– "I will...
When desire begins to wane we must not lose our determination to do the will of God. Our will must focus and center upon God’s will.
1. Individual Determination– "I will...will I"
David begins this hymn with declaration of his determination– "I will." When a saint says I will in the boundaries of God’s will it is with the realization and resolve that he must do God’s will. In ignorance we say "I can’t," in indifference we say "I won’t" yet insistence to the will of God says– "I will." History has been made by those who have answered God’s call and command by saying– "I will."
"I am no longer anxious about anything, as I realize the Lord is able to carry out His will. And His will is mine. It makes no matter where He places me, or how. That is rather for Him to consider than for me; for in the easiest positions He must give me His grace, and in the most difficult, His grace is sufficient." (J. Hudson Taylor)
When Satan says "I will" it is in rebellion against God’s will, and rejection of God’s authority (Isa. 14:13,14). Satan’s "I will" caused him to be cast forth from the presence of the Lord.
Just as salvation is an individual matter, the will of God is an individual matter. Each person must determine to do God’s will. Then the individual "I will" turns to "I must" which is so much like the Savior (Lk. 2:49; 4:43; 13:33; 19:5; Jn. 3:30; Jn. 9:4; 10:16). When our will becomes His will– the must becomes marvelous in our lives.
2. Spiritual Determination– "I will praise..sing...worship"
What David was determined to do revolved around spiritual things. He desired, determined and declared that he would praise (Ps. 138:1,2),sing, worship (Ps. 138:2) and the underlying thought of verse 3 reveals that he had been praying. Determination that is not rooted in spiritual things will eventually fail.
3. Total Determination– "with my whole heart" (Ps. 138:1)
Both individual and spiritual determination are worthless unless there is the entire surrender of the will to God in whole hearted service. Many attempt to serve the Lord with ‘half-hearted,’ or ‘cold-hearted’ devotion and fail in misery and defeat. When the heart is yielded up to God in complete surrender then spiritual duty flows.
B. The Worship of God– "worship toward thy holy temple" (138:2)
a. Present Worship– "I will worship"
David’s resolve in the will of God is coupled with the worship of God. Those who are walking in God’s will are active in worship. The word "worship" means to bow down, to prostrate ones self, or to pay homage. David reveals that his worship involved praise (138:1), prayer (138:3) and the proclamation of God’s Word (138:2). Worship is the focus of the heart upon the God of glory. If God is glorified and His Word is magnified true worship will take place (Jn. 4:24).
b. Promised Worship– "toward thy holy temple"
Some expositors believe that David wrote this psalm in conjunction with His desire to build the Temple (2 Sam. 7:2-4). David could not build the temple, or even attend it, but he could look toward the sacred spot for his son, and the generations to come would be there to worship God in it. David had resolved in his heart that even if he did not see the glory of God’s house, then a generation to come would because he had sacrificed and worked to make it possible.
c. Prayerful Worship– "I cried..thou answeredst me"
Our sobs can turn to songs when our tears turn to prayers. David had marked a specific answer to prayer that had brought strength to his soul (Ps. 138:3). His determination to worship was mingled with an upward look of prayer. There is no evidence that David’s prayer changed the circumstances he was in yet it seems that it changed him.
C. The Word of God– "magnified...word above all thy name"
One of the most awesome statements in all of Scripture concerning the Word of God is found in this passage. God’s word is exalted even above His name. In the Old Testament God revealed Himself by His name and His Word. Yet the Word of God is placed above the name of God. Ponder three aspects of it...
1. Pure– Ps. 12:6
2. Powerful– Heb. 4:12
3. Permanent– Mt. 24:35
II. Realization– Ps. 138:4-6
The psalmist had come to the deep personal realization that God would ultimately have his way in the kingdoms of all the earth (Rev. 11:15).
A. Government of God– "all the kings of the earth"
David realized that ultimately all the kings of the earth would be praising the Lord, His word and His glory. Even though at times the heathen rage and it seems that ungodly and wicked men will never turn to the Lord, David foresaw with the telescope of prophecy the kings of the earth submitting to the King of Kings.
B. Grace of God– "high...respect unto the lowly"
David speaks of the loftiness of God– "the LORD be high" and the lowliness of man "unto the lowly." It is the marvelous grace of God that made the God of glory leave the ivory palaces of Heaven to condescend to where we are (2 Cor. 8:9).
"Thus in these two verses (vv4,5) we see that those who hear the words of God will know Him; those who know God will praise Him; those who praise God will walk in His ways; and those who walk n the ways of God will glorify Him." (Lamoyne Sharp, pg 240).
III. Revival– Ps. 138:7
Even though David had determined to do the will of God, to live in constant worship, and magnify His Word he was not exempt from trouble. David claims one of the most unusual assurances found in the Scripture– revival in the midst of trouble. In fact many of the greatest manifestations of God’s mighty power on behalf of His people have been when there was great trouble on the horizon.
A. God’s Power to Revive– "thou wilt revive me"
In the Scripture there are three stages of revival.
1. "Revive Me"-- Ps. 138:7
2. "Revive Us" – Ps. 85:6
3. "Revive Thy Work"-- Hab. 3:2
B. God’s Power to Rescue–"stretch forth thine hand...save me"
When God stretch’s forth His hand it is a figure of power and judgement (Ex. 3:20; Isa. 31:3; Jer. 15:6; Zeph. 2:13). He has the power to rescue us from the attacks of the enemy.
IV. Reassurance– Ps. 138:8
The last verse of the Psalm expresses David’s confidence in God to perfect him and to preserve him.
A. David’s Assurance– "The LORD will perfect..."
The opening of the psalm begins with David’s confidence, and ends with his consolation. He was assured that God would finish what He had started (Phil. 1:6).
Even if our resolve is gone, and our resources slim the Lord is still mighty on our behalf. God works marvelously on behalf of the believer.
1. As Clay He Is Molding Us–
God is seeking to mold us into a vessel that is meet for the master’s use (2 Tim. 2:20,21).
a. Clay is almost worthless and of little use to anyone. It is shapeless, purposeless, and lacks beauty and value until it comes in contact with the potter.
b. The potter has already visualized what he wants the clay to look like, and what its purpose is. When he places it upon the wheel he brings his thoughts into full view (Isa. 55:8,9).
c. The potter adds water to soften the clay then he treads upon it with his feet (Isa. 41:25) to remove the pockets of air that are within. These pockets of air will cause defects and weakness in the vessel when it is made. Some potters even use a large mallet to beat the air out. If these pockets of air are not remove the vessel will be destroyed when it is put into the fire.
d. The clay is then turned upon the wheel where the clay is made to spin so that he may shape the clay into the desired vessel. He applies pressure with his hands, and adds water to provide pliability and to cool the surface. The amount of water he adds to the clay will determine the color of the clay– it could be drab, red, or a tinted black.
e. He uses a piece of wood to shape the vessel, and smooth it as it continues to rotate, just as God uses the Cross to make us like Christ. The potter removes the clay, or adds clay as needed. If the vessel is not suitable to Him then he will crush it and start over again (Jer. 18:4). Yet it would still be in the hand of the potter. f. Before the clay is placed into the oven to be fired the potter places it upon a shelf and subjects it to the wind that blows from every direction. The clay is positioned so that it is sheltered from the sun until it is dried and prepared to be fired. It is placed in a crude oven where the fire is kept burning low until the pottery is sufficiently finished and hardened.
2. As Gold He Is Refining Us–
a. The Bible repeatedly speaks of gold tried in the fire, and even silver was tried in the fire (Ps. 66:10). (Prov 17:3) "The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts." (Job. 23:10; Zech 13:9; 1 Pet. 1:7; Rev. 3;18).
The ancient goldsmith places the gold in a crucible, subjects it to intense heat, and then the material liquefies. In the process the impurities rise to the top where they are skimmed off. When the refiner can see his reflection in the gold then he knows that the contents are pure. So Christ desires to refine us till His reflection is seen in our lives.
B. David’s Awareness– "thy mercy...endureth forever"
David is assured because of the lasting nature of God’s mercy. Those mercies which are new every morning (Lam. 3:23) are also enduring mercies. The lasting nature of God’s mercy is a reminder to David that God will deal tenderly with him for the remainder of his days.
C. David’s Appeal– "forsake not the works..."
F.B. Meyer wonderfully expresses the truth of the Lord’s pledge and power to finish what He has started. "There are no unfinished pictures on the walls of God’s studio; no incomplete statues in His halls of sculpture. When He begins, He pledges Himself to complete. His mercy endures forever; so we cannot tire it or wear it out. But our assurance ought always to take on the language of pleading, that He will not forsake." (Lockyer, pg 716).
The great missionary J. Hudson Taylor reveals how God worked in his life:
"I used to ask God to help me, then I asked if I might help him. I ended up asking Him to do His work through me."
The expositor J. Sidlow Baxter offers his insight into how God works in our lives.
What God chooses, He cleanses.
What God cleanses, He molds.
What God molds, He fills.
What God fills, He uses.