The Psalm is presented as the song of the King of Israel – specifically King David – hymning the God of Israel for his faithfulness and love.
The implication is that Israel’s King is not only praising God for his virtue, but is expressing his desire to imitate these virtues in himself.
There is a poignancy in the final stanza, where the king seems to acknowledge his frailty, and entrusts himself and his failings to the mercy of God.
We will surely (hopefully) know our need to do the same.
(NB the text set for Sunday is given below in bold and in ‘quote sections’ below; the rest is the immediate biblical text from which the Lectionary text is extracted)
Psalm 138 (137)
1 Of David.
I thank you, Lord, with all my heart;
you have heard the words of my mouth.
In the presence of the angels I praise you.
2 I bow down toward your holy temple.
I give thanks to your name
for your merciful love and your faithfulness.
You have exalted your name over all.
3 On the day I called, you answered me;
you increased the strength of my soul.
4 All earth’s kings shall thank you, O Lord,
when they hear the words of your mouth.
5 They shall sing of the ways of the Lord,
“How great is the glory of the Lord!”
6 The Lord is high, yet he looks on the lowly,
and the haughty he knows from afar.
7 You give me life though I walk amid affliction;
you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes.
With your right hand you save me;
8 the Lord will accomplish this for me.
O Lord, your merciful love is eternal;
discard not the work of your hands.
~ Translation of Psalm: From The Revised Grail Psalms: A Liturgical Psalter. (c) 2010.~ Commentary: (c) 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photo: (c) 2020, Allen Morris. Stained Glass, Priory Church, Leominster