Psalm 138:8
The LORD will perfect that which concerns me: your mercy, O LORD, endures for ever: forsake not the works of your own hands.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) Perfect that which concerneth me.—Or, as in the analogous phrase (Psalm 57:2), will complete for mei.e., either all my undertakings,” or, as in Philippians 1:6, “what he has begun in and for me.”

Forsake not.—Better, the works of Thine hands; do not leave them unfinished. (See for the same verb Nehemiah 6:3; Proverbs 4:13 : “let her not go.”)

The special intention of the prayer depends on the origin of the psalm. If it arose out of the troubles of rebuilding Jerusalem and reconstituting the state, it is intelligible and expressive. Or the reference may be to all Jehovah’s gracious intentions for Israel.

138:6-8 Though the Lord is high, yet he has respect to every lowly, humbled sinner; but the proud and unbelieving will be banished far from his blissful presence. Divine consolations have enough in them to revive us, even when we walk in the midst of troubles. And God will save his own people that they may be revived by the Holy Spirit, the Giver of life and holiness. If we give to God the glory of his mercy, we may take to ourselves the comfort. This confidence will not do away, but quicken prayer. Whatever good there is in us, it is God works in us both to will and to do. The Lord will perfect the salvation of every true believer, and he will never forsake those whom he has created anew in Christ Jesus unto good works.The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me - He will complete what he has begun. He will not begin to interpose in my behalf, and then abandon me. He will not promise to save me, and then fail to fulfill his promise. He will not encourage me, and then cast me off. So of us. He will complete what he begins. He will not convert a soul, and then leave it to perish. "Grace will complete what grace begins." See the notes at Philippians 1:6.

Thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever - See the notes at Psalm 136:1.

Forsake not the works of thine own hands - What thou hast made; what thou hast begun to do. Do not leave me to perish. Prayer is one of the means - and an essential means - by which the saints are to be kept unto salvation. The doctrine of the "perseverance of the saints." is not inconsistent with prayer, but rather prompts to it; and he who professes to rely on that doctrine, and feels so safe that he does not need to pray, and does not pray, gives certain evidence that he has never been converted, and has no true religion.

8. God will fulfil His promise. Will perfect that which concerneth me; will finish that great work of my deliverance and advancement, which he hath undertaken and carried on hitherto.

Endureth for ever; it is not inconstant and changeable, as men’s affections are, but everlasting. And this may be either a proof of the fort, going assertion, the Lord will perfect, &c. or an argument to enforce the following petition, therefore

forsake not, & c. Forsake not, or leave not, or do not desist from or give over. The works of thine own hands; the work of my salvation, which is thus far advanced, not by any human help, but by thine own extraordinary power and providence, and therefore it is not for thine honour to desert it at last. This he calls works in regard of the many and various parts and actions which concurred to this work. The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me,.... Or "will", or "may the Lord perform for me" (x): all things in providence; all that he had appointed for him, that would be for his good and his own glory, Psalm 57:2; and particularly what concerned him as a king. He had made him king over the house of Judah; he had begun to fulfil his promise concerning the kingdom; and he would perfect it, by setting him over all the tribes of Israel. Also he believed he would perfect what concerned him as a saint, even the good work of grace upon his heart; which is but a begun work, is imperfect, is gradually carried on, and will be completed; God is able to do it, and none can hinder him; he has promised to do it, and he is faithful who will do it; and his glory is concerned in it; and it may be depended on it will be finished; he is a rock, and his work is perfect; see Philippians 1:6;

thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever; a phrase often used by the psalmist, with which his heart was affected; and here used, both as an argument by which he concluded God would perfect his begun work, and as an encouragement to make the following request:

forsake not the works of thine own hands; as are all the works of providence and grace: the work of grace upon the heart may be expressed in the plural number, because of the several branches of it; which are all so many works, as the work of faith, labour, of love, &c. 1 Thessalonians 1:3; and which is the Lord's handiwork; and a curious work it is, a new creation work, a work of almighty power; and which he will never cease from, or be remiss in, as the word (y) signifies, until he has accomplished it, 2 Thessalonians 1:11. It is a prayer of faith, and may be most confidently believed: and some indeed render it as an expression of faith, "thou wilt not forsake the works of thine hands" (z); David himself was the work of God's hands, as Kimchi observes, as a creature, as a king, and as a saint; and so are all the people of God, Isaiah 45:11; and whom he will never leave nor forsake; for they are his church, his chosen, his children, his portion and inheritance, Psalm 94:14.

(x) "perficiet pro me", Montanus, Musculus; "perficiat pro me", Junius & Tremellius. (y) "ne dimittas", Pagninus, Montanus. (z) "Non deseres", Musculus, Piscator.

The LORD will {f} perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.

(f) Though my enemies rage, yet the Lord, who has begun his work in me, will continue his grace to the end.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8. will perfect that which concerneth me] Will accomplish His promises and purposes for me. Cp. Psalm 57:2; Php 1:6 (ἐπιτελεῖν is the word used in Aquila’s version here).

forsake not the works of thine own hands] The plural works and the parallelism of the first line shew that the meaning is not ‘Do not abandon Israel whom Thou hast made’; but ‘Do not fail to carry forward to completion the mighty works which Thou hast undertaken to do for Israel.’ Cp. Psalm 90:16; Psalm 92:5; Psalm 143:5.Verse 8. - The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me; i.e. will complete what he has begun for me - will not leave his work unfinished (comp. Psalm 57:2; Philippians 1:6). Thy mercy, O Lord, endureth forever. Does not suddenly break off and stop. Forsake not the works of thine own hands. This is probably more than a mere personal request. David sees in God's care for himself a portion of his great providential scheme for the redemption of the world.



The poet will give thanks to Him, whom he means without mentioning Him by name, for His mercy, i.e., His anticipating, condescending love, and for His truth, i.e., truthfulness and faithfulness, and more definitely for having magnified His promise (אמרה) above all His Name, i.e., that He has given a promise which infinitely surpasses everything by which He has hitherto established a name and memorial for Himself (על־כּל־שׁמך, with ō instead of ŏ, an anomaly that is noted by the Masora, vid., Baer's Psalterium, p. 133). If the promise by the mouth of Nathan (2 Samuel 7) is meant, then we may compare 2 Samuel 7:21. גּדל, גּדול, גּדלּה are repeated in that promise and its echo coming from the heart of David so frequently, that this הגדּלתּ seems like a hint pointing to that history, which is one of the most important crises in the history of salvation. The expression נגד אלהים also becomes intelligible from this history. Ewald renders it: "in the presence of God!" which is surely meant to say: in the holy place (De Wette, Olshausen). But "before God will I sing praise to Thee (O God!)" - what a jumble! The lxx renders ἐναντίον ἀγγέλων, which is in itself admissible and full of meaning,

(Note: Bellarmine: Scio me psallentem tibi ab angelis, qui tibi assistunt, videri et attendi et ideo ita considerate me geram in psallendo, ut qui intelligam, in quo theatro consistam.)

but without coherence in the context of the Psalm, and also is to be rejected because it is on the whole very questionable whether the Old Testament language uses אלהים thus, without anything further to define it, in the sense of "angels." It might be more readily rendered "in the presence of the gods," viz., of the gods of the peoples (Hengstenberg, Hupfeld, and Hitzig); but in order to be understood of gods which are only seemingly such, it would require some addition. Whereas אלהים can without any addition denote the magisterial possessors of the dignity that is the type of the divine, as follows from Psalm 82:1 (cf. Psalm 45:7) in spite of Knobel, Graf, and Hupfeld; and thus, too (cf. נגד מלכים in Psalm 119:46), we understand it here, with Rashi, Aben-Ezra, Kimchi, Falminius, Bucer, Clericus, and others. What is meant are "the great who are in the earth," 2 Samuel 7:9, with whom David, inasmuch as he became king from being a shepherd, is ranked, and above whom he has been lifted up by the promise of an eternal kingship. Before these earthly "gods" will David praise the God of the promise; they shall hear for their salutary confusion, for their willing rendering of homage, that God hath made him "the highest with respect to the kings of the earth" (Psalm 89:28).

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