Psalm 138:3

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 3. In the day when I cried thou answerest me. No proof is so convincing as that of experience. No man doubts the power of prayer after he has received an answer of peace to his supplication. It is the distinguishing mark of the true and living God that he hears the pleadings of his people, and answers them; the gods hear not and answer not, but Jehovah's memorial is -- "the God that heareth prayer." There was some special day in which David cried more vehemently than usual; he was weak, wounded, worried, and his heart was wearied; then like a child he "cried", -- cried unto his Father. It was a bitter, earnest, eager prayer, as natural and as plaintive as the cry of a babe. The Lord answered it, but what answer can there be to a cry? -- to a mere inarticulate wail of grief? Our heavenly Father is able to interpret tears, and cries, and he replies to their inner sense in such a way as fully meets the case. The answer came in the same day as the cry ascended: so speedily does prayer rise to heaven, so quickly does mercy return to earth. The statement of this sentence is one which all believers can make, and as they can substantiate it with many facts, they ought boldly to publish it, for it is greatly to God's glory. Well might the Psalmist say, "I will worship" when he felt bound to say "thou answeredst me." Well might he glory before the idols and their worshippers when he had answers to prayer to look back upon. This also is our defence against modern heresies: we cannot forsake the Lord, for he has heard our prayers.

And strengthenedst me with strength in my soul. This was a true answer to his prayer. If the burden was not removed, yet strength was given wherewith to bear it, and this is an equally effective method of help. It may not be best for us that the trial should come to an end; it may be far more to our advantage that by its pressure we should learn patience. Sweet are the uses of adversity, and our prudent Father in heaven will not deprive us of those benefits. Strength imparted to the soul is an inestimable boon; it means courage, fortitude, assurance, heroism. By his word and Spirit the Lord can make the trembler brave, the sick whole, the weary bright. This soul might will continue: the man having been strengthened for one emergency remains vigorous for life, and is prepared for all future labours and sufferings; unless, indeed, he throw away his force by unbelief, or pride, or some other sin. When God strengthens, none can weaken. Then is our soul strong indeed when the Lord infuses might into us.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 3. In the day when I cried, etc. God granted him a speedy answer; for it was in the very day that he cried that he was heard: and it was a spiritual answer; he was strengthened with strength in his soul. Would you have soul strength for the work you have in view? Then cry unto him who is the "strength of Israel" for it; for "he giveth power to the faint, and he increaseth strength to them that have no might." --Ebenezer Erskine.

Verse 3. In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, etc. That part of an army which is upon action in the field is sure to have their pay, if their masters have any money in their purse, or care of them; yea, sometimes when their fellows left in their quarters are made to wait. I am sure there is more gold and silver (spiritual joy, I mean, and comfort) to be found in Christ's camp, among his suffering ones, than their brethren at home in peace and prosperity ordinarily can show. What are the promises but vessels of cordial wine, turned on purpose against a groaning hour, when God usually broacheth them! "Call upon me", saith God, "in the day of trouble." Psalms 50:15 . And may we not do so in the day of peace? Yes; but he would have us most bold with him in the day of trouble. None find such quick despatch at the throne of grace as suffering saints. "In the day that I cried", saith David, "thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul." He was now in a strait, and God comes in haste to him. Though we may keep a well friend waiting should he send for us, yet we will give a sick friend leave to call us up at midnight. In such extremities we usually go with the messenger that comes for us; and so doth God with the prayer. Peter knocked at their gate, who were assembled to seek God for him, almost as soon as their prayer knocked at heaven gate in his behalf. And truly it is no more than needs, if we consider the temptations of our afflicted condition; we are prone then to be suspicious that our best friends forget us, and to think every stay a delay, and neglect of us; therefore God chooseth to show himself most kind at such a time. "As the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ": 2 Corinthians 1:5 . As man laid on trouble, so Christ laid in consolation: both tides rose and fell together; when it was spring tide with him in affliction, it was so with him in his joy. We relieve the poor as their need increaseth; so Christ comforts his people as their troubles multiply. And now, Christian, tell me, doth not thy dear Lord deserve a ready spirit in thee to meet any suffering with, for, or from him, who gives his sweetest comforts where his people are put to bear their saddest sorrows? Well may the servant do his work cheerfully when his master is so careful of him as with his own hands to bring him his breakfast into the fields. The Christian stays not till he comes to heaven for all his comfort. There indeed shall be the full supper, but there is a breakfast, Christian, of previous joys, more or less, which Christ brings to thee into the field, to be eaten on the place where you endure your hardship. -- William Gurnall.

Verse 3. Thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul. It is one gracious way of answering our prayers when God doth bestow upon us spiritual strength in our souls; if he do not give the things we desire, yet if he gives us strength in our souls, he graciously answers our prayers. What is this spiritual strength? I answer, it is a work of the Spirit of God, enabling a man to do and suffer what God would have him without fainting or backsliding. --James Nalton.

Verse 3. Thou strengthenedst me with strength in my soul. Other masters cut out work for their servants, but do not help them in their work; but our Master in heaven doth not only give us work, but strength. God bids us serve him, and he will enable us to serve him, Ezekiel 36:27 : "I will cause you to walk in my statutes." The Lord doth not only fit work for us, but fits us for our work; with his command he gives power. --Thomas Watson.

Verse 3. Thou makest me brave in my soul (with) strength. The common version of this clause ("strengthenedst me with strength in my soul") contains a paronomasia not in the original, where the verb and noun have not even a letter in common. The verb is by some translated made me proud, i.e., elated me, not with a vain or selfish pride, but with a lofty and exhilarating hope. --Joseph Addison Alexander.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 3.

  1. Prayer answered in the day.
  2. Prayer answered by giving strength for the day. See 2 Corinthians 12:8-9 .

--A.G.B.

Verse 3.

  1. Answers to prayer should be noted and acknowledged: "Thou answeredst me."
  2. Speedy answers should have special praise: "In the when I cried, thou", etc.
  3. A strengthened soul is sometimes the best answer to prayer: "Strengthened me with strength."

--J.F.

Verse 3. Remarkable answer to prayer.

  1. The prayer: feeble, earnest, sorrowful, inarticulate.
  2. The answer: prompt, divine, effectual, certain.
  3. The praise deserved by such grace. See preceding verses.

Verse 3.

  1. A special day.
  2. A specific form of prayer: "I cried."
  3. A special method of response.

--W.W.