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Psalm 138:8

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 8. The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me. All my interests are safe in Jehovah's hands.

"The work which his goodness began,
The arm of his strength will complete;
His promise is yea and Amen,
And never was forfeited yet."

God is concerned in all that concerns his servants. He will see to it that none of their precious things shall fail of completion; their life, their strength, their hopes, their graces, their pilgrimage, shall each and all be perfected. Jehovah himself will see to this and therefore it is most sure.

Thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever. The refrain of the former Psalm is in his ears, and he repeats it as his own personal conviction and consolation. The first clause of the verse is the assurance of faith, and this second one reaches to the full assurance of understanding. God's work in us will abide unto perfection because God's mercy towards us thus abideth.

Forsake not the works of thine own hands. Our confidence does not cause us to live without prayer, but encourages us to pray all more. Since we have it written upon our hearts that God will perfect his work in us, and we see it also written in Scripture that his mercy changeth not, with holy earnestness entreat that we may not be forsaken. If there be anything good in us, it is the work Of God's own hands: will he leave it? Why has he wrought so much in us if he means to give us up? -- it will be a sheer effort. He who has gone so far will surely persevere with us to the end. Our hope for the final perseverance of the believer lies in the final perseverance of believer's God. If the Lord begins to build, and does not finish, it will not be his honour. He will have a desire to the work of his hands, for he knows it has cost him already, and he will not throw away a vessel upon which he has expended so much of labour and skill. Therefore do we praise him with our, whole heart, even in the presence of those who depart from his Holy Word, and, set up another God and another gospel; which are not another, but there be some that trouble us.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 8. The LORD will perfect, etc. God's work is perfect, man's is clumsy and incomplete. God does not leave off till he has finished. When he rests, it is because, looking on his work, he sees it all "very good." His Sabbath is the Sabbath of an achieved purpose, of a fulfilled counsel. The palaces which we build are ever like that in the story, where one window remains dark and without jewels, while the rest blaze in beauty. But when God builds none can say, "He was not able to finish." In his great palace he makes her "windows of agates", and all her "borders of pleasant stones."

I suppose that if the medieval dream had ever come true, and an alchemist had ever turned a grain of lead into gold, he could have turned all the lead in the world, in time, and with crucibles and furnaces enough. The first step is all the difficulty, and if you and I have been changed from enemies into sons, and had one spark of love to God kindled in our hearts, that is a mightier change than any that yet remains to be effected in order to make us perfect. One grain has been changed, the whole mass will be in due time. -- Alexander Maclaren, Sermon in "Wesleyan Methodist Magazine", 1879.

Verse 8. Forsake not the works of thine own hands. When we are under such afflictions as threaten to ruin us, 'tis seasonable to tell the Lord he made us. David strengthens prayer upon this argument: "Forsake not the works of thine own hands." All men love their own works, many dote upon them: shall we think God will forsake his? See how the people of God plead with God in greatest distress ( Isaiah 64:8 ): "But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we are all the work of thy hand. Be not wroth very sore, O LORD." - -Joseph Caryl.

Verse 8. Forsake not the works of thine own hands. Look upon the wounds of thine hands, and forsake not the works of thine hands, prayed Queen Elizabeth. And Luther's usual prayer was, Confirm, O God, in us that thou hast wrought, and perfect the work that thou hast begun in us, to thy glory. So be it. --John Trapp.

Verse 8. Forsake not the works of thine own hands. Behold in me thy work, not mine: for mine, if thou seest, thou condemnest; thine, if thou seest, thou crownest. For whatever good works there be of mine, from thee are they to me; and so they are more thine than mine. For I hear from thine apostle, "By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus": Ephesians 2:8-10 . --Augustine.

Verse 8. Thine own hands. His creating hands formed our souls at the beginning; his nail pierced hands redeemed them on Calvary; his glorified hands will hold our souls fast and not let them go for ever. Unto his hands let us commend our spirits, sure that even though the works of our hands have made void the works of his hands, yet his hands will again make perfect all that our hands have unmade. --J.W. Burgon.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 8. (first clause).

  1. A wide subject "That which concerneth me." Not necessarily that which gives me concern.
  2. A promise that covers it: "the Lord will perfect."

--A.G.B.

Verse 8. (first and last clauses). Faith in divine purpose no hindrance to prayer, but rather an encouragement in it: "The Lord will perfect." "Forsake not."

--A.G.B

Verse 8. See "Spurgeon's Sermons", Nos. 231 and 1506: "Faith in Perfection", and, "Choice Comfort for a Young Believer."

Verse 8. The grace of God makes a man thoughtful, and leads him to concern about himself, his life, his future, and the completeness of the work of grace. This might lead us to sadness and despair, but the Lord worketh in us for other ends.

  1. He fills us with assurance.

    1. That the Lord will work for us.
    2. That he will complete his work.
    3. That he will do this in providence; if it be properly a concern of ours.
    4. That he will do this within us. Our graces shall grow. Our soul shall become Christly. Our whole nature perfect.
    5. That he will do this with our work for him.
  2. He gives us rest in his mercy.

    1. Thou wilt forgive my sins.
    2. Thou wilt bear with my nature.
    3. Thou wilt support me in suffering.
    4. Thou wilt supply me in need.
    5. Thou wilt succour me in death.
  3. He puts prayer into our hearts.

    1. That he will not forsake me.
    2. That he will not leave his own work in me undone.
    3. Nor his work by me unfinished. Why did he begin? Why carry so far? Why not complete?

Verse 8.

  1. Faith's full assurance: "The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me."
  2. Faith's firm foundation: "Thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever."
  3. Faith's fervent prayer: "Forsake not the works of thine own hands."

--W.H.J.P.

Read Psalm 138:8