The psalm set for this evening’s prayers is a psalm of thanksgiving; it is an individual psalmist who offers her thanks before God for all the ways in which God has been continually present throughout her life.
Psalm 138 is an individual song of praise and thanksgiving; in this psalm, the psalmist recalls times in which she needed God and the ways in which God was present for her. She lauds and magnifies God’s name before the king’s courts. She moves from recalling the times when God helped to an exclamation of faith in God’s continual provision and care throughout the rest of her days as well. This is a psalm of someone who knows and is known by God; it is the reflection of someone whose life has been touched by God’s presence and for whom God’s hand has been active in her life, particularly in challenging times.
Occasionally, psalms of praise or thanksgiving seem disconnected from truth or reality. They seem like they are all praise and happy dances, and what I’ve experienced of life is that this is rarely the case. It is not often that one can journey through life and never have missteps or painful experiences. But Psalm 138 holds these two realities in balance. The psalmist is clearly invested in a life that is oriented toward praise and thanksgiving and yet has also had to choose this song of praise and of thanksgiving.
There is no sweeter gratitude than a gratitude that is chosen; may we never forget God’s steadfast love and kindness.