English Basic Explanation - Chapter 138
Chapter 138, like many chapters of Tehillim, is a song composed by David thanking and praising God for delivering him from crisis and hardship. He recalls "walking in the midst of trouble" (verse 7), situations from where there seemed no possibility of escape, when suddenly God "sent His arm" and extricated David from crisis. From the final verse, in which David expresses his confident hope that God will grant him complete salvation, it emerges that the danger has yet to pass entirely. As in many instances throughout Tehillim, David draws inspiration and encouragement from his past experiences and feels confident that God will continue to rescue him from his relentless foes of both present and future.
David emphasizes here the recognition of God's greatness on the part of the world's kings and dignitaries. He opens this chapter by expressing his desire to give praise to God "opposite elohim," which Rashi explains to mean high-ranking officials. Monarchs generally attribute their success and the defeat of their enemies to their own power and prowess, and draw upon these successes as a basis for earning the respect and support of the nation and of other rulers. David, however, does just the opposite. After his unlikely victory over his enemies, he tells the powerful rulers that these victories were brought about by the Almighty and do not reflect David's own talents. He harbors no desire for fame and recognition among the leaders of other countries; his sole desire is to disseminate the truth about God and bring glory to His Name. He thus anticipates the day when "all kings of the earth" will join together in the fervent, joyous praise of God, rather than wasting their time and energies on the futile effort to earn personal fame.