What is the meaning of the text, “Thou has magnified Thy word above all Thy name” (Psalm 138:2)?
Perhaps this statement will be more easily understood if we use an illustration. The Churches of Macedonia (i.e. the Philippians, etc.) had a good “name” with the Apostle Paul, as liberal givers from their very beginning (Philippians 4:10-16). Yet on an occasion when he sought their help for the supply of the need of poor saints in Juda, they did far beyond his highest expectation, as he tells us in 1 Corinthians 8:1-5. In effect, he says of them: “They have magnified their liberality above all their name for it.”
Now, God’s “Name” represents the sum of His manifestations of Himself. As has been said by others, it is the product of His deeds, and is according to His historically manifested glory. In plainer words, it is His reputation for lovingkindness to His people, faithfulness to His promise, etc., as may be seen by its use in such passages as Exodus 16 and Joshua 7:9. David, who according to its title is the author of Psalm 138, has already known much of the name and fame of the Lord, both from the history of His people, and from His previous dealings with himself. But on the occasion for which he gives praise so fervently in this psalm, he feels that God has shown His faithfulness in keeping His word, even beyond all that past experience would have led him to expect, and so he says, “I will . . . praise Thy name for Thy loving- kindness and Thy truth; for Thou has magnified Thy word above all Thy name.”
Possibly the occasion may be that which is referred to in 2 Samuel 7, where at least he is found speaking in a strain very similar. He says there, “Thou hast brought me hitherto; and this was yet a small thing in Thy sight, O Lord God; but Thou hast spoken of Thy servant’s house for a great while to come; . . . for Thy word’s sake . . . hast Thou done all these great things . . . to make Thee a name; . . . and let Thy name be magnified for ever” (2 Samuel 7:18-26).
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