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Psalm 66

Psalm 66, A Thanksgiving Psalm

Summary

The psalmist, apparently recalling a special deliverance by God, 1. calls all the people on earth to praise God (Psalm 66.1-4). 2. He then asks the people to join him and see the awesome deeds God—who rules by might and keeps watch on nations—has done when he delivered Israel during the exodus (Psalm 66.5-7). 3. The psalmist then calls the people to bless and praise God who kept Israel as a nation through all the discipline and testing (Psalm 66.8-12). 4. He also will praise God with his lips and burnt offerings (Psalm 66.13-15). 5. The psalmist concludes by calling those who fear God to listen as he proclaims that God has answered his prayer and continued his lovingkindness to him (Psalm 66.16-20). Note the imperatives:  shout, Psalm 66.1; sing and make, Psalm 66.2; say, Psalm 66.3; come and see, Psalm 66.5; bless, Psalm 66.8; sound, Psalm 66.8; come and hear, Psalm 66.16.

Outline

  1. Psalm 66.1-4. The psalmist calls all the people on earth to praise God.
  2. Psalm 66.5-7. The psalmist then exhorts the people to join him and see the awesome (יָרֵא yare’ to fear) deeds God has done, and warns nations not to rebel.
  3. Psalm 66.8-12. The psalmist then calls the people to bless and praise God who kept Israel as a nation through all the discipline and testing, and he also will praise God with his lips and burnt offerings.
  4. Psalm 66.13-15. The psalmist personally responds to God for answering his prayer for deliverance when he or the people were in serious trouble.
  5. Psalm 66.16-20. He concludes by calling those who fear God to listen as he proclaims that God has answered his prayer and continued his loving kindness to him.

Brief Exposition

  1. Psalm 66.1-4. The psalmist calls all the people on earth to praise God.
    • Psalm 66.1-3. By shouting (66.1), singing (66.2), speaking (66.3), (all Hebrew imperatives), all people ought to proclaim God and his glory. His works are awesome (יָרֵא  yare’ to fear). Because of God’s great power his enemies (those who reject him and oppose him) cower, cringe, or fake obedience (כָּחַשׁ kachash) before him. They do not want to submit to him, but he is so powerful they are forced to fake submission. The LXX reads “they lie to you” or “they fake obedience to you.”
    • Psalm 66.4.  All people will worship  (שָׁחָה  shachah, to bow down) God, sing praises (זמר zamar, make music in praise of God) to him and to his name. The verbs are imperfects which can be future or stating a fact or a wish. Here it is what should be true, but based on God’s great acts they have experienced it goes beyond the present and says what will be true. The phrase “our God reigns” is true but will be in full in the future.
  2. Psalm 66.5-7. He then exhorts the people to join him and see the awesome (יָרֵא  yare’ to fear) deeds that God—who rules by might and keeps watch on nations—has done when he delivered Israel during the exodus—in particular the Red Sea (Exodus 14.21), and the Jordan River when Israel crossed into Canaan (Joshua 3).
    • Psalm 66.5-6. The Red Sea and Jordan River.
    • Psalm 66.7. God rules (מָשַׁל mashal, rule, have dominion, reign, qal participle describing God’s activity) by his strength. His power and sovereignty come together. He rules forever, indicating that in every era God has dominion over the nations and people. He watches the nations and therefore they ought not to exalt themselves. The rebellious nations can never escape God’s rule. See Psalm 2 for the nations attempting to rebel against Yahweh and his King.
  3. Psalm 66.8-12. The psalmist then calls the people to bless and praise God who kept Israel as a nation through all the discipline and testing, and he also will praise God with his lips and burnt offerings.
    • Psalm 66.8. The call for all people to bless God. In the context all people of the earth are to bless God. Psalm 66.1,5,7 indicate the scope of the call to bless God. Bless (בָּרַךְ barak, piel imperative masculine plural) means to kneel down, to praise God.
    • Psalm 68.9-12. Why bless God? Because throughout history when Israel was defeated, oppressed, and close to being wiped out God kept her alive. The history of Israel is one of spiritual failure after spiritual failure. God brought terrible times on Israel to test, refine, and correct her. Yet in these trials God preserved Israel (Psalm 66.12, “brought us into abundance” Hebrew saturation, relief, overflow; LXX and some versions read “wide open place” and so blessing).
  4. Psalm 66.13-15. The psalmist personally responds to God for answering his prayer for deliverance when he or the people were in serious trouble.
    • Psalm 66.13-14. He will fulfill his vow to praise God with burnt offerings in the sanctuary when he and the people were delivered from the trouble. See Numbers 15.3. The plural sacrifices are probably because he is doing this as a representative of the people.
  5. Psalm 66.16-20. He concludes by calling those who fear God to listen as he proclaims that God has answered his prayer and continued his loving kindness to him.
    • Psalm 66.16. The psalmist’s testimony of thanks to God for his life.
    • Psalm 66.17. He prayed for deliverance.
    • Psalm 66.18-19. The psalmist admits that if he sees (רָאָה ra’ah qal perfect, to see) and therefore ignores deliberate iniquity (אָ֫וֶן aven, wickedness, iniquity, injustice, harm) in his heart (לֵב leb, heart, inner person) God will not answer his prayer. But this is not the case. God has heard and answered.
    • Psalm 66.20. The psalmist expresses his personal thanks and praise (בָּרַךְ  barak, to kneel, bless) to God for  answered prayer (תְּפִלָּה tephillah prayer) and continued lovingkindness (חֶ֫סֶד hesed).

So what? applications

  1. The people of any nation, and especially Christians, ought to proclaim God—His glory, praise him, talk about his great works. (See Deuteronomy 32, Song of Moses).
  2. Those who reject God’s rule in the world often will fake their obedience to God now, but all will eventually bow down before God (See Philippians 2.9-11).
  3. We should recall God’s blessings to us and thank him for his gracious answers to prayer and his continued lovingkindness (see Psalm 117).
  4. God keeps his eye on the rebel nations. Self exaltation is futile. We should not think we can prosper without his care. We should not think that we can rule him out of life (see Jeremiah 50, Assyria and Babylon).
  5. We ought to learn that as God disciplines and preserves Israel, he is able to do the same for the church (see Matthew 16.18).
  6. Believers within a nation
    • Owe God loyalty and service (1 Corinthians 10.31).
    • Should tell what God has done for us (see 1 Thessalonians 1.8-10).
    • Should not harbor sin; it hinders prayer (see 1 John 1).