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Psalm 66: God's Awesome Works

“Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth! Sing out the honor of His name; make His praise glorious.  Say to God, “How awesome are Your works! Through the greatness of Your power Your enemies shall submit themselves to You. All the earth shall worship You and sing praises to You; they shall sing praises to Your name.” Selah Come and see the works of God; He is awesome in His doing toward the sons of men. He turned the sea into dry land; they went through the river on foot. There we will rejoice in Him. He rules by His power forever; His eyes observe the nations; Do not let the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah Oh, bless our God, you peoples! And make the voice of His praise to be heard, Who keeps our soul among the living, and does not allow our feet to be moved. For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined. You brought us into the net; You laid affliction on our backs. You have caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; but You brought us out to rich fulfillment. I will go into Your house with burnt offerings; I will pay You my vows, which my lips have uttered and my mouth has spoken when I was in trouble. I will offer You burnt sacrifices of fat animals, with the sweet aroma of rams; I will offer bulls with goats. Selah   Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will declare what He has done for my soul. I cried to Him with my mouth, and He was [d]extolled with my tongue. If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear. But certainly, God has heard me; He has attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, Who has not turned away my prayer, Nor His mercy from me!”

The author and original occasion of Psalm 66 are not specifically revealed.  One thing is clear, however: it is a hymn of thanksgiving to celebrate God’s great work of deliverance of Israel from a severe crisis (vv. 10-12). The first section of this psalm is a call from the psalmist for others to join in praise to God for His great deliverance. It is a cause to honor God.  Some believe it was written by godly King Hezekiah after the final overthrow of Sennacherib before the gates of Jerusalem.

In this psalm of thanksgiving, the listeners are told to “come and see what God has done” (66:5). It then recounts when God parted the waters so that the Israelites could walk on dry ground. This may allude to the crossing of the Red Sea, which is depicted in this illumination from a machzor (AD 1466), a Jewish prayer book used during the major Jewish festivals.

(66:1-2) Praise God’s supremacy. This victory they were enjoying was not achieved by their own hands. It was the wondrous work of the Lord, the only true and living God who is faithful and omnipotent and who reigns supremely over all.  Everyone should shout with joy (v. 1).

“When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:7). “O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph” (Ps. 47:1).  “Sing, O ye heavens; for the Lord hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the Lord hath redeemed Jacob and glorified himself in Israel” (Isa. 44:23).

It is significant that the entire earth, all nations, are called to glorify God for His deliverance of Israel. Why? “Because through Israel, the Lord brought truth and salvation to the Gentiles.

"Come and see the works of God." The psalmist is not asking you to praise God for His great deeds until you have examined them. This emphasizes the great character of the cause. God is not afraid of examination.  An examination of the works of God will only encourage praise.

(66:8,9) Praise God for His Care. God cares {I Pet. 5:7} for us and this means protection. Such protection should encourage the people to praise God. We too often exult in our protection but do not exalt the Protector.

(66:10-12) Praise God for the trials. The proving by the trial.  “Thou... hast proved us... as silver is tried" (Psa. 66:10-12). Silver, according to ancient methods, required a prolonged process of refining before it could be pronounced pure.  Trials may last long, but the purifying/proving is invaluable.  This is a recognition that God controls our trials. Trials are not accidental.  The preservation of the trial was twofold. First, the bringing out. "Thou broughtest us out" This speaks of rescue or deliverance from the psalmist's troubles. Second, the bringing in "into a wealthy place" means wealth in terms of a rich comfort and blessing more so than just riches.

(66:16-20) Praise God for listening when we pray.  This final section teaches us that we must not only sacrifice to God that which is well pleasing to Him we must also proclaim God’s goodness in listening to our prayers and declare what He has done for us.  The answer to prayer did not come from what the psalmist deserved, but as a gift from the great love and mercy [hesed] of God.