For the director of music. A psalm of David. A song.
Praise awaits you, our God, in Zion;
to you our vows will be fulfilled.
You who answer prayer,
to you all people will come.
When we were overwhelmed by sins,
you forgave our transgressions.
Blessed are those you choose
and bring near to live in your courts!
We are filled with the good things of your house,
of your holy temple.
You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds,
God our Saviour,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas,
who formed the mountains by your power,
having armed yourself with strength,
who stilled the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
and the turmoil of the nations.
The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
where morning dawns, where evening fades,
you call forth songs of joy.
You care for the land and water it;(Ps. 65:1-13 NIV)
you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
to provide the people with corn,
for so you have ordained it.
You drench its furrows and level its ridges;
you soften it with showers and bless its crops.
You crown the year with your bounty,
and your carts overflow with abundance.
The grasslands of the wilderness overflow;
the hills are clothed with gladness.
The meadows are covered with flocks
and the valleys are mantled with corn;
they shout for joy and sing.
This is a thanksgiving Psalm. The Psalmist summons the community of God’s people to worship and then speaks to God to say that praise awaits God in the sanctuary. The vows of thanksgiving that the people had made to God will be fulfilled. The vows of thanksgiving are expressions of gratitude for what God had done. Thanksgiving is a very clear element of prayer, and we should always have that spirit of gratitude towards God.
Praise is the appropriate response to God because great is His kindness. God hears prayer and this is a great encouragement to us to come before Him with a sense of confidence. As the worshippers come to God they need to find grace and mercy because they come as sinners. Their sin had overwhelmed them. They did not deserve to have a hearing with God, but God hears their confession of sin. That is the second element of prayer that we learn from this Psalm: we ought to confess our sins.
Those whom the Lord has chosen are greatly blessed because God brings them into the sanctuary where they can be in the presence of God. The people of God enjoy the many blessings of salvation in this life but also in the life to come.
The awesome act of the Lord in the OT was the Exodus event. The Lord heard the cries of His people and raised up Moses to lead them in the Exodus. God dealt with the enemy in awesome acts of righteousness. Through the plagues and the punishment in the Red Sea God revealed His righteousness. The awesome act of God brought salvation to His people but judgement upon the Egyptians. God is the God of salvation to His people. In the Gospel God is the hope of the whole earth. God’s rule extends to the whole creation. The reason that God’s rule extends to the whole earth is because He made the earth. By His power He formed the mountains, having armed Himself with strength to give the mountains their shape. It is important to note that the Psalmist attributes the stilling of the seas to God. In the pagan mythology the sea represented chaos and possessed life threatening powers. The Lord created the seas, He gave the seas their boundaries. The Spirit of God had hovered over the chaos in Genesis and brought cosmos out of chaos and order out of disorder. The Lord still rules the seas. Though the nations are in turmoil, God still rules the nations. China, North Korea, Russia, Iran, India, Pakistan, USA, UK and all nations have rulers appointed by God. As quickly as they have come to power, so quickly could God remove them. God is Sovereign. Throughout Scripture nations heard what God had done for His people and they feared the Lord. God’s rule extends from the East, where morning dawns to the West where evening fades. When the Lord established His rule, then songs of joy will replace the taunts, the threats and the rebellious acts of the Nations.
This would be a great harvest thanksgiving Psalm. As a child, one of my favourite services to go to was harvest thanksgiving. Living in a farming community, the church was filled with freshly harvested produce. The farmers and their families were present in great numbers and it was a morning and evening of great celebration and thanksgiving. It is still a favourite with me. Even though we have lived in towns and cities for many years, it is good to remember the faithfulness of God in giving harvest each year. God cares for the land, He sends the rain and He enriches the land with goodness, so that it will bring forth fruit and grain. All the streams and rivers belong to God, and they are filled with water to irrigate the land. God has promised that while the earth remained that seedtime and harvest would not fail. The farmer ploughs the field, and the Lord waters the furrows and ridges and blesses the crop so that they will be a blessing to us. I was once told that it was not relevant for us as a city congregation to sing ‘We plough the fields and scatter the good seed on the ground’, but it is entirely relevant that we be reminded that our food comes from the ground, and while we may not do the ploughing, sowing and harvesting we need to be kept in touch with this bounty of the Lord. The Lord gives this annual harvest and crowns the year with His bounty. The Lord’s grocery and vegetable cart overflows with abundance. When we meet together to have our fellowship lunches, we enjoy the abundance of food that is provided, and we feast together, share recipes, and tell how the food was prepared. What a great advantage to have so many nationalities present so that we see how God has blessed right across the world! We miss those fellowship lunches. Let’s think of them as a festival occasion when we can have food, fellowship and fun together. We’ll have to make the first one that we are able to do something special. So, those of you with creative ideas get thinking! We’ll eat and remember that it is God who tends the grasslands, the meadows and the flocks of animals that provide our food.
We celebrate the spiritual blessings that we receive but we should not forget to celebrate the Lord’s provision. Like Psalm 98 the Psalmist calls on the hills, valleys and meadows to sing and shout for joy with us because of the bounty of the Lord.
Lord God, we thank You that You give us joy with the food that You provide. You prepare a table of spiritual blessings but also a harvest of healthy food in abundance. Lord we thank You for every good and precious gift You give, for food, for family, for shelter and for life itself that permits us to partake of the bounty of spiritual and temporal blessings. Receive our praise and thanksgiving in Jesus’ name. Amen.