For the director of music. A song. A psalm.
Shout for joy to God, all the earth!
Sing the glory of his name;
make his praise glorious.
Say to God, ‘How awesome are your deeds!
So great is your power
that your enemies cringe before you.
All the earth bows down to you;
they sing praise to you,
they sing the praises of your name.’
Come and see what God has done,
his awesome deeds for mankind!
He turned the sea into dry land,
they passed through the waters on foot –
come, let us rejoice in him.
He rules for ever by his power,
his eyes watch the nations –
let not the rebellious rise up against him.
Praise our God, all peoples,
let the sound of his praise be heard;
he has preserved our lives
and kept our feet from slipping.
For you, God, tested us;
you refined us like silver.
You brought us into prison
and laid burdens on our backs.
You let people ride over our heads;
we went through fire and water,
but you brought us to a place of abundance.
I will come to your temple with burnt offerings
and fulfil my vows to you –
vows my lips promised and my mouth spoke
when I was in trouble.
I will sacrifice fat animals to you
and an offering of rams;
I will offer bulls and goats.
Come and hear, all you who fear God;(Ps. 66:1-20 NIV)
let me tell you what he has done for me.
I cried out to him with my mouth;
his praise was on my tongue.
If I had cherished sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened;
but God has surely listened
and has heard my prayer.
Praise be to God,
who has not rejected my prayer
or withheld his love from me!
This Psalm has a number of links with Psalm 65. It takes up the same vision of the whole earth praising the Lord for His awesome deeds. The Psalmist shows that the whole earth belongs to the Lord. The Psalmist is not calling for modest expressions but for shouts of joy. The glory of the Lord’s name is all the works of His hand. The praise of God should be glorious. The Psalmist calls for the worshippers to rehearse before the Lord the awesome nature of His deeds. The display of God’s power causes the enemy to cringe in retreat. The ultimate cringe will be when Christ comes back again and God causes all to bow and acknowledge that Christ is Lord. Not a single person will be allowed to stand up straight, or remain silent. The display of God’s power will reduce all to their knees. Those who mockingly took the name of Christ upon their lips will yield before Him then. The whole earth will bow and give praise to God.
The Psalmist invites the worshippers into the sanctuary so that they can see what God has done. In the sanctuary they tell the redemption story, the plagues, the Passover Lamb, the parting of the Red Sea. The people of God were led through the sea on foot. The Egyptians, who had persecuted the people of God for years, were brought into judgement as the walls of water gave way. The captain of the Egyptian army cried out that Yahweh (the warrior God) was fighting for the Israelites. The news of the awesome works of the Lord on behalf of His people struck terror into the nations at the thought of what this mighty God might do to them. God rules forever by His power. The Egyptians thought for many years that they had the upper hand, but then God came to the aid of His people. God places a watch on all the nations, and it would be better for them if they did not rise up against the Lord.
The Psalmist calls on all people to praise God so that the sound of His praise will be heard. In the crucible of testing in Egypt, God had preserved them. Recall that it was a small family that went down into Egypt, but God brought a nation out of Egypt. In providence God had made them detestable in the eyes of the Egyptians, so they were allowed to settle in their own territory. It was there that they grew in number. When the time was right Moses was born, and he would soon be used by God to bring the people out of Egypt. During that difficult time God kept their feet from slipping. God tested His people and refined the dross out of their lives. The Psalmist acknowledges that it was God Who brought them under persecution so that the land of Goshen was like prison to them. They had the heavy burden of slavery, and their jail keepers were over the heads of the people, keeping them down, keeping them under subjection. They went through the fire and water of persecution. The people cried out to God and brought them out of Egypt into the abundance of The Promised Land where they entered into rest.
As a result of what God has done, the Psalmist vows to come and bring thanksgiving offerings to the Lord in the Temple. God continues to come to the aid of His people. When God rescued the Psalmist he vowed to be grateful, and now he comes to give thanks. When God answers our prayers and comes to our aid we ought to give thanks. God has come to our aid by sending His Son to die on the cross. When we were brought into relationship with God we were given reason to be thankful. We should constantly thank the Lord for our great Salvation. We should tell the story of redemption and call on others to come and hear what God has done.
The Psalmist was a sinner, but he did not give sin a cherished place in his heart. He confessed his sin and looked to God to deal with him in grace and mercy. When we come to worship, we need to confess our sin. The Psalmist said that if he had cherished sin in his heart then God would not have listened. We confess our sins, we offer our praise, we respond to the Word of God, we offer our petitions, and God surely hears His people and answers their prayers. God does not withhold His love from us. We are His cherished possession.
Lord God, it delights our hearts to hear the Gospel message because there we tell of the awesome works that You have done. To You who hear prayer we will come and confess our sins, and plead for grace and mercy in the name of Jesus Christ. We thank You that You do not withhold Your love from us. Help us have the sense of joy that the Psalmist expresses. Though we do not see Jesus with our eye, we love Him and we believe in Him and we than You that You fill us with an inexpressible and glorious joy. Lord receive our thanks in our Saviour’s name. Amen.