A Psalm a Day: Psalm 66

Throughout September 2022, I managed to read and reflect – briefly – on a Psalm each day. For December 2022, I attempted to pick up the discipline. I got part-way through that month, and so after a long hiatus, am determined to get going. I’ll read the Psalm, pray, and then ponder a few questions:

  • What is this Psalm about?
  • What does this Psalm teach about God?
  • How does this Psalm connect to God’s people today?

I’ll close the post with a simple prayer, trying to draw the themes together.

Psalm 66

On the 29th of October 2023, here’s Psalm 66:

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 forever 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.
10 For you, God, tested us;
    you refined us like silver.
11 You brought us into prison
    and laid burdens on our backs.
12 You let people ride over our heads;
    we went through fire and water,
    but you brought us to a place of abundance.

13 I will come to your temple with burnt offerings
    and fulfill my vows to you—
14 vows my lips promised and my mouth spoke
    when I was in trouble.
15 I will sacrifice fat animals to you
    and an offering of rams;
    I will offer bulls and goats.

16 Come and hear, all you who fear God;
    let me tell you what he has done for me.
17 I cried out to him with my mouth;
    his praise was on my tongue.
18 If I had cherished sin in my heart,
    the Lord would not have listened;
19 but God has surely listened
    and has heard my prayer.
20 Praise be to God,
    who has not rejected my prayer
    or withheld his love from me!

What is this Psalm about?

From ‘the director of music’, Psalm 66 is a song and Psalm of praise – which celebrates what God has done for His people, and the way that God continues to relate to God’s people.

What does this Psalm teach about God?

Verse 1 sets the tune for the Psalm – emphasising that God is the one to whom praise can be addressed. Verse 5 explains some of the reasons that God should be praised – ‘awesome deeds for mankind’. Verse 9 suggests two ‘positive’ things about God – that God preserves His people and prevents their feet from slipipng. Verses 10 and 11 offer a more challenging vision, a God who refines and tests His people, including imprisonment and burdens. Yet this points to a deeper truth regarding God’s sovereignty. Verse 19 reminds us that God listens, hearing prayers; a truth emphasised by verse 20 which also declares the glorious truth that God does not withhold his love.

How does this Psalm connect to God’s people today?

Psalm 66 is a Psalm for all seasons – a song that can be sung in any part of life, because it reminds God’s people of who God is and what God has done. It challenges us – I’ve not touched on, for example, the intriguing words of verse 18 about cherishing sin in our hearts – and it also encourages us. Even when it seems that something bad is overwhelming, verse 12 reminds us that God is in control, and that abundance is coming:

You let people ride over our heads;
    we went through fire and water,
    but you brought us to a place of abundance.

A prayer drawn from Psalm 66

Lord, How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you. All the earth bows down to you; I choose to sing praise to you, to sing the praises of your name. Amen.

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