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Psalm 65 -
Reasons to Praise God
For the director of music.
A psalm of David. A song.
1Praise awaits You, O God, in Zion;
to You our vows will be fulfilled.
2O You who hear prayer,
to You all men will come.
3When we were overwhelmed by sins,
You forgave our transgressions.
4Blessed 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.
5You answer us
with awesome deeds of righteousness,
O God our Savior,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas,
6Who formed the mountains by Your power,
having armed Yourself with strength,
7Who stilled the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
and the turmoil of the nations.
8Those living far away fear Your wonders;
where morning dawns and evening fades
You call forth songs of joy.
9You care for the land and water it;
You enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
to provide the people with grain,
for so You have ordained it.
10You drench its furrows and level its ridges;
You soften it with showers and bless its crops.
11You crown the year with Your bounty,
and Your carts overflow with abundance.
12The grasslands of the desert overflow;
the hills are clothed with gladness.
13The meadows are covered with flocks
and the valleys are mantled with grain;
they shout for joy and sing.
This psalm is the first of three-in-a-row concerning the praise of God. This particular psalm, written by David, enumerates a series of reasons to praise God. David introduces the psalm: “Praise awaits You, O God, in Zion; to You our vows will be fulfilled” (vs. 1). Because there are so many reasons to praise God (some of which will be enumerated in this psalm), so “praise awaits” God. “Like a company of musicians gathered to welcome and honor a prince, who wait till he makes his appearance, so do we reserve our best praises till the Lord reveals Himself in the assembly of His saints” [Spurgeon].
David enumerates some reasons to praise God:
1. “O You who hear prayer, to You all men will come” (vs. 2) – That God, the Almighty Lord of the Universe, answers prayer is a great reason to praise Him. And what a great name it is for God: “You who hear prayer.” “The hearing and granting of prayer are the Lord’s property and His usual practice, and His pleasure, and His nature, and His glory” [Dickson, 379]. It could have been otherwise. The Creator could have chosen to wind up the Universe, and then take no part in it. However, our God chooses to interact with His creatures. May the Lord be praised! “Dark and dismal would this world be if God did not hear prayer; gloomy, inexpressibly gloomy, would be the prospects of man, if he had not the assurance that God is a prayer-hearing God—if he might not come to God at all times with the assurance that it is His very nature to hear prayer, and that His ear is ever open to the cries of the guilty, the suffering, the sad, the troubled, the dying” [Barnes]. All men instinctively know that, in times of great trouble, there is only one place to turn, and that is to God. As David points out: “To You all men will come.” The saying is true, “There are no atheists in foxholes.”
2. “When we were overwhelmed by sins, You forgave our transgressions” (vs. 3) – The forgiveness God offers freely is a great reason to praise Him. If David, who had a limited revelation and understanding of God’s forgiveness, could praise Him for this, certainly we, who have the knowledge of God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ, must praise Him for this. “Our sins should be looked upon, not to chase us from God, but to humble us, and drive us to seek pardon and purgation from the Lord, whose free grace only can take sins away” [Dickson, 380].
3. “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” (vs. 4) – The fellowship, and close relationship God allows us to have with Him, is a great reason to praise Him. It is quite astounding that God chooses to treat His people, not as subjects, but as children. As John tells us: “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (I John 3:1). And as children, we “live in His courts”, and we experience all the “good things of His house”. All the promises that God has given to His children, we can benefit from. May the Lord be praised!
4. “You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness…” (vs. 5) – Answered prayer is a great reason to praise God. At times, the answer is “awesome”, even “terrifying” (as the original meaning of this word suggests). “God’s memorial is that He hears prayer, and His glory is that He answers it in a manner fitted to inspire awe in the hearts of His people… We do not always know what we are asking for when we pray; when the answer comes, the veritable answer, it is possible that we may be terrified by it. We seek sanctification, and trial will be the reply; we ask for more faith, and more affliction is the result; we pray for the spread of the gospel, and persecution scatters us. Nevertheless, it is good to ask on, for nothing which the Lord grants in His love can do us any harm. Terrible things will turn out to be blessed things after all, where they come in answer to prayer” [Spurgeon].
5. “…O God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas,…” (vs. 5) – That God is never beyond our reach is a great reason to praise Him. He is always at our side, always available to us through prayer. “Remoteness from any supposed centre of the religious, or political world does not place a man beyond the pale of God’s providential care and blessing” [Plumer, 647].
6. “…Who formed the mountains by Your power, having armed Yourself with strength,…” (vs. 6) – His power, as displayed through His Creation, is a great reason to praise Him. “The poetry is such as would naturally suggest itself to one familiar with mountain scenery; power everywhere meets you, sublimity, massive grandeur, and stupendous force are all around you; and God is there, the author and source of all” [Spurgeon]. “The power of God manifested in the work of creation, is a prop to the faith of His people to believe the promises, and a pledge of the performance thereof unto them” [Dickson, 382].
7. “…Who stilled the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the turmoil of the nations” (vs. 7) – God’s continued demonstration of His power is a great reason to praise Him. God’s power is not only seen in the original work of Creation, but also in His continued work within His Creation. “God not only formed the material universe at first, but still controls it” [Alexander, 284]. God controls “the roaring of the seas” and the “roaring of the waves”. He also has a hand in the affairs of men, as He stills “the turmoil of the nations.”
8. “Those living far away fear Your wonders; where morning dawns and evening fades You call forth songs of joy” (vs. 8) – God’s universal revelation of Himself is a great reason to praise Him. “Signs of God’s presence are not few, nor confined to any one region. Zembla sees them as well as Zion, and Terra del Fuego as surely as the Terra Sacra. These tokens are sometimes terrible phenomena in nature—such as earthquakes, pestilence, tornado, or storm; and when these are seen, even the most barbarous people tremble before God. At other times they are dread works of providence—such as the overthrow of Sodom, and the destruction of Pharaoh. The rumor of these judgments travels to earth’s utmost verge, and impresses all people with a fear and trembling at such a just and holy God. We bless God that we are not afraid but rejoice at His tokens; with solemn awe we are glad when we behold His mighty acts. We fear, but not with slavish fear” [Spurgeon].
9. “You care for the land and water it; You enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, 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 desert overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness. The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain; they shout for joy and sing” (vs. 9–13) – God’s providence in supplying the billions of people in the world means of sustenance is a great reason to praise Him. After Adam sinned, God punished man by cursing the ground man farms: “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return” (Gen. 3:17–19). But God, in His great mercy, though He cursed the ground, has consistently brought forth rains to “drench its furrows and level its ridges”, and “soften it with showers and bless its crops.”
10. In addition to the physical meaning of verses 9 through 13, one can also see a spiritual meaning there. “In Scripture water is an emblem of the Holy Ghost in His abundant, refreshing and purifying influences, and so verse 9 has been by many understood to point to the effusion of the blessed Spirit” [Plumer, 648]. “I know not but this imagery may have been introduced by the Spirit of God for the purpose of picturing to our minds the wonderful character of the moral transformation, which takes place in the hearts of men, when showers of divine influence are poured down from heaven, when the wilderness and solitary place are made to rejoice and blossom as the rose” [Morison, in Plumer, 648]. The pouring out of God’s Spirit upon us, like rain from the heavens, is certainly a great reason to praise Him. “The rising of ‘the Sun of Righteousness’ and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, that ‘River of God’, full of the waters of life and salvation, render the hearts of sinners, which before were hard, barren and worthless, fruitful in every good work; and change the face of nations far more than the sun and rain do the face of nature” [Scott, in Plumer, 648].
Indeed, we have so many reasons to praise God, enough for a lifetime of praise to Him. Oh Lord, by Your Spirit, help us to enter into Your praise, fervently and constantly. And may we appreciate from the depths of our souls all You have done for us.