Psalm 66 - Overcomer - Through the Fire and Through the Water
I put this psalm to music shortly after my 66th birthday.
Usually it takes me a long time with lots of struggle to make a psalm into a song. This one just flowed easily.
This psalm mentions fear-inspiring or fear of God 3 times (vv 3, 5, 16) and "wonders" once in v5.
There are no requests in this psalm, but praise, thanks and experiential wisdom on prayer.
Structure of this psalm:
1. Call for all the earth to make a joyful noise unto God vv 1-4 <Selah>
2. The song sung by all the earth vv 5-7 <Selah>
3. Exhortation from the psalmist for all peoples to bless our God vv 8 - 12
3. The psalmist's offerings to God in God's house vv 13-15 <Selah>
4. The psalmist's testimony about prayer to all who fear God vv16-20
heading - This psalm is both a psalm (mizmor) and a song (shir) and it is for the overcomer. This psalm is the 2nd of a group of 4 psalm-songs that are to the overcomer, Psalms 65-68. There are 3 other overcomer psalm-songs: 75-76 & 88.
"Resurrection" in the heading comes from LXX. The Greek word used by the LXX here was also used by LXX in 2 verses in Maccabees referring to resurrection. The LXX also used the same Greek word to translate "rise up" in Zep 3:8; Lam 3:63 & Dan 11:20. The same Greek word is used throughout the NT to refer to the resurrection.
v1 All the earth is mostly the gentiles, and includes Israel also.
v3 - We should declare such things to God.
Because of God's fearsome acts, people that are opposed to Him and His people will praise Him hypocritically. This is not good, but this will happen.
v4 - This worship from all the earth is in contrast to the hypocritical worship in 3b.
v5 - Come and see is imperative.
Is this verse the beginning of the song that all the earth sings to God's name in v4? I think so. That may be the reason for repeating "sing" in v4. If so, the song of all the earth ends at the <Selah> after v7. So the song of all the earth runs from <Selah> to <Selah>, from v5 through v7.
An argument against v5 beginning the song sung by all the earth is that then the <Selah> occurs within a sentence, separating the verb "sing" from the words that are sung. I think if "God's wonders, come and see!" were the only lines of the song, then there should not be a <Selah> separating it from "They'll sing". But if the song is multiple lines, then I think it makes sense to offset the song within the song by <Selah>'s as a section of the psalm.
v6 - 6a The verb is perfect (past), referring to the Red Sea crossing.
6b is imperfect, referring to the present and future.
6c lit. there we will rejoice in Him
The miracles of crossing the sea and river are also for the future (Isa 11:15).
God did these wonders in the past and will continue to do them.
Even till the close of all things, the marvellous works of God at the Red Sea will be the subject of meditation and praise; for, standing on the sea of glass mingled with fire, the triumphal armies of heaven sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb. - C. H. Spurgeon
Even the stubborn can be saved (Ps 68:6,18), which I was.
The above are all the uses of the Hebrew word in the Bible.
The meaning here is that God is in control and keeps diligent watch on the world, but He uses the measured persecution by the world to keep His people and the nations from being stubborn and proud (Ezek 31:14).
Most translations translate 7c as a prayer, "Let not the rebellious exalt themselves." This would be to take the 3mp verb as a jussive. (Versions that do not translate it as a prayer are: HCSB, YLT, Leeser, JB2000, Goldingay, Geneva, Bishop's, Miles Coverdale, Wycliffe)
v8 - Gentiles who believe in the Messiah, not millennium gentiles, who are the nations outside Israel during the millennium. The experiences in the following verses vv 9-12 are experiences of God's chosen people, yet addressed to "you peoples". These are the Christians who come from all peoples.
v9 - lit. has not given our feet to totter.
This is God's work of preparation in us before the trial. We see this when we look back.
v10 - The day may come when, as in this case, we shall make hymns out of our griefs, and sing all the more sweetly because our mouths have been purified with bitter draughts. - Spurgeon
v11 - lit. set pressure on our loins
v12 - The word for "overflow" is only used here and in Ps 23:5.
v13 - From here on the Psalm becomes personal, switching to the first person signular pronouns. We need to offer to God personally and individually.
We should not appear before the Lord empty-handed when we go to church. We should have some experience to share.
The church is where we should share what the Lord has done for us
v14 - lit. when I was in trouble
If I have made a vow to the Lord and did not fulfill it, that would be sin in my heart in v18.
I like the way the psalm says "which my lips have released". The vow was in my heart for a while, but I held back my lips from speaking it. Eventually my lips released it, and I was committed.
v15 - This is a picture of what a church meeting should be.
Victoriously passing through the sufferings in vv10-12 produces the rich offerings to Christ in the church.
v16 - This verse is addressed to all that fear God among all nations, not just Christians and Jews. This is advice on how to pray, and is the conclusion of this joyful psalm. God hears prayers from everyone who fears God.
Out of many verses worth memorizing in this psalm, this is my favorite.
17 - "under my tongue" means the worship was deeper than the tongue (Matt 15:8) in contrast to the hypocritical worship in 3b.
18 - The antidote to hypocritical worship in 3b.
This verse is unique among the verses of this psalm in that it is the psalmist's advice inserted within the praise and testimony. It is crucial advice (Mat 5:23).
A salient thing about this psalm is that it does not mention God's name, Jehovah, but it says "God" (Elohim), 8 times (vv 1,3,5,8,10,16,19,20) and Lord (Adonai) once (v18). There are other psalms that do not use the name Jehovah or Jah (Ps 43-45, 49-53, 57, 60-63, 65-67, 82, 114). Almost all of these psalms are in Book 2 of the Psalms (Ps 42-72). (Psalms 82 & 114 are short with only 8 verses each). I do not know why, and I have not found any commentary worth repeating on the subject. It is something to keep in my heart to maybe be revealed in the future.
- Steve Miller
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