New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary


Psa 66:1

For the Chief Musician. A song. A Psalm-
I assume from Ps. 72:20 that this is still one of the Psalms of David. It is a Psalm of praise to God for all He has done in saving David from some specific situation (:10-12), but it has clearly been reused by a later inspired hand, given the reference to the temple (:13).

Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth!-
The invitation is to the entire eretz to convert to Israel's God. This Psalm imagines that David's invitation to them to praise God will be positively responded to (:4).

Psa 66:2

Sing to the glory of His name! Offer glory and praise!-
By singing along with the words of David's Psalms, the Gentile nations within the eretz (:1) would be praising His Name. David perceived that the offering God really wanted was not so much animals slain upon the altar in Zion, as the sacrifice of praise. David had learned this from his own experience of sinning concerning Uriah and Bathsheba. Unable to offer any sacrifice to atone for what he had done, he concluded that the sacrifice required was a humble heart.

Psa 66:3 Tell God, How awesome are Your deeds! Through the greatness of Your power, Your enemies submit themselves to You-
Here David is as it were teaching the Gentiles how to pray to God in praise, putting words in their mouths. The submission of God's former enemies was therefore not forced upon them by God, but was rather a voluntary submission in awe at His power and works, especially His fearsome deeds of judgment upon sinners (s.w. Ps. 64:9).

Psa 66:4

All the earth will worship You, and will sing to You; they will sing to Your name. Selah-
This Psalm imagines that David's invitation to the Gentiles within the eretz to praise God will be positively responded to (:1). They would appreciate God's Name, His essential character and purpose.

Psa 66:5

Come and see God’s deeds- awesome work on behalf of the children of men-
David invites us to come and see the works God did at the Red Sea, commenting: “there did we rejoice in him” (Ps. 66:6). He praises God for saving him in the language of Israel’s Red Sea deliverance, speaking of it as “the day of my trouble” (Ps. 86:7,8 = Ex. 15:11). He saw how their circumstances and his were in principle the same; he personalized the Scripture he had read, inviting us to play "Bible television" with the text. We are to go and see the Red Sea all over again. 

Psa 66:6

He turned the sea into dry land, they went through the river on foot. There we rejoiced in Him-
The Psalms so often encourage Israelites to feel as if they personally had been through the Red Sea experience. Generation would tell to generation the Passover story, and would also sing of God’s greatness as Israel did in Ex. 15 (Ps. 145:5-7). Hence: “He turned the sea into dry land…there let us (AV: did we) rejoice in him” (Ps. 66:6 RVmg.). We too are enabled by Scripture to feel as if we were there, and to rejoice in what God did for us there. This of course depends upon our sense of solidarity with God’s people over time, as well as over space. The message here has special appropriacy to the exiles, who were encouraged to make a similar exodus to the promised land.

Psa 66:7

He rules by His might forever-
The idea is that God has not only been occasionally active by His might in history, such as at the Red Sea (:6). His saving activity is constant and not occasional.

His eyes watch the nations-
Very relevant to the exiles. God's Angelic "eyes" watch and guide the nations as part of His continual activity towards the salvation of His people. The Hebrew conception of an "eye" was that if it is watching you, then it is guiding and manipulating you (hence the concept of the "evil eye").

Don’t let the rebellious rise up against Him. Selah-
"Rebellious" is indeed how Israel were in the wilderness (s.w.  Neh. 9:29; Ps. 68:6; 78:8). David is urging Israel to learn from this and not be rebellious but accept God's guidance of them towards the promised land; especially relevant to the exiles. But sadly they remained rebellious (s.w. Is. 65:2). 

Psa 66:8

Praise our God, you peoples! Make the sound of His praise heard-
David invites the Gentiles to praise "our God", Yahweh of Israel, and in turn to spread the knowledge of Him to others.

Psa 66:9

who preserves our life among the living, and doesn’t allow our feet to be moved-
God's preservation of Israel was by grace, and was intended to be a witness to the nations amongst whom they had been scattered. For the context is of witness to the Gentiles (:8). God had allowed the feet of His people to be moved out of their land, but the intention was that this was to be temporary, and their return would be a witness to the Gentiles amongst whom they lived- leading them to join in and also come to Zion in penitence and faith. And then He would not again allow their feet to be moved from their land (s.w. Ps. 121:3).

Psa 66:10

For You, God, have tested us. You have refined us, as silver is refined-
These are the intended feelings of the exiles upon restoration, perceiving their captivity as a time of refining and "testing", just as the fathers were tested by Joseph / Jesus (s.w. Gen. 42:15,16). But the exiles failed to be refined as intended (Is. 1:25), and it must be repeated (s.w. Zech. 13:9). 

Psa 66:11

You brought us into prison, You laid a burden on our backs-
The imagery of the exile as a prison from which the exiles could be "brought out" is often used in later Isaiah. But most refused that redemption, and preferred to remain in Babylon. The burden laid on their backs is describing their exile in the language of the abuse in Egypt. But their experience there was nowhere near as bad, and the book of Esther reveals the Jews as wealthy and prosperous there.

Psa 66:12

You allowed men to ride over our heads. We went through fire and through water, but You brought us to the place of abundance-
This is indeed what happened when Israel were brought out of Egypt, passing through the fire and water of the pillars of cloud and fire leading them. But the exiles for the most part declined this great salvation offered. Instead of men riding over their heads they could have had God's cherubic chariot doing so (s.w. Ps. 68:4,33; Hab. 3:8).

Psa 66:13

I will come into Your temple with burnt offerings. I will pay my vows to You-
David desired to offer sacrifice in the sanctuary because of some great deliverance received. This is therefore reworked, under inspiration, with relevance to the time when the temple was built. The restored exiles ought to have vowed to offer sacrifice there in thanksgiving for their deliverance, but the record of the restoration indicates that they did so at best only half heartedly.

Psa 66:14

which my lips promised and my mouth spoke, when I was in distress-
David had apparently promised that if he was preserved, he would go to the sanctuary and offer sacrifice, and he was eager to do this. His time of "distress" or AV "trouble" therefore looks ahead to the time of Jacob's trouble in the last days.

Psa 66:15

I will offer to You burnt offerings of fat animals, with the offering of rams, I will offer bulls with goats. Selah-
Whenever this Psalm was originally written, it was presumably before David had come to the conclusion that God doesn't want animal sacrifice as much as He desires the sacrifice of a broken heart (Ps. 51:17). Israel unfortunately didn't learn that lesson; for the few exiles who did return did so without contrite hearts, and offered merely tokenistic sacrifices. Or perhaps, if this Psalm is written after the Bathsheba issues (as suggested on :16), David is slipping back from his earlier understanding that God didn't really want sacrifice.

Psa 66:16

Come and hear, all you who fear God; I will declare what He has done for my soul-
David knew his sinfulness, he knew his reliance upon the grace of God, more and more as he got older. One would have thought that after the Bathsheba incident, David would have kept his mouth shut so far as telling other people how to live was concerned. But instead, we find an increasing emphasis in the Psalms (chronologically) upon David's desire to teach others of God's ways- particularly the surrounding Gentile peoples, before whom David had been disgraced over Bathsheba, not to mention from his two faced allegiance to Achish (1 Sam. 27:8-12). There is real stress upon this evangelistic fervour of David (Ps. 4:3; 18:49; 22:25,31; 35:18; 40:9,10; 57:9; 62:8; 66:5,16; 95:1,8; 96:5-8,10; 100:1-4; 105:1,2; 119:27; 145:5,6,12). Indeed, Ps.71:18 records the "old and greyheaded" David pleading with God not to die until he had taught "thy strength unto this generation". As with Paul years later, the only reason he wanted to stay alive was in order to witness the Gospel of grace to others. David therefore coped with his deep inner traumas by looking out of himself to those around him, eagerly desiring to share with them the pureness of God's grace. He didn't do this as some kind of self-help psychiatry; it came naturally from a realization of his own sinfulness and God's mercy, and the wonderful willingness of God to extend this to men. David's desire to declare what had been done for his "soul" was not simply the message of forgiveness; rather it was of spiritual and psychological restoration through the work of the Holy Spirit (Ps. 23:3; 51:12). The intention was that the exiles would follow his path of repentance toward such restoration of their soul. 

Psa 66:17

I cried to Him with my mouth. He was extolled with my tongue-
he idea is that David prayed for help and at the same time praised God for already answering him, such was his faith. Hence GNB "I cried to him for help; I praised him with songs".

Psa 66:18

If I cherished sin in my heart, the Lord wouldn’t have listened- This appears self righteous. For apart from the Lord Jesus, there is no heart in which there has been no cherishing of sin. In the matter of Bathsheba, David is set up as the parade example of a man who lusted in his heart, and then performed the fantasized sin. And yet here he predicates God's answer to his prayer as being on the basis of his spotless heart. He fails to perceive that his deliverance or salvation was by grace. This raises the question as to whether this Psalm originated before or after the sin with Bathsheba. If after (see on :16), then again we wonder as to the extent of his repentance; he apparently failed to maintain the intensity of his grasp of grace and his own sinfulness. And we all have that same tendency.


Psa 66:19

But most certainly, God has listened. He has heard the voice of my prayer-
As discussed on :18, David wrongly predicates God's listening to his voice upon his apparently spotless heart (:18). We can note that he speaks of the voice of his prayer, as if within verbalized prayer there is an essence of our spirit which is the true voice of the prayer, and God hears this. Therefore it is wrong to think that we cannot pray well or effectively because we aren't good at verbalizing.

Psa 66:20

Blessed be God, who has not turned away my prayer, nor His grace from me-
David had a theoretical understanding that the salvation given him was by grace alone; and yet as noted on :18,19, he still maintained an inappropriate self-righteousness. And our professed understanding of grace can be similar.