Psalm 65

Praise From God, For God

When do you feel the need to praise God? How is God involved in that need?

There are times of blessing that require a joyful shout to God. Marriage to a soul-mate, the birth of a new born baby, the graduation of an offspring. These are the times of personal blessing that evoke pride, joy, and gratitude. These are times to praise God for life. Unfortunately, we might fail to see how God created those moments. They were his will for our lives, and for those particular moments in our lives. Sometimes we need a prayer to remind us that praise for God comes from God. Psalm 65 is such a prayer. It was an agricultural hymn of praise to the Creator. The tone of the psalm accented the mighty power of YHWH, while seeing humanity's role as inconsequential. Yet, the psalm clearly proclaimed divine blessing as a response to piety (prayers and sacred oaths in 65:1b-2).

The psalm can be divided into two parts: praise in response to the answer of prayer (65:1-5a) and the magnitude of God's power in creation (65:5b-13).

For the Chief Musician. A Psalm by David. A song.

1 Praise waits for you, God, in Zion.
To you shall vows be performed.
2 You who hear prayer,
to you all men will come.
3 Sins overwhelmed me,
but you atoned for our transgressions.
4 Blessed is one whom you choose, and cause to come near,
that he may live in your courts.
We will be filled with the goodness of your house,
your holy temple.
5a By awesome deeds of righteousness, you answer us,
God of our salvation.

World English Bible

In this first segment, the psalmist praised God for answering prayer and sacred vows. However, notice how God answered that prayer. YHWH implicitly instigated the prayer; he was the agent in the praise. God caused his chosen to come near and live in his presence, centered on the Temple (65:2b, 4). He atoned for the sins of his people, implicitly represented by the high priest (65:3). He blessed his chosen people with mighty deeds (65:4a, 5a).

5b You who are the hope of all the ends of the earth,
of those who are far away on the sea;
6 Who by his power forms the mountains,
having armed yourself with strength;
7 who stills the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
and the turmoil of the nations.
8 They also who dwell in faraway places are afraid at your wonders.
You call the morning's dawn and the evening with songs of joy.
9 You visit the earth, and water it.
You greatly enrich it.
The river of God is full of water.
You provide them grain, for so you have ordained it.
10 You drench its furrows.
You level its ridges.
You soften it with showers.
You bless it with a crop.
11 You crown the year with your bounty.
Your carts overflow with abundance.
12 The wilderness grasslands overflow.
The hills are clothed with gladness.
13 The pastures are covered with flocks.
The valleys also are clothed with grain.
They shout for joy!
They also sing.

YHWH revealed his power with his mastery over water and its cycles (65:7a, 9-10). Notice how the power over water created harmony within creation, including the affairs of humanity (universal relations in 65:5b with "hope of all the ends of the earth;" political affairs in 65:7b with "turmoil of the nations;" the blessings of the local harvest and husbandry in 65:11-13). God's power over nature was a reason for order, even on the level of the nation and the individual. The hymn seemed to say, "God created the cosmos and everything in it for us. It's harmony and order are meant as a blessing for us." Creation itself was an awesome deed that was a precursor for praise.

In an arid climate that Palestine has, the nation depended upon the seasonal cycles that brought rain. So, this psalm could have been an song celebrating the end of drought or a part of the liturgy from the Feast of Booths (or Sukkoth). The Feast of Booths was a fall celebration that marked the beginning of the planting season; after a long, hot summer, farmers needed the rains of late October for their new crops. The psalm recognized God's power and Israel's dependency on that power to sustain the nation.

While we might not lean on the Almighty to the extent that the ancient farmers of Israel did, nonetheless, we need God, we need to praise God, we need the impetus from God to realize and focus that praise. That need is another way to understand the notion that God is Almighty. He is the source and end of praise.

How does your praise of God help you to realize his overwhelming power in your life?