The psalmist exhorts all to praise God for the wonders he has wrought, 1-4; calls on Israel to consider his mighty acts in behalf of their fathers, 5-7; his goodness in their own behalf, 8-12; he resolves to pay his vows to God, and offer his promised sacrifices, 13-15; calls on all to hear what God had done for his soul, 15-20.
NOTES ON PSALM LXVI
There is nothing particular in the title of the Psalm. It is not attributed to David either by the Hebrew, Chaldee, Syriac, Septuagint, Vulgate, or AEthiopic. The Arabic alone prefixes the name of David. The Vulgate, Septuagint, AEthiopic, and Arabic, call it a psalm of the resurrection: but for this there is no authority. By many of the ancients it is supposed to be a celebration of the restoration from the Babylonish captivity. Others think it commemorates the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, their introduction into the Promised Land, and the establishment of the worship of God in Jerusalem.
Make a joyfull noise
Sing aloud to God, all ye lands-all ye people who, from different parts of the Babylonish empire, are now on return to your own land.
The honour of his name
Let his glorious and merciful acts be the subject of your songs.
How terrible art thou
Consider the plagues with which he afflicted Egypt before he brought your fathers from their captivity, which obliged all his enemies to submit.
Thine enemies submit themselves
Literally, lie unto thee. This was remarkably the case with Pharaoh and the Egyptians. They promised again and again to let the people go, when the hand of the Lord was upon them: and they as frequently falsified their word.
All the earth
The whole land shall worship thee. There shall no more an idol be found among the tribes of Israel. This was literally true. After the Babylonish captivity the Israelites never relapsed into idolatry.
Remark it: this is a well attested truth.
Come and see the works of God
Let every man lay God's wonderful dealings with us to heart; and compare our deliverance from Babylon to that of our fathers from Egypt.
He turned the sea into dry land
This was a plain miracle: no human art or contrivance could do this. Even in the bed of the waters THEY did rejoice in him. WE have not less cause to praise and be thankful.
He ruleth by his power
His omnipotence is employed to support his followers, and cast down his enemies.
His eyes behold the nations
He sees what they purpose, what they intend to do; and what they will do, if he restrain them not.
Let not the rebellious exalt themselves.
They shall not succeed in their designs: they have their own aggrandizement in view, but thou wilt disappoint and cast them down.
Mark this. It is true.
O bless our God
Who have so much cause as you to sing praises to the Lord? Hear what he has done for you:
Which holdeth our soul in life
Literally, "he who placeth our soul bachaiyim, in lives." We are preserved alive, have health of body, and feel the life of God in our hearts.
And suffereth not her feet to be moved.
Keeps us steadfast in his testimonies. We have our life, our liberty, and our religion. O, what hath the Lord wrought for us! "Make, therefore, the voice of his praise to be heard." Let God and man know you are thankful.
For thou, O God, hast proved us
This is a metaphor taken from melting and refining metals; afflictions and trials of various kinds are represented as a furnace where ore is melted, and a crucible where it is refined. And this metaphor is used especially to represent cases where there is doubt concerning the purity of the metal, the quantity of alloy, or even the nature or kind of metal subjected to the trial. So God is said to try the Israelites that he might know what was in them; and whether they would keep his testimonies: and then, according to the issue, his conduct towards them would appear to be founded on reason and justice.
Thou broughtest us into the net
This refers well to the case of the Israelites, when, in their departure from Egypt, pursued by the Egyptians, having the Red Sea before them, and no method of escape, Pharaoh said, "The wilderness hath shut them in,-they are entangled;" comparing their state to that of a wild beast in a net.
Affliction upon our loins.
Perhaps this alludes to that sharp pain in the back and loins which is generally felt on the apprehension of sudden and destructive danger.
Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads
Thou hast permitted us to fall under the dominion of our enemies; who have treated us as broken infantry are when the cavalry dashes among their disordered ranks, treading all under the horses' feet.
We went through fire and through water
Through afflictions of the most torturing and overwhelming nature. To represent such, the metaphors of fire and water are often used in Scripture. The old Psalter considers these trials as a proof of the uprightness of those who were tried-We passid thrugh fire and watir: that is, thurgh wa and wele, as a man that leves noght his waye for hete na for kald, for dry na for wette; and thou out lede us fra tribulacyon intill koling (cooling) that is, in till endles riste, that we hope to hafe after this travell.
Well watered place, to wit, the land of Judea.
I will go into thy house with burnt-offerings
Now that thou hast restored us to our own land, and established us in it, we will establish thy worship, and offer all the various kinds of sacrifices required by thy law.
I will pay thee my vows
We often vowed, if thou wouldst deliver us from our bondage, to worship and serve thee alone: now thou hast heard our prayers, and hast delivered us; therefore will we fulfil our engagements to thee. The old Psalter gives this a pious turn:-I sall yelde till the my woues, that is, the vowes of louying (praising) the; whilk vowes my lipes divisid sayand, that I am noght, and thou arte all: and I hafe nede of the, noght thou of me. This is a right distinction-It is certainly a good distinction, and it is strictly true. The all-sufficient God needs not his creatures.
When I was in trouble.
This is generally the time when good resolutions are formed, and vows made; but how often are these forgotten when affliction and calamity are removed!
I will offer,
Thou shalt have the best of the herd and of the fold; the lame and the blind shall never be given to thee for sacrifice.
The incense of rams
The fine effluvia arising from the burning of the pure fat.
Come and hear, all ye that fear God
While in captivity, the psalmist had sought the Lord with frequent prayer for his own personal salvation, and for the deliverance of the people; and God blessed him, heard his prayer, and turned the captivity. Now that he is returned in safety, he is determined to perform his vows to the Lord; and calls on all them that fear their Maker, who have any religious reverence for him, to attend to his account of the Lord's gracious dealings with him. He proposes to tell them his spiritual experience, what he needed, what he earnestly prayed for, and what God has done for him. Thus he intended to teach them by example, more powerful always than precept, however weighty in itself, and impressively delivered.
I cried unto him with my mouth
My prayer was fervent; he heard and answered; and my tongue celebrated his mercies; and he as graciously received my thanksgiving, as he compassionately heard my prayer.
If I regard iniquity in my heart
"If I have seen ( raithi) iniquity in my heart," if I have known it was there, and encouraged it; if I pretended to be what I was not; if I loved iniquity, while I professed to pray and be sorry for my sin; the Lord, Adonai, my Prop, Stay, and Supporter, would not have heard, and I should have been left without help or support.
Verily God hath heard me
A sure proof that my prayer was upright, and my heart honest, before him.
Blessed be God
I therefore praise God, who has not turned aside my prayer, and who has not withheld his mercy from me. Thus he told them what God had done for his soul.
ANALYSIS OF THE SIXTY-SIXTH PSALM
There are five parts in this Psalm:-
I. An invitation.
1. To praise God, Psalms 66:1-4.
2. To consider his works, Psalms 66:5-7.
II. A repetition of the invitation, Psalms 66:8, for the benefit and deliverance lately received, Psalms 66:9-12.
III. A protestation and vow for himself, that he would serve the Lord, Psalms 66:13-15.
IV. A declaration of God's goodness to him, which he invites all to come and hear, Psalms 66:16-19.
V. A doxology, with which he concludes, Psalms 66:20.
I. The invitation to praise God affectionately and heartily.
1. "Make a joyful song." 2. "Sing the honour of his name." 3. "Make his praise glorious." 4. "Say unto God," prescribes the form in which God shall be praised.
He calls all men to consider his works, and the double effect:-1. On God's enemies. 2. On his people.
1. On his enemies, a feigned obedience, Psalms 66:3. See the note.
2. On his people, a willing service, Psalms 66:4.
He calls on them again, Psalms 66:5, to consider God's works, specially in delivering his people: 1. At the Red Sea. 2. In passing Jordan on foot, Psalms 66:6.
He calls them to behold God's power and providence. 1. His power in ruling. 2. His providence in beholding, and, 3. His justice in punishing the rebellious, Psalms 66:7.
II. He again invites them to praise God for some special mercy, without which they would have been destroyed, Psalms 66:8. 1. He kept them alive. 2. Suffered not their feet to slip, Psalms 66:9. 3. He tried, that he might purify, them.
He illustrates this trial by five similes taken,-1. From silver. 2. From a net. 3. From a burden laid on the loins. 4. From bondage and slavery-men rode over us. 5. From fire and water; useful servants, but cruel masters, Psalms 66:10-12.
But the issue of all these trials was good:- they were brought through all, and profited by each.
III. For this he gives thanks, and purposes to pay his vows.
1. He would attend God's worship: "I will go into thy house," Psalms 66:13.
2. He would there present his offerings, Psalms 66:14.
3. These should be of the best kind, Psalms 66:15.
IV. He declares God's goodness, and invites all that fear God to hear what he has got to say. Not of what he was to offer to God, but of what God had done for him.
1. He cried to God, and he heard him.
2. He took care to avoid iniquity, that his prayers might not be cast out: "For God heareth not sinners."
V. He closes the Psalm with a doxology, blessing God that, not through his merit, but his own mercy, he had heard and answered him. He attributes nothing to himself, but all mercy to his God, Psalms 66:20.