>High Praise – Psalm 66

>Wow! What a great Psalm! You seriously need to stop reading this, get a Bible, and read the entire Psalm for yourself right now. You can come back to this later.

Okay. Finished reading? Isn’t that an awesome Psalm? The meter literally rocks. The praise is exuberant.

Shout for joy to God, all the earth;
sing the glory of his name;
give to him glorious praise!

From those two opening verses, it just keeps getting better. I love the way the ESV translates verse 3:

Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you.

I love the image of cringing enemies groveling before God.

The Psalm refers to God’s awesome parting of the Red Sea so his people could pass through on dry land. It reminds readers that God still keeps his eyes on the nations, so the rebellious should not exalt themselves (5-7). Then another paean of praise:

Bless our God, O peoples;
let the sound of his praise be heard,
who has kept our soul among the living
and has not let our feet slip (8-9).

The Psalmist acknowledges that life is not a bed of mountain roses (a thornless variety)! God has “tested us” and “tried us as silver is tried” (10). He has brought us “into the net” and “laid a crushing burden on our backs” (11). He let men “ride over our heads” and “we went through fire and through water,” yet he “brought us out to a place of abundance” (12).

This list of trials reminds me of many personal struggles, and I’m sure you can think of a few, too. I also am glad to find the biblical reference to passing through fire and water, which reminds me of Gandalf’s words when he describes his epic battle with the balrog. I absolutely love how the Lord of the Rings movies retain some of the biblical language from the books and place it in the mouths of unbelievers.

Notice that God is in control of all the struggles mentioned. He is the One who has tried us in these ways. But he is also the One who brings us through the burning and the drowning to a place of abundance.

Because he has done these marvelous things, the Psalmist will fulfill the vows he uttered to God in his distress (13-15). He cannot remain silent about God’s goodness and faithfulness:

Come and hear, all you who fear God,
and I will tell what he has done for my soul.
I cried to him with my mouth,
and high praise was on my tongue (16-17).

I love that phrase: high praise! When we consider God’s goodness to us, how he has rescued our souls from eternal death and how he constantly rescues us from the dangers and trials of life, our only appropriate response is high praise.

The Psalmist reminds us of the need for recognizing and repenting from sin:

If I had cherished iniquity in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened (18).

Because the Psalmist was repentant, the Lord listened to his cries:

But truly God has listened;
he has attended to the voice of my prayer (19).

The Psalm concludes with a rousing refrain of high praise:

Blessed by God,
because he has not rejected my prayer
or removed his steadfast love from me! (20)

We often struggle with chronic concerns that drag on for years without a remedy. We all mourn the loss of loved ones through years of draining grief. Sometimes it seems our prayers for change or joy go unanswered. But God has not rejected our prayers; he has not removed his steadfast love from us. Even when his deliverance appears to be delayed, he hears and answers prayer. He loves and cares for us. He will bring us to the point where we can sing a rousing psalm of high praise!

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