God over all the earth, Psalm 65

Western Iowa's Loess Hills (photo credit-Glenda Mathes)
Western Iowa’s Loess Hills (photo credit-Glenda Mathes)

How was your Sunday? Did you enjoy it as a “festive day of rest”? Festive rest may seem like an oxymoron, but that’s the wonderful way the Heidelberg Catechism describes Sunday in its comprehensive answer explaining God’s will for us in the fourth commandment (Lord’s Day 38, Q&A 103). My devotional A Month of Sundays: 31 Meditations on Resting in God explores this concept in depth, and I also discuss this in my student workbook Not My Own: Discovering God’s Comfort in the Heidelberg Catechism.

Monday morning is an appropriate time to evaluate how we spent the previous day. Did we run around doing errands or playing hard? Did we waste time watching TV or sleep the day away? Or did we rest from our regular responsibilities and activities to enjoy time with family or friends and gathering with other believers to worship the God who is Lord over all the earth?

Psalm 65 reminds us of our duty for corporate praise of the God who controls all creatures and all creation. David begins this song by proclaiming that God deserves our praise and worship:

Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion,
    and to you shall vows be performed (Psalm 65:1, ESV).

The next verse affirms that God hears prayer. It also implies that individuals from all nations will come to belief.

O you who hear prayer,
    to you shall all flesh come (verse 2, ESV).

Although many people in our world deny the existence of God, one day every knee shall bow before the Lord (Isaiah 45:23, Romans 14:11, Philippians 2:10). Whether willingly with joy or reluctantly with anger or dispair—eventually—every person will recognize the reality of God.

Any time our sins weigh us down, we can turn to this verse as a reminder of God’s great salvation.

When iniquities prevail against me,
    you atone for our transgressions (verse 3, ESV).

We may feel overwhelmed by our sins or succumb to temptation, but we have confidence in the full and complete salvation of Christ.

Verse 4 shows how God has chosen his children from eternity for a purpose:

Blessed is the one you choose and bring near,
    to dwell in your courts!
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house,
    the holiness of your temple!

The believer’s home is in the courts of the Lord. We rejoice in his blessings and corporately worship the holy God.

The next section of the psalm portrays the God of Salvation’s righteous and awesome answers to our prayers as he reigns over the whole earth.

By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness,
    O God of our salvation,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
    and of the farthest seas;
the one who by his strength established the mountains,
    being girded with might;
who stills the roaring of the seas,
    the roaring of their waves,
    the tumult of the peoples,
so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs.
You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy (verses 5-8, ESV).

The roaring of the seas in Scripture often represents the rebellion of nations who reject God’s authority. One day God will finally and definitively still that tumult. We tend to think in very limited terms of Christianity, but people who live in areas of the world far removed from us marvel at God’s signs. Next time you view a beautiful sunrise or drink in a vivid sunset, praise God for the way he makes them shout for joy.

The final section of this psalm paints an agrarian scene:

You visit the earth and water it;
    you greatly enrich it;
the river of God is full of water;
    you provide their grain,
    for so you have prepared it.
You water its furrows abundantly,
    settling its ridges,
softening it with showers,
    and blessing its growth.
You crown the year with your bounty;
    your wagon tracks overflow with abundance.
The pastures of the wilderness overflow,
    the hills gird themselves with joy,
the meadows clothe themselves with flocks,
    the valleys deck themselves with grain,
    they shout and sing together for joy (verses 9-13).

As a Midwesterner, I readily envision these pastoral depictions of the seasons visiting the fields, woods, hills, and valleys. The series of images is almost like viewing a roomful of John Constable paintings, only the masterpieces in these verses are depicted by the ultimate Artist.

That Artist created the whole earth and continues to sustain every aspect of its functioning, from the rising sun to the falling rain to the ripening grain. He is Lord of all people, whether they know it now or not. One day even those who denied his existence will realize its reality. Then every person will appear before him and acknowledge him, joyfully or despairingly, as Lord of Lord, King of Kings, and God over all the earth.

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