Posted on Feb 4, 2017
PSALM 65  – O God of our Salvation (ESV) or

          All Good Gifts from Our Good God (title from James Montgomery Boice)


Please take some time to read this precious psalm of thanksgiving. 

In this thanksgiving psalm, David praises God for the following:

  1. His favor (vs. 1-4);
  2. His greatness (vs. 5-8) and for
  3. His harvest (vs. 9-13) [outline taken from the Ryrie Study Bible].
I think this is just beautiful.  Let’s stop and truly ponder God’s wondrous favor towards us and His marvelous greatness; let’s also give much thanks for His harvest/daily blessings towards us. How does the Lord show you favor?  How does He demonstrate His greatness and provide for your daily needs? 
Also in Psalm 65, God is magnified as Redeemer, Forgiver, Creator, Sustainer, and Provider.  What an amazing glimpse of God we see here!  Let’s not forget to look at the Hebrew names of God.  There’s ELOHIM in verses 1 and 9, which means that God is THE ALL-POWERFUL ONE/CREATOR, and in v. 5 He is called the GOD OF OUR SALVATION, ELOHEI YISH’EINU.  What a wonderful God we have!  He truly is our blessed Creator and Savior and Provider.  Psalm 65 continuously overflows with this amazing praise. 
Now let’s take a look at John MacArthur’s Bible Commentary (p. 641), he says that

Psalm 65 is a praise psalm full of hopeful, confident, even enthusiastic feelings in response to God’s goodness.  I like that very much.  He outlines the psalm in this way:

  1. Praise for Spiritual Blessings (vs. 1-5)
  2. Praise for Natural Blessings (vs. 6-13)
The setting is a celebration at the tabernacle, perhaps at the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the spring or the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall.  The location is Zion, specifically the hill in Jerusalem where Israel worshiped Jehovah, but also synonymous with the Promised Land.  In regards to the vows, this is likely a reference to vows made by the farmers because of an abundant harvest.  In verse 2 where it says “all flesh will come”, this refers to the future millennial kingdom when all the world will worship the LORD.
What a glorious thought!  I can’t wait till all knees will bow and all tongues will confess that Jesus is Lord, as it says in Philippians.
Now for Boice’s perspective, “Psalm 65 is an extraordinary, exquisite poem about nature.  But it is also predominately about the GOD of nature, who is gracious to man, powerful in His acts and the source of all nature’s bounty—which is what we would expect of a song written by David, the great poet of Israel” (p. 529 of Psalms, Vol. 2).
The Occasion and Outline of the Psalm (p. 530)
“This psalm could have been sung in Israel at any time, of course, and probably was.  But since it deals with the bounty of a good harvest, it is likely that is was composed for the Jews’ annual harvest festival, the Feast of Tabernacles.  This was the longest and most joyful feast of the Jews.  It began on the 15th day of the 7th month, which was observed as a Sabbath, and it continued until the 22nd
day of the month, which was also observed as a Sabbath, for a total of 8 days in all.  This was after the crops were brought in and the people were celebrating the abundance of the harvest.  Part of the celebration consisted in offering the first fruits to God (see Lev. 23:33-43)” (p. 530).  Sounds very similar to our Thanksgiving, does it not?
“There is another feature of the psalm that would also place it at this time of year.  Psalm 65 is one of three psalms in the Psalter that use the word atone or atonement (in v. 3, ‘you atone for our transgressions’).  That is does may be significant in light of the Feast of Tabernacles in the Jewish calendar, on the 10th day of the 7th month.  Therefore, the first stanza of the psalm, where the reference to atonement occurs, might be thought of as looking back to that immediately preceding day.
Now for the outline: there is little question about how the psalm should be outlined, since virtually all commentators do it the same way.  There are 3 stanzas: vs. 1-4, vs. 5-8 and vs. 9-13.  Derek Kidner titles these three sections: (1) God of Grace, (2) God of Might and (3) God of Plenty” (p. 531).
Again, like I mentioned last week, I wish we could hear the psalm sung as David wrote it.  Oh, how wonderful if we get this opportunity in heaven to hear God’s Word sung in its original notes and words!  Will we speak and sing Hebrew in heaven?  I really don’t know; God’s Word doesn’t tell us; however, it’s fun just to think about it.
I really like the titles that Boice used to describe our magnificent God in this beautiful psalm: The God of Saving Grace, The Mighty God and The God of a Plenteous Harvest.
Lastly, let’s look at the last line of the psalm, which shouts for joy and sings!  “The last line of the psalm is striking and unexpected.  For after having described how God has watered the earth and causes it to bring forth and bud, David suddenly says that the meadows, valley, flocks, and grain all ‘shout for joy and sing’ (v. 13). It is a poetic fallacy, of course.  Meadows and valleys, flocks and grain, do not shout or sing or do anything else that only self-conscious, articulate personalities do.  But in their harvest splendor they seem to, as if they had awakened singing after a long, dead winter or a dry summer (much like southern California; my garden is finally coming alive).  Besides, if they could literally cry out, they would do it.  After all, Jesus said at the time of his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, when the Pharisees wanted him to rebuke his disciples for their praise, ‘If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out’ (Luke 19:40). The point is that since inanimate objects cannot literally praise God, we who are made in God’s image and can praise God, should! (p. 535)
“Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!” Psalm 150:6 (ESV)    

Personal notes by Lisa Patton (Bible notes from Ryrie, MacArthur and Boice)