Posted on Feb 18, 2017

PSALM 66  – How Awesome Are Your Deeds (ESV) or
          A Praise Psalm of Thanksgiving (title from James Montgomery Boice)
What a beauty!  Let’s take a closer look at the beginning of Psalm 66:
To the Choirmaster.   A Song.  A Psalm.
Shout for joy to God, all the earth; sing the glory of his name;
Give to him glorious praise!
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you.
All the earth worships you and sings praises to you;
They sing praises to your name.” Selah   (vs. 1-4 ESV)
James Montgomery Boice makes some very interesting remarks on page 537 from Psalms, Vol. 2: “In Psalm 66 the number of participants likewise narrows down—from the whole earth, to the Jewish nation, to the psalmist.  But unlike a symphony, which just fades away, the psalm grows in intensity and power as the passion and sincerity of the psalmist break through.  In this respect it is a very remarkable composition… First, praise is offered to God from the whole earth (vs. 1-4).  Second, an invitation is given to everyone to come see what God has done (vs. 5-7).  Third, praise is offered to God by God’s elect people (vs. 8-12).  Fourth, the psalmist himself comes to offer sacrifices and praise to God (vs. 13-15).  Finally, the whole earth is again invited, this time to hear what God has done for the psalmist (vs. 16-20).  Thus the last stanza comes back to the theme of the first stanza, and the psalm is thereby made complete.”
This palm is truly a song of great praise, a song which David gave to the choirmaster.  I don’t know about you, but once again, I wish I knew the tune so I could sing it to the Lord.  Do you long to sing praises to the Lord?  I believe He is very pleased when we do so.  I also believe there will be much singing and praising in heaven for all eternity, which is clearly seen in the book of Revelation, which gives us the “end of the story.”
“Singing requires a certain amount of emotion.  It can flow from sadness or from joy.  But when there is joy, singing follows naturally, and that is why Christians have always been a singing people. They can’t help but sing praises to God; for he is a great God, he has redeemed them from their sin, and they are looking forward to being with him and seeing him when they die.  Moreover, it is natural for them to encourage the world to sing too (p. 539 Boice).”  What about you?  Do you naturally sing to the Lord on a daily basis?  Do you encourage others to sing to Him?
Let’s take a look at the Ryrie Study Bible, in celebration of some national deliverance, the psalmist calls on all the earth to praise God (vs. 1-12) and, as the representative of the nation, he offers sacrifice and praise (vs. 13-15) and then exhorts the people to pray and praise (vs. 16-20).  In verse 6, this is a reference to the deliverance from Egypt from Exodus 14-15, an event viewed with the greatest awe in the Psalms (Ps. 18, 68, 74, 77, 78, 52, 53, 89, 106 and 136).  And it’s most interesting that in verses 18-19, sin disqualified the suppliant; a blameless heart gives assurance that God truly hears our prayers (I John 3:21). Sin definitely hinders our prayers; daily confession is so necessary to have a close and intimate walk with the Lord; this I have learned over my 45 years as a born-again Christian.  Do you confess your sins daily (I John 1:9)?  Do you have that close walk with the Lord?
Now on to John MacArthur’s Bible Commentary on Psalm 66: This joyful psalm begins with group praise and then focuses on individual worship.  The psalmist rehearses some of the major miracles in Israel’s history and testifies that God has been faithful in the midst of serious troubles. What about you?  Can you testify that God has been faithful to you in the midst of serious troubles?  I truly can; He has been there over and over again to help me through the darkest days of the life; I praise Him for being my constant refuge and redeemer.
John MacArthur outlines this beautiful psalm of praise in this way:
  1. Communal Hymn of Praise to God (1-12)
    1. For Future Glory (1-4)
    2. For Previous Faithfulness (5-7)
    3. For Continual Protection (8-12)
  2. An Individual Hymn of Praise to God (13-20)
    1. Through Fulfilled Vows (13-15)
    2. For Answered Prayer (16-20)
And back to James Montgomery Boice (p. 541-542), he titles the last part of Psalm 66 as Listen While I Praise God.  In the final two stanzas of the psalm, the joyful tumultuous praise of the nations, including the praise of Israel, fades away and the individual psalmist himself remains standing on the stage.  In the quiet of this moment he speaks twice, first to God, and then to anyone who might be listening.
  1. The psalmist’s words to God (vs. 13-15). The passion and intensity of the psalm actually grows.  That is particularly clear in this stanza, where the psalmist says he is going to bring a variety of sacrifices to God’s temple… the psalmist intends to carry his religious resolutions and devotions through to the end.  Wow!  That’s commitment.  Do I carry out my commitment to the Lord:  loving Him, obeying Him, and serving Him even when it costs me?
  2. The psalmist’s testimony (vs. 16-20). Having spoken to God of what he intends to do, the writer now turns to those who may be looking on and invites them to hear what God has done for him.  In other words, he gives a testimony… how God heard his prayer and delivered him from trouble.  Therefore, he concludes: “Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me! (v. 20)  Do I praise God for hearing my prayers?  Do I give testimony to others about what God has done for me? There’s a lot to think about here.
Let’s conclude with this wonderful passage about our awesome God, “How awesome are your deeds! (v. 3); “Come and see what God has done: He is awesome…” (v. 5);“Blessed be God”…(v.20)
Personal notes by Lisa Patton (Bible notes from Ryrie, MacArthur and Boice)