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66. Psalm 66

Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands:

2Sing forth the honour of his name: make his praise glorious.

3Say unto God, How terrible art thou in thy works! through the greatness of thy power shall thine enemies submit themselves unto thee.

4All the earth shall worship thee, and shall sing unto thee; they shall sing to thy name. Selah.

5Come and see the works of God: he is terrible in his doing toward the children of men.

6He turned the sea into dry land: they went through the flood on foot: there did we rejoice in him.

7He ruleth by his power for ever; his eyes behold the nations: let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah.

8O bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of his praise to be heard:

9Which holdeth our soul in life, and suffereth not our feet to be moved.

10For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried.

11Thou broughtest us into the net; thou laidst affliction upon our loins.

12Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.

13I will go into thy house with burnt offerings: I will pay thee my vows,

14Which my lips have uttered, and my mouth hath spoken, when I was in trouble.

15I will offer unto thee burnt sacrifices of fatlings, with the incense of rams; I will offer bullocks with goats. Selah.

16Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.

17I cried unto him with my mouth, and he was extolled with my tongue.

18If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:

19 But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer.

20Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.

10 For thou, O God! hast proved us We may read, Though thou, O God! etc., and then the passage comes in as a qualification of what went before, and is brought forward by the Psalmist to enhance the goodness of God, who had delivered them from such severe calamities. But there is another object which I consider him to have in view, and this is the alleviation of the grief of God’s people, by setting before them the comfort suggested by the words which follow. When visited with affliction, it is of great importance that we should consider it as coming from God, and as expressly intended for our good. It is in reference to this that the Psalmist speaks of their having been proved and tried. At the same time, while he adverts to God’s trying his children with the view of purging away their sin, as dross is expelled from the silver by fire, he would intimate, also, that trial had been made of their patience. The figure implies that their probation had been severe; for silver is cast repeatedly into the furnace. They express themselves thankful to God, that, while proved with affliction, they had not been destroyed by it; but that their affliction was both varied and very severe, appears not only from the metaphor, but from the whole context, where they speak of having been cast into the net, being reduced to straits, men riding over their heads, and of being brought through shipwreck and conflagration. 477477     “Per naufragium et incendium transiisse.” The French version reads, “Par l’eau et par le feu;” but it is important to retain the original more closely, as giving what Calvin considered to be the sense of the words in the text. Fire and water, the one of which elements consumes, while the other suffocates, is a proverbial expression, signifying, as our author afterwards states, extreme danger and complicated calamities. “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burnt,” Isaiah 43:2. See also Psalm 32:6; Ezekiel 16:6, 7; Numbers 31:23. Those things are said to come into or to pass through the fire, which abide the same, without being consumed; and which, like metals, lose only thereby their dross. The expression, laying a restraint [or chain] upon their loins, is introduced as being stronger than the one which goes before. It was not a net of thread which had been thrown over them, but rather they had been bound down with hard and insolvable fetters. The expression which follows refers to men who had shamefully tyrannised over them, and ridden them down as cattle. By fire and water are evidently meant complicated afflictions; and it is intimated that God had exercised his people with every form of calamity. They are the two elements which contribute more than any other to sustain human life, but are equally powerful for the destruction of it. It is noticeable, that the Psalmist speaks of all the cruelties which they had most unjustly suffered from the hands of their enemies, as an infliction of Divine punishment; and would guard the Lord’s people against imagining that God was ignorant of what they had endured, or distracted by other things from giving attention to it. In their condition, as here described, we have that of the Church generally represented to us; and this, that when subjected to vicissitudes, and cast out of the fire into the water, by a succession of trials, there may at last be felt to be nothing new or strange in the event to strike us with alarm. The Hebrew word רויה, revayah, which I have rendered fruitful place, means literally a well-watered land. Here it is taken metaphorically for a condition of prosperity, the people of God being represented as brought into a pleasant and fertile place, where there is abundance of pasturage. The truth conveyed is, that God, although he visit his children with temporary chastisements of a severe description, will ultimately crown them with joy and prosperity. It is a mistake to suppose that the allusion is entirely to their being settled in the land of Canaan, 478478     Cresswell takes this view. His note on the place is, “‘Into a wealthy place,’ literally into an irriguous region, (comp. Judges 1:15,) i.e., into a fertile country, a land of abundance, the promised land: comp. Exodus 3:8.” for the psalm has not merely reference to the troubles which they underwent in the wilderness, but to the whole series of distresses to which they were subjected at the different periods of their history.


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