65:0Many Bible students think that this is a harvest psalm. Harvest is when people pick the fruits and vegetables that they need for food. The Jews had three harvests:
– Passover (March-April). This was the first harvest, when they brought in grain called barley. They made bread from barley.
– Pentecost (May-June). This was the second harvest, when they brought in grain called wheat. They also made bread from it.
– Tabernacles (September-October). This was the last harvest, when they picked the grapes. They made wine from the grapes.
Wine is a drink with alcohol in it.
These harvests remind us of the bread and wine that Jesus said were his body and blood. Paul also reminds us that because Jesus died at Passover he was the first harvest of the new people of God! (‘The first fruits of them that slept’, 1 Corinthians 15:20.)
If Psalm 65 is a harvest psalm, then it is for use at Passover. There would be no grain still in the fields at the second and third harvests.
But we can look at the psalm in a different way. We can say that:
– Verses 1-4 tell us that God saves us
– Verses 5-8 tell us that God is powerful
– Verses 9-13 tell us that God gives us plenty of good things.
When kings and their soldiers went through a country, they often took everything away with them. When God as king goes through a country, he leaves more than he takes!
When David wrote this psalm, he had not built the temple. His son Solomon did that. So, verse 4 is about the tent that David used as a temple, or someone else changed the psalm after Solomon built the temple.
A Harvest Song
This is for the music leader.
It is a psalm of David, a song.
1 Silence is praise to you, God, in Zion.
And we will keep our promises to you.
65:1Verse 1 is difficult to understand. Maybe it means that it is good to be silent before God. This is how we have translated it. Or maybe it means that there is silence where there should be praise. Some translations say that this is what it means. Also, some Greek Bibles have ‘in Jerusalem’ at the end of the verse. Zion is the hill in Jerusalem where Solomon built the temple.
2 You are the One that hears prayer.
To you every man and woman should come.
3 My sins are too heavy for me.
You only can take away the bad results of our disobedience.
65:3Verse 3: Many people feel that their sins are like a weight on them. It makes them very sad. Here, David felt like that. But he also knew that God could take the weight away. ‘Take away’ in Hebrew is ‘blot out.’ It is like hiding a mark by putting a bigger mark on it. You cannot see the first mark! You have ‘blotted it out.’ If you want to know more about sin, disobedience and blotting out sin, read the notes in Psalms 32 and 51 in this set of psalms.
4 The man that you choose will be very happy.
You will bring him near and he will go into your courts.
We will have plenty of good things in your house, in your holy temple.
65:4Verse 4: The courts are the parts of the temple outside the main building. There were lots of little rooms for God's servants to live in.
5 You answer us by doing things that are righteous,
but they make us afraid.
You are the God that saves us.
You are the hope of people from the ends of the earth and far away seas.
65:5Verse 5: Everything that God does is righteous. This means that there is nothing wrong or bad in it. But some of the things that he does make people afraid. We call what they feel ‘fear.’ It makes some people frightened of God. It makes others see how great he is, and they want to love and worship him. We call this sort of good fear ‘awe.’
6 You are so strong that you made the mountains.
Everything that you do shows how powerful you are.
65:6In verses 6-8 we have the second sort of ‘fear of God.’ God gives these people hope, and they want to shout for joy to him. In other words, they are so happy that it makes them sing to God!
Verse 6: ‘Made the mountains’ is really ‘put the mountains in their places’ in Hebrew. Jesus said that our prayers could move mountains as well! That is because when we pray God shows people how strong he is.
7 You stop the seas from being angry, so that the waters make no noise.
You do the same with people.
65:7Verse 7: Jesus did this when he was in a boat with his friends. They thought that they were going to drown because the storm was so bad! But Jesus stopped the storm so that the waters made no noise.
8 Those that live far away see the great things that you have done.
It makes them afraid.
Where morning starts and evening finishes they shout for joy to you.
65:8Verse 8: One very important thing about this psalm is that it says everyone can come to God. Look in verse 2. ‘Every man and woman should come.’ And in this verse ‘those that live far away see how great you are.’ How far? From the east (‘where morning starts’) to the west (‘where evening finishes’)! Psalm 65 tells us that we do not have to be Israelites. We can all come to God, wherever we live!
9 You care for the land.
You send rain on it and you make the ground grow good plants.
The rivers of God are full of water.
They give people grain because that is how you prepared the land.
65:9Verse 9: ‘Prepared’ means that God did things to the land so that it gave lots of fruit and vegetables. Rain was important to the Jews. Without it, there were no fruit and vegetables. They would die of hunger. But God sent plenty of water. ‘Grain’ is a word that means the fruit of plants like wheat, corn, barley, and others. We use them to make bread.
10 Pour water on the land where the plough was. This will make it flat.
Let the rain make the ground soft. Then it will grow good plants.
65:10Verse 10: When we plough the earth, the plough does not leave it flat. But the rain makes it flat again. It also makes it soft so people can plant seeds.
11 The best part of the year is when you give us good things.
Everywhere you go there is plenty.
65:11Verse 11: Then comes the harvest. That is the best time of the year, says David in the psalm! God gives plenty of good things.
12 The fields in wild places pour out good things.
All over the hills there is plenty.
13 The fields are full of sheep. The valleys are full of grain.
They seem to shout and sing for joy!
65:13Verses 12-13: Here are 4 places where God gives plenty of good things:
– The wild places where not many people live
– The hills where it is hard to grow things
– The places where farmers keep lots of sheep
– The valleys near the rivers where the grain grows.
In all these places – in fact, everywhere – God gives plenty. We often say that he ‘blesses’ us. That word ‘blesses’ really means that when we plant seeds we will get lots of fruit and vegetables; when we keep sheep there will be many baby sheep (lambs); and men and women will have children. ‘Bless’ means good harvests of all sorts!