Psalm 66

66:0Every year the Jews have a Passover. They have done it now for nearly 3 500 years. In it, they remember that God took them from Egypt to the Promised Land. They called the Promised Land ‘Israel.’ This Psalm is about a special Passover. Many Bible students think that it is the one after God saved them from the Assyrians. This was about 2700 years ago. Their king at that time was Hezekiah.

Home and Away

66:0The psalm is in two parts:

– Verses 1-12: All the people are speaking.

– Verses 13-20: Only the leader is speaking, maybe King Hezekiah.

This is for the music leader.

It is a song and a psalm.

66:0This means that there are words (song) and music (psalm).

1 Shout aloud to God because you are happy, everyone on earth!

2 Sing to the glory of his name!

Make the sound of his praises beautiful!

3 Say to God, ‘The things that you do sometimes frighten people.

You are so powerful and strong that your enemies are afraid of you.

4 The whole world will get on its knees in front of you.

It will sing your praise; it will praise your name in song.’

SELAH

66:4In verse 4 ‘get on its knees’ in the Hebrew Bible is ‘bow down.’ This means bend down. It means that you show that the person you are bending in front of is greater than you are.

5 Come and see the things that God has done.

The things that he did for people frightened many of them.

66:5‘The things that God has done’ in verse 5 were when he led his people from Egypt to the Promised Land.

6 He made the sea into dry land.

The people walked across the river Jordan on their feet!

So, we must praise him!

7 He is so powerful that he will rule for ever.

His eyes are always watching the nations.

Nobody should fight against him.

SELAH

66:7As in many of the psalms, ‘the people’ are the Jews and ‘the nations’ are the rest of the world.

8 Say good things about God, you people.

Let everybody hear the sound of people praising him.

66:8In verses 8 and 20 ‘say good things’ we can also translate ‘bless.’ Bless is a special word which means that God will make good things happen to you. In the Old Testament this means things that grow.

9 He is a God that keeps us alive.

He does not let our feet slip.

10 Really, God, you have tested us.

You have made us pure as they make silver pure.

11 You brought us into a prison and made people beat our backs.

12 But you sent a man to lead us.

We went through fire and water,

but you brought us into a place where there was plenty.

66:12Verses 9-12 are about what God has just done for his people. It is not about saving them from Egypt. If Bible students are correct and the king is Hezekiah, then God has just saved them from Assyria. He kept them alive when they thought that the Assyrians would kill them. Their feet did not slip, so that they did not fall down in front of their enemy. It was difficult, but God was testing them. It burned a lot of the bad out of them, as metal-workers burn dirt out of silver when they refine it (or make it pure). The Assyrian army was all round Jerusalem, so the Jews could not get out. They felt as if they were in prison. They felt as if the prison keepers beat their backs with whips. But God sent them a good leader, King Hezekiah, with the prophet Isaiah to give him help. They went through fire and water. This is a Jewish and English way to say ‘they went through very great trouble and difficulty.’ But God brought them to a place where there was plenty! God blessed them again with children, lots of animals and plenty of food. They could say ‘My cup is so full that it overflowed’, (Psalm 23:5). That word ‘overflowed’ is the same word in the Hebrew Bible as ‘there was plenty’ in Psalm 66:12!

13 I will bring gifts to burn to you in your house.

I will keep the promises that I made to you.

14 When I was in trouble, my lips made a promise.

I said it out aloud.

15 The gifts that I will offer to you will be fat animals.

You will smell the rams when they burn.

I will also offer to you bulls and goats.

SELAH

16 Come and listen, all you people that are afraid of God.

I will tell you some of the things that he has done for me.

17 I cried aloud to him, then I praised him!

66:17In verse 17, maybe it means ‘I prayed for help when the Assyrians came, but I knew I would praise God if he answered me.’

18 If I was thinking bad things in my heart,

my Lord would not have listened.

66:18Verse 18 is important. When we pray to God, we must want good things to happen not bad things.

19 But God did hear me.

He listened to my voice while I prayed.

20 I will say good things about God.

He has not been deaf to my voice.

He has shown me his kind love.

66:20The psalm finishes with the King (or other leader) telling the people about the things that God had done for him. If it was saving the people from the Assyrians, then he is speaking for all of them!

The ‘kind love’ in verse 20 is a special Bible word in Hebrew. It means that God will love people even if they are not good people. He will do this if they ask him to and obey him after he does!