Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray with Me”.
Psalm 66 is a hymn of thanksgiving and praise to God. It has four stanzas and each one begins with a call to praise:
– verse 1: Shout for joy to God, all the earth
– verse 5: Come and see what God has done
– verse 8: Praise our God, all peoples
– verse 16: Come and hear, all you who fear God.
“Shout for joy” the poet says, but it isn’t something we do much of these days. Part of the deep appeal of Pentecostalism and other more expressive forms of faith is that they create space for the noisier and more chaotic expressions of emotion that frequent the psalms.
Another key message from Psalm 66 is that we need to pay attention.
– We can pay attention with our memory, reciting and rejoicing in what God did for his people in the past (vv. 5-7).
– We can pay attention to our world, reflecting on and talking about what God is doing today (vv. 1-4).
– We can pay attention to our experience, telling others what God is doing for us and in us (vv. 16-20).
Shout for joy to God, all the earth
Sing the glory of his name;
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
Your enemies cringe before your great power” (v. 1-2a).
Our Father, when we look at what is wrong with our world, we are tempted to think you are weak. Wars continue unabated, selfish tyrants promote their own power and glory, the poor everywhere are hungry and oppressed. And now the Covid-19 pandemic cuts a brutal swath through our healthcare systems, our economy, our comfort.
But with the poet, we lift our eyes to what is right with the world. The sun rises and sets, the moon regulates the tides, we rely on the seasons for planting and harvesting. The beauty of mountains and fields and sky is not obscured by human troubles. How awesome are your deeds, O God.
We remember and pay attention to what you have done. Long ago you parted the Red Sea so your people could pass, humiliating the rebellious Pharaoh and drowning his pursuing army. You led your people through the Jordan River to the Promised Land. Empires rise and fall at your command. Long gone is the greatness that was Babylon, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Passing is the greatness that is America and China. You stilled the black plague and the world wars and the Spanish flu. On your timeline, God, only Christ’s kingdom will grow and flourish without end.
With the poet we pray,
Praise our God, all peoples. . .
he has preserved our lives
and kept our feet from slipping (v. 8a, 9).
Thank you, God, for saving our lives, for bringing us through sickness and danger, through busyness and joblessness, through good times and bad.
You have tested us,
You have refined us as silver,
You have brought us through fire and water
into a spacious place (v. 9, 12b).
Thank you, God, for being active in our lives, for testing us, training us, and bringing us through fire and water to a good place. In everything you work for the good of those who love you (Rom 8:28). As the pandemic restrains and haunts us and world politics confuse us, we thank you for helping us grow upward and outward into this good space in which we live.
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.