To the chief Musician, A Song or Psalm. Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands:Psalm 66:1-3. Make a joyful noise, &c. all ye lands — Ye people of all nations, who have seen the wonderful power, wisdom, goodness, and faithfulness of God manifested in our deliverance, it becomes you to acknowledge it with admiration and joy. He invites the Gentile world to the contemplation and celebration of God’s works, to and for his people. Make his praise glorious — Praise him in an extraordinary and eminent degree, so as he may have much glory from you. Say, How terrible art those in thy works — To wit, to thine enemies, as it follows; through thy power shall thine enemies submit themselves unto thee — Hebrew, יכחשׁו לךְ, jechachashu lecha, shall lie unto thee; that is, profess subjection to thee, not sincerely and freely, but by constraint, and out of servile fear.
Sing forth the honour of his name: make his praise glorious.
Say unto God, How terrible art thou in thy works! through the greatness of thy power shall thine enemies submit themselves unto thee.
All the earth shall worship thee, and shall sing unto thee; they shall sing to thy name. Selah.Psalm 66:4. All the earth shall worship thee, &c. — Many people of divers nations shall be so affected with thy stupendous works, that they shall worship and praise thee for them, and all the people shall have just cause to do so; and the time will come when all nations will actually do so, namely, in the days of the Messiah.
Come and see the works of God: he is terrible in his doing toward the children of men.Psalm 66:5-6. Come and see the works of God, &c. — Inquire after and consider seriously what works of stupendous power God has shown in the earth, in regard to the human race, and on their account. He turned the sea, &c. — He opened a passage for our fathers through the sea, so that they walked as on dry land, Exodus 14:16; and also led them dry-shod through the river Jordan, when it was so full of water that it overflowed its banks. There did we rejoice in him — That is, our nation, or our ancestors, in whose loins we then were, and the benefit of which ancient deliverance we at this day enjoy. The whole people of Israel are here, and in many other parts of Scripture, considered as one body, continued through all succeeding generations, united in the bonds of the same covenant and worship, and in the possession of the same promises, privileges, and blessings, and influenced by one and the same spirit. Hence several and contrary things may reasonably be ascribed to them, in regard of their several ages; and what was done in one age may be imputed to another, by virtue of their close conjunction with the same body.
He turned the sea into dry land: they went through the flood on foot: there did we rejoice in him.
He ruleth by his power for ever; his eyes behold the nations: let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah.Psalm 66:7. He ruleth by his power for ever — The same power which God possessed and exerted for his people in ancient times, he still possesses in as great vigour as ever, and is as able and ready to act for them as ever he was: which he hath shown in this late and glorious instance. His eyes behold the nations — He sees all their secret and subtle devices, and can and will defeat them, when he sees fit. Let not the rebellious exalt themselves — Lift up their hands against God or his people. Or, the rebellious; that is, those that rebel against this Almighty God and his laws, shall not exalt themselves, as they vainly hope and design to do, but shall be brought down and destroyed, as is here implied.
O bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of his praise to be heard:Psalm 66:8-9. O bless our God, ye people — Of other nations, who have served, or yet do serve other gods. Who holdeth our soul in life — Who by a succession of miracles of mercy hath preserved us alive in the midst of a thousand deaths, to which we were exposed; and hath restored us to life, when, as a nation, we were like dead men and dry bones, scattered at the mouth of the grave. And suffereth not our feet to be moved — Namely, so as to fall into mischief and utter ruin, as our enemies designed. But the psalmist’s words here are not to be interpreted exclusively of public and national blessings. We ought all, as individuals, to remember and acknowledge our daily and hourly obligations to him, who gave us our being at first, and by a constant renewed act upholds us in being. And, when we are ready to faint and perish, he restores our soul, and so puts it, as it were, into a new life, imparting new supports and comforts. We are apt to stumble and fall, and are exposed to many destructive accidents and disasters, as well as killing diseases; and as to these also we are guarded by the divine power; he suffereth not our feet to be moved, in that he prevents many unforeseen evils, from which we ourselves were not aware of our danger. To him we owe it that we have not, long ere this, fallen into endless ruin.
Which holdeth our soul in life, and suffereth not our feet to be moved.
For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried.Psalm 66:10. For thou, O God, &c. — Or, nevertheless. Though thou hast hitherto helped us: and now delivered us, yet for a season thou hast sorely afflicted us; hast tried us as silver is tried — That is, severely, as if it were in a burning furnace; and with a design to try our sincerity, and to purge the dross out of our hearts, and the wicked from among us. Observe, reader, we are proved by afflictions, as silver in the fire, 1st, That our graces, by being tried, may be made more evident, and so we may be approved as silver is when it is marked sterling, which will be to our praise at the appearing of Jesus Christ, 1 Peter 1:7. And, 2d, That our graces, by being exercised, may be made more strong and active, and so may be improved, as silver is when it is refined by the fire, and made more clear from its dross; and this will be to our unspeakable advantage, for thus shall we be made partakers of God’s holiness, Hebrews 12:10. Then are we likely to get good by our afflictions when we look upon them in this light; for then we see that they proceed from God’s mercy and love, and are intended for our honour and benefit. Public troubles, we must observe, are for the purifying of the church.
Thou broughtest us into the net; thou laidst affliction upon our loins.Psalm 66:11-12. Thou broughtest us into the net — Which our enemies had laid for us, and which could never have taken or held us but by thy permission, and the disposal of thy providence, which gave us into their hands. Thou hast caused men — Weak, mortal, and miserable men, as the word signifies, no better nor stronger than ourselves, if thou hadst not given them power over us; to ride over our heads — To trample upon us, and insult over us; to abuse, nay, and make perfect slaves of us. They have said to our souls, Bow down, that we may go over, Isaiah 51:23. We went through fire and water — Through afflictions of different kinds; through various and dangerous trials and calamities. The end of one trouble was the beginning of another; when we got clear of one sort of dangers, we found ourselves involved in dangers of another sort. Such may be the troubles of the best of God’s saints; but he has promised, When thou passest through the waters, through the fire, I will be with thee. Thou broughtest us into a wealthy place — Hebrew, לריוה, larevajah, a well- watered place, and therefore fruitful, like the garden of the Lord, Genesis 13:10. Such was Canaan, both literally, Deuteronomy 8:7-9, and figuratively, as being replenished with divine graces, privileges, and blessings. Thus God brings his people into trouble, that their comforts afterward may be the sweeter, and that their affliction may thus yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness, which will make the poorest place in the world a wealthy place.
Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.
I will go into thy house with burnt offerings: I will pay thee my vows,Psalm 66:13-15. I will go, &c. — The psalmist, having before endeavoured to excite all people in general, and all God’s people in particular, to praise the Lord, here declares it to be his own resolution to worship and serve him. I will go unto thy house, and set a good example to all my people; with burnt-offerings; I will pay thee my vows — I will not present myself before thee with empty praises, but acknowledge thy benefits with burnt-offerings, and faithfully discharge whatever vows I have made. When I was in trouble — Which I was not more forward to make when I was in distress than I will be to perform with all solemnity now that thou hast graciously delivered me out of it. I will offer burnt-sacrifices of fatlings —
I will not bring thee a niggardly present; but offer sacrifices of all sorts, and the best and choicest in every kind. It is very common and very commendable, when we are under the pressure of any affliction, or in the pursuit of any mercy, to make vows, and solemnly to name them before the Lord, in order that we may bind ourselves more closely to our duty; but we must take care that the vows which we made when we were in trouble be not forgotten when the trouble is over, but carefully performed; otherwise we contract fresh guilt, and bring upon ourselves fresh chastisement, from him whose fire is in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem, and who will not fail to chastise with severity such instances of unfaithfulness in his people.
Which my lips have uttered, and my mouth hath spoken, when I was in trouble.
I will offer unto thee burnt sacrifices of fatlings, with the incense of rams; I will offer bullocks with goats. Selah.
Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.Psalm 66:16-17. Come and hear, all ye that fear God — Whether Israelites, or Gentiles proselyted to them; come and hearken unto me (for it will afford you both instruction and encouragement, and will engage you to trust in God more than ever) while I relate what things God hath done for me, and what indubitable proofs he hath given me that he regards those that fear him; and I will declare what he hath done for my soul — Not in pride and vain glory, that I may be thought more a favourite of heaven than other people; but for the honour of God, to which I owe this as a just debt, and for the edification of others. Thus we should be ready, on all proper occasions, to tell one another of the great and good things which God has done for us, and especially what he has done for our souls, the spiritual blessings with which he hath blessed us in heavenly things; as we ought to be most affected with these ourselves, so with these we ought to be most desirous to affect others. I cried unto him with my mouth — With a loud voice and great fervency; and he was extolled with my tongue — I soon had occasion to extol him for hearing and answering my petitions.
I cried unto him with my mouth, and he was extolled with my tongue.
If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:Psalm 66:18. If I regard iniquity in my heart, &c. — God’s hearing and granting my petitions hath brought along with it a testimony of my sincerity in serving him, far more valuable than my kingdom; for, if I had been guilty of known iniquity, or had entertained in my heart a desire or intention to commit it, the Lord, who hates iniquity, would have denied my request. What the psalmist here observes merits our deep attention. From this, and many other passages in the Old Testament, we learn that the religion of the Holy Scriptures has always been the same in substance, and that in the time when various sacrifices and divers ceremonies were enjoined, the truly pious were persuaded that sincerity of heart and purity of intention, with a conscientious care to abstain from all known sin, were things absolutely necessary in order to their pleasing God, and being acceptable in his sight: and that without these, thousands of sacrifices and burnt-offerings, and the most scrupulous observance of outward ceremonies, were of no signification before him who searches the heart, and requires truth in the inward parts.
But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer.Psalm 66:19-20. But verily God hath heard me — And thereby hath borne his testimony to my integrity for my own comfort, and the vindication of my character against all my false accusers. Blessed be God, who hath not turned away my prayer — Or, rejected, or removed it from his sight and audience; but hath graciously received and granted it, which I ascribe to his infinite goodness, and not to the merit of my own righteousness; nor his mercy from me — To which, and not to any worthiness of my own, I owe my acceptance with him, and the answer of my prayers.
Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.