Psalm 65:1
To the chief Musician, A Psalm and Song of David. Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Sion: and unto thee shall the vow be performed.
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(1) Praise waiteth . . .—Literally, To thee silence praise, which recalls Psalm 62:1 (see Note), but must be differently explained. To say, Praise is silence to thee, is hardly intelligible. The LXX. and Vulg. read differently, “praise is comely.” Better supply a conjunction, To thee are quiet and praise, i.e., submissive expectation till the deliverance come (Psalm 62:1), and then exulting praise.

Shall the vow.—Better, Is the vow paid, i.e., by the praise just mentioned.

Psalm 65:1. Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Zion — Waits in expectation of the mercy desired; waits till it arrives, that it may be received with thankfulness at its first approach. For, when God is coming toward us with his favours, we must go forth to meet him with our praises. Praise waits with an entire satisfaction in thy holy will, and in dependance on thy mercy. When we stand ready in every thing to give thanks, then praise waits for God. Hebrew, לךְ דמיה תהלה, lecha dumijah tehillah, praise is silent unto thee, as wanting words to express thy great goodness, and being struck with silent admiration of it. As there are holy groanings in prayer, which cannot be uttered, so there are holy adorations in praise which cannot be expressed, and yet shall be accepted by Him who searcheth the heart, and knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit. Our praise is silent, that the praises of the blessed angels, that excel in strength, may be heard. Before thee (thus the Chaldee) praise is reputed as silence. So far is God exalted above all our blessing and praise. Praise is due to God from all the world; but it waits for him in Sion only, in his church among his people; all his works praise him, that is, they minister matter for praise, but only his saints bless him by actual adorations. Unto thee shall the vow be performed — The sacrifices and thank-offerings, which thy people vowed unto thee, in the time of their danger, when they were supplicating deliverance, and other blessings, at thy hands, shall be faithfully paid. We shall not be accepted in our thanksgivings to God for the mercies we have received, unless we make conscience of paying the vows which we made when we were in pursuit of these mercies; for better is it not to vow than to vow and not to pay.

65:1-5 All the praise the Lord receives from this earth is from Zion, being the fruit of the Spirit of Christ, and acceptable through him. Praise is silent unto thee, as wanting words to express the great goodness of God. He reveals himself upon a mercy-seat, ready to hear and answer the prayers of all who come unto him by faith in Jesus Christ. Our sins prevail against us; we cannot pretend to balance them with any righteousness of our own: yet, as for our transgressions, of thine own free mercy, and for the sake of a righteousness of thine own providing, we shall not come into condemnation for them. Observe what it is to come into communion with God in order to blessedness. It is to converse with him as one we love and value; it is to apply ourselves closely to religion as to the business of our dwelling-place. Observe how we come into communion with God; only by God's free choice. There is abundance of goodness in God's house, and what is satisfying to the soul; there is enough for all, enough for each: it is always ready; and all without money and without price. By faith and prayer we may keep up communion with God, and bring in comfort from him, wherever we are. But it is only through that blessed One, who approaches the Father as our Advocate and Surety, that sinners may expect or can find this happiness.Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Sion - That is, all the arrangements are made; the people are assembled; their hearts are prepared to praise thee. The fact that Zion is mentioned here as the seat of praise would seem to imply that this psalm was composed before the building of the temple, contrary to the opinion of DeWette and others, as noticed in the Introduction to the psalm, for after the building of the temple the seat of worship was transferred from Mount Zion, where David had placed the ark and prepared a tent for it 1 Chronicles 15:1; 1 Chronicles 16:1; 2 Chronicles 1:4, to Mount Moriah. It is true that the general name Zion was given familiarly to Jerusalem as a city, but it is also true that the particular place for the worship of God in the time of David was Mount Zion strictly so called. See the notes at Psalm 2:6. The margin in this place is, "Praise is silent." The Hebrew is, "To thee is silence-praise," - a kind of compound phrase, not meaning "silent praise," but referring to a condition where everything is ready; where the preparations have been entirely made; where the noise usually attendant on preparation has ceased, and all is in readiness as if waiting for that for which the arrangements had been carried forward. The noise of building - of preparation - was now hushed, and all was calm. The language here would also denote the state of feeling in an individual or an assembly, when the heart was prepared for praise; when it was filled with a deep sense of the majesty and goodness of God; when all feelings of anxiety were calmed down, or were in a state of rest; when the soul was ready to burst forth in expressions of thanksgiving, and nothing would meet its needs but praise.

And unto thee shall the vow be performed - See Psalm 22:25, note; Psalm 50:14, note; Psalm 56:12, note. The reference here is to the vows or promises which the people had made in view of the manifested judgments of God and the proofs of his goodness. Those vows they were now ready to carry out in expressions of praise.


Ps 65:1-13. This is a song of praise for God's spiritual blessings to His people and His kind providence over all the earth.

1. Praise waiteth for thee—literally, "To Thee silence praise," or (compare Ps 62:1), To Thee silence is praise—that is, Praise is waiting as a servant; it is due to Thee. So the last clause expresses the duty of paying vows. These two parts of acceptable worship, mentioned in Ps 50:14, are rendered in Zion, where God chiefly displays His mercy and receives homage.

1 Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Sion: and unto thee shall the vow be performed.

2 O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come.

3 Iniquities prevail against me: as for our transgressions, thou shalt purge them away.

4 Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts - we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple.

Psalm 65:1

"Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Sion." Though Babylon adores Antichrist, Zion remains faithful to her King; to him, and to him only, she brings her perpetual oblation of worship. Those who have seen in Zion the blood of sprinkling, and know themselves to belong to the church of the firstborn, can never think of her without presenting humble praise to Zion's God; his mercies are too numerous and precious to be forgotten. The praises of the saints wait for a signal from the divine Lord, and when he shows his face they burst forth at once. Like a company of musicians gathered to welcome and honour a prince, who wait till he makes his appearance, so do we reserve our best praises till the Lord reveals himself in the assembly of his saints; and, indeed, till he shall descend from heaven in the day of his appearing. Praise also waits like a servant or courtier in the royal halls - gratitude is humble and obedient. Praise attends the Lord's pleasure, and continues to bless him, whether he shows tokens of present favour or no; she is not soon wearied, but all through the night she sings on in sure hope that the morning cometh. We shall continue to wait on, tuning our harps, amid the tears of earth; but O what harmonies will those be which we will pour forth, when the home-bringing is come, and the King shall appear in his glory. The passage may be rendered "praise is silent for thee;" it is calm, peaceful, and ready to adore thee in quietness. Or, it may mean, our praise is but silence compared with thy deservings, O God. Or, in solemn silence we worship thee, because our praise cannot be uttered; accept, therefore, our silence as praise. Or, we are so engrossed in thy praise, that to all other things we are dumb; we have no tongue for anything but thee. Perhaps the poet best expressed the thought of the Psalmist when he said -

"A sacred reverence checks our songs,

And praise sits silent on our tongues."

Certainly, when the soul is most filled with adoring awe, she is least content with her own expressions, and feels most deeply how inadequate are all mortal songs to proclaim the divine goodness. A church, bowed into silent adoration by a profound sense of divine mercy, would certainly offer more real praise than the sweetest voices aided by pipes and strings; yet, vocal music is not to be neglected, for this sacred hymn was meant to be sung. It is well before singing to have the soul placed in a waiting attitude, and to be humbly conscious that our best praise is but silence compared with Jehovah's glory.

"And unto thee shall the vow be performed." Perhaps a special vow made during a season of drought and political danger. Nations and churches must be honest and prompt in redeeming their promises to the Lord, who cannot be mocked with impunity. So, too, must individuals. We are not to forget our vows, or to redeem them to be seen of men - unto God alone must they be performed, with a single eye to his acceptance. Believers are all under covenant, which they made at conversion, and have renewed upon being baptised, joining the church, and coming to the table, and some of them are under special pledges which they entered into under peculiar circumstances; these are to be piously and punctually fulfilled. We ought to be very deliberate in promising, and very punctilious in performing. A vow unkept will burn the conscience like a hot iron. Vows of service, of donation, of praise, or whatever they may be, are no trifles; and in the day of grateful praise they should, without fail, be fulfilled to the utmost of our power.

Psalm 65:2

"O thou that hearest prayer." This is thy name, thy nature, thy glory. God not only has heard, but is now hearing prayer, and always must hear prayer, since he is an immutable being, and never changes in his attributes. What a delightful title for the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christi Every right and sincere prayer is as surely heard as it is offered. Here the Psalmist brings in the personal pronoun "thou," and we beg the reader to notice how often "thou, thee," and "thy," occur in this hymn; David evidently believed in a personal God, and did not adore a mere idea or abstraction. "Unto thee shall all flesh come." This shall encourage men of all nations to become suppliants to the one and only God, who proves his Deity by answering those who seek his face. Flesh they are, and therefore weak; frail and sinful, they need to pray; and thou art such a God as they need, for thou art touched with compassion, and dost condescend to hear the cries of poor flesh and blood. Many come to thee now in humble faith, and are filled with good, but more shall be drawn to thee by the attractiveness of thy love, and at length the whole earth shall bow at thy feet. To come to God is the life of true religion; we come weeping in conversion, hoping in supplication, rejoicing in praise, and delighting in service. False gods must in due time lose their deluded votaries, for man when enlightened will not be longer be fooled; but each one who tries the true God is encouraged by his own success to persuade others also, and so the kingdom of God comes to men, and men come to it.

Psalm 65:3

"Iniquities prevail against me." Others accuse and slander me, and in addition my own sins rise up and would beset me to my confusion, were it not for the remembrance of the atonement which covers every one of my iniquities. Our sins would, but for grace, prevail against us in the court of divine justice, in the court of conscience, and in the battle of life. Unhappy is the man who despises these enemies, and worse still is he who counts them his friends! He is best instructed who knows their deadly power, and flees for refuge to him who pardons iniquity. "As for our transgressions, thou shalt purge them away." Thou dost cover them all, for thou hast provided a covering propitiation, a mercy-seat which wholly covers thy law. Note the word "our," the faith of the one penitent who speaks for himself in the first clause, here embraces all the faithful in Zion; and he is so persuaded of the largeness of forgiving love that he leads all the saints to sing of the blessing. What a comfort that iniquities which prevail against us, do not prevail against God. They would keep us away from God, but he sweeps them away from before himself and us; they are too strong for us, but not for our Redeemer, who is mighty, yea, and almighty to save. It is worthy of note that as the priest washed in the laver before he sacrificed, so David leads us to obtain purification from sin before we enter upon the service of song. When we have washed our robes and made them white in his blood, then shall we acceptably sing, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain."

continued...THE ARGUMENT

The design of this Psalm seems to be to declare the great and glorious work of Divine Providence, both towards his church and the land of his people, and towards the rest of mankind.

David praiseth God for spiritual blessings, as hearing prayer, and purging away sin, Psalm 65:1-3, and for the blessedness of those that dwell in his courts, Psalm 65:4; and also for temporal blessings, as governing the world, and the abundance of all worldly enjoyments, Psalm 65:5-13.

Waiteth, Heb. is silent, or silence, i.e. quietly waits, as this phrase is used also Psalm 62:1. And praise may be here put for the person or persons who use to praise God upon all occasions, and who are now prepared and ready to do so; as deceit is put for a deceitful man, as Proverbs 12:24, and sin for the sinner, Proverbs 13:6, and dreams for dreamers, Jeremiah 27:9. So the meaning may seem to be this, God’s people patiently and believingly wait for an opportunity to offer their praises to God; for at present they seem to be in some straits, as divers passages of this Psalm do intimate. In Zion: though all the people of the world have great cause to praise thee, yet none pay thee this tribute, but thy people in Zion; and they indeed have really peculiar and eminent obligations and occasions to perform this duty.

Unto thee shall the vow be performed; all the thank-offerings which thy people vowed unto thee in the time of their danger shall be faithfully paid, to wit,

in Zion; which is to be repeated out of the first clause of the verse.

Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Sion,.... Who dwells in Sion, as Jarchi interprets it; and so the Targum; whose Shechinah, or glorious Majesty, is in Sion; see Psalm 76:2; or else Sion, which designs no other than the church of God, and which is so called under the Gospel dispensation, Hebrews 12:22; is the place where "praise" waits for God, that being the city of our solemnities, as well as the city of the great King; and not only a house of prayer, but of praise, where the sacrifices, both of prayer and praise, are offered to God through Christ with acceptance: and praise may be said to "wait" for him here, because it is "due" to him here, as some render it, on account of many blessings and privileges of grace here enjoyed, through the word and ordinances; and because the people of God wait upon him here with their tribute of praise, which is comely in them to bring, and is "agreeable" and acceptable to him; and because it "remains", abides, and continues here; or, in other words, the saints are continually praising the Lord here, giving thanks to him always for all things, Psalm 84:4; some render the words "praise is silent for thee" (e); because there is no end of it, as Jarchi observes; or, because of the greatness of the works of the Lord, praise cannot reach him, as Ben Melech expresses it. The greatest shouts, and loudest acclamations of praise, are but silence in comparison of what ought, if it could be expressed, on account of the nature, perfections, and works of God. The Targum is,

"before thee praise is reputed as silence.''

In the king of Spain's Bible it is,

"the praise of angels is reputed before thee as silence;''

perhaps it may be best rendered, "to thee belong", or "are due, silence and praise" (f): there ought to be first a silent and quiet waiting upon God for mercies wanted, and which he has promised to give; and, when they are bestowed, praise should be rendered unto him. Gussetius (g) gives the sense of the words, and renders them,

"praise, which is thine image, which bears a likeness to thee shall be paid in Sion;''

and unto thee shall the vow be performed: that is, of praise and thankfulness for deliverance and salvation, made in a time of trouble and distress; see Psalm 66:13.

(e) "tibi silet laus", Pagninus, Vatablus. (f) "Tibi silentium est et laus", Piscator, Gejerus. (g) Ebr. Comment. p. 193.

<and Song of David.>> {a} Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Sion: and unto thee shall the vow be performed.

(a) You daily give new opportunities to your Church to praise you.

1. Praise waiteth for thee] The phrase beautifully suggests the idea of a grateful people, assembled to render thanks to God, and only waiting for the festival to begin. But this can hardly be the meaning of the original. The renderings, For thee praise is silent, or, silence is praise, give no appropriate meaning, for though prayer may be silent (Psalm 62:1), praise calls for vocal expression. The R.V. marg., There shall be silence before thee and praise, O God, involves a harsh asyndeton. It remains to follow the LXX (πρέπει, Vulg. te decet hymnus), which preserves a slightly different tradition as to the vocalisation of the Hebrew, and to render, Praise beseemeth thee, O God, in Zion.

the vow] Or, collectively, vows. Cp. Psalm 66:13; and for vows and praises coupled together see Psalm 22:25; Psalm 61:8. At the end of the verse P.B.V. adds in Jerusalem, from the LXX (most MSS. though not the Vatican) and Vulg., completing the parallelism, as in Psalm 102:21; Psalm 147:12.

1–4. It is the duty of a grateful people to render thanks to God in the Temple, assembling to pay its vows to the universal Hearer of prayer. The consciousness of manifold sins might deter them from approaching a holy God, were not He Himself graciously ready to purge their guilt away. In the blessings, of which the welcome to His house is the pledge, is to be found man’s truest happiness.

Verse 1. - Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Zion; literally, there is silence praise (equivalent to "silent praise") for thee, O God, in Zion. There was, for the most part, a hushed silence in the tabernacle and temple, amid which silent prayer and praise were offered to God by the priests and Levites, and any lay persons who might be present (camp. 1 Samuel 1:13). And unto thee shall the vow be performed. When there was any special outpouring of praise in the temple, there would almost always be a performance of vows. Both depended on some deliverance or favour having been granted. Psalm 65:1The praise of God on account of the mercy with which He rules out of Zion. The lxx renders σοὶ πρέπει ὕμνος, but דּומיּה, tibi par est, h. e. convenit laus (Ewald), is not a usage of the language (cf. Psalm 33:1; Jeremiah 10:7). דּמיּה signifies, according to Psalm 22:3, silence, and as an ethical notion, resignation, Psalm 62:2. According to the position of the words it looks like the subject, and תּהלּה like the predicate. The accents at least (Illuj, Shalsheleth) assume the relationship of the one word to the other to be that of predicate and subject; consequently it is not: To Thee belongeth resignation, praise (Hengstenberg), but: To Thee is resignation praise, i.e., resignation is (given or presented) to Thee as praise. Hitzig obtains the same meaning by an alteration of the text: לך דמיה תהלּל; but opposed to this is the fact that הלּל ל is not found anywhere in the Psalter, but only in the writings of the chronicler. And since it is clear that the words לך תהלה belong together (Psalm 40:4), the poet had no need to fear any ambiguity when he inserted dmyh between them as that which is given to God as praise in Zion. What is intended is that submission or resignation to God which gives up its cause to God and allows Him to act on its behalf, renouncing all impatient meddling and interference (Exodus 14:14). The second member of the sentence affirms that this praise of pious resignation does not remain unanswered. Just as God in Zion is praised by prayer which resigns our own will silently to His, so also to Him are vows paid when He fulfils such prayer. That the answers to prayer are evidently thought of in connection with this, we see from Psalm 65:3, where God is addressed as the "Hearer or Answerer of prayer." To Him as being the Hearer and Answerer of prayer all flesh comes, and in fact, as עדיך implies (cf. Isaiah 45:24), without finding help anywhere else, it clear a way for itself until it gets to Him; i.e., men, absolutely dependent, impotent in themselves and helpless, both collectively and individually (those only excepted who are determined to perish or despair), flee to Him as their final refuge and help. Before all else it is the prayer for the forgiveness of sin which He graciously answers. The perfect in Psalm 65:4 is followed by the future in Psalm 65:4. The former, in accordance with the sense, forms a hypothetical protasis: granted that the instances of faults have been too powerful for me, i.e., (cf. Genesis 4:13) an intolerable burden to me, our transgressions are expiated by Thee (who alone canst and also art willing to do it). דּברי is not less significant than in Psalm 35:20; Psalm 105:27; Psalm 145:5, cf. 1 Samuel 10:2; 2 Samuel 11:18.: it separates the general fact into its separate instances and circumstances. How blessed therefore is the lot of that man whom (supply אשׁר) God chooses and brings near, i.e., removes into His vicinity, that he may inhabit His courts (future with the force of a clause expressing a purpose, as e.g., in Job 30:28, which see), i.e., that there, where He sits enthroned and reveals Himself, he may have his true home and be as if at home (vid., Psalm 15:1)! The congregation gathered around Zion is esteemed worthy of this distinction among the nations of the earth; it therefore encourages itself in the blessed consciousness of this its privilege flowing from free grace (בחר), to enjoy in full draughts (שּבע with בּ as in Psalm 103:5) the abundant goodness or blessing (טוּב) of God's house, of the holy (ἅγιον) of His temple, i.e., of His holy temple (קדשׁ as in Psalm 46:5, cf. Isaiah 57:15). For for all that God's grace offers us we can give Him no better thanks than to hunger and thirst after it, and satisfy our poor soul therewith.
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