To the chief Musician, A Song or Psalm. Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands:
I. It is man's duty to worship God; therefore man can attain a true knowledge of God. The first idea of God is awakened by the words and acts of our fellow-men; but when the idea is once ours, we can verify and ennoble it for ourselves. Within the last few years, however, it has been maintained that man cannot have any real knowledge of what God is. It has been affirmed that we have no reason for believing that God's justice and God's love are the same attributes in kind as human justice and human love; that therefore, not knowing what these perfections really are as they exist in God, we are in no condition to pronounce whether any alleged acts of God are in harmony with them or not. This appalling theory would quench all my hope, paralyse my faith, and render it impossible for me to love God. It would desolate my religious life, and bring upon my soul a darkness that could be felt. If this were true, worship would be impossible. We can, we do, know God as He is, not perfectly, but with a real and trustworthy knowledge. "All the earth shall worship Him," and all the earth therefore shall know Him. It is one of the most animating motives to the discipline of the soul in righteousness and to resolute struggle against sin that as our holiness increases our knowledge of God becomes wider and deeper; in this world as well as in the next "the pure in heart shall see God."
II. God finds satisfaction and delight in human worship. Apart from this conviction, our praises and our adoration must lose their life and reality. If I speak, it is because I believe He listens. If I rejoice in looking up into His face, it is because I see Him looking back upon me with ineffable love and delight. In the act of worship we draw near to God, and God draws near to us. How it is, we know not, but through secret avenues He enters our spirits, and we become mysteriously one with Him. To discharge this duty of worship aright, our religious thought should not incessantly revolve about our personal conflicts with sin and our own immortal safety. We think too much of ourselves, too little of God. We ask Him too constantly for help; we too seldom thank Him with throbbing gratitude for the blessings which are ours already, and for the infinite grace which prompted Him to give us Christ and to promise us heaven. More deep and devout thought on what God is would change all this, and bring our life in this world into nearer harmony with what we hope it will be in the next.
R. W. Dale, Discourses on Special Occasions, p. 3.
References: Psalm 66:9.—J. Wells, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. vii., p. 61. Psalm 66:14.—J. N. Norton, Every Sunday, p. 166.
Psalm 66:16Gratitude towards God and generosity towards man—these are two of the marked features in the character of David. In the text he gathers, as it were, a little select congregation around him of those who, like himself, had had experience of God's goodness. He asks them to join with him in praising and blessing God; and he instructs them, and strengthens them, and encourages them by recounting to them what God had done for himself.
I. We declare with thankfulness what God hath done for our souls in the act of redeeming us. God sent His Son to bless us in turning every one of us from his iniquities. Salvation is a free gift. It is the gift of free and full pardon for all the bad life that is past, and the pledge and the power of a better life to come.
II. The gift of the Holy Scriptures is the second thing that God hath done for our souls. The best way of showing our gratitude for so great a blessing is to use it well.
III. It is not merely as separate persons, one by one, that God has furnished us with blessings made ready to our souls. We are members of a great society. The Holy Catholic Church is a part of the system of our religion. We have sacraments, and common prayer, and public instruction, and mutual help.
IV. We have the supreme blessing of the grace of the Holy Spirit and the blessing of providential care.
V. We advance one step further, and enter the inner circle of all. At this point especially the words of the Psalm are addressed to those who fear God, and it is only they who can thoroughly enter into their meaning. "O come hither and hearken, all ye that fear God, and I will tell you what He hath done for my soul." This desire to help others is a certain mark of true conversion. Gratitude to God will find its natural development in generosity to man.
J. S. Howson, Penny Pulpit, No. 345.
References: Psalm 66:16.—C. J. Vaughan, Harrow Sermons, 1st series, p. 388; C. C. Bartholomew, Sermons chiefly Practical, p; 303; W. R. Nicoll, Calls to Christ, p. 9; Congregationalist, vol. vi., p. 539; G. S. Barrett, Old Testament Outlines, p. 119. Psalm 66:16-20.—Homiletic Quarterly, vol. i., p. 119. Psalm 66:20.—Spurgeon, Morning by Morning, p. 145. Psalm 67:1, Psalm 67:2.—J. Edmunds, Sermons in a Village Church, p. 144; H. Phillips, Christian World Pulpit, vol. i., p. 237.
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.
Come and see the works of God: he is terrible in his doing toward the children of men.
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.
O bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of his praise to be heard:
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.
Thou broughtest us into the net; thou laidst affliction upon our loins.
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,
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.
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:
But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer.
Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.