Peter Misselbrook's Blog
May 26 2019 - Psalm 65 – Praise awaits God in Zion

We have a truly wonderful God who is worthy of our praise. The opening phrase of this psalm, "Praise awaits you, our God, in Zion", suggests a people who are impatient to praise God, eager to start up in song as soon as God turns up to hear it. Are we always eager to praise God?

This psalm describes aspects of God's character that should fill us with thankfulness and praise.

Our God is a gracious God (vv. 1-4). He has forgiven all of our transgressions. The phrase in the opening half of verse 3, "When we were overwhelmed by sins…" suggests an awareness that our sin cannot easily be covered over, it threatens to destroy us. But God's grace is greater than our sin.

We know that our sins are forgiven because Jesus, God's own beloved Son, bore the penalty for them in our place when he was nailed to the cross. This truly is amazing grace:

My sin – oh, the bliss of this glorious thought! –
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

Through the Lord Jesus Christ, God has chosen to bring us into his presence and welcome us as his children (v. 4). He has poured out upon us blessings beyond number: he has brought us into the family of his people; he has given us a hope that extends beyond this present life and into eternity; he has given us his Spirit that we might know his love and his presence with us day by day; he is ready to hear and answer our prayers (v. 2a). We are greatly loved and greatly blessed. Nor are these blessings for us alone. As Charles Wesley put it, "The arms of love that compass me, would all mankind embrace." The blessings we enjoy and the joyful praise we offer God in return should make us the envy of a watching world and draw others to our God (v. 2b).

Our God is a mighty God (vv. 5-8). He created the world by the power of his word. The mountains which seem unmovable and eternal were formed by him (v. 6). The seas were tamed by him when he separated sea and dry land. This same power is seen in the Lord Jesus when he stilled the storm that threatened to overwhelm the disciples on Lake Galilee; he also is the mighty God. The whole universe displays God's power (v. 8). All creation is called to worship him.

And just as God has shown his might in creation, so he has also shown his saving power when he rescued his people from slavery in Egypt through "awesome and righteous deeds" (v.5). He tamed the waters of the Red Sea and stilled the angry opposition of the nations (v. 7). In the same way, God displayed his power in our salvation by raising our Lord Jesus from the dead. Nothing can defeat his purpose to save and bless his people. He is "the hope of all the ends of the earth" (v. 5).

Our God is a generous God. Read verses 9-13 again and note how God's generosity is underlined in the descriptions of the land and its harvest. I particularly love the phrase "your carts overflow with abundance" (v. 11). It is God who provides us with an abundance of good things for us to enjoy. The whole of creation is spoken of as "clothed with gladness" (v. 12), and singing for joy (v. 13).

We are all too aware that as we in the West enjoy the abundance of God's provision, there are many who lack the food they need to survive – whether through war or through drought caused by our changing climate. This psalm challenges us to realise afresh that the bountiful provision of our God is not for our selfish enjoyment and hoarding but for sharing. God's generosity is to be reflected in our generous use of all he has given us so that it may be for the blessing of all.

Father God, open our eyes to your abundant goodness and generosity both in provision for our daily lives and in our salvation through the Lord Jesus. Help us to be generous with all that you have given us so that all the earth may be filled with awe at your wonders and songs of joy may ascend to you from one end of the earth to the other.

Peter Misselbrook