Psalm 65 is another psalm penned by David. This psalm centers around describing the great blessings of God. As we can see in verse 1, this is a psalm of praise for the great wonders and works of God through creation. We will see David praise God for God’s grace, God’s might, and God’s prosperity to humanity. This is a worship psalm that could have been sung at any time. But due to the language of fulfilling vows and receiving plentiful harvests, this was like a psalm used during the Feast of Tabernacles. This feast was one of the most joyful feasts of the Jewish people, lasting eight days in which the people of Israel celebrated the abundance of the harvest crops. Further, this is only one of three psalms that uses the word “atone” or “atonement.” This helps us tie this psalm to the Feast of Tabernacles because the Day of Atonement occurred five days before the Feast of Tabernacles.
God of Grace (65:1-4)
- The psalm begins with David declaring that praise rightfully belongs to God in Zion. The psalm begins with what seems to be a very nationalistic psalm about the people of Israel and their feasts and offerings being performed at the sanctuary in Jerusalem. But verse 2 expands this worship psalm to all people. “O you who hears prayer; to you shall all flesh come” (ESV). This psalm expresses the universal need to come to God. All people on the earth, not just the Jewish people, not just God’s chosen people, must come to God.
- Verse 3 describes the crux of the problem for humanity. “When iniquities prevail against me, you atone for our transgressions”(ESV). When we read these words before the coming of Christ, we recognize that this is what the people of Israel understood God to be doing for them. The people recognized that their sins were against them and that God was making atonement for their sins. God was willing to make a covering for our sins. Notice that David does not say that the animals sacrificed atone for the people’s transgressions. David knew better than this. He says that it is God who is covering over the people’s sins. David is declaring what Paul would teaching to the Ephesians: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)…” (Ephesians 2:4-5; NASU). The people needed a Savior. God continued to show mercy toward the people by covering over their sins. But justification for God’s favorable treatment of us had to come through the death of His own Son. One of the roles of the Messiah was to come to the people of Israel and save them from their sins.
- But there is another blessing that comes from the God of grace. Not only were the people’s sins covered, but the people could be brought near to God. “Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts!” This is a beautiful picture of our ability to come near to God. Can you imagine what a source of confidence it was to the people to have God dwelling in the center of the camp? God dwelling in the tabernacle. A cloud over the tabernacle in the day and a fire over the tabernacle at night. God was with his people and it was a great blessing to see God dwelling in their midst each day. “We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple!” The connection is that when God is near us, we can be satisfied. We will find provisions from the Lord when we remain near the Lord. God’s goodness overflows from his presence. Goodness and righteousness surround God and we should desire to be near it all.
God of Might (65:5-8)
- The second section of this psalm describes the power and might of the Lord. This stanza mentions two specific displays of God’s power in the earth. In verse 6 we read, “The one who by his strength established the mountains, being girded with might.” The mountains of the earth show God’s power and might. We cannot move the mountains. It is a feat for us just to blaze a tunnel through a mighty mountain. The mountains of Yosemite speak to the power of God. The lofty Rocky Mountains shows God’s might. To stand on top of any of the mountains of the earth is a majestic experience. God put these mountains on the earth to show his might.
- The second way God shows his might is described in verse 7: “Who stills the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples.” The waves of the ocean are absolutely fascinating when you consider their power. The power of a wave is unbelievable. Stand in the ocean and notice how a wave will push you back. Even with all of your might to walk forward, you will be pushed back by the ocean’s waves. Dive under a wave and you will feel the great force of it as it passes. We do not get to experience much of this on the east coast, but one of my favorite memories as a child was the sound of the waves. We would pull into the parking lot and when you opened the door, you could hear the sound of the waves crashing. A calming yet powerful sound of the waves crashing on the shore reminds us of God’s power.
- Why does the psalmist record these events in nature? Verse 8 tells us that we are to be in awe of the signs of God. These things exist so that we would seek after God. These are permanent signs that our parents enjoyed, that we enjoy, and that our children and their children’s children can enjoy. All of it speaks to the power of God. The power is there to show us something very important. Notice verse 5: “By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas” (65:5; ESV). These things remind us of God’s power to answer prayer. David is telling us to look at the earth to see what God can do and remember that this same power is working to answer us.
God of Prosperity (65:9-13)
- The third and final section of this psalm describes the bountifulness of God to his people. We are not much of an agrarian society anymore. So we need to place ourselves back in history as people who lived off of the land and farmed it for sustenance and pay.
- The first part describes the watering of the land for crops. David declares that it is God who visits the earth and waters it. This brings about the grain from planting. Further, God brings the showers on the earth to soften it for farming, by which people receive the blessing of growth from their harvest. In verse 11 David continues by describing the harvest that people enjoy because God has made the earth profitable. Isn’t it interesting the different type of soils that exist on the earth so that all sorts of crops can be planted and harvested? This is not random chance but a thoughtful God who has prepared these things for humanity. Verses 12-13 describe the blessings of God as the pastures and the hills are made ready for the animals to eat and find provision. The earth is made ready by God for the people to harvest.
- One of the keys to this section is the description of the abundance of the harvest. In verse 9, “you greatly enrich it” and “the river of God is full of water.” Notice verse 10, “You water its furrows abundantly.” Verse 11, “You crown the year with your bounty” and “your wagon tracks overflow with abundance.” Here is a picture of the cart having so much crop that some of the harvest is falling off the cart and being left behind on the ground. Finally, in verse 12 we read, “The pastures of the wilderness overflow.” This final section is all about how God blesses abundantly. God is not stingy when he does these things for the earth. God is overflowing with his blessings to all flesh.
- We need to see that God blesses us abundantly in so many various ways. David tries to remind us of how much God gives to the people of the earth. God blesses us through material things. We must consider that the things we have are a blessing from God. God has set the earth up in such a way that we can be prosperous while we live here. There are other planets in our own solar system that cannot sustain life, but are desolate wastelands. How amazing that we are placed on this planet that not only has the ability to sustain life, but is able to give great abundance to the people who live on it. The earth continues to remain and be productive, even though people may think that we are destroying it. God has not made a delicate earth, but has created a planet that could be useful for people with their technology in 2000 B.C. as it could in 2000 A.D.
- Second, God has given us the beautiful things that we see in creation to know that he exists. We are able to look at the mountains and the waves and know that there is power in this world and someone put these things in motion for us. The earth is accomplishing God’s purpose. God’s love is so great that these things were placed here so we would know that there is a powerful Creator who answers our prayers. If God can set these things in motion by His own divine will and accomplish His purpose, how much more can God do for those that He loves so much that He created all of this for us and gave up His Son for us.
- Finally, we see God’s blessings through the grace he has offered to all of humanity. Our iniquities continue to prevail against us. We are not living the way we should. All of us sin and are falling short of the holiness and glory of God. But God, rather than issue wrath against us, made atonement for our sins. God is merciful and covers over the sins we have committed. But he must remain just. Just as much as a judge can be merciful, he must also be fair, just, and keep to the requirements of the law. To be able to show us mercy, a price had to paid. The price was the sacrifice of His only Son. This would allow God to be just by covering our sins. This atonement is found in the blood of Christ. But this forgiveness is not automatically applied. We are required to come in contact with the blood of Christ through repentance and immersion in water. We can become pure in the sight of God if we will simply come to Jesus and serve Him today.