(Today's post by Adam Cooper)
Psalm 66 is one of those Psalms that praises God. “Shout with joy!” “Sing the glory of His name!” “Make His praise glorious!” “How awesome are your deeds!” This Psalm just boasts glory and praise to God. The notes in the NIV Study Bible say that the writer of this Psalm is unknown but it is clear from its content that the purpose in its writing was to praise God. As I read this Psalm I got this mental picture of someone standing in the court near a gate in Jerusalem shouting about the glory of God to all who would listen. He even takes a minute to remind those listening of the great deeds God did to free the Israelites from bondage in Egypt and at the end he calls everyone close for an invitation to hear his own testimony. He reminds everyone that God is there and will answer prayers if you only ask them. Psalm 67 continues the mood of praise to God and prays to God for a blessing of the harvest. It almost places the exclamation point at the end of Psalm 66 when it tells you that God will answer your prayers if you ask and then 67 is them asking. I know that it is highly unlikely that these two Psalms were meant by their earthly authors to appear together and almost complement each other but again this shows this wisdom and miraculousness of God.
If you look at the Psalms as a collection of songs and praises that were used during services during this point in history you could probably get away with saying that they were the “hymns” of that day. Songs that were committed to memory because they were sung time and time again. Songs that were meant to portray the teachings of God that had been accumulated throughout their history from men who were probably close to God. They were intended to communicate a blessedness of God to the “normal” synagogue member. But, and there is always a “but” with me, I wonder how many of them just sang through these praises emotionless and unmoved. I remember being in a church as a kid and watching everyone pick up their hymnal and then begin singing, or not, looking at the book, reading each word, expressionless, with no spirit what-so-ever. I wonder if this ever happened during the time represented by these Psalms. Had they become so separated from the great things and actions of God that they were just “keeping a seat warm” in the synagogue?
I think to the worship from this past Sunday at Eastridge. I saw hands raised. I saw tear filled eyes and tear stained cheeks. But I also saw the “seat warmers” doing what they felt they had to do to make it through another Sunday at church. How many of those were just getting their Jesus fix for the week? It is that complacency that Psalms like 66 and 67 should warn us against. They shouted to their God, they praised their God openly and publicly, they were proud to be Jews: God’s chosen from all mankind. I am sure that the next statement will shock some but when you look at it they were so proud of being Jews, God’s chosen people, that pride corrupted their souls and it caused them to overlook and kill God’s only son.
How much more should we be praising Jesus for what he has done for us? How much more should we be shouting from the rooftops about our glorious, risen God? Psalms like 66 and 67 remind me that I should never take God (Father, Son, and Spirit) for granted. He saved me from a life of certain death and destruction, he washed away years of sin and I am forever grateful for his tremendous and unfailing grace because NOW I LIVE where before I had DIED. So yes, I emotionally appeal to all who read this to renew their faith and love in our unfailing and unchanging God. “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine upon us! – Psalm 67:1.” But wait…God HAS been gracious to us by sending Jesus to die on the cross for us who don’t deserve it and through that He HAS blessed us and Jesus’ face DOES shine upon us every single day. The Jews of that time could never say that now could they!?
Today, praise God in everything you do. Try to live the life that Christ would have you live. Reach out your hand and help someone or simply pray for them. Remember the sacrifice that was made for you and SHOUT His name to all that can hear!