Sermon: Psalm 66:1-12--"Praising God"
A Call to Universal Worship
Read the entire psalm.
This morning we’ll be studying verses 1-12 together. Students of the Old Testament classify this section of the psalm as a hymn of praise to the God who created and chose Israel.
Next week we’ll complete this psalm together by looking at verses 13-20: the psalmist’s individual song of thanksgiving.
My purpose today is simple and two-fold: (1) to encourage you to praise God both for Who He is and for what He has done, and (2) to exhort you to tell others about the great works of the LORD.
I. The call to universal worship shows that
A. The praise director/psalmist had a “world vision” (v. 1)-Note: Earth
He meant all the peoples on Earth (cf. v. 4). From the beginning God desired the people of Israel to spread the faith, not remain silent and keep it to themselves, not place their lamp under a bushel basket. The Abrahamic promise of Genesis 12 states: “. . . in you (Abraham) all the families (people-groups) of the Earth shall be blessed.” So, peoples worldwide would benefit from God’s blessings upon Abraham and Israel.
And they have benefited, despite Israel’s partial obedience to this commission. Let’s pick out some examples from OT history, and think about them for a few moments.
As we turn to the NT, the Jews are still an apostate nation. When the Pharisees made converts, for instance, they really botched it up. What did Jesus say about them? Matthew 23:15
How has the true Church done throughout history?
William Carey and elders—“Sit down, young man. When God decides to save the heathen, He will do so without your help or ours.”
How about us today? Are we “world Christians”? Are we concerned enough about “people-groups” to learn about them and then support missions that seek to meet their need of salvation?
Regarding making a “joyful shout”: In public worship, it does not mean that we should let loose with an emotional, uncontrolled outburst. Our emotions should be relatively free, yes, but not unrestrained. Most worshipers show their emotions to some degree. That’s good. But some folks seem to let their emotions rule rather than control them with their mind and will. That’s not good.
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 14:15 that he should pray and sing not only with the spirit, but also with the understanding. We must make sure that the Holy Spirit of wisdom, not just our merely human desires and feelings, enables our worship. The apostle concludes his instruction by saying that everything in a church service should be done decently and in order (14:40)
I quote from Point 5 of our “Philosophy of Ministry”:
Worship services must seek to magnify God’s attributes as well as equip believers with truth so that they might serve Christ acceptably
Our local church must focus our attention upon the Lord Jesus, not upon our leaders. We gather as a corporate body to declare His worthiness to receive praise, glory, and obedience, not to meet the felt needs of “seekers” or even of church members. If our services guide us to view the Lord accurately, we will grow to worship Him with a sincere heart wherever we might go.
When we as a local church listen obediently to God’s word, pray together, and sing praises to the Lord, we are engaged in worship. However, we also worship Jesus when we as individuals reverently read and study the Bible, petition and praise Him, love others sacrificially, give of our “time, talents, and treasures,” work our “secular” jobs “as unto the Lord,” and “share” the gospel with the unsaved. Our corporate worship on Sunday should overflow to our private worship during the other days of the week.
We should not allow methods of entertainment, musical style, decibel level, stated expectations of others, emotionalism, or weak or errant theology to inhibit individual worship in our church services. Music should exhibit “balance,” having Christ-centered, theologically sound lyrics that reflect the character of God. It should “come alongside” believers and help them praise the Savior; their personal taste in music should not matter.
Praising God for Who He Is
B. The psalmist wants everyone to praise God for who He is (v. 2).
The term “name” here refers to His revealed attributes. It’s not enough, however, just to know about God’s attributes. As J. I. Packer has well said, “A little knowledge of God is worth more than a great deal of knowledge about Him.” Our contemplation of what is true about God should move us to praise Him for Who He is.
What does it mean to “sing out the glory of His name and make his praise glorious?”
John Calvin offers a well-phrased explanation of these commands: “We should extol His sacred name in a manner suitable to its dignity, so that it [His sacred name] may obtain its due and deserved adoration. We should celebrate His goodness in some measure proportionally to its excellence.”
TS: (Furthermore, a third sub-point sees
C. The psalmist telling his audience to acknowledge God’s awe-inspiring power while they stand before Him (vv. 3-4).
1. They should enumerate His “awesome deeds” (Read 65:5-13). “God is of such a nature that He cannot be “captured” by the human mind nor analyzed by the investigation of any mortal (Deut. 29:29)
2. They should confess that God (Elohim) will cause His enemies to make a show of feigned obedience (NASB) [See Phil. 2:9-11].
3. They should state that God will one day bring about universal victory and praise in the Messianic kingdom (v. 4) [Zech. 14:16- “and it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the king, the LORD of hosts, . . .”]
End of verse 4 is selah: a rest or musical interlude. Israel would play and sing a hymn at this point.
TS: (A second major point finds the psalmist exhorting his Israelite audience to
Recall God's Works on Your Behalf
II. Recall God’s works on their behalf (vv. 5-7).
Notice that the focus has narrowed from universal praise to praise among Israelites.
A. The psalmist exhorts the worshiping community to “come and see” (5-6b)
Here he is acting as a presenter or a professional song leader, inviting his listeners to attend a dramatic presentation of some of God’s more awesome works. These performances would take place during Israel’s great annual festivals and have the purpose of teaching the generation to follow about their God.
While the Church today should not major on drama as a means to spread the gospel, neither should we neglect this scriptural method of teaching others about the most significant events in Israel’s history. [Dean Jones’ presentation, “The Hiding Place”]
1. Vs. 6a alludes to what event? Red Sea
2. Vs. 6b alludes to what event? The Crossing of the Jordan on foot
B. The psalmist instructs his audience to imitate their ancestors (v. 6c). Instead of “will rejoice”-better translated as “rejoiced.” He exhorts them at this point to do the same.
1. The sad report of Judges 2:10
2. Will the next generation know how to rejoice because of our testimony?
C. The psalmist further asserts God’s attributes to help Israel praise Him (v. 7)
1. Sovereign kingship-- “rule”--universal
2. Omnipotence-- “power” from word meaning “mighty warrior”
3. Eternality-- “forever”
4. Omnipresence-- God has no physical eyes, but He still sees (lit. spies). He plays the watchman for Israel for the purpose of protecting them; He keeps an eye on everything going on, and will not allow the rebellious to exalt themselves forever. “God’s acts in history bring joy to the faithful, but stand as a warning to the rebel.”
Selah (v. 7)
TS: (In a third major point, the psalmist exhorts his Israelite brethren to
Praise God For Deliverance
III. Praise God for deliverance (vv. 8-12)
A. The psalmist tells them to bless God (v. 8).
“Bless” here literally means “adore on bended knee.” Why?
1. He keeps them alive (v. 9a)—Preserves the people from total ruin, politically or otherwise
2. He keeps them stable (v. 9b)—Does not allow them to be moved from a place of safety
TS: (The LORD has preserved Israel and kept them safe, all the while causing them deep suffering.
Notice the direct address: “O God”
B. The psalmist reminds Israel what the LORD has done to them as well as for them (vv. 10-12).
1. He has tested them (v. 10)--made a thorough searching of their hearts; closely scrutinized their ways (Ps. 139:23-24)
2. He has refined them--through pressure and heat (v. 10)--removal of dross/impurities from silver (Mal. 3:3)
3. He has captured them (v. 11a)—put them in a situation from which they could not escape by themselves. Speaks of total loss of freedom.
4. He has afflicted them (v. 11b)—caused them pain through pressure. Lit. Upon their loins: the seat of keenest pain.
5. He has allowed them to suffer (v. 12a)—enemies exercised tyranny over them (oppression). “Fire and water” signify extreme danger and complicated calamities.
6. But He has liberated them (v. 12b)—the goal of the purification process. He delivered them into a place of abundance (liberation).
The Lesson of Chastening
God is in control of the refining process. He chastens, but He also comforts (Heb. 12:10-11)
Summarize purpose: (1) Praise God for who He is and for what He has done for you; (2) Tell others about what He has done for you and for all those who trust in Him.
© 2014 glynch1