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A Study of Psalm 65:1-13

Introduction

Macartney tells about a teenager working on the Erie Canal years ago. As a towboat is approaching one of the locks, the young man grabs the bowline. As he uncoils the rope, it catches on a crevice in the deck. He pulls at it to yank it loose but it won’t budge. He pulls it again. This time it comes loose, but the force of his pull sends him off the deck into the rising waters below. He senses that he’s in trouble and only a miracle will save him. As he falls down he grabs at the rope which fell with him. Amazingly, the rope catches in the same crevice on the deck, and the young man is able to pull himself to safety. Afterwards, he examines how the rope got caught and wonders how hard it would be for that rope to have been caught twice in the same place. He tries to catch the rope in the crevice himself. After trying 600 times he cannot duplicate it even though he is trying. It is then that he realizes God must have something he wants to do with his life, since God had provided his deliverance. The teenager then decides to commit his life to Christ in his parent’s church in Ohio, a Disciples of Christ congregation. That young man was James Garfield, and years later he would serve 17 years in the House of the Representatives and go on to become the 20th president of the United States.

God provides for our needs all the time, but sometimes we don’t appreciate all that he does for us. Psalm 65 teaches us about God’s provision. The psalmist show us four areas in which God provides, which I will call the 4 P’s – prayer, propitiation, peace, and physical needs. The specific gifts mentioned by verses are: 2-prayer, 3-forgiveness, 4-house of worship, 5-salvation, 6-strength, 7-calmness, 9-water, 10-food, 11-abundance, 13-meat, clothing, and bread.

Verse 1

Praise is due to thee, O God, in Zion; and to thee shall vows be performed.

David starts this psalm off by saying praise is due God. He has done so much for us, we should want to worship him. David goes on to speak of performing vows to God. Doing this in ancient Israel was a form of worship. They would pledge to do something for God or give something because they wished to honor their Creator. When Christians go before the Lord in worship or do good works, they are also honoring God. We should want to do these things because of all that God has provided for us.

Spurgeon wrote, "The praises of the saints wait for a signal from the divine Lord, and when he shows his face they burst forth at once. Like a company of musicians gathered to welcome and honour a prince, who wait till he makes his appearance, so do we reserve our best praises till the Lord reveals himself in the assembly of his saints...."

Verse 2

O thou who hearest prayer! To thee shall all flesh come.

God has provided us with access to his throne. He will hear our prayers, and we all may come to him. No matter what difficulties we may be facing, we can be assured that we never face them alone. God is always there for us. He is ready to hear our cry, answer our prayer, and deliver us from trouble.

"Petition"

In trouble I look for you

In darkness I lift my voice

Through the storms I cry out

In turmoil I make my petition

In despair I pray

In trouble you reach to me

In darkness you shed your light

Through storms you come to me

In my turmoil you hear the petition

In my despair you answer prayer

Verse 3

On account of sins. When our transgressions prevail over us, thou dost forgive them.

God provides forgiveness for our sins. This is the greatest gift that he can give us. Our sins are many, and there may be times when it seems that our transgressions are prevailing over us. But God still forgives us. His mercy is abundant to us.

Years ago, when I was in my twenties, we used to have an evaporative cooler in our house. I discovered that during milder weather if you just allowed the cooler to set there with water in it, mold and fungus would start growing. When that happened, I found out that just a little bit of bleach in the water would eliminate all the scum that had accumulated. God does the same thing with our life. We may have been neglecting our spiritual walk and allowed scum to start growing in our life. God just reaches down with his forgiveness, and all our sins disappear. Isn’t he good to us!

Verse 4

Blessed is he whom thou dost choose and bring near, to dwell in thy courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, thy holy temple!

God not only comes to live in our heart, but he also has established a holy temple where we can meet together with other believers each Sunday. He has provided us with a church family. God sends us to his house that we may be able to worship and magnify him with others of like faith. This should not be taken lightly.

I know many think that they can serve God just fine without being bound to a church, but in the Old Testament, God established his temple, and in the New Testament he established his church. As you read through the book of Acts, you will find that every believer associated himself with a church. Believers gathering together for worship, for prayer, for fellowship, for communion are an important part of our spiritual journey. We can gain strength and encouragement from each other. And it is an appointed place where we can enter into God’s divine presence.

Verse 5

By dread deeds thou dost answer us with deliverance, O God of our salvation, who art the hope of all the ends of the earth, and of the farthest seas.

The Lord provides us with salvation. God is the one who created the whole world and his hand of salvation reaches to everyone, even the ends of the earth and the far-off seas. We may not have much hope in this world. But our hope is not in this world; it is in God. He is the one who saves us and keeps us.

There’s a commercial for trucks currently on television. It says, "Wives may leave you, bosses may fire you, friends may forget you...." Then it goes on to say trucks are forever. Well, trucks aren’t forever, but Christ is forever. He is the one in whom we can trust. He’s the one who is our salvation. Whatever bad things may occur, Jesus will never leave us!

This verse promises that God will answer us with deliverance. No matter what may happen to me, no matter what trial or turmoil may surround me, I know that God will see me through. Isaiah 43:2 promises, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you."

Verse 6

Who by thy strength hast established the mountains, being girded with might.

These two verses reveal to us that God has done many mighty deeds. He has left his signature throughout nature. When we go up to Yosemite National Park and stare at the grandeur of the surrounding granite walls, we are filled with awe that God carved out Yosemite Valley through those granite peaks. His strength is beyond our understanding.

God provides us with strength. It is his strength that will help us through those times when our problems seem like mountains. He is stronger than any problem that we may face.

Verse 7

Who dost still the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples.

God provides us with calmness as he stills the roaring waves. No matter what turmoil or storm you are facing, God will give you his peace to get through the difficulty. As we think of the storms that can sometimes blow across the seas and oceans, we realize that just as quickly as a storm can arise, God can immediately calm the roaring. His might is revealed to us even in the midst of storms. As we realize that God can control the storms on the sea, it should cause us to realize he can control our problems too.

Psalm 33:6-12 tells us,

6 By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.
7 He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses.
8 Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.
9 For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.
10 The Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect.
11 The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.
12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.

Verse 8

So that those who dwell at earth's farthest bounds are afraid at thy signs; thou makest the outgoings of the morning and the evening to shout for joy.

When we truly experience the awesome power of God, we realize how dependent we are on God’s mercy. It is this same mercy reaching down to us that brings songs of joy to our heart. I think verse 8 is showing how the heathen see the sun, moon, and stars and see them as signs of fear, but believers look at the same sun, moon, and stars and think of how God provides them as a blessing to us.

David tells us the that even sunrise and sunset shout for joy to God. Spurgeon comments on this, "When the fair morning blushes with the rosy dawn we rejoice; and when the calm evening smiles restfully we rejoice still. We do not believe that the dew weeps the death of the day; we only see jewels bequeathed by the departing day for its successor to gather up from the earth. Faith, when she sees God, rounds the day with joy. She cannot fast, because the bridegroom is with her. Night and day are alike to her, for the same God made them and blessed them. She would have no rejoicing if God did not make her glad; but, blessed be his name, he never ceases to make joy for those who find their joy in him."

Verse 9

Thou visitest the earth and waterest it, thou greatly enrichest it; the river of God is full of water; thou providest their grain, for so thou hast prepared it.

God provides for all our needs. He will cause the sun to shine down on us, the rain to bless our crops, the grain to grow, and our flocks to be abundant. In other words, God will take care of us. Notice verse 9 says, "You visit the earth and water it, you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provide their grain, for so You have prepared it." It is God that prepares abundance for us.

William Jennings Bryan wrote about a watermelon,

"A few weeks before, someone had planted a little watermelon seed in the ground. Under the influence of sunshine and showers that little watermelon seed had taken off its coat and gone to work; it had gathered from somewhere two hundred thousand times its own weight and forced that enormous weight through a tiny stem and built a watermelon. On the outside it had put a covering of green, within that a rind of white, and within that a core of red, and then scattered through the red little seeds, each capable of doing the same work over again.

"Where did that little watermelon seed get its tremendous strength? Where did it find its flavouring extract and its colouring matter? How did it build a watermelon?

"Until you can explain a watermelon, do not be too sure that you can set limits to the power of the Almighty or tell just how He would do it. The most learned man in the world cannot explain a watermelon, but the most ignorant man can eat a watermelon and enjoy it.

"God has given us the things that we need and He has given us the knowledge necessary to use those things, and the truth that He has revealed to us is infinitely more important for our welfare than it would be to understand the mysteries that He has seen fit to conceal from us."

If God can provide for the watermelon, he can also provide for all our needs.

Verse 10

Thou waterest its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth.

In early Palestine, the Jews were totally dependent on the rains for a successful harvest. In an agrarian society, dealing with the unknown and the unexpected caused people to stay close to God. They understood how totally dependent they were upon him. We can trust in God because he does take care of us. He will not abandon us nor leave us wanting.

But not only does he take care of our physical needs, he also takes care of our spiritual needs. He waters our furrows – fills us to overflowing with his Spirit. We are refreshed and strengthened. He settles our ridges – our rough spots are straightened out and made smooth. He softens with showers – those hard parts in our heart are softened by his presence. We learn to be less harsh and we mellow as we grow in the Lord. He blesses us with growth – we grow spiritually as he ministers to us.

Verses 11-12

Thou crownest the year with thy bounty; the tracks of thy chariot drip with fatness. The pastures of the wilderness drip, the hills gird themselves with joy.

God provides us with abundance. When he blesses us, he does it greatly. He will take care of us and meet all our needs. We are not second-class citizens. We are children of the Ruler of the Universe. So we can expect blessings on our life.

As we look to God, our problems and battles seem to diminish in importance as we are filled with thoughts of God and his mercy. If we would only learn to praise God in all our situations, we would learn one of the greatest secrets to having joy in our heart no matter what conflicts or turmoil may be encompassing us.

Verse 13

The meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy.

God provides us with our daily needs – meat, clothing, bread. This verse promised the Hebrew farmer that the meadows would clothe themselves with flocks and the valleys would deck themselves with grain. Notice how it’s the meadows and the valleys which are described as doing the work. It’s an indication of how complete God’s promises are. He will take care of us.

Flocks provided meat and clothing for the ancient Hebrews and grain provided bread. In other words, God is promising to meet all of our physical needs. He will not abandon us, but he will take care of us.

In this short psalm, we have seen how God will provide for all of our needs. No matter what you are facing right now, he will provide for you. If you are facing a financial crisis, he will help you through it. If you are facing a serious health problem, he will be there to strengthen you. If you are facing problems with your marriage or family, he is ready to bring healing. If you are feeling alone and abandoned, he will comfort you. If you don’t know where to turn, he is waiting for you with out-stretched arms. Whatever your need, remember that God loves you, and he will provide.

Footnotes:

This study on Psalm 65 1998 by David Humpal. All rights reserved.

All scriptures unless otherwise noted are from the Revised Standard Version 1971, A. J. Holman Company

Macartney’s Illustrations pg. 287 1946, Abingdon Press

Spurgeon: The Treasury of David, vol. II, pg. 89, MacDonald Publishing Company

"Petition" by David Humpal 1998, All rights reserved.

Isaiah 43:2 from the New King James Version 1984, Thomas Nelson Publishers

Psalm 33:6-12 from the King James Version

Spurgeon: The Treasury of David, vol. II, pg. 93, MacDonald Publishing Company

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