Have you ever been so excited that you just had to shout? Psalm 66 encourages to shout for joy because of our great God! God is worthy of our praise and the psalmist wants us to join with him as he exalts God.
The number 7 is the number of fullness or perfection. The psalmist uses multiplications of this number to carefully structure Psalm 66. It is divided into four parts based upon these numerical considerations but also supported by four imperative verbs and three selahs.
Part 1 is 28 (4 x 7) words long in Hebrew. It begins with the command to "shout for joy" and ends with a selah. The second part is similar in structure, beginning with the command to "come and see". Section 3 begins with the command to "bless our God" and is 56 (2 x 28) word long in Hebrew. It also ends with a selah. The final part is 28 words in length and begins with the command to "come and hear." The psalm concludes with a one verse coda.
The central group of 28 words (Psalm 66:10-12) is the only part of the psalm that is negative in tone with the meaningful center falling in this section. Oddly enough, this makes trials literally central to the psalm but purposely overshadowed by the joy.
Shout for Joy!
The very first lines of this psalm set the mood:
Shout for joy to God all the earth! Psalm 66:1
For the psalmist it was not enough to praise God once, but he continues to call us to praise. Once again we see the number of fullness being used to structure the psalm. Seven times in this first section we are commanded to praise God.
Come and See!
Why praise God? Well, "Come and see what God has done." Psalm 66:5
What has He done?
- Awesome deeds - like turning the sea into dry land.
- He rules with might.
- He keeps watch so that the rebellious cannot exalt themselves.
What has God done in your life and the lives of those you know? One of the foundations of praise is recognizing and celebrating God goodness in our own lives.
For the Hebrew psalmist the greatest example of this was when he rescued the Jews from slavery in Egypt. For the Christian the greatest work of God is his redemption of all people through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Bless our God, O peoples Psalm 66:8a
Why? Because He brought us through our trials to a place of abundance!
The first half of this section, the only part of the psalm with a negative tone, lists 6 trials God has taken them through:
- You have tested us
- You have tried us
- You have brought us into a net
- You laid a crushing burden on our backs
- You let people ride over us
- You have taken us through fire and water
Is this how you feel? Are you going through a time of trials? Then read on! because the list is not complete. The number 6 is the number of man (humanity was created on the 6th day) in contrast to 7 the number of perfection.
There is a 7th act of God, though, bringing this list to perfection:
Yet you have brought us into a place of abundance. Psalm 66:12c
The trials of God lead to a place of abundance if we trust Him through them.
The psalmists response to God's deliverance is to offer a sacrifice of praise to Him. Three times in this section he promises to offer a sacrifice to God.
When God delivers, we need to praise Him!
Come and Hear!
Come and hear, all you who fear God Psalm 66:16a
First we are told to "come and see" (Psalm 66:5). Then the psalmist "comes" to God's house to offer praise (Psalm 66:13). Finally we are called to "come and hear" (Psalm 66:16).
What are we to hear? What God has done for the psalmist.
What did God do? He answered his prayer because he remained faithful to God during the trials and continued to praise Him.
Rejoice in God
Even though he may test you, He will bring you back to a place of abundance if you trust Him and continue to praise Him. God never leaves you and continues to love you even during the trial.
Even when we go through trials, God is with us and, in the end, it is the very trials, and God's work through them, that leads us to greater praise and joy.