Daily Family Worship

Psalm 65: A Harvest Hymn

by | May 14, 2024

psalm 65

David is mentioned as the author of this Psalm; and from an examination of its contents, it would seem to have been intended as a song for the yearly Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles (which followed shortly afterwards; Num. 29:7, 12). On that day, the sins of the year were then “covered over,” and a thorough purification of the sanctuary was made by a special service of expiation. The harvest of the year was also finished by that time, and its fruits stored up – which was the reason why the Feast of Tabernacles was also called the Feast of Ingathering. During this joyous festival, Israel could look back on the goodness of Jehovah toward them throughout the previous year; and this Psalm was penned in order to serve as a fitting expression of their feelings. It opens with a reference to the “silence” that reigned in the sanctuary. A profound, unbroken, solemn stillness reigned within it; while, in deep abasement, the people stood outside in hushed expectation, waiting for the return of their high priest from the immediate presence of God within the Holy of holies (Lev. 16:17). It goes on to speak of the blessedness of those who are accepted by God, and admitted to fellowship with One Who is so unspeakably great; and then it concludes with a description of the various processes by which the Almighty fits the earth to yield a year’s supplies for His people. But let us now proceed to take a closer look at some of the contents of this harvest hymn.

“Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Zion: and unto thee shall the vow be performed” (verse 1). This shows the attitude of those who draw near to worship the Lord (verses 1-4). The opening words describe the hush of a multitude that is just ready to burst forth into song! The air is full of an intention which has not yet expressed itself, but it will utter its thought immediately! The worshipers acknowledge their dependence upon the Hearer of prayer; they are part of frail humanity (“all flesh”), which can never be equal to its own require-ments, but must be continually dependent upon a higher Power. But there is an even deeper cause for humility, which ought to be always kept in mind when an approach is made to God. “Iniquities,” says the Psalmist, “prevail against me!” (verse 3) What mortal has ever existed, who could say anything different? Iniquities press in from without, and they press outward from within; and no human is able to withstand their force. Yet the Psalmist has discovered the secret! “As for our transgressions, thou shalt purge them away.” God can overcome this terrible force by blotting out the guilt of past sin and breaking the power of present sin. And the next verse supplies a description of the blessedness of those who are thus liberated; they have free access to the throne of Divine grace, and they have full enjoyment of its privileges.

The object of our worship is spoken of in verses 5-8. Our Lord is not an unknown God; for in all the centuries of the history of His people, He has shown Himself mighty on their behalf, by acts of salvation which have struck terror into the hearts of their enemies. And it is not only in the events of history that His power been shown from time to time; it is also exhibited continually in His great workings in nature!

Let us feast our eyes on the picture of plenty that we behold in verses 9-13! After weeks of rainless weather, when the hearts of the farmers were quaking with fear; the rainshowers that were earnestly prayed for had come at last! In the clouds sweeping over the landscape, the happy inhabitants saw the footsteps of the Lord – dropping an abundance of blessings as He went. Hill and valley and wilderness had all partaken of the benefit. The flocks were full of life on the mountainsides, and the fields and the valleys stood in all the beauty of healthy and abundant crops; and it seemed to the poet as if great shouts of joy were being raised from all the revived objects in the landscape and ascending up to heaven – from which the blessings had come!

The blessings of the Lord in fruitful gifts and seasons to the earth and its inhabitants are delightfully set forth here. Moses taught Israel to expect the perpetual return of those things, and the continued enjoyment of them should call forth blessings and praises from our lips to the Almighty Giver! (Ex. 23:16) But the subject is heightened to an even more sublime degree of enjoyment if we look beyond the gifts of God in the natural world, and also view these verses as a description of His spiritual bounty in the world of grace. The wilderness of our nature is said to blossom as the rose when the Lord visits our earthly minds with the dew of His blessing, and when Jesus comes down like rain upon the dry and thirsty souls of His people! The year is indeed crowned with the Lord’s goodness when “the year of his redeemed” is come, and the Lord pours out of the effusion of His Spirit from that river whose streams make glad the city of God. O the blessedness of looking up to our covenant-God in Christ, when the clouds drop blessings upon us; for in Him, we see where all our mercies flow down from!

O gracious Lord! We acknowledge the fact that all Your crowning mercies call for crowning thanksgiving! We praise You with our lips, and laud and magnify Your name; for from Your bounty, all our blessings flow! Amen.

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