Daily Family Worship

Psalm 66: Through Fire and Flood

by | May 15, 2024

psalm 66

This Psalm is a general thanksgiving for the Lord’s rescue and deliverance of His people so often out of the hands of their enemies, and out of the very jaws of death itself – just as He did at the Red Sea. The Books of Judges and Kings are full of the narratives of these merciful and often miraculous deliverances. These deliver-ances are no less great and wonderful in the Church today, when God delivers those who fear Him out of aw-ful temptations – both internal and external. Satan – of whom the earthly Pharaoh was a picture and rep-resentative – is inflamed with a horrible desire of distressing, destroying, and daily persecuting the Church of Jesus. And he would, if he could, harm every single believer; he would beset them so terribly on every side, that they would see nothing but death and an angry God. But out of all these things, God delivers His children.

The Psalmist’s personal thanksgiving for the Lord’s special mercy that he experienced is found at the end of this Psalm. But the account of this special providence is prefaced by two sections that describe the Providence of God that works for His people in general. This is in accordance with a law of the spiritual life. Those who enter into real experience of their own are thereby united with the entire religious experience of the Church in general.

The first of these two sections (verses 1-7) speaks of God’s powerful Providence of power. God is in the midst of His people, like a watchman on the watchtower – not only observing all that is taking place with-in the city of God; but also keeping a keen outlook upon the enemies by whom the city is surrounded, lest the rebellious should exalt themselves (verse 7). Of this protecting care, an instance that was never to be for-gotten was the scene at the Red Sea – when the flood was turned into dry land; and the Lord’s people, who had been in mortal terror, had their apprehensions turned into rejoicings. Another historical example was the miraculous crossing of the Jordan River, when they entered into the land of Canaan. Many other instances could be supplied by the study of Israel’s subsequent history, but these were some of the greatest; and the great lesson for us is that all history belongs to us, and we are “selling our birthright” (so to speak) if we do not know how to travel through the tracts of the past and discern in them the footsteps of our mighty wonder-working God!

Verses 8-12 go on to describe the Lord’s disciplinary Providence. When God is celebrated merely as the Champion of His people, Who de-feats their enemies; there is danger of boasting. But the Psalmist is well aware that God also sustains a more delicate relationship with His people. He does not always prosper them; He does not always spare them disappointments and defeat. On the contrary, adversity is actually one of the gifts of His covenant with them! And in this Psalm, the suf-ferings of the Lord’s people are described in a ser-ies of touching images (verses 10-12). They have been tried in a refining-furnace, like silver; they have been brought into the net, like a bird which is in the grasp of its captor and cannot escape; they have been yoked to oppression, like a donkey to a heavy and burdensome load; the oppressor has lorded it over them like the driver riding above the head of the camel; they have been brought through fire and floods. Yet for all these experiences, the Psalm calls for praise! The old poets used to say that the nightingale sang with its heart resting against a thorn, and it is certain that the sweetest notes of the Christian’s song are never heard until suffering has been experienced. The distinction of God’s people is not that they have less to bear than others; but rather, that they get blessedness out of their afflictions. And when they trust God, He al-ways brings them out at last – as is said here – “into a wealthy place” (verse 12).

Finally, in verses 13-20, the Psalmist speaks of his personal experience with the Lord’s gracious Providence. Alas! There are many who have never had anything done for their souls. They can speak about their bodies, their properties, and their fortunes; but their soul has no history. If a man’s soul has a history in which God is con-cerned, and of which he himself is glad; then we know a good deal about him! It is a great thing to be able to say, “Come and hear!” (verse 16) “Come and see!” (verse 5) Have you seen any sight and heard any message which you feel to be worth the attention of all the world? I should not like to live and die without having seen and heard the greatest and best message that we can ever hear and behold in this world – namely, the life-giving and life-changing message of the Gospel of grace! And then we have one of the profoundest remarks on prayer that can be found in the whole Bible. God will not hear the prayers of a person who is cherishing a known sin, instead of repent-ing from it and beseehing the Lord for grace to overcome it. But the Psalmist does not as-cribe the glory of his answered prayer to his innocence; he finishes with a humble ascrip-tion to the God of Grace! “Blessed be God,” He says, “which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me” (verse 20).

Adoration With grateful hearts, let us arise and chant the praises of the Lord! With every morning’s dawn, let us lift up our notes of thanksgiving; and let every setting sun be followed with our songs – until the earth itself is surrounded with an atmosphere of melody!

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