How Awesome Is Our God

Shout joyfully to God, all the earth;
sing praise to the glory of his name;
proclaim his glorious praise.
Say to God: “How tremendous are your deeds!”

Come and see the works of God,
his tremendous deeds among the children of Adam.
Bless our God, you peoples;
loudly sound his praise.

Hear now, all you who fear God, while I declare
what he has done for me.
When I appealed to him in words,
praise was on the tip of my tongue.
(Psalm 66:1-3, 5, 8, 16-17)

Scripture Study

66:1–4. The initial invitation is addressed to all the earth, as a sign that God is in charge and sends his blessing upon it (cf. Ps 47:1) and it is followed by references to the “name” of God (vv. 2, 4), that is, it has to do with the God who has revealed himself to Israel (cf. Ex 3:14ff).

66:5–7. The psalmist invites his hearers to “see what God has done” because these wondrous works and their effects can be seen in the temple insofar as they are celebrated there. He recalls the crossing of the Red Sea (cf. Ex 14–15) and of the Jordan (cf. Josh 3:7–17). The power of God can also be discerned in the very existence of his people, whom God protects from the Gentile nations (v. 7). All have reason to recall benefits received from God: “When the soul recalls the gifts he has received from God over a long time, and contemplates the graces that God gives him in abundance in the present, or turns his eyes to the future and the infinite reward that God has stored up for those who love him, he gives thanks in the midst of inexpressible waves of joy” (Cassian, Collationes, 9).

66:8–12. All peoples can appreciate the God of Israel, for, despite the reverses suffered by the people of God—the “test” God has put them through may be a reference to the Assyrian wars against Israel (cf. 2 Kings 18–19), or to the Babylonian exile—they still enjoy peace (cf. Is 40:1–2).

66:13–15. After acclaiming the nation’s deliverance, the psalmist moves on to acknowledge his own. This shift in the psalm has led some commentators to think that it is the king who is speaking in representation of the nation; but it could also be an act of thanksgiving by an individual Israelite who has experienced salvation in his own right and is now associating himself with the proclamation of the people’s deliverance. As is customary in acts of thanksgiving, the speaker begins by stating his resolve to keep the vows he made to God (vv. 13–15).

66:16–20. His promise is followed by acknowledgment of the benefit he has received. The “Come and hear” cf. v. 16 links up with the “Come and see” (cf. v. 5). As also happens in the psalms in which enemies figure (cf. Ps 17; 59), the psalmist’s innocence is the underlying reason why he is blessed, and why he has been vindicated (v. 18).

Scripture Reflection

The psalm is a song that celebrates the deeds of God for the people of God. That is the theme and purpose that unites it. Worship transcends time, and the congregation that sings the psalm becomes part of the astonished joyous people of exodus.

In the same way, Christians sing, “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” This must be the answer to how the nations are to come and see the works of God; the works are rendered by the congregation’s praise, made perceivable in their re-presentation in liturgy through the presentation of offerings by a representative person whose thanksgiving is made in identity with and on behalf of the entire congregation.

– James Mays

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.