PSALM 66 TALK: AWESOME PRAISE OF AN AWESOME GOD

PSALM 66 TALK:  AWESOME PRAISE OF AN AWESOME GOD

(A Psalm that explores how we are called by God to praise his awesome or all inspiring acts of creation and deliverance and this praise must be done by us in an awesome or all inspiring way.)

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 INTRODUCTION

I wanted to include in my title for this Psalm the word “awesome’ right from the first time I read it in my preparation for this Psalm talk. I wanted to do this because the word, “awesome” appears twice in the Psalm, verses 3 and 5 but I balked at doing so because of the miss use of this word today.

I think the problem of the miss use of the word “awesome” is best captured by the following quote by a man named Robert Lane Greene who wrote this in “The Intelligent Life Magazine” in October of 2011,

Nehemiah, Deuteronomy and the Psalms refer to ‘the great and awesome God’, mighty and awesome, and ask worshippers to praise his ‘great and awesome name’. How did this once awe- inspiring word become a nearly meaningless bit of verbiage referring to anything even mildly good?”

Robert Lane Greene then goes on to give an excellent potted history of the use and meaning of the word, “Awesome” which climaxes with the use of the word in the 1980’s by young people of the western united states and he concludes that through their popular use of the word,

“Soon the word needed no definition “Awesome” became the default description for anything good”.

Another writer on this same subject named Brian. D. Buckley says this,

“Its official “awesome” is dead. It’s our fault. We killed it. We took a word that literally meant, ‘awe- inspiring’ – a word used to describe Mount Everest and the Andromeda Galaxy and God Almighty and applied it to a ‘Youtube’ video of a kid failing to swing a stick”.

Buckley offers this excellent remedy,

“Lets give “awesome” a break. The next time you feel like using ‘awesome’ for something really good, give another word a chance instead”.

Buckley then lists 28 other words you could use other than the slang meaning of awesome and here are the top four on his list, outstanding, astounding, staggering and breathtaking.

For this Psalm talk on Psalm 66 I wont you to think of the following meaning for the word awesome supplied by “Dictionary.com”,

“Causing or inducing awe, inspiring an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration or fear”.

Psalm 66 has the simple Hebrew heading of, “For the director of music, a song, a Psalm”.

We have seen this type of heading before followed by the name David but this Psalm does not seem to be written by David and in fact it was written either during the reign of Solomon or after it as the last section of the Psalm verses 13 – 20 speaks of worshipping in the Temple.

The other feature of the Psalm comes in the third section of the Psalm verses 8 – 12, which seems to speak of praise for a recent national deliverance. This coupled with a personal word of praise in the last section fits well with the events that took place in Jerusalem around 700BC when the king of Assyria, Sennocherib sent an army to Jerusalem to attack and destroy it. Hezekiah was king of Judah at this time and the bible describes him as a Godly King. Hezekiah was faced the agonising decision of whether to surrender to the Assyrian massive force and a very serious illness that almost killed him. These events are recorded in both 2 Kings 18 and 19 and Isaiah 36 and 37.

God, through the prophet Isaiah promises to spare both Jerusalem from the Assyrians and also spare the life of king Hezekiah from his serious illness. It has been suggested by some commentators that King Hezekiah wanted to celebrate such a great deliverance with worship so he had a new song of praise composed and he enlisted the help of one of his Temple musical team to write this Psalm to be either sung or said in this worship service.

If this is the historical context of this Psalm then my theory of the second book of Psalms being put together by Solomon seems to be in doubt. However some later editing of the second book of Psalms could have been done either before the exile to Babylon or after it where a coupe of extra Psalms were added to Solomon’s collection of Psalms which we now call the second book of Psalms. A coupe of the other Psalms in this second collection also appears to be Psalms written after Solomon’s death although the vast majority of them are Psalms written before his death.

The final introductory note I would like to make is the similarity of things in this Psalm and the previous Psalm and the Psalm that follows which suggests that these three Psalms were put together in this second book because of there similarities. I suggested in my introductory notes of Psalm 65 that in the previous eight Psalms (except for Psalm 58) David’s suggested response to God being our refuge and deliverer was to sing and praise him and these three Psalms are all songs of praise set in the context of refuge and deliverance.

My outline for this Psalm then is:

1.   AWESOME WORLD WIDEWIDE PRAISE (1 – 4 

2.  AWESOME NATIONAL DELIVERANCE PRAISE (5 – 7)

3.   AWESOME RECENT DAY OF DELIVERANCE PRAISE (8- 12)

4.   AWESOME PERSONAL DELIVERANCE PRAISE (13 – 20)

 1.   AWESOME WORLD WIDEWIDE PRAISE (1 – 4)

The Psalm starts with words very familiar to us today owing to the excellent modern hymn written by a lady named Darlene Zschech in 1993 entitled “Shout to the Lord”. I will refer to the lyrics of this hymn in this first section of the Psalm which I have broken down into two parts:

1.  The object of our praise (1 – 3a)

2.  The content of our praise (3b – 4)

1.   The object of our praise (1 – 3a)

Again the Psalm starts with the words,

“Shout with joy to God, all the earth!”

Why shout?

Our praise should have a loud or big volume because it must fit the actions of a big or great God. God’s deliverance the Psalmist is saying deserves great praise and we should not hold back in our praise and if necessary shout it out loud.

This loud word of praise should also be “joyful” and universal because the entire earth reaps benefits from him, as we will see in the next part of this first section of the Psalm.

Paul commands us as Christians to,

“Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice” (Philippians 4: 4)

Our praise to God as Christians should be great and joyful focussed on Jesus because Jesus has done so much for us in coming to this world giving up glory to eventually die for our sins on a cross. Modern atheists like Richard Dawkins dismiss as ludicrous the idea that the creator of the universe would come down to a minor piece of rock called earth to become a human being and allow other human beings to torture him to death so that he could pay his punishment for our sins.

This is either a ludicrous message or an unbelievable amazing awesome message that deserves great joyful praise.

The object of this great loud joyful praise in verse one is “God” and this of course is the “Elohim” which is the general Hebrew name for God that features in the Psalms of the second book of Psalms. However this first verse makes it clear that this is not just the local God of Israel but the God of the whole earth because is says,

“Shout with joy to God, all the earth!”

Israel only had one God while all the other nations of the earth believed in many God’s but there is only one great God and the writer of Psalm 66 goes on to say this about this one great God of all the earth,

“Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious!”

He is saying that the object of our worship songs is the great glorious one true God of all the earth. The word for glorious could also be honour like the King James 2000 bible translation,

“Sing forth the honor of his name: make his praise glorious”.

 Spurgeon says this about this verse,

“The honor of God should be our subject, and to honor him our object when we sing. To give glory to God is but to restore to him his own. It is our glory to be able to give God glory; and all our true glory should be ascribed unto God, for it is his glory”.

 The apostle Paul spoke of this in terms of boasting and says in a number of places in his letters like 1 Corinthians 1: 31,

“Therefore, as it is written: ‘let him who boasts boast in the Lord”.

 Paul speaks like this because of God’s glorious act of deliverance or salvation in and through the grace of God shown and won for us in Jesus Christ as Paul writes in Ephesians 2: 8 – 9,

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast”.

 Paul and the writer of Psalm 66 would both agree that our God and what he has done for us is great and glorious but the writer of Psalm 66 goes on to say even more about the object of our praise in the first part of verse 3,

“Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds”.

 The God this writer wants us to focus our praise on is an awesome God of deeds. This is the first time we come across the “awesome” word in this psalm. As I said in my introduction don’t think of the slang meaning of this word which is as Robert Lane Greene says is “the default description for anything good”.

 Rather lets think of the “Dictionary.com” meaning for awesome which is,

“Causing or inducing awe, inspiring an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration or fear”.

This God should be feared because the next line of verse 3 reads,

“So great is your power”

The writer of Hebrews says this in Hebrews 10: 31, As the English standard version and many others translate it,

“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”.

 The fear hears is reverence or respect for a God who is so big and even dangerous if you are on the wrong side of him.

 So God is great, glorious, powerful and awesome and this is who our loud and joyful praise should be focus on.

Darlene Zschech hymn’s chorus portrays so well who should be the object of our praise and worship,

“Shout to the Lord, all the earth, let us sing

Power and majesty, praise to the King,

Mountains bow and the seas will roar

At the sound of your name.

 I sing for joy at the work of your hands,

Forever I’ll love you; forever I’ll stand,

Nothing compares to the promise I have in you.

2. The content of our praise (3b – 4)

Nothing compares to the promise I have in You”, is the last line of Darlene Zschech great hymn a perfect lead in to the second part of this first section entitled “Awesome world wide praise” which deals with the content of this awesome praise God wants us to give.

Already in the object of our praise we have been given some content as well which is the very nature and deeds of our God mentioned or hinted at in verses 1 – 3b. Things like the glorious name of our God, his total power over all the earth and his awesome deeds for us.

Now the second part of verse 3 spells out some of those awesome deeds in the words,

“So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you”.

 As we will see this Psalm has to great acts of God’s deliverance in mind here, namely the exodus God’s deliverance from the hands of the Egyptians spelt out more fully in the next section verses 5- 7 and a more recent deliverance in the Psalm writers time namely the God’s deliverance from Israel’s enemies the Assyrians under the leadership of their powerful king Sennocherib.

On both occasions these two nations sought to crush Israel and in the more recent deliverance in the writers time the leader of the foreign nation challenged Israel’s God directly. However both times these two powerful enemies were forced to cringe before Israel and Judah because of the miraculous awesome power deeds of their God.

I mentioned in my previous two Psalm talks the words of Rahab to Joshua’s spies concerning what the people of Jericho were thinking and saying about Israel’s God. These words I pointed out act as kind of proclamation of the one true God’s power and might. We find them in Joshua 2: 10 – 11,

“We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below”.

 These words represent an excellent example of how God’s enemies cringe before the one true God maker of heaven and earth once they realize they were opposing him.

I have also mentioned before how Paul predicts or prophesizes in Philippians 2: 9 – 12 how at Jesus return all men will bow the knee to him and acknowledge him as Lord,

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”.

 This concept of all people bowing the knee before God continues in the Psalm in verse 4,

“All the earth bows down to you; they sing praise to you, they sing praise to your name”.

 When Jesus returns everyone will acknowledge him as Lord but some will be doing this as Jesus predicts, weeping and gnashing of teeth (Luke 13: 28) by many because they now know that they are under God’s judgment and nothing can now save them.

On the other hand for those who have turned to Jesus in repentance and faith in this life will join with the angels in heaven and praise the Lord as their Saviour and King forever. You see we are part of the church of God made up of all true believers and our destiny is to be the bride of Christ united with Christ in heaven forever praising him and we have a beautiful picture of this in Revelation 19: 6 – 7,

“Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready”.

Obviously the prediction of Psalm 66: 4 is a prophecy of that great day to come just described by John in his words in his book we call Revelation.

However along the way throughout history God’s interventions of deliverance for his people has caused people to acknowledge the power and might of God. Sadly even though some might to bow and praise God this does not last because their adoration and worship quickly turns to rebellion once normal life resumes.

So the content of our praise is God’s great attributes and his awesome deeds of deliverance from his and our enemies. Darlene Zschech expresses this well in her great hymn “Shout to the Lord” with these words,

“My Jesus, my Savior,

Lord, there is none like you;

All of my days

I want to praise

The wonders of your mighty love.

My comfort, my shelter,

Tower of refuge and strength,

Let every breath, all that I am

Never cease to worship y

  1. AWESOME NATIONAL DELIVERANCE PRAISE (5 – 7)

This general world wide praise now narrows down to the praise of an awesome national deliverance in the past namely the exodus or the people of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt. I have broken this section into two parts:

1.  Praise God’s awesome deeds of Salvation from Egypt (4 – 6)

2. Praise God’s rule and judgment of the nations (vs.7)

1.  Praise God’s awesome deeds of Salvation from Egypt (4 – 6)

With the recent national deliverance in mind, as we will see in the next section of the Psalm the writer looks back to the great day of National deliverance when the nation of Israel was saved out of slavery in Egypt. He begins with his favourite expression of the awesomeness of God in verse 5,

“Come and see what God has done, how awesome his works in man’s behalf!

 In our modern times people seem to write off history as irrelevant and even useless information. Today is the “Now Generation” and it has been this way for a number of years. Many seem to seek to kick the past in the face and say it has nothing to do with me. However no matter what people might say the things that happened in the past shape them. For instance the ability to think freely and express views freely only is possible today because of massive social and political changes that took place in the recent past in the western world.

No we all in some way or another look back and see rightly or wrongly things that happened in the past. I find the movement of recent years for people to discover their family history a positive thing and I know a lot of people who have come to a better understanding of themselves or other past or present family members because they have discovered information about their past family history.

The writer of Psalm 66 certainly realised the impact the past had on him and his people and he confidently calls them to,

“Come and see what God has done”.

 I have said before in previous Psalm Talks that our faith or religion is a revealed faith or religion. That is we believe what we believe about God because God has revealed it to us so we can come and see what God has done.

In the writers case he is going to direct his readers and fellow Temple worshippers to the great acts of God in Salvation for his people Israel when they were freed from slavery in Egypt.

I could easily call people of our time to “Come and see what God has done” in the sending of Jesus to this world and his death on the cross-followed by his resurrection from the dead. Many write this off as myth and legend but they do this ignoring the massive historical evidence for the New Testament we have today.

If the writings of the New Testament are not writings made close to the time of Christ then other accepted historical documents like Caesars Gallic Wars would also be non historic because we have far more historical evidence for the New Testament than we have for Caesars Gallic Wars. No because of the suspected claims on how we should or shouldn’t live our lives in the New Testament modern scholars seek to discredit the historical authenticity of the New Testament.

The writer of Psalm 66 goes on to describe what God has done in the past he writes,

“How awesome his works in man’s behalf!”

 There is that word awesome again and remember I want you to have the real meaning of that word in mind which is again,

“Causing or inducing awe, inspiring an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration or fear”.

We will see in the next verse why these past deeds of God are awesome but let me remind you of why the past deeds of God in sending Jesus are awesome.

Jesus descent from heaven his death on the cross and his resurrection and ascension to heaven and even is eventual coming again is beautifully described by Paul in Philippians 2: 5- 11 which is believed to be a New Testament church hymn known to Paul and the Philippians that Paul is quoting here to make a point. The passage reads like this,

“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”.

So if that is not awesome in the real meaning of the word I don’t know what is!

So now in one verse the writer of Psalm 66 focuses his readers or fellow worshippers on the deeds of God in Salvation or deliverance when he made a passage across the red sea when Pharaoh and his army were chasing down the people of Israel. Verse 6 says,

“He turned the sea into dry land, they passed through the waters on foot- come let us rejoice in him”.

This event is the climax to Exodus 3 – 15, which tell the story of Moses call and return to Egypt and how after much difficulty Pharaoh eventually let the people of Israel, go but then he changed his mind and pursued them with his army. Trapped at the red sea God performed the great miracle of opening up a path across the sea, which the verse in Psalm 66 says,

“He turned the sea into dry land, they passed through the waters on foot”.

Spurgeon comment is worthwhile here,

“It was no slight miracle to divide a pathway through such a sea, and to make it fit for the traffic of a whole nation. He who did this can do anything, and must be God, the worthy object of adoration”.

Many ask, why doesn’t God do those kinds of miracles today?

I am not one who believes God does not do miracles today from time to time like miraculous healings but I do believe these kind of acts of God are the unusual and not the norm. God made this world and universe and set the laws in place that govern it so he mainly chooses to work within these laws of the universe. However because he is God and can do what he wants he sometimes does things like the crossing of the red sea or the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. God can overrule his natural laws and performs what we call a miracle. Just because God answers our prayers through natural means makes these answers no more or less awesome than when he over rules his natural laws of nature.

Spurgeon’s further comment is helpful here,

“The Christian’s inference is that no obstacle in his journey heavenward need hinder him, for the sea could not hinder Israel, and even death itself shall be as life; the sea shall be dry land when God’s presence is felt”.

What should be our response to God’s awesome deeds of deliverance?

The writer of Psalm 66 answers this in the last part of verse 6,

“Come, let us rejoice in him”.

God wants us to answer his awesome deeds of deliverance with awesome words of praise. I referred to Paul’s command in Philippians 4: 4 in the last section of this Psalm to Rejoice in the Lord always. In 1 Thessalonians 5: 16 – 18 Paul says something similar,

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”.

Note how rejoicing or praising or giving thanks to God is seen by Paul as God’s will for us in Christ Jesus. When we praise God for what we he has done for us in the past and the present we are both showing our faith is real and declaring to the world of who is and what he can do for others.

I’ll let Spurgeon have the last word on this verse,

“It is not so much what he has done, as what he is, that should excite in us sacred rejoicing”.

2.  Praise God’s rule and judgment of the nations (vs.7)

From the starting point of God’s awesome deeds of salvation seen in the exodus of Israel from Egypt and particularly the crossing of the red sea the writer of Psalm 66 makes a general comment about God’s rule and judgment over all the nations of this world. He writes in verse 7,

“He rules forever by his power, his eyes watch the nations – let not the rebellious rise up against him”.

 I think the writer of this Psalm has a recent national demonstration of God’s rule and power over the nations in mind here as well. A demonstration like the defeat of the Assyrian army around 700BC, which will feature, I believe in the next section of the Psalm.

However taking these words on face value they are saying that events like the exodus from Egypt and the destruction of the army of Egypt at the red sea demonstrate yet again that God rules forever by his power. Moses certainly believed this and wrote an awesome song of praise soon after the events of the crossing of the red sea in Exodus 15. Listen to these words taken from that song in verses 11 – 16,

“Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? “You stretch out your right hand, and the earth swallows your enemies. In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling. The nations will hear and tremble; anguish will grip the people of Philistia. The chiefs of Edom will be terrified, the leaders of Moab will be seized with trembling, the people of Canaan will melt away; terror and dread will fall on them. By the power of your are they will be as still as a stone—until your people pass by, Lord, until the people you bought pass by”.

 The climax of all history will be the final judgment of all people and all nations as we read in Matthew 25: 31 – 33,

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him,he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left”.

Even before then Nations will come and go just as they have come and gone in the past and this to is evidence of God’s rule and power over the nations.

The writer of Psalm 66 says that God’s,

“Eyes watch the nations and that he will not let the rebellious rise against him.”

Sometimes in history and even in our days when we see the utter rebellious, sinful and even evil acts of some of the nations of this world we might be tempted to ask,

Does God care? Or even worse does God know”

The writer of Psalm 66 answer is yes he knows because his eyes watch the nations,

Not only does he watch them he ultimately will put down their rebellion in judgment. You don’t have to have a great knowledge of history to know how evil nations of the past have been put down. Again God usually uses natural events of this world to destroy evil rebellious nations.

In the case of recent history the German Nation under the leadership of the mad and evil Adolf Hitler suffered the judgment of God through the loss of the second -world war by the allied forces that fought against it.

In more recent times we saw the fall and break up of the evil anti God Communist Nations through the rising up of often God inspired ordinary people seeking freedom from the evil yoke of communism.

Some might argue that these examples have nothing to do with God but I know that during the time of the rule of communism I was a young Christian who joined many Christians throughout the world to pray for the freedom of people under communistic governments. The Christian church in Russia, which was ruthlessly crushed by the communists, emerged from the ashes of communistic rule stronger then ever and this too is evidence of the hand of God delivering his people in our own time.

Far beyond the social political battles of this world is a far greater and insidious spiritual battle and here too God’s eyes are upon it and he will not let rebellious forces rise up against him.

Paul referred to this great battle on many occasions but listen to his words of encouragement and advice as we take the awesome message of the Gospel to the dark spiritual world we live in, 2 Corinthians 2: 12 – 17,

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God”.

  1. AWESOME RECENT DAY OF DELIVERANCE PRAISE (8- 12)

We come then to the third section of this Psalm which I believe deals with a recent event of God’s deliverance that no doubt led to the original writing of this Psalm. Many commentators believe this recent event is Judah’s deliverance from the mighty Assyrian army who besieged Jerusalem around 700BC.

This section combined with possibly King Hezekiah personal word of praise for his deliverance from sickness and Assyrian domination in the last section gives us some interesting context to Psalm 66 and its awesome word of praise.

I have broken this second section down into two parts:

1.  Praise God for his current act of awesome deliverance (8 – 9)

2.  Praise God for his testing during this time of awesome  deliverance (10 – 1

  1. Praise God for his current act of awesome deliverance (8 – 9)

These verses are not specific in the way they are framed but general and Leupold explains why this is with these words,

“Psalm writers, moved by the Spirit of God that inspired them, were thus serving their day and also times to come”.

The attack on Jerusalem around 700BC by the Assyrian’s and the subsequent deliverance God gave them was so awesome that the writer of Psalm 66 says in verse 8,

“Praise our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard”.

This is a similar call to praise we read in verses 1 and 2 and the Assyrian defeat by God in 700BC fits well into the content of this sought of praise set down in verse 3,

“Say to God, ‘How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you”.

The story of the 700BC deliverance is one of an earthly powerful nation directly challenging the God of Israel with blatant arrogance. Listen to the challenge the Assyrian commander gave the people of Jerusalem in 2 Kings 18: 28 – 30,

“Then the commander stood and called out in Hebrew, “Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria! This is what the king says: Do not let Hezekiah deceive you. He cannot deliver you from my hand. Do not let Hezekiah persuade you to trust in the Lord when he says, ‘The Lord will surely deliver us; this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria”.

He goes on to virtually put his fist up at the God of Israel with a direct challenge to his power and might in verses 32b – 35,

“Do not listen to Hezekiah, for he is misleading you when he says, ‘The Lord will deliver us.’ Has the god of any nation ever delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah? Have they rescued Samaria from my hand? Who of all the gods of these countries has been able to save his land from me? How then can the Lord deliver Jerusalem from my hand?”

The king of Assyria has no fear of Israel’s God and he probably thought that the Northern part of Israel had the same God and he easily defeated them and so he reasons why he can’t defeat the southern Kingdom that believes in the same God.

He of course gets a rude shock within a few days he will be forced to return home to be killed not long after that when he was worshipping his God in his temple and thousands of his army outside of Jerusalem were struck down by a mysterious illness sent by God through and angel.

So it this kind of deliverance that the writer of Psalm 66 calls an awesome deed and in verse 8 he calls the people to praise God in a confident and loud way.

The writer then speaks in general terms about this great recent deliverance in the next verse,

“He has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping”

The Assyrian’s were noted for their brutal barbaric treatment of the people they conquered. On a web page called “Ancient Civilizations” I read this that includes an actual Assyrian inscription,

The words of an early Assyrian king, Assurnarsipal, reveal just how cruel the Assyrians could be:

 I built a pillar over against his gate, and I flayed all the chief men … and I covered the pillar with their skins … some I impaled upon the pillar on stakes. Many captives … I burned with fire … From some I cut off their hands and their fingers, and from others I cut off their noses, their ears … of many I put out the eyes.Assurnarsipal (c.875 B.C.E.) “

 So their lives were certainly preserved especially King Hezekiah who would have been one of the many men and women who would have not only been killed but torchered as well. Commenting on the phrase,

“Kept our feet from slipping”

 Leupold writes,

“They were in danger of a fatal fall: but he (God) did not allow their foot to slip”.

In the New Testament the war we as Christians are involved in is a spiritual war and our enemy is spiritually like the Assyrian’s in power and cruelness, Peter gives us this warning about the leader of our enemies, The Devil in 1 Peter 5: 8 and 9,

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings”.

We too are promised deliverance from him in passages in James 4: 7,

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you”.

As Hezekiah submitted to the rule of God and sought his help God made the Assyrian army to flee from them. In 2 Kings 19: 35 – 36 we read how this happened,

“That night the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies! So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there”.

2.  Praise God for his testing during this time of awesome deliverance (10 – 12)

The praise for I believe this recent awesome deliverance continues in the second part of this third section with the added aspect of the testing and discipline this time of deliverance brought with it.

When I look back at times of testing in my life I can sometimes easily forget the pain and difficulty I suffered at the time especially if I only focus my mind on the deliverance. The writer of Psalm 66 I think is seeking to remember and remind his readers and fellow worshippers of the painful testing this recent deliverance brought with it.

He writes in verse 10,

“For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver”.

The image of this testing time is that of the refining process of precious metals, which included heating up the metal so that it became malleable to turn into precious objects. This same image is used in the New Testament by Peter in 1 Peter 1: 6 – 7 as he speaks of how we as Christians are often put though times of testing,

“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed”.

At the time of writing this I am beginning to plan another teaching trip to Myanmar and I remembered that the last time I went on one of these nearly two years ago I suffered a very painful illness for a number of days and this for me was God’s testing of my faith as I actually was teaching a lot about this kind of thing. I pushed on in my pain and I was kind of living out Peters words that my faith was tested and refined and became a great praise of those I was teaching at the time.

Listen to poor Hezekiah who also became sick like me at this most difficult time of his rule in 2 Kings 20: 2 – 3,

“Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, “Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly”.

At the height of my short but painful illness in Myanmar I can remember turning to the wall of my hotel room as I lay on my bed in agony weeping in prayer to God like King Hezekiah. The next morning I rose feeling a lot better at least better enough to continue my teaching program for that day.

In verse 11 the writer of Psalm 66 says this,

“You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs”.

As the large Assyrian army was besieging the people of Jerusalem they were like prisoners locked up in their homes and palace. They would have felt like a large burden was on their backs as they faced the prospect of being over run by ruthless, callous and brutal soldiers hell bent on inflicting as much pain and destruction as they could give.

As we face times of difficulties in this life often brought about by being caught up in the great spiritual battles of this life we to can find encouragement and help from Jesus as he offers us this in passages like Matthew 11: 28 – 30,

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

 At the height of my painful three to four day illness in Myanmar I claimed promises like we have just read in Matthew 11 and I can testify that Jesus did help me through that difficult time.

On the first night of the illness I was booked to preach at a large and important New Years Eve church service. As I sat up the front of this service I physically felt that I could not even stand up let alone deliver a 30-minute sermon followed by a solo song. I prayed to Jesus for the ability to peach and sing that night and as I heard my name announced for my turn in the service I simply rose to preach and I can honestly say that I felt no pain during my sermon and song but once I sat down the pain returned and I had to be taken back to the hotel straight after the service.

Jesus helped me carry my burden that night and gave me rest for the time I needed to preach and sing.

The writer of Psalm 66 completes the description of this recent painful time of testing and deliverance with these words in verse 12,

“You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance”.

This verse seems to me to capture the depths of difficulty and trial of faith the recent great deliverance even caused the writer and his fellow citizens of Jerusalem at the time. It does this in simple but powerful poetic images.

There are two poetic images that describe the depths of difficulty and trial and one, which describes the liberation, or deliverance the people experienced at the time.

The two poetic images that describe the depths of difficulty and trial and one that speaks of God’s great deliverance:

1. “You let men ride over our heads”

2. “We went through fire and water”

3. “Brought us to s place of abundance”

  1. “You let men ride over our heads”

First poetic image speaks of men riding over their heads, which Leupold explains as,

“The nation had been dashed to the ground, was wounded, perhaps, and helpless, and that, while they lay thus prostrate, the chariots or the cavalry of the enemy road roughshod over them”.

A more modern expression would be something like, they were down for the count and they laid the boot into us. Humanely speaking nothing should have been able to stop a mighty force like an Assyrian army smashing down the walls of Jerusalem and putting the people to the sword. However at the very last hour God did what human beings of that time could not do he smashed the Assyrians with probably a simple microscopic virus causing sickness and death on a massive scale.

2.  “We went through fire and water”

The second poetic image is more to do with the trial of their faith which uses the images of fire and water. Leopold again explains this poetic image as,

“Both fire and water represent deadly hazards, and is what the writer would emphasize”.

A number of commentators refer to Isaiah’s more detailed use of these images of fire and water in Isaiah 43: 2,

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze”.

 This is God saying that even when we go through the trials of life that he ultimately has made for us if we have faith in him he is with us. This reminds me of Paul’s advice on facing temptation in 1 Corinthians 10: 13,

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it”.

We have a sympathetic and caring savior in Jesus to turn to in both times of trial and temptation because he became a human being just like us and faced both trials and temptations. Of course Jesus faced temptations but did not succumb to them like we do. As the writer to the Hebrews puts it in Hebrews 4: 14 – 16,

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need”.

Note the writer of Hebrews says because he understands the trial and temptations we face we can approach him by prayer knowing in his great grace and mercy he will help us in our time of need.

3. “Brought us to s place of abundance”

The third image in verse 12 is the image of God’s great deliverance from the recent incident of a great testing and trial, which I believe was the attack a besieging of Jerusalem by the Assyrians around 700BC.

In the NIV the phrase reads,

“Brought us to a place of abundance”

Luther translates this phrase this way,

“Thou has brought us forth and hast refreshed us”.

The Hebrew word for “A place of abundance” is used in Psalm 23: 5 and there reads in the NIV,

“My cup overflows”

So this is a powerful image of God’s great blessings in the context of a siege where drinking water would have been in limited supply. In 2 Kings 18: 31 – 32 we have part of the Assyrian message to the people shut up in Jerusalem by them,

“Do not listen to Hezekiah. This is what the king of Assyria says: Make peace with me and come out to me.

 Then each of you will eat fruit from your own vine and fig tree and drink water from your own cistern, until I come and take you to a land like your own—a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey. Choose life and not death!

“Do not listen to Hezekiah, for he is misleading you when he says, ‘The Lord will deliver us.”

Note how the messenger of King Sennacherib the king of Assyria refers to eating fruit from your own vines and drinking water from your own cistern. Note not in Judah but a land of exile. This would be a great temptation for the people in Jerusalem were starving and dying of thirst.

Interestingly in 2 Kings 20: 20 we have a reference to how King Hezekiah made a pool and tunnel in Jerusalem to bring water into the city probably helping the city in times of drought and siege’s.

This pool became known as The Pool of Siloam and appears in the Gospel of John and is where Jesus sent the man born blind to complete his healing (John 9:7).

So Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem do not fall to the temptation of abundant food and water offered to them by the Assyrians in what would have been a cruel removal to exile.

However because they resist this temptation and pass their test of faith God gives them in there own land or homes what the Assyrian’s offer in exile, namely abundant food and water.

Jesus offers us spiritually the same promise of abundant life in John 10: 10 as translations like The New Revised Standard version translates it,

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly”.

Many think, foolishly that by becoming Christians they I looking at living a life where they will be missing out on a good life. Certainly the Christian life is not one of drunken parties or even promised material possessions but it is a life of true happiness and rewards both here in this life and in the life to come. I have experienced God’s blessings in this life and I would not call my life a life of missing out rather it is more like a life of taking up and enjoying being in a place of abundance.

  1. AWESOME PERSONAL DELIVERANCE PRAISE (13 – 20)

The final section of this Psalm comes as a bit of a surprise and some commentators have said that it is a separate Psalm been added to Psalm 66 at a later date.

However this fourth part of the Psalm makes sense if this is a personal praise of deliverance again in the context of the Assyrian attack of Jerusalem in 700BC. The person that this section best relates to is King Hezekiah who suffered at that time from being the King who decided his people’s fate and at the same time suffered a serious life threatening illness recorded in 2 Kings 20: 1 – 11. In verse 8 Hezekiah speaks of going up to the temple if the Lord healed him. We can see in the first part of this fourth section an individual is going to the temple to praise God for answered prayers uttered in a time of great trouble.

With this context in mind I have broken this final section into three parts:

1.  Awesome personal praise and worship (13 – 15)

2.  Awesome personal testimony and praise (16 – 19)

3.  Awesome praise for God’s great grace (vs.20)

  1. Awesome personal praise and worship (13 – 15)

Lets look at this awesome personal praise and worship verse by verse. First we have verse 13,

“I will come to your temple with burnt offerings and fulfill my vows to you”.

Note first of all that the Psalm changes from being in the general sense in verse 5, “Come and see” to the personal sense in verse 13 with the words, “I will come”.

Then we have the going to the temple with “burnt offerings”

Got questions.org Internet page answer’s the question what was the significance of a burnt offering this way,

“A person could give a burnt offering at any time. It was a sacrifice of general atonement—an acknowledgement of the sin nature and a request for renewed relationship with God”.

 So king Hezekiah realized he was a sinner in need of God’s forgiveness and therefore as he goes to the temple to offer his praise for his deliverance and his people’s deliverance he goes as a repentant sinner who acknowledges his constant need for God’s love and forgiveness.

Finally in this verse he speaks of how God answered his desperate prayers with the words,

“And fulfill my vows to you”.

 Something of Hezekiah’s prayer and vows are recorded in 2 Kings 20: 2 – 3 and read like this,

“Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, “Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly”.

 God heard Hezekiah’s desperate prayer that day because God sent the prophet Isaiah back to Hezekiah to say these words to him in 2 Kings 20: 5b – 7,

“This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. On the third day from now you will go up to the temple of the Lord. I will add fifteen years to your life. And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city for my sake and for the sake of my servant David.’”

Then Isaiah said, “Prepare a poultice of figs.” They did so and applied it to the boil, and he recovered.

So if this part of the Psalm is about Hezekiah making personal praise and worship then the words of this last section were written around the time of these words of Isaiah because the person these words refer to is preparing to go up to the temple to do his praise and worship.

Then we come to verse 14, which continue Hezekiah’s desperate vows or prayer for God’s help,

“Vows my lips promised and my mouth spoke when I was in trouble”.

 So often when life’s troubles come upon us just as they did for King Hezekiah we make all kinds of vows or promises in prayer, we might say, Lord if you heal me of this I will take my service for you more seriously and do this or that. Spurgeon makes this excellent comment on this and this verse in Psalm 66 with this,

“When we are released from trouble, and can once more go up to the house of the Lord, we should take immediate occasion to fulfill our promises. How can we hope for help another time, if we prove faithless to covenants voluntarily entered in hours of need”.

 Back in the days of my painful illness when I was in the middle of a short term missionary trip in Myanmar I remember how I felt as I realized that God was healing me and allowing me to continue my ministry then. I received many emails from friends and supporters telling me of their prayers for me and I actually wept tears of gratitude when I told the people I was with of how God was helping me.

I went on in that trip to many more opportunities of ministry and kept acknowledging God as the one who made that possible. God’s gracious answers to our prayers should show in our lives in greater obedience and service for him.

In 1 John 3: 21 – 24, John speaks of the confidence we can have in God to answer our prayers but he also speaks of obedience and loving service to others as part of our duty for God’s help in our lives,

“Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him.

And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us”.

 Finally in the first part of this last section we come to verse 15, which Hezekiah spells out the things he will do in his awesome acts of praise and worship for his great answer to his desperate prayers to God,

“I will sacrifice fat animals to you and offering of rams; I will offer bulls and goats”.

Leupold explains the significance of these words with the following comment,

“He dwells with some pleasure on the various types of sacrifices that he purposes to bring. Each one more or less costly and the sum total of them quite expensive but gladly given in this case, for his heart was truly grateful”.

 So King Hezekiah wants to give a kingly styled awesome act of worship and as a king his offerings are for his day very expensive. When Paul advises the Corinthian church about giving to the Lords work he says this in 2 Corinthians 9: 6 – 8,

“The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work”.

Paul of course would argue that our act of worship should be nothing less than our sacrificial service of our lives which we should give because of the great mercy or grace given to us in Jesus Christ as he states in Romans 12: 1,

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship”.

So we no longer bring expensive animals to the temple for sacrifice to show our gratitude for God’s awesome deliverance. We bring our lives to God in service to him inspired by his great deliverance in Jesus Christ who died for our sins on the cross and this Paul calls “holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship”.

3.  Awesome personal testimony and praise (16 – 19)

King Hezekiah now spells out his personal testimony of his deliverance and the awesome praise he wants to now give. Remember that Hezekiah suffered during the Assyrian attack of Jerusalem from both being tormented by the bully tactics of this powerful enemy and a life threatening illness.

I broken Hezekiah’s testimony into two parts:

1.  A desperate pray for help in a desperate time (16 – 18)

2.  A merciful answer by a merciful God (19)

  1. A desperate pray for help in a desperate time (16 – 18)

In the style of this Psalm so far Hezekiah makes a call for others to come and listen to his word of testimony in verse 16,

“Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me”.

I think this is Hezekiah speaking through the Psalm writer he probably commissioned to write this Psalm. He wants people to listen to his amazing story of deliverance but he calls those who he wants to hear this testimony of God’s deliverance people who,

“Fear God”

Albert Barnes makes this interesting comment about this term,

“All who are true worshippers of God – the idea of fear or reverence being put for worship in general. The call is on all who truly loved God to hear what he had done, in order that he might be suitably honored, and that due praise might be given him”.

The bible has a lot to say about fearing God particularly in the book of proverbs which of course has the classic verse on fearing God which is Proverbs 9: 10,

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight”.

When those who refuse to believe in God hear the testimony of believers they try and find some way of explaining away their experience as a lie or that the person was deluded to think that it was God who helped them when it simply was good luck or just the way it worked out for them. This means that even in Hezekiah’s day people who did not fear God or reverence God would not appreciate what God actually did for him.

Even though non -believers try and explain away our testimony of our experience of God this to me does not mean we should not give it for it is a powerful way of getting non believers to be interested or at least curious in the Christian Gospel. Have a look at my Psalm talk on Psalm 34 for a more detailed look at giving our testimony and its value in helping to present the Christian Gospel.

Peter gives us good advice on this in 1 Peter 3: 15 – 16,

“Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame”.

 In the second part of verse 16, Hezekiah simply says,

“Let me tell you what he has done for me”.

Now in verse 17 he simply does that by saying,

“I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue”.

 In the first part I quoted how Hezekiah actually did this so let me quote 2 Kings 20: 2 – 3 again to remind you how desperate Hezekiah’s prayer or cry to God actually was,

“Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, “Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly”.

This is a brutally honest and emotionally charged account of Hezekiah’s prayer as he lay in agony on his sick bed. He certainly did cry out to God with his mouth. The interesting concept in this verse is the words,

“Praise was on my tongue”.

 Again I found Albert Barnes comments on this phrase the best explanation I found on what it actually means,

“I praised him, I acknowledged his supremacy. I recognized my dependence on him, and looked to him as that God who had all things under his control, and who could grant me the deliverance which I desired”.

 It is easy to see how we might praise or look to God when things go well for us although that is when some Christians actually fall away from God because they stop depending on him.

However continuing to trust in and to look to God when life if not going so well is the real test of our faith. I can remember a church leader I knew years ago who sat through the terrible suffering of his wife when she died of cancer and how that man chose to give up on God for allowing that to happen.

I spoke to the minister of that church about the man’s reaction to his wife’s death and he simply said, “and it is even sadder to think that when that man needed the help of God even more than before has turned his back on God and his help”.

I have met Christians who seem to say that believing in God or having a Christian faith means a easy life of blessing and good fortune. However this does not fit my understanding of what the bible teaches and what have been both my experience of the Christian life and that of many other Christians I know.

Yes God blesses and helps us but he blesses us and helps us through both the good and difficult times as well. I like Pauls word here in Romans 8: 28,

“We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose”.

 The “all things work together for good” includes suffering from cancer or seeing someone else suffer from cancer and die. Faith does not mean we will always know how the things that happens to us works for good but it simply hangs on to God and says God knows and that’s enough for me.

Hezekiah faced death from two directions, from his enemies and from his sickness but he did not give up on God but he simply says,

“I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue”.

He adds one more bit to his word of testimony in verse 18,

“If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened”.

 This cannot mean that Hezekiah is saying he has no sin in his heart because even he would have known that he was a sinner in constant need of God’s forgiveness. The key word in this verse is, “cherished” and that means if we love the sin that is in our hearts. Spurgeon speaks of the idea of clinging to evil in our hearts and goes on to make this comment,

“If you refuse to hear God’s commands, he will surely refuse to hear thy prayers. An imperfect petition God will hear for Christ’s sake, but not one, which is willfully miswritten by a traitors hand”.

In my last Psalm talk on Psalm 65 I answered the question does God answer the prayers of those who do not believe in him and I quote my answer here,

“Both the Old and New Testaments make it clear that God does not hear the prayers of those who do not believe in him. For example Isaiah 59: 2,

But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear”.

And Peter quotes Psalm 34: 12 – 15 and in 1 Peter 3: 12 he writes,

“Foe the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayers, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil”.

Of course if you don’t believe in God or if you are harbouring or even cherishing sin in your heart then it is unlikely you will turn to God in prayer.

Hezekiah was one of the few Godly Kings after David’s time and his faith in God helped hold off the fall of Judah to powerful foreign nations but Hezekiah’s son Manasseh soon turned Judah back to evil Godless practices and apart from Josiah a couple of kings later Judah went into a slow slide of sinfulness and ultimately Judgment in the form of exile at the hands of the Babylonians.

1. A merciful answer by a merciful God (19)

Finally Hezekiah’s testimony comes to how God helped him when he faced the twin painful difficulties of the possible invasion of the Assyrians and his life threatening illness. He simply says in verse 19,

“But God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer”.

 When I was younger I remember hearing a sermon on some the famous “But God” verses in the bible here are three of my favourites,

1.  Nehemiah 9:17,

“They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them”.

  1. Romans 6:23,

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[a] Christ Jesus our Lord”.

  1. Romans 5: 8, a verse that starts with “but God”,

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”.

These verses show how God is so different from us and that only he has the pure holy love we call grace or love that is undeserved. They show how despite our sins and the judgment we deserve because of them God’s loving will and has saved us from his wrath or anger towards our sins.

In Hezekiah’s case he and his nation did not deserve to be saved or delivered from his enemies or his sickness even though he did not cherish sin in his heart he and his nation where still sinners. However the little word “but” makes all the difference because it says in the case of Hezekiah “but God” despite of Hezekiah’s sinfulness was heard by God and both he and his nation where delivered

3. Awesome praise for God’s great grace (vs.20)

Hezekiah completes his testimony with a final word of praise the great grace or underserved love his God had given him. The final verse, verse 12 says,

“Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!

Right through the Psalm has been lurking the love of God, his love of the world, his special nation, Israel, his love shown in a recent act of deliverance from ferocious enemies and finally here in the last section of the Psalm his love shown to King Hezekiah who had his desperate prayer answered and his life was spared.

This 66th Psalm is a song for the entire congregation of Judah to sing praises to their God. It is a song rich in the awesome deeds of God because their God has demonstrated time and time again that he is a God of awesome love.

We can join in singing this song too because we know the awesome love of God in much more wonderful way. This is because we know that in the past God sent his only son to this world to reveal what he is really like and to die for our sins on the cross.

God’s loving deeds in Christ are truly awesome in the real meaning of the word which remember is,

“Causing or inducing awe, inspiring an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration or fear”.

Christ death for us does cause us to a feeling of inspiring and overwhelming reverence and admiration for him.

How great is that love and how should that love effect us? Is answered best by the apostle John in 1 John 4:9-11,

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another”.

God wants us to praise him for his awesome love but that praise should be expressed not only with our lips but by how we live it out in our love for others.

I close as usual with a poem and a prayer.

THE AWESOME LOVE OF GOD

(Based on Psalm 66)

 God’s love is beautiful

So awesome and divine

He sent his Son to die for us

He simply is sublime.

So shout your joyful praise

All people who know his name

Sing and praise his glorious deeds

Forever let him reign.

 

No one is like him

He gave up his only Son

To die for us upon a cross

Our Salvation he has won.

So bow down and worship him

May voices of the earth now raise

See his acts of awesome love

Lets praise him all our days.

 

God made the world for us

By his awesome power

He rules this world and judges sin

He watches us hour by hour

He saved the Israelites years ago

When he opened up the sea

The Egyptians tried to cross like them

But God wouldn’t let them go free.

 

I will worship Jesus Christ

Who gave his life for me

When I was lost in sins dark curse

He died to set me free.

I cried to him in my pain

He heard my desperate prayer

His love is such an awesome love

My sins he chose to bear.

 

God’s love is beautiful

So awesome and divine

He sent his Son to die for us

He simply is sublime.

He simply is sublime.

 

By: Jim Wenman

PRAYER:

 Father up above we thank you for your awesome love shown to us in Jesus Christ who gave his life for us. Help us to show our love for you in awesome praise and worship and may this worship be our love and service for you. Help us in our acts of formal worship to offer up awesome praise for your great acts of protection and deliverance for us. In Jesus name we pray Amen.

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