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Psalm 65

 

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
God's Abundant Favor to Earth and Man
MT Intro
For the choir director. A Psalm of David. A Song
Praise to God For His Salvation and Providence Thanksgiving For A Good Harvest Praise and Thanksgiving Thanksgiving Hymn
65:1-4 65:1-3 65:1-4 65:1-4 65:1-2a
        65:2b-3
  65:4     65:4
65:5-8 65:5-8 65:5-8 65:5-8 65:5
        65:6-7b
        65:7c-8
65:9-13 65:9-10 65:9-13 65:9-13 65:9a-d
        65:9e-13
  65:11-13      

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. This Psalm has a universal thrust (cf. Ps. 65:2,5,8) because it deals with the God of creation.

 

B. God's purpose for this planet was abundance and health (cf. Genesis 1-2; Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28-30), but mankind rebelled (cf. Genesis 3) and continues to rebel (cf. Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 27), which has consequences both spiritually and physically (cf. Rom. 8:18-25).

 

C. This Psalm reminds us of the original purposes of abundance (cf. Ps. 65:9-13), which now is a hope for the new age of restoration (cf. Joel 4:18; Amos 9:13). This new age will bless the entire earth!

 

D. Notice there are no imperatives (only one cohortative, Ps. 65:4). This Psalm is not a prayer request but an affirmation of God's actions in grace and provision. He seeks worshipers from all the earth!

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 65:1-4
 1There will be silence before You, and praise in Zion, O God,
 And to You the vow will be performed.
 2O You who hear prayer,
 To You all men come.
 3Iniquities prevail against me;
 As for our transgressions, You forgive them.
 4How blessed is the one whom You choose and bring near to You
 To dwell in Your courts.
 We will be satisfied with the goodness of Your house,
 Your holy temple.

65:1 There is only one verb (BDB 1022, KB 1532, Pual imperfect) in Ps. 65:1. It seems to link to several items.

1. silence before You (cf. Ps. 62:1,5)

2. praise in Zion

3. vows performed (Thank Offering)

This is obviously a worship setting in the temple (cf. Ps. 65:4).

Note below #1 and #2 may be one item. If so, it is mankind's responsibility to praise God and fulfill his vows.

NASB"silence before You"
NKJV"praise awaiting You"
NRSV"praise is due you"
NJB"praise is rightfully yours"
JPSOA"praise befits You"
REB"it is fitting to praise you"
LXX"to you a hymn is due"

The MT has "silence" (BDB 189, דמיה) but the UBS Text Project gives the same consonants with different vowels (i.e., "befitting") a "B" rating (some doubt). Most English translations agree with this. This follows the LXX, Peshitta, and Vulgate translations. However, "silence" can denote a sense of guilt before God (cf. Ps. 39:2) and an expectant waiting before Him (cf. Ps. 62:1).

▣ "Zion" See notes at Ps. 2:6; 9:11; 20:2.

65:2 The God of creation is characterized as

1. the One who hears — BDB 1033, KB 1570, Qal active participle. The idols cannot see, hear, or act.

2. the One to whom all flesh (BDB 142) come (BDB 97, KB 112, Qal imperfect). There is a tension/contrast between

a. all flesh — Ps. 65:2,5,8; Ps. 64:9; 66:1,4,8; 67:3-5; 86:9; 145:21; Isa. 66:23; Joel 2:28; Zech. 14:17

b. the covenant people — Ps. 65:3-4 (see Special Topic at Psalm 2 Intro.); the OT people of God have become all who believe (cf. Rom. 2:28-29; Eph. 2:11-3:13)

One wonders if the "all flesh come" refers to

1. being included in the people of God (i.e., salvation by forgiveness)

2. being addressed by the God of judgment and held accountable

 

65:3 The God of creation forgives (i.e., covers, BDB 497, KB 493, Piel imperfect, cf. Ps. 78:38; 79:9; AB sees this as an imperfect used as an imperative [p. 110]).

1. iniquities (BDB 730)

2. transgressions (BDB 833)

The preposition "our" in the NASB implies Israel (cf. Ps. 65:4). Notice how forgiveness is related to the fulfillment of covenant promises. Obedience is crucial (cf. Leviticus 26; Deut. 11:13-17; chapters 28-30). When obedience fails, the only hope is the mercy of God!

SPECIAL TOPIC: WORDS FOR FORGIVENESS

65:4 "How blessed" See note at Psalm 1:1.

▣ "the one who You choose" This refers to the call of God to the Patriarchs and their descendants (i.e., Israel, cf. Deut. 4:37; Ps. 33:12). The amazing thing is that apparently the election moves from Israel alone to all humans (cf. Ps. 65:2,5,8). This reflects Gen. 3:15, which is a divine promise of victory for all humans who believe and receive (see Special Topic at Psalm 2 Introduction).

▣ "We will be satisfied with the goodness of Your house" The verb (BDB 959, KB 1302, Qal cohortative) denotes one who is completely with filled goodness (BDB 375). This verse refers not just to physical abundance (cf. Ps. 65:9-13) but to intimacy with God! He fills us with Himself!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 65:5-8
 5By awesome deeds You answer us in righteousness, O God of our salvation,
 You who are the trust of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest sea;
 6Who establishes the mountains by His strength,
 Being girded with might;
 7Who stills the roaring of the seas,
 The roaring of their waves,
 And the tumult of the peoples.
 8They who dwell in the ends of the earth stand in awe of Your signs;
 You make the dawn and the sunset shout for joy.

65:5-8 This strophe describes two different situations.

1. creation, Ps. 65:6,7,8b

2. salvation, Ps. 65:5,7c, 8a

The purpose of creation was a place for mankind made in God's image (cf. Gen. 1:26-27) to fellowship with God (cf. Gen. 3:8). After Genesis 3, this intent became God's goal of salvation and restoration for all the children of Adam and Eve (cf. Gen. 3:15).

Both "mountain" in verse 6 and "tumult" in verse 7 may refer to people, not creation (cf. Jer. 51:25). If so, this would parallel Deut. 32:8.

Notice verse 5 mentions that God answers but no prayer is specifically mentioned. Obviously it was a prayer of deliverance from

1. personal and national sin

2. national enemies (i.e., Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, cf. Ps. 2:1-3)

3. possibly the chaos of creation itself (Ps. 65:7)

 

65:5

NASB, NKJV,
NRSV"awesome deeds"
TEV"wonderful things"
NJB"marvels"

This term (BDB 431 in the Niphal) is used of God's acts.

1. acts of delivering the Israelites from Egypt — Exod. 34:10; Deut. 10:21; Ps. 66:3,5; 106:22

2. YHWH Himself — Ps. 47:2; 68:35; 76:7; 145:4-7

3. YHWH's name — Deut. 28:58; Ps. 99:3; 111:9; Mal. 1:14

4. more general (i.e., adverbial) — Ps. 66:5; 139:14

 

▣ "You who are the trust of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest sea" What a powerful, inclusive statement. It is the logical extension of "monotheism" (see Special Topic at Ps. 2:7).

NASB, TEV,
JPSOA"trust
NKJV"confidence"
NRSV, NJB"hope"

This noun (BDB 105) is defined by BDB as "the object of confidence" (cf. Job 8:14; Ps. 40:4; 71:5; Jer. 3:37), which in this verse, is YHWH, not the false gods of the nations (cf. "the tumult of the peoples," Ps. 65:7c, cf. Psalm 2).

▣ "the ends of the earth" What a wonderful recurrent phrase, especially in Psalms and Isaiah. This phrase can be documented by two prepositions, "to". . ."from."

1. "to" — YHWH's person and activities

a. bring back — Deut. 30:4

b. judge — 1 Sam.2:10 (cf. Ps. 82:8; 96:13; 98:9)

c. name and praise — Ps. 48:10 (cf. Isa. 42:10; Mal. 1:11)

d. rules — Ps. 59:13

e. hope — Ps. 65:6

f. fear/awe — Ps. 67:7 (cf. Ps. 33:8)

g. Most High — Ps. 83:18; 97:9

h. salvation — Ps. 98:3 (turn to the Lord, cf. Ps. 22:27); Isa. 49:6; 52:10; 62:11

i. Creator — Isa. 40:28

j. redeemer — Isa. 48:20

k. Messiah's reign — Ps. 2:7; Micah 5:4

2. "from" — the world coming to Him

a. the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord — Ps. 22:27

b. the ends of the earth we hear songs, "Glory to the righteous One" — Isa. 24:16

c. be saved, all the ends of the earth — Isa. 45:22-23

d. all the earth comes to Him at Zion — Isa. 2:2-5; 60:3; 66:18,23; Jer. 16:19

 

65:7 This verse could refer to

1. creation (i.e., defeat of chaos)

2. conflict with idolatry (cf. Psalm 2; Isa. 17:12)

 

65:8 "stand in awe" Same root as verse 5, "awesome deeds."

▣ "Your signs" This refers to God's acts of redemption for His people (i.e., call and protection of the Patriarchs, the exodus and wilderness wanderings, the conquest, etc.).

The last line of verse 8 could refer to

1. creation (i.e., evening and morning)

2. stars twinkling (AB)

3. eat and west as an inclusive geographical figure of speech (NET Bible)

4. the glory of day and night (Tyndale Commentaries)

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: PSALM 65:9-13
 9You visit the earth and cause it to overflow;
 You greatly enrich it;
 The stream of God is full of water;
 You prepare their grain, for thus You prepare the earth.
 10You water its furrows abundantly,
 You settle its ridges,
 You soften it with showers,
 You bless its growth.
 11You have crowned the year with Your bounty,
 And Your paths drip with fatness.
 12The pastures of the wilderness drip,
 And the hills gird themselves with rejoicing.
 13The meadows are clothed with flocks
 And the valleys are covered with grain;
 They shout for joy, yes, they sing.

65:9-13 This is the physical abundance that covenant obedience would bring (cf. Leviticus 26; Deut. 11:13-17; chapter 28). Abundance was YHWH's way to cause the world to come to Him because of His

1. love

2. care

3. provision

for Israel. He chose Israel to choose all! But Israel was not obedient (cf. Ezek. 36:22-23).

Notice the number of "You's" in the English versions of Ps. 65:9-11 (i.e., nine). Creation responds to its Creator with bounty!

65:9 "You visit the earth" This is an idiom of YHWH's personal presence. In a sense, He is always in the world. But this imagery speaks of a special coming either for judgment or blessing. Here it is abundant agricultural blessing made possible by abundant water.

▣ "overflow" This verb (BDB 1003, KB 1448, Polel imperfect) occurs three times, here, where it is often translated "be abundant," and Joel 2:24; 3:13, where it is translated "overflow."

▣ "The stream of God" This phrase could mean

1. imagery of a full channel of water

2. rain from heaven (cf. Ps. 78:23; Mal. 3:10)

3. an eschatological allusion to the river that flows from the throne of God (cf. Ps. 46:4; Ezek. 47:1; Rev. 22:1)

 

65:11

NASB, NKJV"Your paths drip with fatness"
NRSV"Your wagon tracks overflow with riches"
TEV"Wherever you go there is plenty"
NJB"richness seeps from your tracks"
JPSOA"fatness is distilled in Your path"

The MT has "and the tracks of Your chariot drip fatness." This is imagery of YHWH riding on the thunder clouds bringing rain (cf. Ps. 18:7-15). This is ANE, or especially Canaanite, imagery of Ba'al, the storm god (i.e., fertility).

65:12-13 The blessed physical locations (i.e., pastures, hills, meadows, valleys) are personified and shout for joy (BDB 929, KB 1206, Hithpoel imperfect) and sing (BDB 1010, KB 1479, Qal imperfect). This praise of inanimate things reminds me of Jesus' words about the stones in Luke 19:40. One day all creation (animate and inanimate) will cry out in joy to its Creator (cf. Ps. 103:20-22; 145:10; Rom. 8:18-25)!

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. What is the best guess about the object of the psalmist's vow in verse 1?

2. How are creation and "the ends of the earth" linked?

3. Explain the theological significance of verse 3.

4. How do "the mountains" and "the tumult of the peoples" parallel?

5. Do verses 9-13 describe a yearly event or an eschatological event?

6. How does one balance verses 2, 5, and 8 with verse 4?