PSALM 65 OVERVIEW
Title. This title is very similar to many we have before studied. To the Chief Musician. It is consigned to the care of the usual overseer of song. When a man does his work well, there is no use in calling in others for novelty's sake. A Psalm and song of David. The Hebrew calls it a Shur and Mizmor, a combination of psalm and song, which may be best described by the term, "A Lyrical Poem." In this case the Psalm may be said or sung, and be equally suitable. We have had two such Psalms before, Psalms 30 and 48, and we have now the first of a little series of four following each other. It was meant that Psalms of pleading and longing should be followed by hymns of praise.
SUBJECT AND DIVISIONS. David sings of the glory of God in his church, and in the fields of nature: here is the song both of grace and providence. It may be that he intended hereby to commemorate a remarkably plentiful harvest, or to compose a harvest hymn for all ages. It appears to have been written after a violent rebellion had been quelled, Ps 65:7, and foreign enemies had been subdued by signal victory, Psalms 65:8 . It is one of the most delightful hymns in any language. We shall view in Psalms 65:1-4 the way of approach to God, then from Psalms 65:5-8 we shall see the Lord in answer to prayer performing wonders for which he is praised, and then from Psalms 65:9-13 we shall sing the special harvest song.
Verse 1. Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Sion. Though Babylon adores Antichrist, Zion remains faithful to her King; to him, and to him only, she brings her perpetual oblation of worship. Those who have seen in Zion the blood of sprinkling, and know themselves to belong to the church of the firstborn, can never think of her without presenting humble praise to Zion's God; his mercies are too numerous and precious to be forgotten. The praises of the saints wait for a signal from the divine Lord, and when he shows his face they burst forth at once. Like a company of musicians gathered to welcome and honour a prince, who wait till he makes his appearance, so do we reserve our best praises till the Lord reveals himself in the assembly of his saints; and, indeed, till he shall descend from heaven in the day of his appearing. Praise also waits like a servant or courtier in the royal halls -- gratitude is humble and obedient. Praise attends the Lord's pleasure, and continues to bless him, whether he shows tokens of present favour or no; she is not soon wearied, but all through the night she sings on in sure hope that the morning cometh. We shall continue to wait on, tuning our harps, amid the tears of earth; but O what harmonies will those be which we will pour forth, when the home bringing is come, and the King shall appear in his glory. The passage may be rendered "praise is silent for thee;" it is calm, peaceful, and ready to adore thee in quietness. Or, it may mean, our praise is but silence compared with thy deservings, O God. Or, in solemn silence we worship thee, because our praise cannot be uttered; accept, therefore, our silence as praise. Or, we are so engrossed in thy praise, that to all other things we are dumb; we have no tongue for anything but thee. Perhaps the poet best expressed the thought of the psalmist when he said --
"A sacred reverence checks our songs,
And praise sits silent on our tongues."
Certainly, when the soul is most filled with adoring awe, she is least content with her own expressions, and feels most deeply how inadequate are all mortal songs to proclaim the divine goodness. A church, bowed in silent adoration by a profound sense of divine mercy, would certainly offer more real praise than the sweetest voices aided by pipes and strings; yet, vocal music is not to be neglected, for this sacred hymn was meant to be sung. It is well before singing to have the soul placed in a waiting attitude, and to be humbly conscious that our best praise is but silence compared with Jehovah's glory.
And unto thee shall the vow be performed. Perhaps a special vow made during a season of drought and political danger. Nations and churches must be honest and prompt in redeeming their promises to the Lord, who cannot be mocked with impunity. So, too, must individuals. We are not to forget our vows, or to redeem them to be seen of men -- unto God alone must they be performed, with a single eye to his acceptance. Believers are all under covenant, which they made at conversion, and have renewed upon being baptised, joining the church, and coming to the table, and some of them are under special pledges which they entered into under peculiar circumstances; these are to be piously and punctually fulfilled. We ought to be very deliberate in promising, and very punctilious in performing. A vow unkept will burn the conscience like a hot iron. Vows of service, of donation, of praise, or whatever the may be, are no trifles; and in the day of grateful praise they should, without fail, be fulfilled to the utmost of our power.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
From Psalm 65 onwards we find ourselves in the midst of a series of Psalms which, with a varying arrangement of the words, are inscribed both kwmzm and wyf (65-68.) The two words signify a Psalm song. This series, as is universally the case, is arranged according to the community of prominent watch words. In Psalms 65:2 we read: To thee is the vow paid; and in Psalms 66:13 : I will pay thee my vows; in Psalms 66:20 : Blessed be Elohim; and in Psalms 67:8 : Elohim shall bless us. Besides Psalm 66 and 67 have this feature in common, that tcgml, which occurs fifty-five times in the Psalter, is accompanied by the name of the poet in every instance, with the exception of these two anonymous Psalms. The frequently occurring Sela of both Psalms also indicates that they were intended to have a musical accompaniment. Franz Delitzsch.
Title. A Psalm of Jeremiah and Ezekiel. The Psalm is assigned to them, not as being its authors, but because it is supposed that it was often rehearsed by them at the beginning of the return from captivity, to teach us that those things ought especially to be sung concerning that happy restoration which these prophets were wont to sing about. But this inscription is not in the Hebrew text, nor in some translations, but only in certain versions. Jeremiah was not carried away to Babylon; see Jeremiah 39:11 , etc. Moreover, both he and Ezekiel died before the return. Poole's Synopsis.
Whole Psalm. The author of the Psalm is mentioned, but not the date of its composition; but from an examination of its contents, it would seem to have been intended as a song for the "day of atonement," and for the "feast of tabernacles," which followed immediately after. Numbers 29:7 Numbers 29:12 . 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 labours of the year were all by that time concluded, and its fruits secured; and Israel could look on the goodness of God towards them, through its entire extent; and this Psalm was penned to serve as a fitting expression of their feelings. It opens with a reference to the "silence" that reigned in the sanctuary; to the profound, unbroken, solemn stillness that reigned within it; while, in deep abasement, the people without waited in hushed expectation the return of their high priest from the immediate presence of God, Leviticus 16:17 . It goes on to a statement of the blessedness of those who are accepted of God, and admitted to fellowship with One so unspeakably great; and concludes with a description of the various processes by which the Almighty had fitted the earth to yield a year's supplies for his people. Dalman Hapstone, in "The Ancient Psalms in appropriate Meters... with Notes." 1867.
Whole Psalm. We have here a psalm of thanksgiving to be sung in the Temple during a public festivity, at which the sacrifices were to be offered which had been vowed during a long and protracted drought ( Psalms 65:1-2 ). To the thanksgiving, however, for a gracious rain, and the hope of an abundant harvest ( Psalms 65:9-14 ), is added gratitude for a signal deliverance during a time of distress and commotion affecting all the nations around ( Psalms 65:7-8 ). Thus the Psalm becomes a song of praise to Jehovah as the God of history and the God of nature, alike. From the "Psalms Chronologically Arranged. By Four Friends." 1867.
Whole Psalm. This is a charming psalm. Coming after the previous sad ones, it seems like the morning after the darkness of night. There is a dewy freshness about it, and from the ninth verse to the end there is a sweet succession of landscape pictures that remind one of the loveliness of spring; and truly it is a description, in natural figures, of that happy state of men's minds which will be the result of the "Day spring's visiting us from on high." Luke 1:7-8 . O. Prescott Hiller.
Verse 1. Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Sion. The believer sometimes seems to want words to exalt God, and stops, as it were, in the middle; his thoughts want words. Thus praise waits, or is silent for God; it is silent to other things, and it waits to be employed about him. The soul is often put to a nonplus in crying up the grace of God, and wants words to express its greatness; yea, to answer the elevation of the thoughts; the heart indites a song of praise, but it cannot tune it. The psalmist is stopped, as it were, through admiration (which is silentium intellectus), for when the mind can rise no higher, it falls admiringly; hence some say, God is most exalted with fewest words. Alexander Carmichael.
Verse 1. Praise waiteth for thee, O God. Mercy is not yet come, we expect it; whilst thou art preparing the mercy, we are preparing the praise. Edward Leigh in "Annotations on the Five Poetical Books of the Old Testament," 1657.
Verse 1. Praise waiteth on thee. As a servant, whose duty it is to do what thou commandest; or, for thee; is ready to be offered in thy courts for special favours. I think there is an allusion to the daily service in which God was praised. Benjamin Boothroyd.
Verse 1. Praise waiteth for thee, O God. Te decet hymnus, so the vulgar edition reads this place. To thee, O Lord, belong our hymns, our psalms, our praises, our cheerful acclamations, and conformable to that, we translate it, Praise waiteth for thee, O God. But if we take it according to the original, it must be tibi, silentium laus est, Thy praise, O Lord, consists in silence. That man praises God best that says least of him; of his mysterious essence, of his unrevealed will and secret purposes. Abraham Wright.
Verse 1. "To thee is silence and praise." Piscator.
Verse 1. The Hebrew may be rendered, Praise is silent for thee. As if the holy man had said, "Lord, I quietly wait for a time to praise thee; my soul is not in an uproar because you stay. I am not murmuring, but rather stringing my harp and tuning my instrument with much patience and confidence, that I may be ready to strike up when the joyful news of my deliverance come." William Gurnall.
Verse 1. To thee belongeth silence praise. Praise without any tumult. (Alexander.) It has been said, "The most intense feeling is the most calm, being condensed by repression." And Hooker says of prayer, "The very silence which our unworthiness putteth us unto doth itself make request for us, and that in the confidence of his grace. Looking inward, we are stricken dumb; looking upward, we speak and prevail." Horsley renders it, "Upon thee is the repose of prayer." Andrew A. Bonar.
Verse 1. Praise is silent for thee. The Chaldee interpretation is, that our praise is not sufficiently worthy that we should praise God. The very praises of angels are esteemed as nothing before him. For so its rendering is: "Before thee, O God, whose Majesty dwells in Zion, the praise of angels is regarded as silence."... Jerome's version here is, "To thee silence is praise, O God, in Zion." Atheneus says, silence is a divine thing; and Thomas a Kempis calls silence the nutriment of devotion. Thomas Le Blanc.
Verse 1. To thee belong submission, praise, O God, in Sion. (Version of the American Bible Union.) Thou hast a claim for submission in times of sorrow, for praise in seasons of joy. Thomas J. Conant, in "The Psalms... with occasional notes." 1871.
Verse 1. Vow. A vow is a voluntary and deliberate promise made unto God in an extraordinary case. "It is a religious promise made unto God in a holy manner:" so a modern writer defines it. (Szegedinus.) It is a "holy and religious promise, advisedly and freely made unto God, concerning something which to do or to omit appeareth to be grateful and well pleasing unto him:" so Bucanus. I forbear Aquinas's definition of a vow. If these which I have given satisfy not, then view it in the words of Peter Martyr, a man of repute, and well known to our own nation in the days of Edward VI., of ever blessed memory: "It is a holy promise, whereby we bind ourselves to offer somewhat unto God." There is one more who defines it, and he is a man whose judgment, learning, and holiness hath perfumed his name; it is learned Perkins, in his "Cases of Conscience." "A vow," saith he, "is a promise made unto God of things lawful and possible." Henry Hurst (--1690), in "The Morning Exercises."
Verse 1. (last clause). The reference here is to the vows or promises which the people had made in view of the manifested judgments of God, and the proofs of his goodness. Those vows they were now ready to carry out in expressions of praise. Albert Barnes.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 1. The fitness, place, use, and power of silence in worship.
Verse 1. The limitations, advantages, and obligations of vows.