The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Psalm 66

Psa 66:1

SUPERSCRIPTION: "A SONG. A PSALM". Cp Psa 67; 68. All 3 psalms are connected with feasts of Yahweh. In LXX, the title is: "A Song of Resurrection", and the psalm has portions very appropriate to the "resurrection" of Hezekiah's nation from the horrible Assyrian invasion (vv 1-12), and to the "resurrection" of the king himself from his mortal sickness (vv 13-20). The first portion has a subsection alluding to Israel's "resurrection" out of Egypt (vv 3-6) as well.

"It is called the Psalm of Resurrection (LXX), to commemorate the gathering of the nation from the darkness of Egypt, and elevation of the people called to become Yahweh's Son delivered from Egypt. The Psalm represents the spirit of joy because of Yahweh's work of salvation" (GEM).

V 1: The fantastic destruction of Sennacherib's army at Jerusalem meant the smashing of the legend of Assyrian invincibility. Not only little Judah but also other nations, trampled by these imperial bullies, took heart. And they recognized the mighty power that had done this; hence their bringing of gifts to Hezekiah at Jerusalem (2Ch 32:23). Hence also the emphasis on "all the earth" (v 4) and "the nations" (v 7). Psa 100:1 repeats this verse, but uses the Covenant Name of God (Yahweh) because that is the psalm of thanksgiving for God's covenant people.

Psa 66:2

This is what Israel did at their first Passover (Exo 15; cp v 6 here).

Psa 66:3

AWESOME: Sw Psa 65:5. The massive destruction of Isa 37:36.

YOUR ENEMIES CRINGE BEFORE YOU: The kings of Nineveh never went to such lengths, but the neighboring peoples who had become allies of Assyrian certainly found it a wise policy to honor Hezekiah's God, even if it was only, as the mg puts it, to "yield feigned obedience" (or to "come cringing": Roth; cp RSV), being compelled by sheer force of circumstances. (The same expression occurs in Psa 18:44; 81:15; Deu 33:29. The same attitude was to be found in the Pharaoh of the Exodus: Exo 15:8-15,25,29.)

(NT) A feigning or lying spirit of "worship" will still exist during the Kingdom Age: cp Zec 14:16-9 and Rev 20:7,8.

Psa 66:4

See Lesson, Selah.

Psa 66:5

COME AND SEE: (NT) Words used by Jesus to the two disciples of John the Baptism (Joh 1:39), and by Philip to Nathanael (v 46). God's marvels must be seen, and seeing them is the first step toward believing in their Almighty Author.

Psa 66:6

THEY PASSED THROUGH THE WATERS ON FOOT: The crossing of the Jordan River (Jos 4:23): Nachar = "river" in RSV (sw 74:15).

LET US REJOICE IN HIM: Same idiom as Hos 12:4. Such "theophanies" as Exo 15 and Isa 37:36 belong to all generations of God's people (they are "for ever": v 7). For those who will embrace them in faith, such stories from the history of Israel are a preview of their personal deliverance.

Psa 66:7

HIS EYES WATCH THE NATIONS: Evidently the Assyrian army invading Judah included also support from Media, Elam, Edom, Moab, Philistia, Arabia, and Tyre (notes and refs, Psa 47:3; 65:7).

LET NOT THE REBELLIOUS RISE UP AGAINST HIM: An allusion to such as Rabshakeh, who was prob a renegade Jew? Note that: (a) he was fluent in Hebrew; (b) he knew about Hezekiah's religious reforms (2Ki 18:22), although he distorted the facts for his own purpose; (c) he knew of the prophecy of an Assyrian invasion of Israel (v 25; Isa 10:5-7); and (d) his speech in 2Ki 18 is filled with other Biblical allusions.

See Lesson, Selah.

Psa 66:9

HE HAS PRESERVED OUR LIVES: A double ref to (a) Hezekiah saved from his incurable sickness (note the first person singular pronouns in vv 13-20); and (b) the nation saved from Sennacherib's savage military campaign.

AND KEPT OUR FEET FROM SLIPPING: Note the emphasis on the feet of the saved nation in Exo 14:13,29; Jos 4:9,10; cp v 6 here. In general, see Psa 15:5; 16:8; 46:5.

Psa 66:10

"Tested" and "refined", in the siege of Jerusalem, as also in earlier generations: Exo 20:20; Psa 81:7; Deu 8:2,16. In general, see Psa 12:6; 17:3; Mal 3:2,3; 1Pe 1:6,7; 4:12; Job 23:10; Isa 48:10; Lam 4:2.

Psa 66:11

PRISON: "Net" in AV. The Heb word is quite different from the common word, as seen in such vv as Psa 57:6; 140:5. This is "metsudah", which denotes "fortress" or "stronghold" (Psa 18:2n), poss here in the sense of a place of restriction or confinement.

Psa 66:12

YOU LET MEN RIDE OVER OUR HEADS: The very picture of Assyrian chariots presented by their own artists, literally crushing their enemies under their wheels (cp Isa 51:23). And here men is "enoshim", weak mortal men, as the Assyrians were demonstrated to be.

WE WENT THROUGH FIRE AND WATER: "Fire" = the pillar of fire in the wilderness, or the "burning bush" (Exo 3:2) -- typ Israel's experience of trials. "Water" = the Red Sea and the Jordan River (v 6), a national "baptism" (1Co 10:1,2). The language is repeated in Isa 43:2, in a Hezekiah/Sennacherib context.

TO A PLACE OF ABUNDANCE: Or, poss, to freedom. Here the AV suggests the prosperity of Canaan, in Moses' time, and the plunder of the Assyrians, in Hezekiah's. The alternative ("freedom") pictures the release of bondage from Egypt, or from the straitness of the siege of Jerusalem.

Psa 66:13

I WILL COME TO YOUR TEMPLE: Hezekiah after his miraculous healing (Isa 37:1; 38:22).

WITH BURNT OFFERINGS: This and v 15 = Hezekiah (2Ch 29:20-24). Lit, "in burnt offerings" -- Hezekiah sees himself typified or represented in the actual offerings.

AND FULFILL MY VOWS: Not mentioned in the history, but very clearly in Psa 116:14 (another Hezekiah psalm).

(NT) Should this v and its context (vv 13-20) be considered in connection with Mar 1:44 and its context (vv 35-45) -- about the healing of the leper?

Psa 66:14

WHEN I WAS IN TROUBLE: Ref both to his sickness and to the Assyrian threat. These happened together (Isa 38:5,6 -- some other portions of the Bible text dealing with the chronology of this period are confusing, and need to be approached with care).

Psa 66:15

RAMS... GOATS: Nazarite vow (v 13; Num 6:14) and the Day of Atonement, alluded to in Isa 58; 59.

See Lesson, Selah.

Psa 66:16

COME AND LISTEN: Cp v 5: "Come and see." It was characteristic of Hezekiah to lead his people in worship (2Ch 29; 30).

(NT) The words of Jesus to the cured demoniac (Mar 5:19; Psa 116:12-14), and the words of the Samaritan woman to her friends (Joh 4:29).

WHAT HE HAS DONE FOR ME: This praise of God was promised in Isa 38:20. The meaning is, of course: "He has saved my life" (v 9; Psa 16:10).

Psa 66:17

Here are cause and ultimate result. Note Isa 38:2,3.

Psa 66:18

Isa 39:2 is the only example of iniquity pertaining to Hezekiah. V 19 (RV mg) and Jer 26:18,19 chime in with the outcome of this disreputable Babylonian alliance. Hezekiah repented of his weakness, and the divine judgment was forestalled for 100 years. Hence the word "mercy" (or forgiveness) in v 20.

(NT) Consider the parallel teaching of Mat 5:23,24; 6:12; Mar 11:25; Luk 11:4; Jam 4:3; and Psa 26:6.

Psa 66:20

SUBSCRIPTION: "FOR THE DIRECTOR OF MUSIC. WITH STRINGED INSTRUMENTS": "Neginoth" (Psa 3, 5, 53, 54, 60 -- "Neginah", singular, Psa 66, 75; Hab 3:19; Isa 38:20). "Neginoth" sig "to strike", as upon a musical instrument, or in affliction. Trials of affliction are for the development of godly character; so we should sing in the Philippian jail.

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