Theme: Praise the Lord!
In this week’s lessons we focus on the gracious power of God seen in the wonders of creation and in the bounty of his provision.
Scripture: Psalm 65:1-13
We come then to the stanza for which the two preceding sections have prepared us. It is about the people’s harvest, and it tells us that the God who is gracious to his people and all-powerful in effecting his purposes, has shown both his grace and his power in blessing the harvest and the land.
The first thing we read about is God’s caring for the land by watering it. Indeed, this is the dominant thought in verses 9-10. Those of us who live in lands that are well watered, sometimes too much watered, can hardly appreciate the value of water in an otherwise barren land, as Canaan is. For people in that place and day, the coming of abundant rains to water the crops to enable them to grow was literally the blessing of life rather than death. It is hard for most of us today in our land fully to appreciate that.
Here is a point at which a writer on the psalms should be a farmer or at least have spent some significant time in the country at some period in his or her life. I have not had that privilege. So I am at a disadvantage trying to appreciate and teach this last stanza. However, I remember being high in the Swiss Alps in the spring shortly after the passes opened after being closed by the winter snows and sitting in a fresh Alpine meadow where millions of wild mountain flowers were beginning to open their multicolored petals to the sun. A person might think that high in the Alps it would be dry, unless it rained, because we think of water being largely in rivers and lakes and oceans. But what struck me most about those high mountain experiences was the superabundance of water. There was water everywhere. Not in rivers or lakes, of course, though the water eventually flowed downward into mountain lakes. But in hundreds of tiny, twisting, mountain rivulets that literally laced the meadows. It was hard to walk without stepping into water. And being high in the mountains, as we were, and therefore close to the very face of God (as it seemed) it was hard to miss understanding that all this bounty was from God.
I did not know what Psalm 65 was about at the time. But in those high Alpine meadows I could have well and wisely declared: “You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it. You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops” (vv. 9, 10).
Then there are the crops, which verse 10 also mentions. In the same way, unless you have been a farmer it is hard to appreciate the immense joy and wonder of looking out on fertile fields and watching the rising rows of soybeans, corn, or other grain stretching out beautifully in the sun. Any farmer works. He works hard and long. But it is not the farmer who makes the crops grow. It is God! And for the believing farmer the abundance of God’s work in making the fields prosper is a matter for praise.
I remember an experience I had when I was just a boy. I was visiting some friends of my family who had a small farm. It was August, and there was a field of corn that was just ready to be harvested. In fact, we had corn that afternoon, freshly picked from the fields. What I remember most was walking with one of my friends through the many rows of corn. It was another world, a mysterious wonderful, virile world entirely separate from the predictable, normal world from which we came. It was like diving under the ocean to be with fish or climbing high into the mountains. It sharpened my perception, and I remember being aware of the wonder of what God does in bringing crops to such abundant fruition and giving such great gifts to men.
The last line of the psalm is striking and unexpected. For after having described how God has watered the earth and caused it to bring forth and bud, David suddenly says that the meadows, valleys, flocks and grain all “shout for joy and sing” (v. 13). He is using a poetic license, of course. Meadows and valleys, flocks and grain, do not shout or sing or do anything else that only self-conscious, articulate personalities do. But in their harvest splendor they seem to, as if they had woken up singing after a long dead winter or a dry summer. Besides, if they could literally cry out, they would do it. After all, Jesus said at the time of his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, when the Pharisees wanted him to rebuke his disciples for their praise, “If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out” (Luke 19:40).
The point is that since inanimate objects cannot literally praise God, we who are made in God’s image and can praise God, should. Which is exactly where the first line of the very next psalm begins!
Where do we see God’s care demonstrated in this psalm?
How is poetic license used in this psalm?
Application: Where do you see God’s care in your life? Do you praise him? How has the study of this psalm encouraged you to worship God?
For Further Study: James Boice’s careful study of the Psalms is available in a three-volume paperback set. Order yours today and take 25% off the regular price.