Theme: God’s Power Shown
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
It is one thing to be gracious, as God is. It is quite another, and also important, thing to be able to help out. In January 1994, a strong earthquake struck southern California. Roadways were destroyed, buildings collapsed, fires erupted. I read of one apartment building where scores of people were trapped and of a man who worked strenuously for hours to free them. He saved the lives of dozens of people, but there was one man he was unable to save, and in the stress of the day this strong helpful man wept uncontrollably. He wanted to save all the people, but he could not do it.
It is not this way with God. God is gracious, but he is mighty too, as the second stanza of the psalm points out. God’s strength is more than equal to any gracious design he may have. In this stanza the psalm mentions three specific displays of God’s power: 1) in raising the mountains; 2) in calming the seas; and 3) in quieting the nations.
The high mountains and the turbulent, unpredictable seas are some of the most awesome displays of nature known to man. Before the space age they were probably the most awesome of all. The Alps or Himalayas tower above us in their hard, cold, remote and frightening grandeur, and the seas change in a moment from a peaceful rolling motion to a mass of unruly, foaming and potentially deadly billows. Then they quiet down again. Who controls these elements? “God,” cries the Bible. For the Bible traces all effects to God. As H.C. Leupold says of the mountains, “They did not set themselves into place or become firm and immovable, God established them, giving proof thereby that he is girded with power.” And of the seas, “They never composed themselves; God calmed them.”1
This is true of planting and harvest too, which is what the psalm is coming to. The hymn by Matthias Claudius (written in 1782 and translated by Jane M. Campbell in 1861), which I referred to earlier, states it well:
We plough the fields and scatter
The good seed on the land.
But it is fed and watered
By God’s almighty hand;
He sends the snow in winter,
The warmth to swell the grain,
The breezes and the sunshine
And soft refreshing rain.
In the Bible the seas are often an image for the turbulent nations of the world, and it is probably mention of the seas that causes David to add, after saying that God “stilled the roaring of the seas” and “their waves,” yes, and also “the turmoil of the nations.” This is a way of saying that God is the only real source of world peace—not the cunning of this world’s statesmen, not peace treaties, but God. Hence, it is right to pray for peace and to try to live righteously as a people so God will grant it.
Verse 8 says that the report of God’s work spreads throughout the earth to all peoples, which calls for songs of joy. Such songs are sung sometimes. But more often human tongues are silent while only speechless nature cries out (see v. 13).
1H.C. Leupold, Exposition of the Psalms (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1969), p. 475.
What attribute of God does the second stanza emphasize? How does it fit with God’s graciousness?
How does God display his power in this stanza?
What does the biblical image of the “seas” often represent?
Reflection: Have you ever felt the helplessness that the man in the opening of today’s study felt? Contrast your experience with God’s work of salvation which is so complete.