As we continue our study of Psalm 65, we continue to the question of HOW?
We gained a mental picture of our actors in the first question WHO? Then we gained a mental picture of the stage and environment in the question WHEN/WHERE?
Now we will ask the question HOW?
Our goal is to now summarize and picture what happened and the sequence of events. A good way to tackle this is to consider — If you were writing out a script and recreating this as a child would in a play or game, what is the general order of events?
Matthew Henry’s commentary ( https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/mhc/Psa/Psa_065.cfm ) says about the order of events in this Psalm:
I. In the kingdom of grace (v. 1), hearing prayer (v. 2), pardoning sin (v. 3), satisfying the souls of the people (v. 4), protecting and supporting them (v. 5).
II. In the kingdom of Providence, fixing the mountains (v. 6), calming the sea (v. 7), preserving the regular succession of day and night (v. 8), and making the earth fruitful (v. 9-13).
And we can find other commentaries online like Scott Shauf ( https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=954 ) who says similarly:
When one surveys Psalm 65 as a whole, what is most striking is the breadth of the psalm’s subject matter.
It begins with praise to God in Zion (verse 1), a setting which continues through verse 4. Even here the topics of praise are varied, including prayer being answered (verse 2), sins being forgiven (verse 3), and the blessedness of dwelling with God (verse 4). Verse 5 turns briefly to God’s mighty acts of deliverance but then quickly moves to “the ends of the earth” and “the farthest seas.” This global setting stays in view through verse 8, asserting God’s might with references to the mountains (verse 6), the seas and the “tumult of peoples” (verse 7), and the farthest points east and west (verse 8).
Verses 9-13 maintain the focus on the earth, but the emphasis moves from God’s might to God’s bounty in the harvest, which is described in lavishly descriptive language.
So if we could summarize in our own simple words, we might say something like —
1) All praise is rightfully due to you, oh God, you are worthy to be praised and lifted high, oh Lord!
2) You hear and answer our prayers. All men must come to the One from whom all blessings flow.
3) Even though in our weakness, we have fallen victim to all kinds of sin and region against you, even though not even one of us is righteous before you in and of ourselves — in your grace and mercy you have forgiven us, you have purged us, you have atoned for us, and cast our sins away from your sight.
4) It is you who have chosen us and brought us into your presence where we could not have survived, but that we now live. In fact, we are now the very temple of your holy presence — and we are the body, the physical vessels of your will being done here on earth as it is in heaven.
5) You are the source of our salvation, and it is an awesome work that you have done in our hearts and minds and desires –as you have not only given us a firm hope, but you deliver us into righteousness and holiness that was as far from our grasp as the ends of the earth or the farthest star in the sky.
6 & 7) Your mighty power is seen not only in creation of, but also in your sovereignty over, even the mountains and the seas and even over all of mankind.
8) Those who stand back and consider the things that the Lord God Almighty has done are overcome in awe at the evidence of your presence, even if they only were to consider the rising or setting of the sun.
9-13) And the visitation of your presence, the inhabitation of your creation by the Holy Spirit of its very own creator — it births an outpouring of life — and the earth and all in it are blessed — and everything with breath in creation will sing your praises.
Obviously, my “script” that came from me identifying the HOW? is not a word by word translation, but it is something that I can understand and grasp — and when combined in my mind with the actors and stage we’ve already discussed in the previous two lessons, it can begin to take a firm shape within my mind’s eye — within what my imagination can grasp hold of more easily. And in turn, it should be something that is more easily relatable to me personally, and is something that I can more easily share with another.
Yours won’t be exactly like mine either, so there’s no copying off of someone else’s paper for this type of study. In fact, there should be enough differences in each of our scripts that we can each likely pick up on things that another person noticed as important that maybe we missed, etc. This is what makes this process so valuable and revealing in a group of people with different perspectives and gifts and seasons of life. That’s why I’m so excited to see what we all have as a group once we gather together to discuss next Wednesday night!
I believe that is enough for tonight, but I encourage you to practice this on your own. Break it down into parts that make sense to you, then put it in your own words that are still true to the heart of the message but that are also a short/quick/easy summary as if you were relaying the story second-hand to someone without a copy of the written text to reference.
Next, we will tackle the question of WHY?