(This is) for the music leader.
(It is) a song (and) a psalm.
v1 Shout aloud to God because you are happy, everyone on earth!
v2 Sing to the *glory of his name!
Make the sound of his *praises beautiful!
v3 Say to God, "The things that you do (sometimes) frighten people.
You are so powerful and strong that your enemies are afraid of you.
v4 The whole world will get on its knees in front of you.
It will sing your *praise; it will *praise your name in song". *SELAH
v5 Come and see the things that God has done.
The things that he did for people frightened many of them.
v6 He made the sea into dry land.
The people walked across the river (Jordan) on their feet!
So, we must *praise him!
v7 He is so powerful that he will rule *for ever.
His eyes are always watching the *nations.
Nobody should fight against him. *SELAH
v8 Say good things about God, you people.
Let everybody hear the sound of (people) *praising him.
v9 He is a God that keeps us alive.
He does not let our feet *slip.
v10 Really, God, you have *tested us.
You have made us *pure as they make *silver *pure.
v11 You brought us into a prison and made people beat our backs.
v12 But you sent a man to lead us.
We went through fire and water,
but you brought us into a place where there was plenty.
v13 I will bring gifts to burn to you in your house.
I will keep the promises that I made to you.
v14 When I was in trouble my lips made a promise.
I said it out aloud.
v15 The gifts that I will offer to you will be fat animals.
You will smell the *rams when they burn.
I will also offer to you *bulls and goats. *SELAH
v16 Come and listen, all you people that are afraid of God.
I will tell you some of the things that he has done for me.
v17 I cried aloud to him, then I *praised him!
v18 If I was thinking bad things in my *heart,
my *Lord would not have listened.
v19 But God did hear me.
He listened to my voice while I prayed.
v20 I will say good things about God.
He has not been *deaf to my voice.
He has shown me his kind love.
The Story of Psalm 66
Every year the Jews have a Passover. They have done it now for nearly 3 500 years. In it, they remember that God took them from Egypt to the Promised Land. They called the Promised Land "Israel". This Psalm is about a special Passover. Many Bible students think that it is the one after God saved them from the Assyrians. This was about 2700 years ago. Their king at that time was Hezekiah.
What Psalm 66 means
The psalm is in two parts:
· Verses 1 – 12: All the people are speaking.
In this part, there are three smaller parts:
1) Verses 1 - 4: the psalm tells all the world to *praise God
2) Verses 5 - 7: the psalm tells people to think about God’s power
3) Verses 8 - 12: the psalm here is about God saving his people.
· Verses 13 – 20: Only the leader is speaking, maybe King Hezekiah.
In this part, there are two smaller parts:
1) Verses 13 - 15: the leader (Hezekiah?) keeps his promise
2) Verses 16 - 20: he asks all that are afraid of God to hear him.
"(It is) a song (and) a psalm" means that there are words (song) and music (psalm). But there is no music in verse 1. This Psalm tells people to shout to God. (So does Psalm 100.) They do this in England when they have a new king or *queen. All the people in the church at the time shout "God save the king (or queen)". But in verse 2 there is music, and it must sound beautiful! In verse 4 "get on its knees" in the Hebrew Bible is "bow down". This means bend down. It means that you show that the person you are bending in front of is greater than you are.
"The things that God has done" in verse 5 were when he led his people from Egypt to the Promised Land. He made the Red Sea dry in front of them as they came out of Egypt (Exodus 14). He also made the River Jordan dry in front of them as they went in to the Promised Land (Joshua 3). Both of these are in verse 6. Study the words "the people" (verse 6) and "the *nations" (verse 7). As in many of the psalms, "the people" are the Jews and "the nations" are the rest of the world.
In verses 8 and 20 "say good things" we can also translate "bless". *Bless is a special word which means that God will make good things happen to you. In the Old Testament this means things that grow. When God *blessed someone then:
· they had healthy children
· their animals had many baby animals
· the food plants grew very well.
When we *bless God the word does not mean the same. It means "say good things about him, *praise him, tell him that he is wonderful". Verses 9-12 are about what God has just done for his people. It is not about saving them from Egypt. If Bible students are correct and the king is Hezekiah, then God has just saved them from Assyria. He kept them alive when they thought that the Assyrians would kill them. Their feet did not *slip, so that they did not fall down in front of their enemy. It was difficult, but God was *testing them. It burned a lot of the bad out of them, as metal-workers burn dirt out of *silver when they refine it (or make it *pure). The Assyrian army was all round Jerusalem, so the Jews could not get out. They felt as if they were in prison. They felt as if the prison keepers beat their backs with whips. But God sent them a good leader, King Hezekiah, with the *prophet Isaiah to give him help. They went through fire and water. This is a Jewish and English way to say "they went through very great trouble and difficulty". But God brought them to a place where there was plenty! God *blessed them again with children, lots of animals and plenty of food. They could say "My cup is so full that it overflowed", (Psalm 23:5). That word "overflowed" is the same word in the Hebrew Bible as "there was plenty" in Psalm 66:12!
Now the speaker changes. Only one person is speaking, maybe Hezekiah. When he and his people were in trouble, he made God a promise aloud, so that other people heard it (verse 14). He does not say what the promise was, but in verses 13 and 15 he says that he will keep the promise. He says that he will *sacrifice to God fat animals, *like rams (male sheep), bulls (male cows) and goats (an animal *like a sheep). There are different *sacrifices in the Old Testament. The people ate some *sacrifices, but others they burned and did not eat. They thought that God would smell the animals they were burning and that it would make God happy. Bible students think that this was a *sacrifice that they burned, at Passover time.
The psalm finishes with the King (or other leader) telling the people about the things that God had done for him. If it was saving the people from the Assyrians, then he is speaking for all of them! In verse 17, maybe it means "I prayed for help when the Assyrians came, but I knew I would *praise God if he answered me". Verse 18 is important. When we pray to God, we must want good things to happen not bad things. The "kind love" in verse 20 is a special Bible word in Hebrew. It means that God will love people even if they are not good people. He will do this if they ask him to and obey him after he does!