Summary: The psalmists often express feelings of overwhelming need. Yet they also remind us that however great the need, our God is able to answer prayer.
CONFIDENCE IN PRAYER
“Praise be to the LORD, to God our Saviour, who daily bears our burdens. Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign LORD comes escape from death” (Ps. 68:19–20).
The psalmists often express feelings of overwhelming need. Yet they also remind us that however great the need, our God is able to answer prayer.
This group of psalms is launched with a plea for protection (Ps. 64). God’s ability to answer prayer is affirmed in psalms that review His righteous works (Ps. 65), His awesome works (Ps. 66), His rule (Ps. 67), and His saving works (Ps. 68). Two pleas (Pss. 69–70) are followed by a psalm expressing confidence in God (Ps. 71). Book II ends with a psalm by Solomon celebrating the ministry of the messianic King (Ps. 72).
Understanding the Text
Psalm 64: A Plea for Protection. David sought God’s help against cunning enemies who plotted against him.
“I voice my complaint” Ps. 64:1–10. The Hebrew word translated “complaint” is better rendered “troubled thoughts.” Those who plot against us and attack behind our backs are more dangerous than open enemies. David asked God to bring them to ruin, so all might see that God guards those who take refuge in Him.
When we are troubled, we too have a refuge in God, who is celebrated in the next four psalms.
Psalm 65: God’s Righteous Works. David praised God as One who hears prayer, and whose righteousness is displayed in a creation He continues to care for.
“O You who hear prayer” Ps. 65:1–4. In Hebrew to “hear” prayer is to answer it. The God who has atoned for our sins and blessed us with good things does hear our prayers.
“Awesome deeds of righteousness” Ps. 65:5–13. We know that God does right by men, for He who created the world (vv. 5–8) continues to care for it, so that nature overflows with an abundance of all man needs to enjoy life.
Psalm 66: God’s Awesome Works. These works, performed in man’s behalf, assure David that the LORD will answer the prayers of those who fear Him.
“How awesome His works in man’s behalf” Ps. 66:1–7. David called our attention to history, to “come and see” what God has done. In the past the LORD “turned the sea into dry land” for Israel’s forefathers (vv. 5–7). Even more, the LORD had acted in David’s time. “He has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping” (vv. 8–9). God had also “refined us like silver,” an image which speaks of the purification that comes through divine discipline (vv. 10–12). As a result of God’s work in his life David now came to the LORD’s temple a fully committed man (vv. 13–17).
The psalm’s emphasis of commitment is important. As David said, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the LORD would not have listened.” When you and I try honestly to please God, we can be sure that He will answer our prayers (vv. 18–20).
Psalm 67: God’s Just Rule. God rules His people justly, blessing those who praise Him.
“May the peoples praise You, O God” Ps. 67:1–7. In this psalm praise and blessing are two halves of a circle. Blessing causes us to praise God. And praise, our appropriate response to His gracious provision, maintains that intimate relationship with God which guarantees the blessing.
Today as we devote ourselves to praise, we can be sure that “God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth will fear Him.”
Psalm 68: God’s Saving Works. One of Scripture’s most vibrant, triumphant psalms celebrates God’s saving works and what they mean to His people.
“Sing to God” Ps. 68:1–6. The psalm opens with a triumphant shout; we can imagine it as a fanfare, played on a hundred trumpets.
Some commentators believe the psalm may have been sung when David triumphantly brought God’s ark into Jerusalem and danced before the LORD (cf. 2 Sam. 6). Whether it was or not, the tone of this psalm is one of triumphant joy.
“When You went out” Ps. 68:7–18. God is praised for His triumphal march through history, in scenes that recall the Exodus, His appearance at Sinai, the thunderstorm that defeated Sisera in Deborah’s time, and the rains which made the Promised Land a place of blessing.
“Who daily bears our burdens” Ps. 68:19–31. Relationship with Israel’s saving God assured His people of victory (vv. 19–23). Israel marched in triumph, praising the LORD (vv. 24–27), who one day will see even the Gentiles bow before Him (vv. 28–31).
“Sing to God” Ps. 68:32–35. The psalm ends with another fanfare, joyfully trumpeting the power of the awesome God who “gives power and strength to His people.”
Psalm 69: Plea of the Distressed. David represented the vulnerable man, a victim of slander, betrayal, and his own faults. In his distress the psalmist’s only hope was that God would “rescue me from the mire.”