Summary: Year C. Fifth Sunday after Pentecost. July 8th, 2001 Title: “Exodus or Resurrection.” Psalm 66
Year C. Fifth Sunday after Pentecost. July 8th, 2001
Title: “Exodus or Resurrection.”
As the structure of this psalm shows, it is a juxtaposition of praise and thanksgiving, of communal and individual prayer and of past and present experience. Verses one to four, give thankful praise for past deliverance, verses five to seven. Verse eight, gives thankful praise for recent national deliverance verses nine to twelve. Verses thirteen to fifteen, give thankful praise for recent personal deliverance verses sixteen to nineteen, with verse twenty concluding in blessing God for his kindness. Given the overtones of a theological perspective akin to Deutero-Isaiah, this psalm is probably postexilic.
The psalmist has personally experienced what God did at the Exodus in his own personal life. Despite the difference in scale he praises and thanks God for both his communal and personal graciousness.
In verses one to four, Thankful Praise, Verse one, shout joyfully, this expression occurs in Psalms 47:2; 98:4; and 100:1. There are many other equivalent expressions in psalms of praise and hymns that indicate that Jewish liturgies were not staid, solemn or restrained affairs.
All you on earth, praise and thanks may begin in an individual’s heart but of their nature they keep expanding until they include the universe or at least invite the creatures of the universe, as here, to join in recognition of God. God’s universal way and sway and say should and shall be acknowledged.
In verse three, how awesome your deeds, “Awesome” translates the Hebrew nora’, a niphil participle of yare’, “to fear.” Nora’ is often used to denote that quality of God which inspires fear and terror in his enemies and, at the same time, awe and a spirit of praise and joy in his righteous ones. Same quality, different reactions.
Your enemies cringe: The Hebrew verb kihes is often used of “to deceive” or “to act deceptively.” Here it denotes an unwilling homage because it is feigned, not sincere. The “enemies of God” would, of course, here be the Egyptians who worshipped other gods. In begrudgingly recognizing Yahweh’s power, they were de-legitimizing their own gods, if only unconsciously.
In verse four, while the tenses allow a present tense, the future is permissible and to be preferred. The future does more justice to the facts, for this is more a promise, yet to materialize.
In verses five to seven, For Past Deliverance. In verse five, come and see, this language reflects the pilgrimage of worshipers at festival time, moving toward the Jerusalem Temple.
In verse six, he changed the sea into dry land, This refers to the Exodus event.
Through the river they passed on foot, this could refer to the Jordan River and the passage into the promised land, at the end of the Exodus or it could just be another poetic way of referring to the Reed Sea crossing. If it refers to the Jordan we have here an instance of merism. Merism means “the part for the whole.” In this case the whole of salvation history is included by mentioning the first event, the crossing of the Reed Sea, and the last event, the crossing of the Jordan River. More importantly, the worshiping community saw these, past, events not as, past history, but as possessing a present reality. The Exodus is a past event only in the barest factual sense. Its repercussions are forever, a pattern reproduced in God’s saving acts, seeing the hand of God in all events large and small.
In verse eight,-Thankful Praise. In verse eight, bless our God, “Bless,” is used here as a synonym for thankful praise.
In verses nine to twelve, For Recent National Deliverance.
In verse nine, who has kept us alive, because God lives so does the Exodus event. The present Israelites are kept alive by the same action of God that kept their ancestors alive through the trials of the sea of chaos.
In verse ten, tested us, God’s objective in testing is to reveal and develop the character God wants. The parallel line refers to silver being tested by fire. As fire separates the metal from the dross, purifying it, so does God’s testing in regard to his people, removing the baser elements through the heat of fire, enhancing their value. The test or trial is not specified. It can stand for any testing experience, but here refers to a contemporaneous one.
In verse twelve, we went through fire and water, “We” includes God along with his people. God goes through fire, testing- Daniel 3 and water, chaos- Isaiah 43:2, with his people. From one extreme case to another, like going through an ordeal to prove innocence, to refine, God uses suffering as a salutary discipline.
You led us out to freedom, “Freedom” is a rather abstract, but accurate translation of Hebrew rewahah “saturation” or “abundance” or “a spacious place.” The notion suggests one of moving out of prison, bondage, cramped quarters into an open land where one can breathe and move about freely.