Summary: Quality worship experience is dependent upon biblical principles. This message examines some of those principles as stated in Psalm 65.
We take as our text today, Psalm 65.
In the Bible God has given us a healthy spiritual balance of truth.
Some portions of Scripture warn and correct. In Psalm 19:7-11 David celebrated this. He wrote, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; 8 The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; 9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. 11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward.”i God does not warn us just to put us down. He warns to protect us from harm, like the parent who warns children not to play in the street. The boundaries He sets in His word are to keep us out of danger. This aspect of Scripture is not appreciated by everyone in our society. Some pastors avoid preaching about hell because they don’t want to upset anyone. Some minimize the warnings against sin because they know some in the audience won’t like it. But David celebrated the warnings God gave him. He says God’s commandments/judgments are “More to be desired are they than gold. 11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward.” The pathway to happiness in this life and the life to come is to take heed to God’s warnings and stay within the boundaries of His commandments.
Other passages are filled with comfort and encouragement. When the journey gets difficult and we are weary in well doing, we need encouragement. When life takes an unexpected turn into trials and disappointment, we need comfort. And in those times, we find God to be our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble (Ps. 46:1). He is the “God of all comfort” (2 Cor. 1:3).
Like a wise dietician, a pastor must feed his congregation a healthy balance from the word of God. Error is usually truth out of balance. If I continually steer my car to right, I will end up in a ditch. If I continually steer to the left, I will end up in a different ditch. I must keep my eyes on the road and stay on the straight and narrow path God reveals in Scripture.
Our passage in Psalm 65 is a celebration of God’s goodness. It is a call to count our blessings. It is a reminder to cultivate thanksgiving and give praise to God for all that He has done for us and all that He is doing for us. “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, And to sing praises to [the Lord] . . .” (Ps. 92:1). Psalm 65 instructs us in how to do that. It leads us in a celebration of God’s providential care and provision.
This Psalm was probably sung during the fall feasts in celebration of the harvest. It references the atonement and rejoices in God’s care and provision. It was particularly appropriate for the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles. Psalm 65 was designed for corporate worship, although any of us can find it useful in our private devotion. The two Hebrew words in the title “calls it a Shur and Mizmor, a combination of psalm and song. . . [it] may be said or sung. . . .”ii Keep in mind, the titles of these Psalms were inspired along with the body.
We will read the whole Psalm to get a sense of the overall flow. Then we will make a few observations and applications. READ Psalm 65:
“Praise is awaiting You, O God, in Zion; And to You the vow shall be performed. 2 O You who hear prayer, To You all flesh will come. 3 Iniquities prevail against me; As for our transgressions, You will provide atonement for them. 4 Blessed is the man You choose, And cause to approach You, That he may dwell in Your courts. We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, Of Your holy temple. 5 By awesome deeds in righteousness You will answer us, O God of our salvation, You who are the confidence of all the ends of the earth, And of the far-off seas; 6 Who established the mountains by His strength, Being clothed with power; 7 You who still the noise of the seas, The noise of their waves, And the tumult of the peoples. 8 They also who dwell in the farthest parts are afraid of Your signs; You make the outgoings of the morning and evening rejoice. 9 You visit the earth and water it, You greatly enrich it; The river of God is full of water; You provide their grain, For so You have prepared it. 10 You water its ridges abundantly, You settle its furrows; You make it soft with showers, You bless its growth. 11 You crown the year with Your goodness, And Your paths drip with abundance. 12 They drop on the pastures of the wilderness, And the little hills rejoice on every side. 13 The pastures are clothed with flocks; The valleys also are covered with grain; They shout for joy, they also sing.”