Psalm 66:5-9

5. Come and see the works of God; he is terrible in his dealing towards the children of men. 6. He turned the sea into dry land; they went through the flood on foot; there did we rejoice in him. 7. He ruleth by his power over the world; his eyes behold the nations; rebels1 shall not exalt themselves. 8. Bless our God;2 O ye people! and resound the voice of his praise. 9. Who hath brought our souls unto life, and hath not suffered our feet to fall.


5. Come and see the works of God. An indirect censure is here passed upon that almost universal thoughtlessness which leads men to neglect the praises of God. Why is it that they so blindly overlook the operations of his hand, but just because they never direct their attention seriously to them? We need to be aroused upon this subject. The words before us may receive some explanation by referring to a parallel passage, Psalm 46:8. But the great scope of them is this, that the Psalmist would withdraw men from the vain or positively sinful and pernicious pursuits in which they are engaged, and direct their thoughts to the works of God. To this he exhorts them, chiding their backwardness and negligence. The expression, Come and see, intimates that what they blindly overlooked was open to observation; for were it otherwise with the works of God, this language would be inappropriate. He next points out what those works of God are to which he would have our attention directed; in general he would have us look to the method in which God governs the human family. This experimental or practical kind of knowledge, if I might so call it, is that which makes the deepest impression.3 We find, accordingly, that Paul, (Acts 17:27) after speaking of the power of God in general, brings his subject to bear upon this one particular point, and calls upon us to descend into ourselves if we would discover the proofs of a present God. The last clause of the fifth verse I would not interpret with some as meaning that God was terrible above the children of men -- superior to them in majesty -- but rather that he is terrible towards them, evincing an extraordinary providence in their defense and preservation, as we have seen noticed, Psalm 40:5. Men need look no further, therefore, than themselves, in order to discover the best grounds for reverencing and fearing God. The Psalmist passes next from the more general point of his providence towards mankind at large, to his special care over his own Church, adverting to what he had done for the redemption of his chosen people. What he states here must be considered as only one illustration of many which he might have touched upon, and as intended to remind God's people of the infinite variety of benefits with which their first and great deliverance had been followed up and confirmed. This appears obvious from what he adds, there we rejoiced in him. It is impossible that the joy of that deliverance could have extended to him or any of the descendants of the ancient Israelites, unless it had partaken the nature of a pledge and illustration of the love of God to the Church generally. Upon that event he showed himself to be the everlasting Savior of his people; so that it proved a common source of joy to all the righteous.

7. He ruleth by his power over the world. The Hebrew word Mlwe, olam, which I have translated the world, signifies occasionally an age, or eternity;4 but the first sense seems to agree best with the context, and the meaning of the words is, that God is endued with the power necessary for wielding the government of the world. What follows agrees with this, that his eyes behold the nations. Under the law, Judea was the proper seat of his kingdom; but his providence always extended to the world at large; and the special favor shown to the posterity of Abraham, in consideration of the covenant, did not prevent him from extending an eye of providential consideration to the surrounding nations. As an evidence of his care reaching to the different countries round, he takes notice of the judgments which God executed upon the wicked and the ungodly. He proves that there was no part of the human family which God overlooked, by referring to the fact of the punishment of evil-doers. There may be much in the Divine administration of the world calculated to perplex our conclusions; but there are always some tokens to be seen of his judgments, and these sufficiently clear to strike the eye of an acute and attentive observer.

8. Bless our God, O ye people! Although calling upon all, without exception, to praise God, he refers particularly to some Divine interposition in behalf of the Church. He would seem to hint that the Gentiles were destined, at a future period, to share the favor now exclusively enjoyed by God's chosen people. In the meantime, he reminds them of the signal and memorable nature of the deliverance granted, by calling upon them to spread abroad the fame of it. Though he speaks of the Jewish people as having been brought unto life, (an expression intended to denote deliverance of a more than ordinary kind,) this means that they had been preserved from approaching danger rather than recovered from a calamity which had actually overtaken them, It is said that their feet had not been suffered to fall, which implies, that, through seasonable help which they had received, they had not fallen, but stood firm. The Psalmist, however, does not take occasion, from the evil having been anticipated and averted, to undervalue it. As they had been preserved safe by an interposition of Divine goodness, he speaks of this as tantamount to having been brought or restored to life.

1 Defectores. -- Lat. Apostats. -- Fr. The original word is Myrrwoh, hassorerim, from rwo, sur, to turn aside.

2 "On this Theodoret remarks, that when men bless God they offer him words only; but when God blesses man, it is not in word only, but in deed; an abundance of good things always accompanying the benediction." -- Cresswell

3 "Haec enim experimentalis (ut ita loquar) notitia magis afficit." -- Lat. "Car ceste cognoissance d'experience et de prattique esmeut d'avantage." -- Fr.

4 Our English version renders the word in this last sense. Hammond, with Calvin, prefers reading, "over the world." "That Mlwe," says he, "a]iw<n, as the English age, signifies not only time and duration, but also the men that live in any time, there is no question. And then Mlwe lswm, must here most properly be rendered ruling the world, or over the world; and so the Chaldee certainly understood, who read, 'who exerciseth dominion over the world;' and so I suppose the LXX. their 'despo>xouti tou~ ajiw~nov,' 'having dominion over the world,' doth import." The Vulgate, in this instance not following the Septuagint, has "in aeternum," "for ever."


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