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A Summons to Worship

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A Summons to Worship
Psalm 66
We’re not sure who wrote Psalm 66. What is clear is that it is a Psalm written by a believer encouraging worship of God. An interesting thing to note is that the Psalm changes from collective to personal in verse 13. In verses 1-12 the pronouns are plural (they, we, our, us). In verses 13-20 the pronouns are singular (I, my). The Psalm moves from all the earth praising God to a single individual praising Him. What we see is the individual calling upon the world to worship God has good reason for doing so. He himself has experienced the goodness of God and is proof that the Lord deserves praise. The Psalm is general enough that any believer could use it as their own. Surely the Lord has demonstrated His goodness in all our lives. His goodness should be a springboard in which we evangelize the world and encourage the church.
We will outline the Psalm as follows:
1. Universal exultation (1-4).
2. An Open invitation (5-7).
3. Divine preservation (8-12).
4. Personal dedication (13-15).
5. A particular demonstration (16-20).
1. Universal exaltation (1-4).
A. A singing of the glory of God.
Seeing that God created all the earth then all the earth should praise Him. The Psalmist tells us to make a joyful noise. We are to sing songs that make plain the glory and honor of God. What we sing is important. When we are singing, we are not only worshipping but we are learning, and we are teaching as well. For this reason, general revelation of God is not enough. Through creation we can see that God is glorious, powerful, and intelligent. But that knowledge is not enough to inspire proper worship. We need special revelation of God. Special revelation has been given to us through the Word of God. Through creation we know there is a God. Through the revelation of Scripture, we know details about God. We can sing of the glory of God because we know much about Him through Scripture.
Our worship should not glorify ourselves and it should not glorify nature. It should glorify God. We should sing of God’s holiness, love, power, mercy, grace, & salvation. We should sing of who God is and what He has done. In doing so we are glorifying God.
Singing joyfully of the glory of God implies that those who are singing are saved. How could we make a joyful noise to the Lord if we are not forgiven? Worship should be joyful, and it can only be joyful when done by the redeemed. If we are trying to make lost people enjoy worship, then we are attempting something that is impossible to do without drastically changing the subject matter of our songs. The only way to make the unsaved enjoy worship is to make man the center of the songs. When you do that, however, you change the very object of worship. The Psalmist calls upon the world to sing of the glory of God.
B. A confessing of the glory of God (3).
The Psalmist tells us to speak to God. We are to tell God how awesome His works are. In order to do that we must know what His works are. Scripture is filled with the mighty acts of God. We will see some of those acts later in this Psalm. Daily we see the mighty power of God on display in our world. We are here told to tell God of all the awesome things we have witnessed Him do. One of the easiest ways to tell God of all the awesome things He has done is to sing. When we sing we are speaking to God about Himself. We are saying to Him:
How great Thou art!
You are Holy, Holy, Holy!
Great is Thy Faithfulness!
There are those people who refuse to sing. They say they can’t sing well so they wont sing. Well, you are not singing for yourself and you are not singing for those around you. You are singing for God. Could it be that pride is keeping you from singing? Look at this Psalm and you will see the purpose of singing is to tell the Lord how glorious He is. If you do not sing then when do you tell the Lord that He is glorious? All of humanity is required to speak to God about His own glory.
C. A submitting to the glory of God (3-4).
Verse three says that the enemies of God will submit to Him. Verse four says all the earth will worship Him. We can’t help but think of Phil. 2:10 which says
“That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;”
In that regard, this Psalm looks to the future. It recognizes that ultimately every human being will submit to the glory of God. The redeemed will willfully submit to the glory of God and be rewarded with eternal glory. The wicked will submit to the glory of God despite their unwillingness and be cast into the lake of fire. So we see in this bit of poetry some prophecy as well. The Psalmist wants us to see the ultimate and universal exaltation of God.
2. An open invitation (5-7).
A. He is involved with man (5).
The Psalmist invites us to some and see the works of God. He wants to prove to us that what he says about God is true. He draws from the experiences of Israel. Verse five says He is terrible in His doing toward the children of men. The fact that God is involved with His creation is evident by looking at the nation of Israel. God chose this nation in order to glorify Himself throughout the earth. It became evident to the surrounding nations that Israel’s God was active among them. He continually moved among them and wreaked havoc upon their enemies. The Psalmist will mention the deliverance from Egypt in a moment. Pharaoh witnessed personally that the God of Israel is active among His people.
God is still active among His people. Those who know Christ can expect the Lord to be present with them always. The providence of God, answered prayer, supernatural power to resist sin and to exhibit peace that surpasses all understanding are all proofs that God is active among those who belong to Him. What a blessing it is that God cares for us. We can expect His hand to move because we know He has promised to be involved with His people.
B. He is good to man (6).
The Psalmist speaks of the deliverance through the Red Sea as if he were there. It was actually his ancestors who were delivered. Yet He rejoices in their deliverance. If they had not been delivered, he would not exist.
The story of the Exodus is one of the most often quoted stories in the Bible. In both the Old and New Testaments this story is remembered. It was such an awesome display of the goodness of God that every generation of Israelites recited it to their children.
God did for Israel what they could not do for themselves. He turned the Red Sea into dry land. He didn’t turn it into ankle deep water. He didn’t turn it into mud. He turned it into dry ground. Every single Israelite that left Egypt made it through the Red Sea without getting wet, muddy, lost or killed. They walked on foot between two walls of water. They made it safely to the other side.
Do we tell our children about the goodness of God? We should tell them about all the Biblical records that reveal the goodness of God. But we should also tell them about all the good things the Lord has done for us. We are here today because of the goodness of God. Our children are here today because the Lord was good to us. God has shown His goodness to innumerable generations of people. The arrival of a new generation is simply proof that God has been good to the previous generation.
C. He is more powerful than man (7).
In verse seven we see that God will rule eternally. The rebellious should not exalt themselves because soon the Lord will humble them. Until Christ returns there will always be a Pharaoh, a Nebuchadnezzar, a Hitler or some other earthly ruler who believes he himself is the ultimate power. The Psalmist wants us to know that is not the case. All we have to do is look at history to determine man does not have absolute power. Every king dies & every kingdom falls.
Spurgeon said of this verse “Where rebellion reaches to a great head, and hopes most confidently for success, it is a sufficient reason for abating our fears, that the Omnipotent ruler is also an Omniscient observer.”
Pharaoh should be an example for every godless ruler. God sees and rewards the wicked. The oppressor will not go unpunished. For that reason, the weakest of believers has nothing to fear.
So, we have an open invitation to see that God is involved with His people, that He is good to His people and that He is more powerful than any king, kingdom or person on this earth.
3. A Divine preservation (8-12).
A. Praising God because He has preserved them (8-9).
The Psalmist encourages worshipers to be liberal in their praise. They are to bless God with a voice that can be heard by others. The motivation of this praise is the preservation of God’s people. God has kept them alive; their feet have not slipped. It is only by the grace of God that the Jewish people have not been exterminated from the earth. Certainly, attempts have been made throughout history to do that.
God not only preserves nations, He preserves individuals. God has preserved us. We are alive today because of the preservation of God. It would be permissible here to speak of our eternal soul and the preservation of it but we will only mention that briefly. We often speak of the preservation of the soul. But we should not forget that God id good to us in this world as well. God has preserved us from accident and enemy, from disease and death many times. We ought to praise God that we are going to heaven. But we ought to praise Him also that we are alive and, in this world, today.
B. Particular instances of preservation (10-12).
The Psalmist doesn’t see these seasons of trial as evil from the hand of God. He sees them as moments of purification. When Israel experienced dark days, it was the Lord putting His people in the fire in order to purify them, just as silver is put in the fire to remove the dross.
They were put in the net (imprisoned).
They had burdens laid on their backs (probably the hard work the Egyptians forced them to do).
They had men ride over their heads (they were conquered and enslaved).
They went through fire and water. (Both fire and water are used in Scripture to describe judgment. They were both feared methods of death.)
It is amazing that a people who had endured so much would continue to have faith. Let us remember that when we are tempted to forsake our faith because of our circumstances. There are people who have endured far more hurt than we have yet they continue to trust in Christ. There is no good reason to forsake the Lord. All of God’s children will face trials. Christ Himself warned us that in this world we will have tribulation. We may list all of our trials but I promise you there is someone with a list longer than ours.
C. Their preservation lead to abundance.
At the end of verse twelve the Psalmist says, “but Thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place”. In other words, they had more when the trial was over. Trials will rob us of nothing but sin. The world, the flesh and the devil can only take what we do not need. God has promised that goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our life. What is burned up in the fire of God’s furnace was only that which hindered us from all the blessings God has for us. God doesn’t just keep us through a trial. The trial itself is working for.
2 Corinthians 4:17 says
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
Do you see that? Our trial is working for us. We have a Divine preservation which leads to abundance.
4. A personal dedication (13-15).
A. He will honor his vows (13-14).
Now we have entered the very personal part of the Psalm. The Psalmist had at some time while he was in trouble made vows to God. These promises should not be viewed as deals. He was not bargaining with God. His deliverance did not depend on the vow.
It seems that during some time of trouble the Psalmist told the Lord he would do specific things. Scripture teaches that vows to the Lord are extremely important. If we make a vow to the Lord, we should keep it (Eccl. 5:5). We’re not required to make vows but if we do make a vow, we are required to keep it. We should not think that we are to keep sinful vows if they are uttered as Jepthah did (Judges 11). Such vows should simply be repented of.
The Psalmist was true to his word. He would do what he promised the Lord he would do. I have witnessed the Lord do great things in peoples lives. I have witnessed the Lord bring healing to people who have told me that they had promised to honor the Lord with the rest of their lives. Sadly, I have witnessed some of those people break the vows they made. As I said earlier, we are not required to make a vow to the Lord, but if we make it we are required to keep it.
B. He will offer sacrifices (15).
The Psalmists mentions burnt offerings in verses 13 & 15. He mentions fattened animals, rams, bulls and goats. This is a very large and expensive offering. Notice the plural is used. That means at least two of each of those animals mentioned were offered. The offering was probably the vow he made. He promised the Lord something and he would deliver no matter the cost.
Worship is corporate but it is personal as well. God expects us to honor Him with our personal acts of worship. Our worship should not be shallow and cheap. God’s grace is deep and wide, and our worship should be as well.
5. A particular demonstration (16-20).
A. An invitation to hear a personal testimony (16).
Earlier an invitation was given to behold the works of God done for the collective people of God (5). Now an invitation is given to hear what the Lord has done for an individual. Friend, do you have a personal testimony. Can you speak directly to things the Lord has done for you personally? Could you say with the Psalmist “Come and hear all the Lord has done for me”?
B. A testimony of answered prayer (17-20).
The Psalmist says he prayed to God, but he also says he praised God. Three times in verses 18-20 he says the Lord heard his prayer. The hearing of the prayer implies an answering of the prayer. We’re not told what he prayed for. I think we can assume it had something to with the vow he made. He was in a time a of trouble. He prayed to the Lord for deliverance and the Lord delivered him. God granted him the mercy he cried out for.
Are our prayers answered? We ought to be seeing the Lord move through our prayer life. When the Lord answers we ought to tell people. We ought to praise God for hearing and answering our prayers.
C. A testimony of a godly life (18-19).
The Psalmist makes an important point. He says that sin hinders prayer. He says that his answered prayer proves that he is not holding onto sin. He is not saying he is without sin at all. It could be he was being accused of a particular sin and that is what he is referring to. Spurgeon said, “If thou refusest to hear God’s commands, he will surely refuse to hear thy prayers.”
Godliness is essential to answered prayer. The ungodly often pray but they should not expect those prayers to be answered. Answered prayer is a great proof of godliness.
So in this Psalm we see:
1. Universal exultation (1-4).
2. An Open invitation (5-7).
3. Divine preservation (8-12).
4. Personal dedication (13-15).
5. A particular demonstration (16-20).
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