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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Psalms 65

To the chief Musician, A Psalm and Song of David.

The scene and the subject presented by this psalm are beautiful and imposing. The people are assembled in Zion to give thanks. Prayer has been answered; a deliverance of some sort, and of vast public concern, has been granted; a public offence of some kind has been forgiven, (Psalms 65:3; Psalms 65:5;) and somehow these circumstances connect with previous despondency at the cutting off the supplies of food for the people, and joy for the now renewed rains, copiously watering the earth and reviving the promise of a plentiful harvest. With these surroundings the people join in praises to the God of providence for his special manifestations in nature. To what occasion these intimations best fit we may not positively affirm. The mention of “Zion” as the place of worship dates it after the settlement of the ark there, but gives no further intimation of time. The title assigns David as the author; and though this is not infallible, it is too respectable to be set aside without cause. We cannot, with some, (as Delitzsch and Perowne,) assign the date to the overthrow of Sennacherib, for this does not suit the marked idyllic character of the poem. The large consideration given to rain, as the special form in which prayer had been answered, the joy of nature, and the admission of “iniquities” and “transgressions,” (Psalms 65:3,) which manifestly had been the moral cause of the public calamity, do not suit Hezekiah’s administration. On the contrary, Psalms 65:7 might suit this hypothesis. We should, therefore, probably look to the record of 2 Samuel 21:1-14 the sufferings by “the famine in the days of David, three years, year after year,” and to the deliverance therefrom for the historic explanation of the allusions of the psalm. At that time “David sought the face of the Lord, and the Lord answered him.”

In this beautiful psalm God is praised as “the God of our (his people’s) salvation,” Psalms 65:1-4; as the God of all nations and peoples, Psalms 65:5-8; as the God of nature, governing the elements and ordering the seasons for the sustentation and comfort of man and of all living creatures, Psalms 65:9-13.TITLE:

A Psalm and Song of David A Psalm of David, a Song. See note on Psalms 30:0, title.

Verse 1

1. Praise waiteth Or, Praise is silent; or, To thee silence is praise: see on Psalms 62:1, and Revelation 8:1. Submitting all things to the will of God, and quietly resting there, is as praise; and this only could make praise or prayer acceptable.

Verse 2

2. Thou that hearest prayer A recognition of deity which gratitude dictates and experience attests. See introduction.

Unto thee shall all flesh come “All flesh” is a term denoting all nations and varieties of mankind. They shall yet come, in guilt and in trouble, to the one only God for deliverance. They shall yet confess him in prayer and hymns of praise.

Isaiah 66:23. An anticipation of Messiah’s universal reign.

Verse 3

3. Iniquities prevail Hebrew, words or matters of iniquities have prevailed. They have been too strong. Psalms 38:4; Psalms 40:12. The preterit of the verb refers to sins, or matters of public wrong, the consequences of which they had not been able to endure nor their guilt atone, till now God had interfered and directed the atonement, and delivered them.

Against me The sudden transition from the third to the first person singular is a poetic freedom often used, the psalmist representing the people.

Purge them כפר , ( kaphar,) atone, expiate, cover. The standing word in the Old Testament for the expiatory act.

Verse 4

4. Whom thou choosest See Psalms 4:3.

Causest to approach… thee A priestly honour under the law, (Numbers 16:8,) but offered now to all. (Hebrews 10:19-22.)

Satisfied with the goodness of thy house To be “satisfied” with God’s gifts and favour, so that the heart gratefully rests there, is the highest return we can make to him; while to profess his name and still seek our pleasure in the world is the greatest reproach to him and to the religion we profess.

Thy holy temple The word is simply synonymous with the terms “thy courts” and “thy house” in this same verse, and is no proof that this psalm was of later date than David’s time. See its use in 1Sa 1:9 ; 1 Samuel 3:3, where it applies to the tabernacle.

Verse 5

5. By terrible things in righteousness God’s work of salvation is often attended with acts of terror and judgment, as in the deliverance of Israel from Egypt. He hates sin as he loves holiness, and his “wrath is revealed from heaven against it.” Romans 1:18.

Who art the confidence of all the ends of the earth Not that God is actually known and trusted by all men, but that he is the only true confidence of all, and this, as Perowne says, is his claim upon “all the ends of the earth” to be thus recognised and trusted. Tholuck thinks, “it implies the confession that the prayers of the heathen, (being offered in sincerity,) however erroneous their ideas of God may be, do after all ascend to the throne of the God of Israel,” which accords with Acts 10:34-35; Romans 2:14-15

Verses 6-7

6, 7. Mountains… seas… people In these verses we are taught that the same God who “setteth fast the mountains,” and “stilleth the… seas,” also hushes “the tumult” of nations. The God of nature is the God of history. “Waves” are a symbol of a people in a state of agitation, tumult, or war.

Verse 8

8. Uttermost parts The boundaries, the whole compass. The full phrase occurs Isaiah 40:28, “The ends,” or compass, “of the earth.” So Job 28:24.

Afraid at thy tokens The “terrible things” (Psalms 65:5) which God shall perform in the redemption of his people, by his judgments upon guilty men and nations, shall cause all dwellers upon earth to fear him. See Revelation 14:7.

Outgoings of… morning… evening The breaking forth, or place of going forth; that is, the portals of morning and evening. These shall sing. That is, all creatures within the compass of the earth, from the gates of the east to those of the west, shall be made to rejoice. Such shall be the benign reign of the one only God and Jesus Christ his Son.

Verse 9

9. The psalmist having finished his contemplation of God’s work among the nations, (Psalms 65:5-8,) now turns to his providence in nature, in adapting its forces and the order of the seasons to the uses and wants of man.

Thou visitest the earth Thou hast visited the earth. The verb is in the preterite a fulfilment of the promise, Deuteronomy 11:11-12. But there is a special application of these descriptions to the season then present, as appears from the interchange of the past and future tenses of the verbs. The word visit, here, denotes a special visit, as if God came down in person to attend to the wants of the earth.

Thou… waterest it Causest the water to overflow it.

Greatly enrichest it The earth was barren before because of its dryness, but God’s showers have made it rich. Palestine and Arabia would now become fruitful with all the products suited to them, if well watered.

River of God Not any particular “river” or channel of Palestine, but a poetic expression for the fulness of those celestial waters which are sent down to enrich the earth by the wonderful provision of God.

Preparest them corn, when thou hast so provided for it A beautiful thought beautifully expressed. The verb prepare is repeated, to show that it is God who foresees and tenderly cares for our wants, and that the rain is his pledge of harvest. “Thou writ prepare their corn, because thus (for this end) thou wilt prepare the earth.”

Verse 10

10. Waterest the ridges… settlest the furrows The idea is that of complete saturation, which would level the surface of a ploughed field; further expressed in “Then makest it soft with showers.”

Blessest the springing The sprouting. The tender shoots, the earliest promise of the year.

Verse 11

11. Crownest the year From the sprouting (Psalms 65:10) to the harvest, the year is honoured, distinguished, by God’s blessing. The crowning, as with a chaplet, is at once a finishing act and a token of honour, and completes the cycle of blessings on the year.

Thy paths… fatness God’s “paths” are his ways, or modes of procedure, and whether in nature, moral government, or redemption, his footsteps, or, as the word literally means, the tracks of his chariot, are rich in blessings of wisdom, power, and grace. Here his way is in nature, with its lesson of providence to man and all living creatures. “He maketh the clouds his chariot,” (Psalms 104:3,) which along their pathway distil “upon the pastures of the wilderness,” and “the little hills” are girded with joy.

Verse 13

13. Pastures The word properly means sheep, young sheep: but in Isaiah 30:23 it must take the sense of pasture. So here the connexion imposes the same sense, only the idea is sheepwalk. The sheepwalk shall be clothed with sheep. The mountains and uplands of Palestine begin to appear brown and barren as early as June, for want of moisture.

The valleys Contrasted with the upland downs or sheepwalks. As the latter are clothed with sheep, so are these with corn all kinds of edible grain. And in this richness of divine blessing animals and inanimate nature shout for joy, yea, they also will sing.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 65". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.