Lectionary Calendar
Friday, June 21st, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 66

Ellicott's Commentary for English ReadersEllicott's Commentary



The compilers of the Psalter found no tradition of authorship attached to this Psalm, and did not themselves conjecture one, nor have we any guide towards the time of its composition beyond the tone of innocence assumed in the last part, which marks that part as belonging to a period subsequent to the captivity, when persecution and suffering were no longer regarded as punishment for national disloyalty to the covenant. The poetical form is uncertain, but there is a marked change in the rhythm at Psalms 66:13, and some commentators regard the psalm as composite.

Title.—See titles, Psalms 4, 48

Here there is a peculiarity in the absence of any author’s name after the double title song, psalm. (Comp. Psalms 67:0, where the words are reversed.)

Verse 1

(1) Make a joyful noise.—Better, sing aloud, or shout.

All ye lands.—The margin is better.

Verse 2

(2) Sing forth.—Literally, play on the harp.

Make his praise glorious.—So the LXX., but the construction is dubious. Literally, put glory his praise, meaning perhaps, in parallelism with the first clause, “make the Divine glory the subject of your praise.” But the opening words of the next verse, “say unto God, how,” &c, are so bald that a suspicion arises as to the arrangement of the text. Perhaps by bringing back the initial words of Psalms 66:3 we get the true sense, “ascribe glory (and) speak praise to God.”

Verse 6

(6) Flood.—Hebrew, nâhar, which generally stands for the Euphrates, but here, as in Psalms 74:15, for either the Jordan or the Red Sea.

There did we rejoice.—The verb is properly optativethere (i.e., in those works) let us rejoice, and thus rendered is more in keeping with the first verses of the psalm. The LXX. and Vulg. have the future, “There we will rejoice in him.”

Verse 7

(7) His eyes behold.—Better, his eyes keep watch on the nations. God is, as it were, Israel’s outpost, ever on the alert to warn and defend them against surrounding nations.

Let not . . .—Literally, the rebellious, let them not exalt for themselves, where we may supply “horn” as in Psalms 75:4-5, or “head” as in Psalms 3:3; Psalms 110:7. For the rebellious, comp. Psalms 68:6.

Verse 9

(9) Which holdeth . . .—The LXX. literally, which putteth our soul into life, i.e., keeps us alive, as the parallelism shows.

Verse 11

(11) Net.—The Hebrew in Ezekiel 12:13 certainly means “net,” as LXX. and Vulg. here. But Aquila, Symmachus, and Jerome prefer the usual meaning, “stronghold” (2 Samuel 5:7, &c), which is more in keeping with the other images of violence and oppression. The fortress, the hard labour, the subjection as by foes riding over the vanquished, the passage through fire and water, all raise a picture of the direst tyranny.

Verse 12

(12) Ride over our heads.—For the figure comp. Isaiah 51:23.

We went through fire and water.—A figure of extreme danger. (Comp. Isaiah 43:2.)

A wealthy place.—The LXX. and Vulg., “to refreshment,” which is certainly more in keeping with the figures employed, and may perhaps be got out of the root-idea of the word, “overflow.” But a slight change gives the frequent figure “a broad place.”

Verse 14

(14) Uttered.—Literally, opened.

Verse 15

(15) I will offer.—Such a holocaust could hardly have been vowed by a single person. It is the community that speaks. Besides, the ram was not a sacrifice for any individual, but particularly enjoined for the high priest (Leviticus 9:2), the head of a tribe (Numbers 7:0), or a Nazarite (Numbers 6:14). Incense is here the ascending smoke of the sacrifice.

Verse 16

(16) Come.—Refers back to Psalms 66:9.

Verse 17

(17) And he . . .—Literally, exaltation (i.e., praise) was under my tongue, apparently a Hebrew idiom akin to our “on the tip of the tongue,” i.e., ready at any moment for utterance.

Verse 18

(18) If I regard . . .—Rather, if I had seen evil (i.e., had had it purposely in view) in my heart, the Lord would not have heard me. One may not “be pardoned and retain the offence.” The reference may be either to the forming of wicked schemes, or to the complacent view of wickedness in others.

The protestation of innocence in this verse, being made by or for the community at large, marks a late period for the composition. (See Introduction, and Psalms 44:0, Introduction and Notes.)

Verse 20

(20) Who hath not turned . . .i.e., he found himself able to pray, was not silenced. Notice the zeugma. God had not rejected his prayer nor withdrawn His grace.

Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Psalms 66". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ebc/psalms-66.html. 1905.
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