The author and time of the composing of this Psalm are uncertain. This is manifest, and sufficient for our understanding of it. That it was made upon the occasion of some great and glorious deliverance afforded to the Israelites, after and out of some grievous and general calamity, and, as some not improbably conceive, that out of Babylon.
The prophet exhorteth all to praise God for his wonderful works, Psalms 66:1-8, especially for delivering his church out of all trouble, Psalms 66:9-12. He promiseth unto God thanksgiving, and to pay the vows he made in trouble, Psalms 66:13-15; calling to others to see God’s goodness to his soul, blesseth him for it, Psalms 66:16-20.
Ye people of all nations, who have seen the wonderful power, and wisdom, and fidelity, and goodness of God in our deliverance, it becomes you to acknowledge it with admiration and rejoicing. Or,
all the land, or this land. But the former sense is more probable from Psalms 66:4, where this word is so used. And it is very proper in this place, and usual in other places of Scriptures, to invite the Gentile world to the contemplation and celebration of God’s works to and for his people. See Deuteronomy 32:43 1 Chronicles 16:23,24.
i.e. Praise him in an extraordinary and eminent degree, so as he may have much glory from you.
How terrible art thou in thy works! To wit to thine enemies, as it follows. Submit themselves unto thee, Heb. lie unto thee, i.e. profess subjection to thee, not sincerely and freely, but by constraint, and out of a servile fear.
Many people of divers nations shall be so affected with thy stupendous works, that they shall worship and praise thee for them, and all people shall do so, and shall have just cause to do so; and the time will come when all nations will actually do so, to wit, in the days of the Messias.
See the works of God; consider them wisely and seriously, for God’s glory, and for your own good.
Toward the children of men; to all his enemies; whom he calls the children of men, partly in way of contempt, to show how unable they are either to avoid or resist the great God; and partly in opposition to his own people, who are frequently called the children of God.
The flood, or river, to wit, Jordan. We, i.e. our nation, or our ancestors, in whose loins we then were, and the benefit of which ancient deliverance we at this day enjoy. See the like expressions Psalms 81:5 Hosea 12:4. The whole people of Israel are oft considered as one body, continued through all succeeding generations, united in the bond of the same covenant and worship, and in the possession of the same promises, and privileges, and blessings, and acted by one and the same spirit; and therefore several and contrary things may reasonably be ascribed to them, in regard of their several parts and ages, and what was done in one age may be imputed to another by virtue of their strict conjunction with the same body.
The same power which God had and put forth for his people in ancient time, he still hath in as great vigour as ever, and is not at all weakened by age, and is as able and ready to act for them now as ever he was; which he hath showed by this late and glorious instance.
His eyes behold the nations; he sees all their secret and subtle devices, and can and will defeat them, when he sees fit.
Let not the rebellious exalt themselves; lift up their hands against God, or against his people. Or, the rebellious (i.e. those people which rebel against this almighty God and his laws) shall not exalt themselves, as they vainly hope and design to do; but shall be brought down and destroyed, as is hereby implied.
Ye people of other nations, that have served or yet do serve other gods.
Which holdeth our soul in life; who by a succession of miracles of mercy hath kept us alive in the midst of a thousand deaths, to which we were exposed, and hath restored us to life, when we were like dead men, and dry bones scattered at the mouth of the grave.
To be moved, to wit, so as to fall into mischief and utter ruin, as our enemies designed.
For, or yet, or nevertheless. Though thou hast hitherto helped us, and now delivered us, yet for a season thou hast sorely afflicted us.
Tried us, as silver is tried, i.e. severely, as if it were in a burning furnace; and with a design to try our sincerity, and to purge out the dross, or the wicked, from among us.
Thou broughtest us into the net which our enemies laid for us, and which could never have taken or held us but by the permission and disposal of thy providence, which gave us into their hands.
Men; weak, and mortal, and miserable men, as the word signifies, no better nor stronger than we, if thou hadst not given them power over us.
To ride over our heads; to ride upon our shoulders. By thy permission they have used us like slaves, yea, like beasts, to carry their persons or burdens. Compare Isaiah 51:23.
Through fire and through water, i.e. through various and dangerous trials and calamities. See Psalms 32:6 69:2 Ezekiel 15:7 30:8.
Into a wealthy place, Heb. into a moist or well-watered place; such as Canaan was, both in a proper sense and figuratively, as being replenished with Divine graces and blessings.
Hitherto he spoke in the plural number, but now he begins to speak in the singular number; but still the speech is continued of the same person or persons; only sometimes the whole body speaks, and sometimes one man speaks in the name of all the rest.
With the incense of rams; with the fat of rams, which in these peace-offerings was burnt upon the altar, and so vanished into smoke like incense, and which is no less pleasing to God than incense.
All ye that fear God; whether Israelites, or Gentiles proselyted to them. Let every Israelite take notice of what God hath done for the nation in general, and let the Gentiles observe God’s goodness to the children of Israel.
What he hath done for my soul; which he hath held in life, as he said, Psalms 66:16, in the greatest dangers of death.
With my mouth; with a loud voice and great fervency: or it is a pleonasm, as Psalms 44:1, We have heard with our ears. Extolled, i.e. praised by me, to wit, for answering my prayers.
If I regard, Heb. if I have or had seen, or looked upon, to wit, with approbation and affection, as Job 31:26 Habakkuk 1:13. Men look upon what they like, and turn away their face from what they loathe or hate.
Iniquity; any sin whatsoever, and especially idolatry, which is oft expressed by this word, to which the Israelites were very prone, and to which they had most powerful temptations from the examples, and counsels, and promises, and threats of the idolaters, in whose land and power they had been. And so this is a purgation of themselves from that crime, somewhat like that Psalms 44:20,21, and in general from those gross and reigning sins whereof they had been guilty formerly.
In my heart; if my heart was false to God, and did cleave to idols or to any wickedness, although I might for some prudential reasons forbear the gross and outward acts. Compare Psalms 44:17,18. If I had been guilty of that hypocrisy wherewith mine enemies charged me, and had been a secret favourer of wickedness when I pretended great piety. Or, If I did not cry unto God with my heart, but only howled for corn and wine, &c.; and whilst I cried to God with my tongue, my heart was set upon sin, or I desired only that which I resolved in my heart to spend upon my lusts.
Will not hear me; or, would not have heard me; as divers learned interpreters translate it; the future being put potentially, as is usual among the Hebrews. For God heareth not sinners, John 9:31, nor hypocrites, Job 27:8,9 Pr 15:29.
Which is a public vindication and a Divine testimony of my integrity against all my false accusers.
Turned away, or rejected, or removed, to wit, from his sight and audience, but hath received and granted it.
His mercy: though he had now asserted his own innocency and sincere piety, yet he imputeth not God’s hearing of his prayers to that, but solely unto God’s grace and mercy.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Psalms 66". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany