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Bible Commentaries

Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms

Psalms 66

Verses 1-20

Psalms 66:1-20. Title. The double title, " A Song, a " Psalm," is supposed by some to mean, a very joyful song of praise. The name of David is not affixed to this psalm ; and various opinions have been entertained concerning the time, author, and occasion of it ; but it is highly probable, that it was written by David, when established on the throne, and made victorious over his enemies on every side.

V. 1- 3. The Psalmist earnestly excites all the inhabitants of the land, (the noun is singular, though the verb is plural,) to exert their powers to the utmost, in celebrating openly and with exultation the works, and honouring the name, and making glorious, or a glory, the praises, of God : or, accounting it their honour, to glorify him who had remarkably interposed in their behalf; and had executed such terrible punishment on their enemies, that many who inwardly disliked them and their religion, being alarmed by the power of his works, had reluctantly submitted themselves, and professedly, yet insincerely, become the worshippers of JEHOVAH. This was the effect produced by the gospel in the first ages, when numbers, by the miracles wrought, and the judgments of God inflicted on the Jews and other opposers of Christianity, feigned submission to the divine Saviour, and embraced Christianity, without any real change of heart or character.

(Marg. Psalms 18:44. marg. Notes,Psalms 78:36-37 - 2 Samuel 22:43-51; 2 Samuel 5:4-5.)

V. 4. The words rendered " all the earth " may mean all the land: yet the verb is plural, and all the inhabitants are meant. The passage, however, is not so evidently a prophecy of a more enlarged dispensation than that of Moses, as many are which occur in these psalms ; yet even these were entirely overlooked by the Jews in the time of Christ. In like manner the clearest and most explicit predictions, that the kingdom of Christ shall at length be established all over the earth, are little attended to by professed Christians in general ; but they will most certainly be at length accomplished. (Marg. Ref.)

V. 5. ’He toucheth the slothful dulness of man, who is cold in the consideration of God’s works. (Notes, Psalms 46:8-9. Psalms 111:2-4. Psalms 126:1-3.)

V. 6. The miraculous passage of Israel through the Red Sea, which overwhelmed the Egyptians, and their secure march through the divided streams of Jordan, to possess Canaan and extirpate the inhabitants, are celebrated in this verse. All Israel rejoiced in the temporal benefits thus conferred on them ; but the true church rejoiced in God their Saviour and Friend, and the display of his glory in these events. Israel, as the visible church, was considered as one body, which rejoiced and exulted on that occasion. Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, led the song of joyful praise of Israel on the banks of the Red Sea; and transmitted both the benefits, and the grateful and triumphant remembrance of them, to the next generation. (Notes, Psalms 106:6-14. Exodus 15:1-21.) Thus from age to age the church rejoiced and blessed God, in concert with those who were eye-witnesses of his wonderful works.

V. 7. (Note, 2 Chronicles 16:7-10.) ’ He observes the motions of all nations, who may learn, by the Egyptians ’ and Canaanites, that they who contemn his authority, in vain endeavour to exalt themselves ;... for they shall certainly be abased.’ Bp. Patrick.

V. 8- 10. (Marg. Ref’.) The dangers and distresses, by which Israel had been tried and proved as in a furnace, during their bondage in Egypt, and afterwards in the time of the judges, and during some parts of Saul’s reign, seemed to threaten the destruction of their existence as a nation : yet God had wonderfully preserved and delivered them ; as a man’s life is saved from imminent danger, or his health established after some very dangerous disease, or his steps upheld on the slippery brink of a precipice. The astonishing preservation of the Jews as a separate people, during their long continued dispersions and oppressions to this day ; when it shall be crowned (as assuredly it shall be,) by their conversion to Christianity and restoration to the promised land; will constitute a still more extraordinary instance of the watchful care of Providence over that people, who in this particular may be regarded as a type both of the church and of individual believers. (Notes, Numbers 23:9. Deuteronomy 4:29-31; Deuteronomy 28:46. Jeremiah 5:15-18; Jeremiah 30:10-11. Hosea 3:4-5.)

V. 11, 12. The Lord had, for wise, righteous, and merciful reasons, brought Israel into a net, by inducing them to go down into Egypt, and settle in that country. Their oppressors, having thus entangled them, laid heavy burdens on their loins, using them like beasts of burden. Nay, they were so powerful, cruel, and haughty, that they seemed to ride over their heads ; and, having thrown them down, to trample them under foot. (Notes, Psalms 129:1-3.) Yet from this situation, in which they " went through fire " and water," through fiery trials, and seas and rivers, God had brought them to rest and great prosperity in Canaan. (Marg-. Ref. Note, Isaiah 43:1-2. Zechariah 13:8-9.)

V. 13, 14. The Psalmist, having stirred up the people to praise God for his general mercies to Israel, avows his intention of celebrating, with sacrifices and oblations, those deliverances which he had lately received, both personal and publick ; and thus to perform the vows which, in the most open and solemn manner, he had made in the season of great danger and affliction.

(Notes, Psalms 22:25; Psalms 56:12. Psalms 116:17-19. Genesis 28:20-22; Genesis 35:1. Numbers 30:2. Ecclesiastes 5:4-7. Job 1:11-16.)

V. 15. This verse may be literally rendered, u I will " offer unto thee the burnt-sacrifices of fallings, even " rams, with incense ; I will offer bullocks and goats : " That is, ’ I will liberally provide for every part of the service at the tabernacle.’ " The incense of rams " conveys no clear meaning. (Note, Exodus 30:34-38.)

V. 16. The psalm, being given to the chief musician, was made public, and all might read it : but the Psalmist especially called the attention of those who feared God, or were truly pious persons, to the concluding part ; as they alone were prepared to enter into the spirit of it, to derive instruction from his experience, and to glorify God on his account. (Marg. Ref. Notes, 5, 6.)

V. 17 That dependence on God, and expectation from him, and those spiritual affections, which are employed in believing prayer, are honourable to his power, truth, and love ; so that he is extolled or magnified by them. (Marg. Ref.)

V. 18, 19. It is probable, that the Psalmist had not only been reproached with his past transgressions, but also charged with hypocrisy, and a secret course of habitual sin : but God had indeed answered his prayers, in a remarkable manner, ’ which brought along with it a testimony of my sincerity, far more valuable than my king’ dom. For had I been guilty of such crimes, or entertained so much as a thought of them, as my enemies ’ charged me withal, the Lord, who hates iniquity, would ’ have denied me my request.’ Bp. Patrick. The original is, " If I looked at iniquity with my heart ; " that is, if I thought of it with affection and desire. He that " regards " iniquity," entertains the thoughts of it as a man does a welcome visitant. He provides for their entertainment, is reluctant to part with them ; and, as far as he can safely, he seeks and seizes the occasion of practicing the sin, which he thus thinks of with satisfaction. This evidences

the love and dominion of sin ; is inconsistent with true repentance ; and, if connected with a profession of religion, it is a clear evidence of hypocrisy. In this case God will not accept or answer a man’s prayers. (Marg. Ref. Notes, Proverbs 28:9, John 9:27-34; John 5:31.) But if the consciousness of sin in the heart, or the intrusion of evil thoughts, create uneasiness, and a desire to be rid of them ; if they be like the presence of an impertinent, intruding visitant, or that of a dun *o a moneyless debtor ; this is an argument of sincerity in repentance, faith, and regard to God and his will ; and God delights in the prayer of the upright. (Notes, Psalms 119:1-13. Proverbs 15:8-9.) So that evident answers to solemn and particular prayers tire divine attestations to a man’s integrity.

V. 20. Notes, Psalms 40:11-12. Psalms 116:1-2.


The glorious perfections and works of God should induce all men in every land to delight in praising him, in " singing forth the honour of his name, and in making his praise glorious ; " accounting it their highest honour thus to adore and glorify him : and nothing but human depravity prevents this reasonable and delightful employment from being as universal on earth as in heaven. But neither his exuberant goodness, nor his terrible judgments, nor the greatness of his power, can bring his enemies to more than a forced or feigned submission, except effectual grace new create their hearts unto holiness. In this way, however, great multitudes have been, by the gospel, brought to be his willing servants and spiritual worshippers, and at length all the inhabitants of the earth shall sing his praise. It is very proper that sinners should be excited to " come, and behold the works of God, " and how terrible he is in his doing toward the children of men : " that, observing how " he ruleth by his power," over those who do not become his willing subjects ; and how he beholds the nations, to hinder the rebellious from exalting themselves ; they may see the necessity of seeking the favour of him whose wrath is so destructive ; and, considering the deliverances vouchsafed his people, they may desire to share their privileges. His servants also should consider his wonderful works, that they may be excited to bless their God, and " cause the voice of his " praise to be heard : " and in redemption by the death of Christ, and the glories which followed that grand event, they have far more surprising and affecting subjects to contemplate, than Israel’s deliverance from Egyptian bondage. The Lord not only preserves our temporal life, but maintains that spiritual life which he has communicated : nor will he suffer the feet of his servants to be moved, to their utter casting down, by any of the difficulties of their ?ith, or assaults of their enemies. (Note, 1 Samuel 2:9.) et he will try their faith, by affliction, as silver is tried in the fire ; that it may be proved genuine and be further purified. (Notes, 1 Peter 1:6-7; 1 Peter 4:12-16.) Oppressions and persecutions, and even temptations, are on this account permitted as benefits to our souls : they indeed spring from the malice of men or devils; but we must receive them, as prescribed by our God to effect his gracious purposes. Through various convictions, conflicts, and troubles, the slave of Satan escapes from his galling yoke, and obtains peace and joy in believing : and " through " much tribulation " the believer " must enter into the " kingdom of God." While our praises unite with those of the whole church of God, for general mercies vouch- safe from age to age ; and our prayers, for all that yet remains to be done; we must by no means overlook own concerns. Under every trouble we should cry into the Lord with our mouth and from our heart ; and take occasion, from our distressing situation, more -solemnly to engage ourselves to his service. Then he will deem himself honoured by our worship : and when we obtain deliverance, we must " pay the vows, which our mouth hath " spoken in the day of our distress." The sacrifice of the death of Christ has superseded the legal oblations, by which the ancient believers expressed their grateful zeal : but we must offer continually the sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving; our bodies must be presented as a living sacrifice unto the Lord, while our souls are as consecrated priests to him ; and without grudging we must expend our substance " in doing good " to our brethren, and to all men as we have opportunity ; " for with such sacrifices our " God is well pleased : " and the commemoration of the Redeemer’s atoning sacrifice, according to his holy institution, is especially that sacrifice of thanksgiving, which is our bounden duty. Besides the general example of gratitude for our mercies, which we publickly exhibit; we should more particularly declare to those who fear God, what he has done for our souls, and how he has heard and answered our prayers : they alone are capable of understanding our experience, and they will be edified and encouraged by it, and will join with us in prayer and praise ; and this will turn to our mutual comfort, and to the glory of God. But without uprightness in our professed repentance, faith, and love, we cannot share these spiritual privileges : if we love iniquity in our hearts, though we refrain from the gross practice of it, the Lord will reject our hypocritical supplications. But the feeblest petition of the repenting sinner, coming from a broken heart, will by no means be despised : and when we pray " in simplicity and " godly sincerity," our requests will be evidently answered; and this will " turn unto us for a testimony," increasing our assurance of the Lord’s love to us, and exciting our gratitude to him, who " hath not turned away our prayer, nor " his mercy from us."

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Bibliographical Information
Scott, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 66". Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms. 1804.