I pray your summer is going well. If you have a vegetable garden or an herb garden, how is it doing?
All the readings appointed for Proper 10 (July 16, 2023) remind us that the LORD who makes things grow is also the one who makes his kingdom grow. He is the LORD of the physical harvest and the spiritual harvest.
When the LORD sows the seed of the gospel—through us too—it produces results. The devil, the world, and our sinful flesh attack and try to choke out the harvest, but the good soil—made good by God—bears abundant fruit (Matt 13). His word does not return to him empty but accomplishes what he desires (Isa 55). And he accomplishes this through human servants who in and of themselves are unspectacular (1 Cor 3).
Psalm 65 fits in beautifully with these readings. It is spectacular. Listen to it here, and then let’s ponder its beauty.
This psalm of David has three parts to it: vv. 1-4, vv. 5-8, and vv. 9-13. Let’s ponder each part and how the parts fit together.
Read vv. 1-4 a couple of times. Picture King David leading his people in the singing of these words in Jerusalem, perhaps at harvest time. God is the focus. He is worthy of praise and offerings because of what he does for his people. The blessings keep getting better and better. He hears the prayers of his people. He forgives their sins. He leads them into his presence. He gives them all the good things of his house.
Brothers, this is our story too. Let us rejoice that God continues to do these things for us, for our loved ones, and for the people we serve. By the merits of Christ we have been brought near to God, and now that we are in his house, along with Christ he graciously gives us all things.
Read vv. 5-9 a couple of times. If the first part of the psalm is about worship in the presence of God and if the last part of the psalm is about the rich harvest he has provided, how does this middle section fit in? Using creation imagery this middle section tells us that God is working all throughout the world, not just for physical harvests, but for a greater purpose: God is delivering people from evil by bringing them into the family of God. Psalm 65, like Psalm 66, 67, and 68, is a song that proclaims God’s greatest harvest work: he is blessing all nations on earth through Abraham’s Seed (Gen 12:1-3) by bringing people into the kingdom of Christ. The Spirit of Christ moved David to write and sing this psalm, but ultimately this psalm is fulfilled by David’s greater Son.
Read vv. 9-13 a couple of times. Derek Kidner calls this stanza “as fresh and irrepressible as the fertility it describes.” God irrigates the fields with his own special river. His rains fill in the furrows of the plowed and planted field; his rains melt the clods so that God can use the saturated soil to produce bountiful harvests. God’s handiwork can be seen everywhere—in the wilderness, on the hills, in the meadows, and in the valleys. The landscape, clothed by God, raises a shout and breaks into song.
Brothers, by faith we see the spiritual landscape. Throughout the New Testament era the good news of forgiveness through Jesus has gone out into the world, producing a harvest in every corner, including ours. The wilderness, hills, meadows, and valleys are clothed with God’s elect, people who have put their hope and their confidence in the LORD. They gather for worship to praise the LORD and hear his word. They call God “Father” through Jesus Christ our Lord. They confess their sins, and he forgives them. They humble themselves before God, and he lifts them up. They overflow with the fruits of the Spirit in their lives.
They know what the psalmist proclaims, namely, that earthly harvests produced by God around the world, as glorious as they may be, point to and are surpassed by the eternal harvest of souls which he is gathering by his Son and by his Spirit. For this reason they like to raise a shout and break into song too. And we get to lead them. Thanks be to God!