On the 6th Sunday of Easter many of our churches will sing this setting of Psalm 66. “Let all the earth cry out to the LORD with joy!”
Psalm 66 has three parts, focused on the nations (vv. 1-7), on the congregation of believers (vv. 8-12), and on an individual (vv. 13-20). All three parts provide encouragement to pastors as we serve Christ’s people.
In verses 1-7, the Psalmist says that the LORD rules forever by his power, that his eyes watch the nations. As we watch world news, as we notice wars and rumors of wars increasing, as we discuss the chaos of the world with Christ’s holy people, Psalm 66 reminds us, as we sing it, that the LORD’s power is great, that all his enemies must cringe before him. Israel’s deliverance from Egypt and their miraculous entrance into the Promised Land on dry land is a foretaste of what is coming for all God’s people. Come, let us rejoice in him!
In verses 8-12, the Psalmist is focused on God’s chosen people, Israel. They had rebelled against God. He tested them and refined them like silver. He laid burdens on their backs. He brought them to prison in Babylon. Later he brought them out of that prison into a place of abundance. All this he did, to keep their feet from slipping, to preserve their souls. As pastors it brings us great comfort to know that the LORD disciplines his people in love for their eternal good. He does that for the people we serve and for us.
In verses 13-20, the Psalmist speaks in the first person singular. “I will come to your temple with offerings. I will sacrifice. Listen to my story, everyone….I cried out to the LORD, and he listened to me and heard my voice in prayer. He did not reject me or withhold his love from me.”
Who is the solo voice singing at the end of this psalm? It is the psalmist, the instrument of the Spirit of Christ. But let there be no mistake, the Psalmist’s voice is pointing to and is fulfilled by the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ in prayer. When Jesus brought the once-and-for-all sacrifice for sin to Jerusalem—himself—“he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission” (Heb 5:7).
Jesus’ resurrection and all his exaltation—glorious in every detail—are a solemn guarantee from the LORD himself that he will never reject you or me, who believe in Jesus. Because of Jesus, the LORD will never withhold his love from us or the people we serve.
Cry out to the LORD with joy!