Shout joyfully to God, all the earth!
2 Sing praises to the glory of God’s name!
Make glorious his praise!
3 Say to God:
“How awesome are your works!
Because of your great strength,
your enemies cringe before you.
4 All the earth worships you,
sings praises to you,
sings praises to your name!” Selah
5 Come and see God’s deeds;
his works for human beings are awesome:
6 He turned the sea into dry land
so they could cross the river on foot.
Right there we rejoiced in him!
7 God rules with power forever;
keeps a good eye on the nations.
So don’t let the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah
8 All you nations, bless our God!
Let the sound of his praise be heard!
9 God preserved us among the living;
he didn’t let our feet slip a bit.
10 But you, God, have tested us—
you’ve refined us like silver,
11 trapped us in a net,
laid burdens on our backs,
12 let other people run right over our heads—
we’ve been through fire and water.
But you brought us out to freedom!
Psalm 66 is a psalm of praise and thanksgiving. “Shout joyfully to God… Sing praises” and “…Say to God: How awesome are your works!”
I am gladdened to think of God in ways that remind me to always be thankful. By reading this psalm, I remember just to be grateful for all of my life. And I simply remember to stop and be grateful for whenever and wherever I am within it.
Yet, if it were always so easy to say thank you to God in all situations, wouldn’t we just do this? Certainly, when many of the psalms talk about hardship and hurt, perhaps it is easy to just want to look only at the niceties. Like the beginning of Psalm 66, maybe we could say thank you to God, singing and praising, and only remember God’s good gifts. Then just stop there. We could sing praises and never think of our hardships, right? We could just sing praises and move onto building a relationship with Our Lord, without focusing on any hardship.
However, this psalm moves from its widening gratitude for Almighty God to a moment which also helps us to understand the nature of human reality: God’s people are tested. “But you, God, have tested us– you’ve refined us like silver, trapped us in a net and laid burdens on our backs.”
This psalm isn’t only about giving God accolades and stopping there. As the psalmist reminds us, we have been and are tested. Now there’s the realism of our need for God in everyday life! Now there is the chance to grow with God through our challenges. The “thanksgiving” we feel for God is about our building a relationship with God, who helps us bear through all our hardships. Our gratitude is because when we are going through fire and water, we need God, and Our God is there for us. The songs and joyful noises that we offer for Our Lord are because God has been with us through it all.
by Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
In all of life can we just stop daily and say thankful to God, even if we are feeling the heartache of a challenge? When we are tested, God helps refine our relationship with God’s self when we rely on God. How might a particular challenge help (or has helped) you to redefine your relationship to God? How has a particular challenge helped you to grow emotionally, personally and spiritually? Write a short thanksgiving to God who has known you through your version of fire and water.
Prayer: Gracious God, I shout joyfully to you. I have been tested but you have seen me through all of life’s challenges. Thank you, praises to you, Dear Lord. Amen.