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Psalm 65

Life in God’s kingdom

How tempting it is to seek total control to ensure we get the outcome we want—no matter what we’re up against. But as perfect as that may seem, the psalmist knows it’s a false hope, next to trusting in God.

A David psalm.

To you our praise belongs
O God, in Zion.
To you our vows are fulfilled
you hearer of prayer.
To you all of humankind comes
with their sins.
When our sins overwhelm us
you atone for them.
How blessed the one you choose to bring near
and invite to live in your courts!
We’re overwhelmed by your goodness
at home in your holy Temple.

With awesome acts you faithfully answer us
O God our savior
becoming the hope of everyone everywhere
even those from distant lands overseas.
Clothed with the power
that holds the mountains in place
you still the sea’s wild roar
the roaring of its waves
as well as the uproar of nations.[1]
Earth’s remotest peoples
stand in awe of your wonders
as your sunrise and sunset
take turns ringing out with joy.

You care for the earth and water it
making it extremely fertile.
Cascading down to earth
your rain-river never runs dry
nurturing the earth’s crops
as you ordained.
10 Your downpours fill the fields’ furrows
and round down their ridges
softening the earth with showers
and blessing its young sprouts.
11 You crown the year with your bounty
leaving a trail of abundance
wherever you go.
12 The desert dons a rich green vest
and the hills dress up in their party best.
13 The meadows are clothed with flocks
and the valleys garbed in golden grain.
They all sing and shout together for joy.

Life has always been a precarious business, and never more so than for farmers in a semi-arid land like ancient Israel was. Though he doesn’t mention him, David has Baal in mind here since Baal worship’s popularity derived largely from its guarantee of agricultural abundance. Having replaced Baal worship with scientism and technology,[2] we’re no less convinced than the ancient Israelites that we should be in control of our lives. Yet ironically, from polluting the earth to tearing our civic life apart and destabilizing international relations, “the more we seek to secure our own future, the less secure we become.”[3]

The alternative to trusting ourselves maniacally is trusting God, David’s concern here. Trusting God with everything big and small. Seeking his forgiveness and, as recipients of his undeserved welcome, living in constant communion with him. David focuses, in turn, on the relationship God offers his people in Zion, the sovereignty he exercises over the world and the marriage of the two in earth’s lavish abundance. Thus, David holds out the promise that, rightly related to God, we can trust him to supply all our needs and more besides. And that’s cause for us to join in creation’s joyful celebration of God’s riotous goodness, as showcased here.

How amazing that, broken as I am, Lord, you’ve blotted out my sins, seated me at your table and hear my every cry! Help me to trust you implicitly and pray as your Spirit leads, my requests curbed only by your limitless generosity and might and carried by joyful songs of praise. Amen.

In your spare moments today, pray this prayer:

How blessed the one you choose to bring near and invite to live in your courts!
We’re overwhelmed by your goodness, at home in your holy Temple.


[1] Verses 6-7 allude to creation and, perhaps, to Israel’s crossing of the sea and the Egyptian army’s watery grave.

[2] H. D. Beeby, cited in McCann Jr., p. 384.

[3] McCann Jr., p. 385.

Why Yahveh?

Every translator of the Psalms must decide how to handle God’s personal name, YHWH, which occurs repeatedly in its Hebrew text. Translators of the King James Version usually translated it “LORD” (all caps) and occasionally transliterated it (badly) as “Jehovah.” Modern translations, likewise, either translate or transliterate it. While translating it aims to make it more accessible to readers, transliterating it is more faithful to the text since it’s not a word at all, but rather God’s uniquely personal name. I’ve chosen to transliterate it to root it more firmly in the biblical story as the name—meaning the “self-existent One”—that God revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai. This name set Israel’s God apart from all the gods of Israel’s neighbors.

Personal names are, well, very personal. Even the sound of a name can evoke strong emotion. One problem with YHWH is that we aren’t sure how it was pronounced since Jews long ago stopped saying it in order better to hallow it. In transliterating it, I follow the advice of my esteemed Hebrew professor, Raymond Dillard. He advocated transliterating it as Yahveh—pronounced yah·vay—arguing that following the modern Hebrew pronunciation of its third consonant makes the name sound more robustly Jewish than Yahweh.
May these psalms be a light to you in dark times. You can read more of Mark Robert Anderson's writings on Christianity, culture, and inter-faith dialogue at Understanding Christianity Today.