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Psalm 66


Making requests to God is clearly a key part of prayer. But prayer isn’t just God’s appointed way for us to get what we need from him. It’s a key part of his transforming us into the people he wants us to be.

1 Shout joyfully to God
all the earth!
Sing praise to his glorious name—
give him all the honor he deserves.
Say to God: “How awe-inspiring
are the things you’ve done!
So overwhelming is your power
that your foes all fall to their knees.
All the earth bows before you
and sings your praise—
praises your name!

Come and see what God has done—
his awesome deeds on behalf of humankind.
6 He turned the sea into dry land—
they crossed the floodwaters on foot.
There we rejoiced in him
7 who rules by his power forever
and keeps a watchful eye on the nations.
Let no rebels rise in defiance!

Bless our God, you peoples
let everyone hear his praise—
the God who has kept us alive
and not let our feet stumble.
10 You tested us, O God
refined us like silver refined by fire.
11 You led us into a trap
and loaded chains around our waists.
12 You let people ride over us.
We went through fire and water—
then you led us out
to a place of abundance.

13 I bring burnt offerings to your house
fulfilling my vows to you
14 vows I made in distress.
15 I’ll offer you choice burnt offerings
and the sacrificial aroma of rams.
I’ll offer bulls and goats.
16 Come and listen
all you who revere God
and I’ll tell you what he’s done for me.
17 I cried out to him
praising him as I did.
18 If I’d harbored evil in my heart
the Lord wouldn’t have heard me.
19 But God did hear
and answer my prayer.
20 May God be praised!
He didn’t refuse my prayer
or withdraw his steadfast love from me.[1]

Baal worship was all about getting Baal to give you what you wanted—whether a bumper crop or victory in battle. Believing Baal put on the biggest show in town, you did whatever he demanded to get him to fill your order, theoretically speaking. Many approach God like that today too.

In Israel’s exodus and conquest, God revealed himself to the world as both earth’s all-powerful sovereign and Israel’s gracious redeemer—the God who gives himself to his people. And those truths were meant for everyone since God always meant to bless the world through Israel. So the psalmist calls everyone everywhere to worship in response.

God wasn’t just good for the nation, though. The same God who rescued Israel heard the individual believer’s prayers too, as the psalmist attests. But biblical worship was never about getting God to dance to our tune. It’s always been about being in an interactive partnership with him. Sometimes he takes us through fire and water to teach us vital truths, makes us endure hardships before releasing us to abundance. His bigger goal is always to purify and make us more like him. And his gracious dealings always evoke joyful worship and thanksgiving—that he met us in our need. That his love never fails.

How could I possibly deserve your unfailing friendship, God? That you care for me and teach me what I so desperately need to know, great God that you are, amazes me. How can I do less in return than pour out my love for you freely in submission, thanks and praise? Amen.

In your free moments today, meditate on these words:

We went through fire and water—
then you led us out to a place of abundance.


[1] The psalmist here weaves together the community’s experience (vv. 1-12) with their own personal experience (vv. 13-20) of God since the two belong inseparably together.

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.