Psalm 66

March 22, 2024

To the chief Musician, A Song or Psalm.

1 Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands:

2 Sing forth the honour of His name: make His praise glorious.

3 Say unto God, How terrible art Thou in Thy works! through the greatness of Thy power shall Thine enemies submit themselves unto Thee.

4 All the earth shall worship Thee, and shall sing unto Thee: they shall sing to Thy name. Selah.

5 Come and see the works of God: He is terrible in His doing toward the children of men.

6 He turned the sea into dry land: they went through the flood on foot: there did we rejoice in Him.

7 He ruleth by His power for ever: His eyes behold the nations: let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah.

8 O bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of His praise to be heard:

9 Which holdeth our soul in life, and suffereth not our feet to be moved.

10 For Thou, O God, hast proved us: Thou hast tried us, as silver is tried.

11 Thou broughtest us into the net: Thou laidst affliction upon our loins.

12 Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads: we went through fire and through water: but Thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.

13 I will go into Thy house with burnt offerings: I will pay Thee my vows,

14 Which my lips have uttered, and my mouth hath spoken, when I was in trouble.

15 I will offer unto Thee burnt sacrifices of fatlings, with the incense of rams: I will offer bullocks with goats. Selah.

16 Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what He hath done for my soul.

17 I cried unto Him with my mouth, and He was extolled with my tongue.

18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:

19 But verily God hath heard me: He hath attended to the voice of my prayer.

20 Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor His mercy from me. 

The Point:

We will bless our God for His marvelous works, but especially for His tender care of us.

How do we feel in the recitation of this psalm?

We feel a sense of awe as we view the powerful works of God in His sovereign rule over the nations and the universe. But He is more than a God with very large hands that can span galaxies. His fingers can touch the most minute detail of our lives. We feel His tender care for us, even when we walk through fiery trials, suffer from disease, or experience devastating financial loss. In all of these things, we feel His hand guiding us through our lives. With deep feelings of fearful reverence and grateful love, we respond in warm praise for both His greatness and tenderness with respect to us.

What does this psalm say?

Verses 1–4. The first verses provide the call to worship our God. There is the desire in the heart of every believer to give God the praise due to His name. If God is the Creator of the universe and rules over all things, then it would seem a little less than fitting if only three people in dour faces were to show up to honor this King. That is why the heart of the believer cries out for a mighty host to join him in the praise and worship of God. Indeed, we want all of the nations of the earth to join us in our joyful praises.

In verse 3, the Psalmist praises God for His “terrible” works. While some translations turn the word into “awesome,” the Hebrew word used here points to the works of God that would cause men to respond in a reverential fear of God. These are indeed terrifying works. The 20###sup/sup### century Christian writer C.S. Lewis spoke of the Lion of Judah, or our Lord Jesus Christ, as One “not so tame.” By His sovereign power, God brings an end to empires—He destroys whole civilizations. He casts the wicked into hell along with all the nations that forget Him. He takes on the curse of sin, death, and the devil by the sacrifice of His only begotten Son at the cross. What is one great effect of the dreadful, terrifying works of our great God? Even His enemies are made to bow the knee before Him. Made willing in the day of His power, those who were once His sworn enemies will sing His praises! The creation of the galaxies and the destruction of human empires are mighty works indeed. But there can be no greater manifestation of divine power than the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit of God in the hearts and lives of men.

Verses 5–7. While the first verses of the psalm speak generically of God’s great works, now the Psalmist draws immediate application to specific events in the life of Israel. God was really there at the Red Sea when the waters separated for the salvation of God’s people and the destruction of the mightiest empire on earth. Was this mighty work of God terrifying? Was it intended to inspire reverence? For the unbelievers who drowned in the sea, it would have been most terrifying, but it must have inspired deep feelings of reverence, awe, rejoicing, and gratitude in the hearts of God’s people. Now you can see why the word “terrible” is used. The Hebrew word can be interpreted either way. To see the mighty waters of the Red Sea held back by the hand of Almighty God over the miles and miles of sea would have filled hearts with dread or reverence. Although this was a true act of God’s saving power in the Old Testament, it also gives us a picture of an even more powerful act of salvation that occurred at the cross of Jesus Christ.

The final verse of this section warns the nations that even as God ruled over the waters of the Red Sea, He continues to rule over everything. They would do well to fear this God who can do whatever He wants, whenever He wants to do it. And no one escapes His constant, watchful eye.

Verses 8–12. While we ascribe the mighty acts of history to the hand of our God, we also want to acknowledge that God moves in each of the little events of our lives as well. Now as we worship God with this psalm, we move to a consideration of the personal relationship God maintains with His people.

Verse 8 calls the people to bless God with enthusiasm, clarity, and faith. Anemic, half-hearted worship is not worship. Then the Psalmist gives a host of personal reasons why we adore, exalt, and praise our God. God is personally involved in our lives. His hands sustain our lives every moment of every day. If He was to remove His hand from us for a second we would be dead. Even the afflictions we have suffered are part of His plan as He tenderly trains us to be more like Christ. And at the end of the day when we find ourselves alive and well, having survived the fire of trials, we give Him all the credit for bringing us through it all. According to His sovereign and wise purposes, He took us into the trials and He brought us through them.

Verses 13–15. Occasionally, men who have little interest in God will find themselves in trouble and call out to God for help. When this happens on the battlefield, it is called a “fox hole conversion.” Too often, the man that makes the commitment to God when the bullets are flying does not stick to his commitment when the war is over. But this Psalmist insists that his commitment to God is permanent. As God has been faithful to us, we will most certainly be faithful to Him. We will keep the vows of commitment that we have made—our public profession of faith in Christ. We will hold true in faith to God through it all, even as God holds on to us through it all. We have committed our lives to our God, and we will commit to His worship. When the Old Testament saints referred to the sacrifices, they referred to the temple worship where the animals were sacrificed and meals were eaten before Yahweh. In the New Testament our atoning sacrifice is Jesus Christ, the sacrifice made once for all, covering all of our sins. But we still worship God through the sacrifices of thanksgiving and praise offered by our lips and by our hands in tithes and worship.

Verses 16–20. The Psalmist ends with a short testimony. He called out to God when he was in trouble, and the Lord heard him. But faith is always attended with repentance. Calling upon God’s salvation and repudiating his own sin are both part and parcel of this salvation. Therefore he says that he would not countenance and coddle sins in his life. As he engages the life of repentance, God hears his prayers and extends mercy to him.

How do we apply this psalm?

1. Verse 18 contains a serious warning for all of us. If we regard sin in our hearts, the Lord will not hear our prayers. You see, love for Christ and love for our own sin cannot coexist within us. We cannot desire God’s salvation from sin and desire sin at the same time. Hence, the quality of our faith in God and our relationship with God is measured by the perspective we maintain towards our own sin.

2. We should not complain when God takes us into severe trials, for He has His purposes for those trials. Neither should we pat ourselves on the back when we have made it through those trials, because it was God who brought us through them. Wherever we are, we need to give God all the glory for His love and His tender care for us in all of the various ups and downs of life.

How does this psalm teach us to worship God?

Worship includes testimony of God’s mighty works in the earth as well as testimony of God’s tender work in our own lives. It is only when we sense the power of these works and His personal touch in our own lives that we are pressed to worship Him! Then we will strive to make His praise glorious! We will strongly seek others to worship Him from all nations, tongues, and peoples. When we are overcome with a sincere desire that God be worshiped because He deserves to be worshiped, then we will make the voice of His praise to be heard! When our hearts recognize our great deliverance from the bondage of our Egypt, then we will cry out for the worship of God. We will have nothing less than the worship of God. We will make His praise glorious.


1. What does it mean when we say that God’s works are “terrible?” What kind of lion are we dealing with here?

2. What great saving act of God in history is referred to in this psalm?

3. What is a “fox hole” conversion?

4. How does this Psalmist maintain a right attitude towards his sin?

5. What two things do we praise God for in this psalm?

Family Discussion Questions:

1. How do we regard our own sins? Do we enjoy our sin or do we hate it? Do we coddle our sin or fight it?

 2. How motivated are we to worship God? Is our worship anemic and half-hearted, or are our hearts consumed with a desire to worship God? Give several reasons why we should desire God’s worship.