News and the Good News

The Psalm for The Week: May 17th

Psalm 66: 7-18 : For the week of May 1723

Some things remain the same

"But we don’t go to the Temple to make burnt offerings!” This might be the kind of thought that comes to mind when we read this Psalm or others that depict an ancient Israelite making an offering to God. Psalm 66 is a psalm of thanksgiving used (sung) at a temple service. Verses 12-13 are key here: “I will enter your house with burnt-offerings and will pay you my vows, which I promised with my lips and spoke with my mouth when I was in trouble.  I will offer you sacrifices of fat beasts with the smoke of rams; I will give you oxen and goats.”

But, again, we live in such different times. And yet, we know that one day we will meet our maker. And we know, or should, that the story of our life—God’s judgment—will be told to us. Judgment here means God telling the truth about us. So, we ask, are we shaping our lives as one great big offering to God. This is what the ancient Israelites urge upon us in this Psalm: Present your life to God as an offering. The intent here is to elbow out other ways of looking at life, views of life as one big pleasure hunt, or a long drama of self-assertion, or a drive to conquer. Instead, the Psalmist says we have the chance to shape our life with an eagerness to bless God (v.7), to trust that we held by God (v.8), even in the midst of purifying fires (v. 11), and to know that God hears (v. 17).

These truths hold, even if so much in the way of culture, religious practice, and knowledge has changed. God can praised in this and every generation. Hallelujah.

Here is the Psalm:

Psalm 66: 7-19

8 Bless our God, O peoples,
    let the sound of his praise be heard,
9 who has kept us among the living,
    and has not let our feet slip.
10 For thou, O God, hast tested us;
    thou hast tried us as silver is tried.
11 Thou didst bring us into the net;
    thou didst lay affliction on our loins;
12 thou didst let men ride over our heads;
    we went through fire and through water;
yet thou hast brought us forth to a spacious place.[a]

13 I will come into thy house with burnt offerings;
    I will pay thee my vows,
14 that which my lips uttered
    and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.
15 I will offer to thee burnt offerings of fatlings,
    with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams;
I will make an offering of bulls and goats.Selah

16 Come and hear, all you who fear God,
    and I will tell what he has done for me.
17 I cried aloud to him,
    and he was extolled with my tongue.
18 If I had cherished iniquity in my heart,
    the Lord would not have listened.
19 But truly God has listened;
    he has given heed to the voice of my prayer.