Psalm 66 – What We Talk About When We Talk About Talking to and About God With Each Other

Bible opened to Psalm 66 with Green and Black's Organic 85 Percent Dark Chocolate on green plate

Today’s passage: Psalm 66

Today’s chocolateGreen & Black’s Organic 85% Dark Chocolate

Imagine you’re in the kingdom of ancient Israel, singing Psalm 66 with your countrymen, as it would have been sung historically. You sing the opening lines: “Shout joyfully to God, all the earth; sing the glory of His name; make His praise glorious” (1-2). You and those around you are not directly addressing God; you are actually singing to each other. You are calling each other to worship.

Together, you continue to exhort each other to praise God and see the awesomeness of his deeds, and it’s not until verse 10 that you actually start singing to God himself. You sing, “For You have tried us, O God; You have refined us as silver is refined” (10). As a community, you all speak to God about how he brought you through hard times to a place of blessing. Then you sing, “I shall come into Your house with burnt offerings; I shall pay You my vows” (13). Suddenly, you’re an individual again; all of you are individuals, and God is listening to each of you simultaneously. You, a single person, are promising God that you’ll offer burnt sacrifices to him, as is every other person around you. The mode of address has changed.

Three verses later, it changes back. “Come and hear, all who fear God, and I will tell of what He has done for my soul” (16) you sing. You’re still speaking as individuals, each addressing himself as “I,” but now you’re singing to “all who fear God.” There’s probably no one in earshot besides the members of the currently-singing community, but at least in theory, the audience has broadened to include others outside the current circle. The subject of the song is still God and his goodness in hearing your prayer, but now you’re not just telling each other. You’re singing for every reverent person who will hear.

You know what? A picture is worth a thousand words. I’m gonna bust out my pens and Photoshop and diagram this business.

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You can worship God by saying things to him individually or as a group, but you can also worship him without even addressing him directly, by saying things about him to the people around you. That’s pretty neat! Is it not neat? It is.

On top of all this mode-of-address analysis, I think it might be to take a closer look at verse three, “Because of the greatness of Your power Your enemies will give feigned obedience to You,” and also the section of vv.10-12 and the process by which God has “refined” the singers. But for today I need to move on to the day’s next task and draw some comics for my Patreon. So, here’s a Question of the Day for you:

Question of the Day: Should I come back to Psalm 66 tomorrow and do some additional examination? Or should I move on to Psalm 67?

 

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2 thoughts on “Psalm 66 – What We Talk About When We Talk About Talking to and About God With Each Other

  1. Love the illustrations.
    I think you make a case for how interesting and important it can be to establish the speaker(s) and recipient(s) in a passage of Scripture. The way you did that provided a wonderful lens on Psalm 66. I like the point that worship can be talking about God to others.
    Thanks.
    Stay or move on????

    Like

    1. Thanks, friend! Some of the most interesting psalms to me are the ones where the speaker changes who he’s talking to in mid-psalm. Psalm 4, where David opens with a prayer to God, turns to address the cynics around him, then turns back to God for the conclusion, is among my favorites.

      Like

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