In the mid to late 90’s people in the church began to say God is good— all the time— all the time—God is good. It’s easy to proclaim and to shout aloud the goodness of God when things are going great! Except life is not all about what goes good but what goes goofy too. What about when we just get mad at God?
“God is good, all the time; all of the time, God is good,” is a popular phrase used in the course of worship by many pastors, leaders, and believers. “Good” is who God is, what He does, and what we experience on His behalf. God, in His infinite goodness, is sovereign over every circumstance. He proclaimed each note of His creation, “good.” God purposefully brings every human life into existence upon the earth, intended for “good” works to bring glory and honor to His name.
We take as our text today, Psalm 65
Psalm 65 HCSB
God’s Care for the Earth
For the choir director. A Davidic psalm. A song.
1 Praise is rightfully Yours,[a]
God, in Zion;
vows to You will be fulfilled.
2 All humanity will come to You,
the One who hears prayer.
3 Iniquities overwhelm me;
only You can atone for[b] our rebellions.
4 How happy is the one You choose
and bring near to live in Your courts!
We will be satisfied with the goodness of Your house,
the holiness of Your temple.[c]
5 You answer us in righteousness,
with awe-inspiring works,
God of our salvation,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the distant seas.
6 You establish the mountains by Your[d] power,
robed with strength.
7 You silence the roar of the seas,
the roar of their waves,
and the tumult of the nations.
8 Those who live far away are awed by Your signs;
You make east and west shout for joy.
9 You visit the earth and water it abundantly,
enriching it greatly.
God’s stream is filled with water,
for You prepare the earth[e] in this way,
providing people with grain.
10 You soften it with showers and bless its growth,
soaking its furrows and leveling its ridges.
11 You crown the year with Your goodness;
Your ways overflow with plenty.[f]
12 The wilderness pastures overflow,
and the hills are robed with joy.
13 The pastures are clothed with flocks
and the valleys covered with grain.
They shout in triumph; indeed, they sing.
The Word of God for the Children of God. In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
Our passage in Psalm 65 is a celebration of God’s goodness. It is a call to count our blessings. It is a reminder to cultivate thanksgiving and give praise to God for all that He has done for us and all that He is doing for us. “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, And to sing praises to [the Lord] . . .” (Ps. 92:1). Psalm 65 instructs us in how to do that. It leads us in a celebration of God’s providential care and provision. It leads us to ponder the goodness of God in our existence.
Psalm 65 is another psalm penned by David. This psalm and song centers around describing the great blessings of God. As we can see in verse 1, this is a psalm of praise for the great wonders and works of God through creation.
We will see David praise God for God’s grace, God’s might, and God’s prosperity to humanity. This is a worship psalm that could have been sung at any time. But due to the language of fulfilling vows and receiving plentiful harvests, this was like a psalm used during the Feast of Tabernacles.
This feast was one of the most joyful feasts of the Jewish people, lasting eight days in which the people of Israel celebrated the abundance of the harvest crops. Further, this is only one of three psalms that uses the word “atone” or “atonement.” This helps us tie this psalm to the Feast of Tabernacles because the Day of Atonement occurred five days before the Feast of Tabernacles.
God of Grace (65:1-4)
The psalm begins with David declaring that praise rightfully belongs to God in Zion. The psalm begins with what seems to be a very nationalistic psalm about the people of Israel and their feasts and offerings being performed at the sanctuary in Jerusalem. But verse 2 expands this worship psalm to all people. “O you who hears prayer; to you shall all flesh come” (ESV). This psalm expresses the universal need to come to God. All people on the earth, not just the Jewish people, not just God’s chosen people, everyone must come to God.
Verse 3 describes the crux of the problem for humanity. “When iniquities prevail against me, you atone for our transgressions”(ESV). When we read these words before the coming of Christ, we recognize that this is what the people of Israel understood the goodness of God is to be doing for them all.
The people recognized that their sins were against them and that God was making atonement for their sins. God was willing to make a covering for our sins. Notice that David does not say that the animals sacrificed atone for the people’s transgressions. David knew better than this. He says that it is God who is covering over the people’s sins.
David is declaring what Paul would would a thousand years later be teaching to the Ephesians: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)…” (Ephesians 2:4-5).
The day would one day come when the people needed to know and to also experience ONE Savior. God continued to show mercy toward the people by covering over their sins. But justification for God’s favorable treatment of us had to come through the death of His own Son. One of the inescapable roles of the Messiah was to come to the people of Israel and save them from their sins.
But there is another blessing that comes from the God of grace. Not only were the people’s sins covered, but the people could be brought near to God. “Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts!”
This is an incredibly beautiful picture of our ability to come near to God. Can you or I imagine what a source of confidence it was to the people to have God dwelling in the center of the camp? God dwelling in the tabernacle. A cloud over the tabernacle in the day and a fire over the tabernacle at night.
God was with his people and it was a great blessing to see God dwelling in their midst each day. “We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple!” The connection is that when God is near us, we can be relationally satisfied. We will find abundant provisions from the Lord when we remain near the Lord. God’s goodness overflows from his presence. Goodness and righteousness surround God and we all ought to desire to be near it all.
God of Might (65:5-8)
The second section of this psalm describes the power and might of the Lord. This stanza mentions two specific displays of God’s power in the earth. In verse 6 we read, “The one who by his strength established the mountains, being girded with might.” The mountains of the earth show God’s power and might.
We cannot move the mountains. It is a feat for us just to blaze a tunnel through a mighty mountain. The mountains of Yosemite speak to the power of God. The lofty expanse of the Rocky Mountains shows God’s might. To stand on top of any of the mountains of the earth is an indescribable majestic experience. God put these mountains on the earth to show his might.
The second way God shows his might is described in verse 7: “Who stills the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples.” The waves of the ocean are absolutely fascinating when you consider their power.
The power of a wave is unbelievable. Stand in the ocean and notice how a wave will push you back. Even with all of your might to walk forward, you will be pushed back by the ocean’s waves. Dive under a wave and you will feel the great force of it as it passes. One of my fondest memories as a child was the sound of the waves. Mom and Dad would pull into the beach parking lot and when you opened the door, you could hear the sound of the waves crashing. A calming yet powerful sound of the waves crashing on the shore reminds us of God’s power.
Why does the psalmist record these events in nature? Verse 8 tells us that we are to be in awe of the signs of God. These things exist so that we would seek after God. These are permanent signs that our parents enjoyed, that we enjoy, and that generations of children and their children’s children can enjoy.
All of it speaks to the power of God. The power is there to show us something very important. Notice verse 5: “By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas” (65:5; ESV). These things powerfully remind us of God’s power to answer prayer. David is telling us to look at the earth to see what good God can, will do, and remember that this same power is working to answer us.
God of Prosperity (65:9-13)
The third and final section of this psalm describes the bountifulness of God to his people. In these contemporary days, We are not much of an agrarian society as ancient Israel anymore. So, here, we need to place ourselves back in history as good people who lived off of the land and farmed it for sustenance and pay.
The first part describes the watering of the land for crops. David declares that it is God who visits the earth and waters it. This brings about the grain from planting. Further, God brings the showers on the earth to soften it for farming, by which people receive the blessing of growth from their harvest.
In verse 11 David continues by describing the harvest that people enjoy because God has made the earth profitable. Isn’t it interesting the different type of soils that exist on the earth so that all sorts of crops can be planted and harvested? This is not random chance but a thoughtful God who has prepared these things for humanity. Verses 12-13 describe the blessings of God as the pastures and the hills are made ready for the animals to eat and find provision. The earth is made ready by God for the people to harvest.
One of the keys to this section is the description of the abundance of the harvest. In verse 9, “you greatly enrich it” and “the river of God is full of water.” Notice verse 10, “You water its furrows abundantly.” Verse 11, “You crown the year with your bounty” and “your wagon tracks overflow with abundance.” Here is a picture of the cart having so much crop that some of the harvest is falling off the cart and being left behind on the ground. Finally, in verse 12 we read, “The pastures of the wilderness overflow.” This final section is all about how God blesses abundantly. God is not the least bit stingy when he does these things for the earth. God is overflowing with blessings to all flesh.
Tomorrow, we will expand on this Psalm to explore its applications for us today too also strive to identify several ways we can turn to to recognize the goodness of God on a daily basis. The challenges of our days merits such an examination.
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Let us enter into Prayer,
God of life and love We rejoice in your abundant gifts God of all peoples and all places We celebrate your generosity and grace God of the earth and the heavens We praise you for your provision You visit the earth and water it Softening it with showers and blessing its growth You compel springs to gush forth in the valleys From your lofty abode you water the mountains God of life and love We thank you for your abundant goodness and mercy as we bless your holy name!