To the chief Musician, A Psalm and Song of David. Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Sion: and unto thee shall the vow be performed.
(with Php 4:6)
Taking for granted the existence of a personal God, the question arises, Does this involve, by necessary consequence, that, to use the language of the Bible, this God will be "a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him" by prayer and otherwise, that He will attend to prayer and answer it?
I. It is obvious that every man of science in the pursuit of abstract knowledge, or in the examination of nature, acts, whether he is aware of it or no, upon the maxim that God is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. It is a part of the scheme of the universe that discovery shall reward research. Nature deals with men precisely as God is said to do; with the froward she shows herself perverse. Now this, which is mere matter of scientific ascertainment, appears to bear directly and very strongly on the character of God as involved in the question of the reasonableness of prayer. Prayer has throughout all known ages recommended itself to the human mind so powerfully that even in religions, such as Buddhism, which deny the existence of a personal God distinct from nature, and in which therefore prayer can have no proper place, it has nevertheless forced its way.
II. Besides the argument based on almost universal practice, the idea that intercourse can be carried on between the soul and God seems reasonable. If there be a God distinct from nature, He that gave man a moral nature of a certain kind, shall He not treat man accordingly? Does not the very analogy of science and religion require that as God rewards them that diligently seek Him in the one domain, so He will reward them that diligently seek Him in the other?
III. Another argument for the reasonableness of prayer is based on the unchangeable character of God. It is precisely because God's character is unchangeable that His purposes are flexible. It is because He is a just God that He is a Saviour; i.e., that He adapts His providence to the changing characters with which it has to deal. He treats differently those who treat Him differently, and this precisely because He is in Himself the same and changes not.
IV. If God does not grant every prayer, it is because He knows what is good for us far too well to do so. We must offer all our prayers for temporal blessings with due submission to God's better wisdom. "Not my will, but Thine, be done." Only one prayer needs no such qualification: the prayer for that Holy Spirit which, in the Christian doctrine, is the direct influence of the Deity on the spirits He has created, bestowing on them the highest wisdom, purifying them even as He, the fountain of purity, is pure.
C. P. Reichel, Family Churchman, Oct. 13th, 1886.
References: Psalm 65:2.—C. Kingsley, Westminster Sermons, p. 33; G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 209.
Psalm 65:9I. Where is the fountain of the river of God? Every river has a spring or fountain—some pool or rocky cavern where it first springs up out of the deep, dark earth. The fountain of the rain is the great ocean.
II. Where does this river flow? Other rivers flow along in channels of rock or earth; but the river of the rain flows through the air, confined by no banks. It flows above the mountains, north, south, east, or west, wherever the wind may carry it.
III. What does this river do? (1) It feeds all the other rivers. The rain which soaks deep down into the earth goes to fill the wells and fountains. There is not a drop of water you drink but once came down from the sky, in rain, or hail, or snow. (2) The river of God feeds all living things, both plants and animals. All our food as well as every draught we drink comes to us from this wonderful river of the rain.
Conder, Drops and Rocks, and Other Talks with the Children, p. 144.
Reference: Psalm 65:9.—H. Macmillan, Bible Teachings in Nature, p. 90.
Psalm 65:9-10I. Spring follows winter, and ushers in summer, according to an appointed order. This fact teaches the continuous control and government of God. God seems to come with the coming in of each of the seasons. As Maker, and Life-giver, and Father, "Thou visitest the earth, and waterest it."
II. The spring season is a time of resurrection to life throughout the vegetable kingdom. This suggests the continued life-inspiring power of God.
III. The great and various changes which the spring season involves show forth the unchangeableness of God. These changes were established at the beginning, and were confirmed when Noah came forth from the ark. The return of spring declares that there is no change in the Divine purpose.
IV. The loveliness of the spring season is a reflection of the beauty of God. Every living thing is a thought of God expressed, an original thought.
V. The joyousness of spring speaks to us of the happiness of God. Beauty and joy are not always combined, but they exist together in God.
VI. The combination and co-operation of influences in the spring season are illustrations of the wisdom and power of God.
VII. The provision made in spring for a present and future supply of food exhibits the benevolence of God.
VIII. The abundant life and beauty and the rich increase of the earth in the spring season reveal the fulness of God.
From the spring we may learn these lessons: (1) Praise God for the spring season. (2) Let the spring teach you the folly of anxiety. (3) Let the spring encourage you in broad and unrestrained prayer. (4) Make all the sights and sounds of spring occasions of communion and intercourse with God. (5) God is renewing the face of the earth; let us seek the renewing of the Holy Ghost. (6) Let us learn from the spring season the firm foundation we have for hope.
S. Martin, Rain upon the Mown Grass, p. 16.
References: Psalm 65:9-13.—P. Thomson, Expositor, 2nd series, vol. i., p. 241; J. J. S. Perowne, Sermons, p. 151. Psalm 65:10.—E. W. Shalders, Christian World Pulpit, vol. ix., p. 308; J. G. Rogers, Ibid., vol. iii., p. 305; S. Holmes, Ibid., p. 264; Spurgeon, vol. xii., No. 675; J. M. Neale, Sermons on Passages of the Psalms, p. 180. Psalm 65:11.—Spurgeon, vol. ix., No. 532; and vol. xxv., No. 1475; Ibid., Morning by Morning, p. 292; J. Scott James, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xiv., p. 209.
This Psalm was evidently composed on the occasion of an abundant harvest, and was doubtless intended to be sung at the feast of harvest, the joyous feast of tabernacles.
I. The abundant harvest is regarded as an answer to vows and prayers, and a token of pardoning mercy. (1) The people had appealed to God and addressed to Him their vows and supplications. (2) To vows and prayers they had joined humble and penitent confession of their sins. When the evil passed away from them, they felt themselves warranted to regard this as a sign that the contrite confession which they had honestly made would be graciously accepted, and the forgiveness which they had earnestly sought obtained.
II. The blessing of a good harvest is regarded in the Psalm as subordinate to spiritual privileges, and chiefly valuable because it is a sign of their continuance.
III. The abundant harvest is regarded as the type and pledge of a great national, or rather worldwide, deliverance or salvation. (1) That harvest-home sees the universal Church delivered from the anxieties and fears of her present work and warfare. (2) In that harvest-home the Church is admitted to nearer fellowship with God and fuller enjoyment of God. (3) In that harvest-home the Church obtains an explanation of all that has been dark and distressing in the Lord's dealings with her. (4) That harvest-home is the time of an abundant outpouring of the Spirit.
R. S. Candlish, The Gospel of Forgiveness, p. 197.
References: Psalm 65—R. S. Candlish, The Gospel of Forgiveness, p. 197. Psalm 66:2.—J. O. Davies, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxv., p. 101; Spurgeon, Morning by Morning, p. 274.
O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come.
Iniquities prevail against me: as for our transgressions, thou shalt purge them away.
Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple.
By terrible things in righteousness wilt thou answer us, O God of our salvation; who art the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of them that are afar off upon the sea:
Which by his strength setteth fast the mountains; being girded with power:
Which stilleth the noise of the seas, the noise of their waves, and the tumult of the people.
They also that dwell in the uttermost parts are afraid at thy tokens: thou makest the outgoings of the morning and evening to rejoice.
Thou visitest the earth, and waterest it: thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God, which is full of water: thou preparest them corn, when thou hast so provided for it.
Thou waterest the ridges thereof abundantly: thou settlest the furrows thereof: thou makest it soft with showers: thou blessest the springing thereof.
Thou crownest the year with thy goodness; and thy paths drop fatness.
They drop upon the pastures of the wilderness: and the little hills rejoice on every side.
The pastures are clothed with flocks; the valleys also are covered over with corn; they shout for joy, they also sing.