“Oh, bless our God, you peoples! And make the voice of His praise to be heard, Who keeps our soul among the living, and does not allow our feet to be moved. For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined. You brought us into the net; You laid affliction on our backs. You have caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; but You brought us out to rich fulfillment” (Psalm 66:8-12).
On Sunday mornings, how to you prepare yourself to go to worship God? Many of us hurriedly get clothed, grab a bite to eat, and then drive down to the church building. We then sit through church services and some of us come away saying, “I didn’t get much out of worship today” and insinuate it was the preacher’s fault for not delivery a lesson that “stirred up our emotions” or “moved us to action”, when the real problem was we did not take time to prepare our hearts to worship God. Reading Psalm 66 is a great way to prepare one’s heart to worship God.
First, the writer of the psalm understands his need to praise God: “Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth! Sing out the honor of His name; make His praise glorious. Say to God, "How awesome are Your works! Through the greatness of Your power Your enemies shall submit themselves to You. All the earth shall worship You and sing praises to You; they shall sing praises to Your name" (Psalm 66:1-4). When going to worship God, one needs to get the mind properly focused. It is a time of letting go of all the distractions and problems one may be facing in this world. It is a time of directing one’s thoughts to God and preparing the heart for a time to praise God during worship.
Second, as the psalmist prepares his heart to praise God, he reflects upon God’s actions in the life of himself and in the lives of God’s people. He looks back at God’s dealing with His people: “Come and see the works of God; He is awesome in His doing toward the sons of men. He turned the sea into dry land; they went through the river on foot. There we will rejoice in Him. He rules by His power forever; His eyes observe the nations; do not let the rebellious exalt themselves” (Psalm 66:5-7). The writer then reflects upon God’s actions in his own life as the opening verses above show. He speaks about how God “keeps our soul among the living” by His watch, care, and protection. Furthermore, he adds, how God has allowed them to go through hard times, but has also seen them through those hard times and had “brought us out to rich fulfillment” (Psalm 66:8-12).
Third, the author reflects upon himself and his commitment to God: “I will go into Your house with burnt offerings; I will pay You my vows, which my lips have uttered and my mouth has spoken when I was in trouble. I will offer You burnt sacrifices of fat animals, with the sweet aroma of rams; I will offer bulls with goats” (Psalm 66:13-15). He desires to share with others how God has blessed him: “Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will declare what He has done for my soul. I cried to Him with my mouth, and He was extolled with my tongue. If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear. But certainly God has heard me; He has attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, Who has not turned away my prayer, nor His mercy from me!” (Psalm 66:16-20).
Today, as I go to worship God I will let go of all the cares of this world and focus my heart upon praising God as I reflect upon His wonderful works in the lives of His people and in my life. In addition, during worship instead of looking around at others, I will reflect upon my life and my commitment to God. I pray all of us to get much out of our worship of God today!
“Let the peoples praise You, O God; Let all the peoples praise You” (Psalm 67:3).