“Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul” (Psalm 66:16).
Psalm 66 is all about God’s greatness in the lives of His people. He has been faithful in so many ways, and the psalmist is eager to extol Him for His deeds. The psalm especially points out God’s faithfulness in the difficult parts of life. It provides an interesting commentary on hardship and God’s presence in the midst of it.
The first verse is a general call to worship God. The whole earth is invited to join in praise to its Creator, proclaiming the greatness of His power and the awesomeness of His works. The reason for this is that He is indeed beyond great. The first example the psalmist provides is the parting of waters so that the people of Israel might pass through them: “He turned the sea into dry land; they passed through the river on foot” (Psalm 66:6a). Twice God has brought His people to a seemingly impassable obstacle, only to miraculously provide a way to get through it.
The understanding of these events is important as the psalm continues. The next passage calls for the readers to bless God because He has kept them alive, not even letting their foot slip. It then goes on to describe the manner in which God refines His people, taking them further and further into the realm of His goodness. “For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried” (v. 10). How is silver tried? By putting it again and again through a furnace, until the silversmith can see his own reflection in it.
The psalm continues: “You brought us into the net; you laid a crushing burden on our backs; you let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance” (vv. 11-12). This is an incredible passage! It!s fascinating that the psalmist specifically says, “You [God] took us through these things.” God deliberately led His people into difficult times, trying them as one would silver. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t fun. Rather, it was quite painful. But He didn’t leave them in those difficulties. All the while, He was leading them right through the hardships, with the end goal being a place of abundance.
“Blessed be God,” the psalm cries at the ending, “because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me!” (v. 20). Even when right in the middle of excruciating hardship, God is still there. He has not abandoned His people. Instead, He’s right beside them, leading them step by step through the water and the flames. God doesn’t leave us behind. He’s constantly working with us to bring us to a place of abundance. And what better abundance can we receive than a greater knowledge of His grace and strength, as we emerge from difficulty with a new understanding of the goodness of our God?