Thoughts on Psalm 65
1 Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion;
…..and to you shall vows be performed,
2 O you who answer prayer!
…..To you all flesh shall come.
3 When deeds of iniquity overwhelm us,
…..you forgive our transgressions.
4 Happy are those whom you choose and bring near,
…..to live in your courts.
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house,
…..your holy temple.
5 By awesome deeds you answer us with deliverance,
….. O God of our salvation;
you are the hope of all the ends of the earth
…..and of the farthest seas.
6 By your strength you established the mountains;
…..you are girded with might.
7 You silence the roaring of the seas,
…..the rearing of their waves,
…..the tumult of the peoples.
8 Those who live at earth’s farthest bounds are awed by your signs;
…..you make the gateways of the morning and the evening shout for joy.
9 You visit the earth and water it,
…..you greatly enrich it;
the river of God is full of water;
…..you provide the people with grain,
…..for so you have prepared it.
10 You water its furrows abundantly,
…..settling its ridges,
softening it with showers,
…..and blessing its growth.
11 You crown the year with your bounty;
…..your wagon tracks overflow with richness.
12 The pastures of the wilderness overflow,
…..the hills gird themselves with joy.
13 the meadows clothe themselves with flocks,
…..the valleys deck themselves with grain,
…..they shout and sing together for joy.
The river of God is full of water;
This little half verse is immensely sweet. I don’t know what the poet has in mind with the expression “the river of God.” Does he imagine the River Jordan at its height at the end of the rainy season? Does he imagine the underground waters that feed the springs of Jerusalem? Is it something more primal, mythic, like the rivers that flow from Eden? Is it a reference to the primordial waters that surround the created world above and below? I do not know. I suspect it is all of this.
Without water there is no life. Yet life is surrounded by water. There are the seas that encompass the earth, the rains that fall, the rivers that flow, the aquifers hidden beneath the ground.
We are surrounded by water. Without it we perish. But it is present in majestic abundance.
And that abundance reflects the abundance of God. The vast sweeps of wildflowers in the mountain meadows. The rich abundance of the earth beneath our feet. The power of a single grain to bring forth many. The flocks of birds that fill the sky. The wildlife that bursts forth around us. The vast swaths of forest. The seemingly endless prairies. The symphony of crickets on a summer’s eve. The roar of mating frogs. The songs of the meadowlarks. The flights of geese overhead. The brilliant flash of hummingbirds. The wondrous migrations of monarch butterflies. Even the swarms of mosquitos in the summer testify to the rich bounty of the world.
The river of God is full of water;
So what does that means for the measly possessions to which we cling? Do we understand nothing of God’s open hands? Do we understand nothing of the rainbow and its promise that tomorrow the sun will rise? Do we understand nothing of the rain that falls on the just and the unjust?
The river of God is full of water.
We are surrounded by riches untold. And would we make God into a miser like us? Would we imagine that blessings are parceled out only to the deserving? That only a few are truly beloved? That the many are consigned to fire?
Would we make God in our miserly image, where people are allowed to hunger and perish because we counted them insufficiently resourceful and diligent?
The river of God is full of water – and we should be splashing his bounty like children squealing with delight on a summer’s day.
Image 1: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AManavgat_waterfall_by_tomgensler.JPG By Thomas Gensler (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.0 de (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/de/deed.en)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Image 2: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AThaipusam_Festival_(5384200412).jpg By Peter Gronemann from Switzerland (Thaipusam Festival) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons