The Righteous One’s Praise
for Answered Prayer

a brief study of Psalm 66, adapted from PCC Prayer Meeting Exhortation on 12 September 2008

Psalm 66 is a solemn and yet joyful Psalm. It is a song of joyful praise unto God for answered prayers (see verses 19-20).

Whose song is it? Who is the ‘I’ in this song? Well, the ‘I’ at first sight is the writer of this Psalm. Who is the writer of this Psalm? We are not told. He is probably King David, “the sweet Psalmist of Israel” (2 Sam 23:1). But is this how we are to understand the ‘I’? If it is, then wouldn’t we simply be singing someone else’s experience, so that when we sing “God hath heard me” (v. 19), we cannot mean what we sing. We can only mean ‘God heard David’!

Well, could it be that the ‘I’ is intended to be anyone who sings this song? Well, it cannot be because it is meaningless for an unbeliever to sing this song!

What then? I would put it to you that the ‘I’ in this Psalm must be taken as the Lord Jesus Christ, in the first place; and all who are mystically united to Him in the second place. Christ and His Church are one. Christ is the head of the Church, and the Church is the body of Christ.

This Psalm is written in the spirit of Christ (1 Pet 1:10-11; Col 3:16). It is a Psalm of praise of Christ and His Church for answered prayers.

This Psalm is fitting for the Church to use on all occasions. When God has heard a specific prayer of the church or a member of the church, we may sing this Psalm in confident praise. But even when we do not know of any specific prayer being answered, we may use this Psalm, because it is always true in Christ!

This Psalm has 5 parts.

·  The first part, which ends with a ‘selah’ is a call to praise God (v 1-4).

·  The second part, which also ends with a ‘selah’ is a call to consider what God has done in redeeming us (v. 8-12).

·  The third part does not end with a ‘selah.’ It is a call to praise God for His work of preservation and providence (v. 13-12).

·  In the fourth part, which again ends with a ‘selah’, our Lord affirms that He would pay His vows and to praise the Father (v. 13-15).

·  And finally, in the fifth part, our Lord bears witness of our prayer-hearing God (v. 16-20).

Let’s consider these 5 parts briefly.

1. A Call to Praise God
for His Greatness

1 Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands:  2 Sing forth the honour of his name: make his praise glorious. 3 Say unto God, How terrible [awesome] art thou in thy works! through the greatness of thy power shall thine enemies submit themselves unto thee. 4 All the earth shall worship thee, and shall sing unto thee; they shall sing to thy name.

The God we worship is awesome in His works, and great in His power. He alone is worthy of our adoration and praise. Indeed, so great and glorious is He that we cannot but desire that all the earth join us to praise Him with a joyful noise!

What is a joyful noise? Well, the words ‘make a joyful noise’ translates a Hebrew word that is usually translated as ‘shout’ in the Old Testament, such as Psalm 47:1—“O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph.” Perhaps our translators translate it as ‘make a joyful noise’ because we can’t shout when we sing!

But the idea is that as we think about God, our hearts must be filled with such strong affections that we cannot but sing loudly and zealously, with all our heart.

Beloved brethren and children, it is as simple as that: If we believe God and we are not apathetic to all that He has done for us, we shall not simply mumble in praise of Him. Indeed, I believe it is a great sin for us to sing the praise of God in a half-hearted way! If we sing in a half-hearted way, what are we telling the heathen? Are we not saying to them: God is not worth our praise? What are we saying to God? Are we not saying to Him: “You are not really that great!”

Ah we all have our excuses: We have sorrows of heart. Was not our Lord a man of sorrows? Yet we are sure he sang heartily unto His Father! And what about not knowing the tune, not knowing the meaning, and the cares of the world? Oh what excuse can we have? Some of us recently had the privilege of visiting the reforming churches in North Eastern China. There, we heard some of the heartiest of praises unto God! Were they without the cares of the world? Did they understand everything they sang? Did they care that they were not musically trained? No! Yet, they sang their heart because they knew they were praising God with His own words!

Oh beloved brethren and children, let us cease from our mumbling. Let us praise God from the bottom of our hearts. And let the joyful shout of triumph with God’s Word encourage us that He who has begun a good work in us will perfect it unto the day of the Lord Jesus Christ. And let us believe and look forward to the day when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord! And let us stir our hearts to serve Him to the end that we might be instrumental in conquering the world for God as we worship and live by His power.

But how do we worship and live by this power? We must do so by considering God’s mighty work of redemption.

2. A Call to Consider God’s
Work of Redemption

5 Come and see the works of God: he is terrible in his doing toward the children of men. 6 He turned the sea into dry land: they went through the flood on foot: there did we rejoice in him. 7 He ruleth by his power for ever; his eyes behold the nations: let not the rebellious exalt themselves.

The exodus of God’s people out of Egypt was not just a historical event. It was in God’s plan intended to be a drama to teach His people the power of His redeeming grace.

Think of the greatness of His power manifested against the heathen in ten plagues (v. 5). Think of how God parted the Red Sea for His people to pass on dry land (v. 6).

Put yourself in the shoes of the Israelites who passed through the Red Sea and ‘rejoice in Him.’

But more than that, think of what He has done in redeeming you through the blood of Christ. Think of how hardened you were in sin. Think of how God had to break you down little by little. Think of how by the power of the Spirit of Christ, you were brought out of spiritual death and darkness and planted onto the path that leads to life.

Were it not for the power of God manifested in your life would you be what you are today? Were it not for the power of God manifested in the lives of our fathers in the faith, would the world in terms of her advancements be what it is today?

You need only visit a country which had strong Christian influence and a country like China, which had not, to see the difference. Though many of these Christian nations are no longer Christian, the effect of the Gospel in all aspects of life is still being enjoyed by the people. Not so in places where the Gospel influence was severely curtailed or limited.

When we contemplate this, shall we not lift up our hearts to praise the LORD, and shall we not call unto the rebellious to lay down their arms (v. 7). Anyone, and any nation who exalt himself against God does so to his own detriment (cf. Prov 14:34)!

So let the people of God praise Him!

3. A Call to Praise God
for His Care

8 O bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of his praise to be heard: 9 Which holdeth our soul in life, and suffereth not our feet to be moved.

Why should we bless our God? Why must we make the voice of His praise to be heard? We must because of His care for us. He is a mighty God, but He has condescended to pity us and to show His love towards us.

He sustains our life. In Him we live and move and have our being. But more than that, He suffers not our feet to be moved. That is, He does not allow us to slip and fall.

I think of the experience some of us had recently when we had to make use of cesspools and dung holes. I think of what disastrous consequences there would be had any of us fall into any of these pools. Thank God that none of us slipped. My mum related to me of such dung pits during the older days in Singapore and the chicken attracted by the maggots would fall into them and drown in a most inglorious way.

So it is in our lives. There are many cesspools that we can easily slip and fall into. But God takes care of us. He preserves us.

Yes, sometimes, He brings us through difficult circumstances or slippery places to try us as silver is tried (v. 10). In such circumstances we may feel trapped like a bird (v. 11). We may feel like men are riding roughshod over us (v. 12). We may feel like we are going through fire or through a flood (v. 12).

But God always brings us out and set us on a wealthy place.

A wealthy place is a place of abundance. God will never allow His children to be deprived of spiritual needs. Those who trust in Him will know His blessing. He will not allow them to die of spiritual famine. He preserves them. He takes care of them.

This is how He deals with us. Shall we not therefore praise Him? Shall we not therefore make sure that others know our gratitude towards Him by singing His praise heartily, and so make the voice of His praise to be heard (v. 8)?

And not only so, shall we not imitate our Lord to praise the Father.

4. A Resolution to Praise God

13 I will go into thy house with burnt offerings: I will pay thee my vows, 14 Which my lips have uttered, and my mouth hath spoken, when I was in trouble. 15 I will offer unto thee burnt sacrifices of fatlings, with the incense of rams; I will offer bullocks with goats.

Because of who our God is, we must worship Him and we must keep our vows.

Our Lord did so. He did not go to the Father with burnt offerings. He went to the Father with what the burnt offerings signified. “Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me” (Heb 10:5). He kept His vow to suffer and die for our sins.

For this reason, we do not need to go to the Father with burnt offerings. But we go to Him with what the burnt offerings represented. We go to Him with “the calves of our lips” (Hosea 14:2). We “offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name” (Heb 13:15). We do so “by Him” who is signified by the burnt offerings.

Beloved brethren and children, shall we not do so? Shall we not praise Him? And those of us who are baptised have taken a vow to walk in the way of the Lord. While baptism signifies the promise of God to us, it is,—as Calvin would remind us,—a sacrament, such that those who receive it also pledge allegiance unto Christ. Shall we not offer our lives a living sacrifice (Rom 12:1-2) for the glory of God in Christ?

And shall we not especially bear witness of our Father’s love for us as did our Lord?

5. A Testimony For our
Prayer Hearing God

16 Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul. 17 I cried unto him with my mouth, and he was extolled with my tongue.

Testimonies are important, but it is important that we know who we are testifying too. Our Lord is testifying of what God has done for him as the God-Man. He is testifying of how the Father heard his prayer so that He had occasion to extol Him with his tongue. But who is He testifying to?

He is testifying to those who ‘fear God’ (v. 16). Perhaps it is more important to testify to those who fear God that God is a hearer of prayer than to those who fear Him not. For what does it matter to those who fear not God that God hears prayers? Most times the testimony will fall by the wayside or it would be cynically brushed aside. Indeed, even if the testimony is believed, the unbeliever, without a fear of God, will turn to God as they would turn to an idol. That would not do.

So testimonies are best spoken to those who fear the LORD. Those who fear the LORD are deeply encouraged whenever they hear about God hearing prayers.

But we must not leave the impression that God will always attend to our prayer. This is not true. There is one condition that will make our prayer hateful to God, namely that we harbour unconfessed and unrepented sin our heart.

So our Lord says:

18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:

This is a beautiful statement that we must bear in mind constantly. God is a prayer-hearing heavenly Father. He is not an unprincipled grandfather who would spoil His grandchildren. God would refuse to hear and answer our prayers if we regard iniquity in our heart. He hears and answers our prayers if we walk in obedience and pray according to His will.

So if anyone of us were to say: “I have no experience of having God answer our prayer, then it must be that he or she has not been praying or praying amiss or praying in sin.

Our Lord was tempted at all points like as we are, yet without sin. His prayer was always heard and answered, verse 19—

19 But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer. 20 Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.

Brothers and sisters and children in the LORD can you say these words with all honesty? May the Lord grant us help that we may sing this Psalm in sincerity and solidarity with our Head.


The apostle Paul urges us to sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to exhort and encourage one another. This is one of the songs of the Spirit which Paul must have in mind. May the Lord grant us help as we seek to encourage one another to praise the LORD by meditating on His power and goodness together, by singing His praise zealously and by testifying to one another of how God heard our prayers. Amen.

—JJ Lim