Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth; sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise. Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! Because of your great power, your enemies cringe before you. All the earth worships you; they sing praises to you, sing praises to your name.” Selah. Come and see what God has done: he is awesome in his deeds among mortals. He turned the sea into dry land; they passed through the river on foot. There we rejoiced in him, who rules by his might forever, whose eyes keep watch on the nations– let the rebellious not exalt themselves. Selah. Bless our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard, who has kept us among the living, and has not let our feet slip. [NRSV]
Selah: A side note on the word
This Psalm contains two of the seventy-four occurrences of this this word through the whole collection of Psalms. The exact meaning and purpose of ‘selah’ are not certain, but the educated guess is some earlier Hebrew instruction to the choir or those who played instruments in worship.
One tradition holds that some musical selection was played to emphasis and set apart the words for dramatic impact. Another was that the choir or congregation would speak or recite a memory verse of the day, season or tradition of those who were worshipping. For example, if we joined the choir and sang the first seven words of Fanny Crosby’s ‘Amazing Grace’ every time someone said the word ‘grace’ it would draw the congregation together in the worship when those points of emphasis were noted.
We draw attention to this only because in this passage the word SELAH is offered in two places. First at the words: “Sing Praises to your Name” and secondly “let the rebellions not exalt themselves,” so I this case, a moment of pause and emphasis refer to a reversal: Stand up when you say Praise, and Sit down to express contrition, humility and reverence. In this way it is the emphasis of the crowd standing and sitting for the camp song: “Praise Ye The Lord!” and the response “Halleujah!” So wether sitting or standing, singing or listening to music, the SELAH is a note to be attentive, and participate in the reading, hearing and living of God’s word.
God is Great. God is Good. Ps 66
- Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth;
- sing the glory of his name;
- give to him glorious praise.
- Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
- Because of your great power,
- your enemies cringe before you.
All the earth worships you;
- they sing praises to you,
- sing praises to your name.” Selah.
Come and See What God has done:
- he is awesome in his deeds among mortals.
- He turned the sea into dry land;
- they passed through the river on foot.
- There we rejoiced in him,
- who rules by his might forever,
- whose eyes keep watch on the nations–
- let the rebellious not exalt themselves. Selah.
Bless our God,
- O peoples,
- let the sound of his praise be heard,
- who has kept us among the living,
- and has not let our feet slip.
What about those of us who’ve slipped?
The Psalms are a great resource for learning how to praise God. They are filled with joy and sadness, frustration and peace, devotion and disobedience.
Psalm 66 is primarily about praise God, but what about those who are not praising God?
When you see and hear other people who are speaking hate, greed, pride, rage, selfishness, temptation, or any other witness of sin and evil: What do we say to help our brother or sister find their words and actions are leading away from God, harm to themselves, others or all of the above?
The answer is in the Psalm itself.
First, There are two pauses for reflection, Selah, Selah and some help from the choir, praise team or congregation.
Our cue is to draw on more resources than our selves. Our tendency when confronting evil, sin, or any division is to remain silent and unattached, OR we try to fight fire-with-fire. Ps 66 draws us to draw on our resources, AND
Second, we begin to focus on God’s goodness, greatness and story. My story is one of selfishness, emptiness, loneliness, greed, disappointment, anxiety, fear and frustration. But that is the story that is simply MY story.
When the story of how God has worked in my life and how God is working in my life, the story becomes God’s might works and power through me.
The Big Shift Leads to the Fall
From the beginning, when we twist God’s words, seek to rely on our own ideas, our own identity, our own correctness, our best interest, we quickly move away from God.
God doesn’t slip, we are the ones who fall away.
God is ready to claim us back when we repent, when we admit our lack of trust, when we affirm we don’t know it all, when we don’t know what is best. When find our joy and happiness in God we find what it means to be whole, loved, and complete.
The Power of Sin is greater than all I have, and it will never Give me what God has for me.
The greatest Grace and work God has done for me is to give himself on the cross and conquer sin and death and share that gift with me. It is the mighty work that we sing and shout and retell to a broken and searching world.
We come to the table today to be made whole, to start fresh, to ask God to be the mighty leader, healer, builder, who comes to restore, lead, make whole, and create in us the right and goodness God desires for us to know.
In this heart and state we have Great Good News of God’s work through us for a hurting world. “While we were yet sinner, Christ died for us.” Even when we were running away from God, God runs out to meet us with love and Grace. Give yourself to anew to Christ today!
Join us the Lord’s table.