PSALM 65 - In Praise of Providence

Summer Psalms 2022  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  41:25
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Christians come to worship to bring the praise due God's name for His providence in their deliverance

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I haven’t mowed my lawn in about three weeks. A while ago I ran the mower deck as high as I could, just to lop off all the six-inch high Dutch clover sprigs that were still shooting up out of the crispy dead grass, but the lawn hasn’t fared well through this dry spell!
Of course, there is a significant portion of our ruling elites who will tell us that our crispy lawns and empty rain barrels is a direct result of our refusal to use curlicue lightbulbs or quit using fossil fuels and start driving electric cars—that only they can rescue us from so-called “climate change” (provided that we turn over more and more power to them!) It is a mark of the hubris of our age to believe that mankind possesses the power to change the way the planet’s climate works! This is just another example of our wanting to usurp God’s authority over us—we don’t want to have to admit that we depend on Him for even the weather!
But of course this is just foolishness, isn’t it? Because the Scriptures are plain that God is the God of the weather outside our window and the climate that impacts our whole planet. When that rain moved through last Sunday and Monday, it was the hand of God:
Deuteronomy 11:14–15 (ESV)
14 he will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil. 15 And he will give grass in your fields for your livestock, and you shall eat and be full.
And when there is drought, this too is from His hand:
Deuteronomy 11:16–17 (ESV)
16 Take care lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them; 17 then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and he will shut up the heavens, so that there will be no rain, and the land will yield no fruit, and you will perish quickly off the good land that the Lord is giving you.
The psalm before us today was most likely written to praise God for an abundant harvest that came after a time of drought:
Psalm 65:9–10 (ESV)
9 You visit the earth and water it; you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provide their grain, for so you have prepared it. 10 You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth.
This is a fitting and proper reason to praise God, since He is the One Who controls not only the weather and climate, but all of the processes and developments in heaven, on earth, and under the earth. As we consider God’s unassailable and total control over everything in creation, the word we use to describe that complete authority and control is sovereignty. When we say God is sovereign over all things, we are talking about His “absolute independence to do as He pleases and His absolute control over the actions of all His creatures” (Bridges, J. (2017). Trusting God (Reprint ed.). NavPress.)
So from one standpoint, we might say that Psalm 65 is about God’s sovereignty over the things it mentions—He ordains the rain on the hills, subdues the turbulent peoples, brings sinners to Himself, and so on. But this psalm wasn’t just written to praise God for His authority over these things; it is written to praise Him for how His authority moved to accomplish His purposes for His people. God holds sovereign and utter control over the weather, and He uses that sovereign control to bless His people. This is what theologians mean when they speak about the providence of God—the purpose behind His sovereign control over all things.
So we can define God’s providence this way:
PROVIDENCE OF GOD: “God’s purposeful SOVEREIGNTY by which he will be completely SUCCESSFUL in the achievement of his ultimate GOAL for the UNIVERSE.”
As I pray that you will see from this psalm, the great comfort and hope that we have in God—the reason that this psalm calls us to give Him the praise that He is due—is not for the mere fact of His sovereignty, but for the way He purposefully employs His sovereign rule over all things as a reflection of His gracious and loving character. This is the first of four psalms in a row all addressed “To The Choirmaster”—in other words, these psalms were written to instruct God’s people on the reasons that He should be praised. The way I want to summarize Psalm 65, then is that this psalm is teaching us to
Praise the PROVIDENCE of God that DELIVERS you from DESOLATION
When you come here in this worship service, you come to praise God. And Psalm 65 instructs you to praise Him for His providential work in your life; for the ways that He has delivered and strengthened and provided and led and instructed and protected you.
I don’t know what kind of week you have had (or what kind of month, or year…) maybe you have been struggling under a load of shame and guilt because of your battles with sin; maybe you came here this morning full of anxiety after watching a particularly troubling report about the state of our rebellious nation or tumultuous world; maybe you have come here with a spiritual life as crispy and brown as a drought-stricken lawn—in the midst of a season of spiritual drought, disappointment with God or dryness of devotion—you’re just not “feeling it” in your walk with God.
I don’t know what circumstances you are in as you have come to worship this morning; I do know what the Word of God requires of you this morning—that you offer God the praise He is due for His providential care over you. And so I want you to walk through these verses with me so that we can see together the reasons that God is worthy to be praised—so that God’s living and active and powerful Word will go to work in your heart to spark in you the praise that He is due, that you will see and rejoice in Him as the God whose providence delivers you from the desolation that is your natural state apart from Him.
Look at verses 1-4 with me:
Psalm 65:1–4 (ESV)
1 Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion, and to you shall vows be performed. 2 O you who hear prayer, to you shall all flesh come. 3 When iniquities prevail against me, you atone for our transgressions. 4 Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple!
The first reason that your praise is due to God this morning is because

I. He brings HOLINESS out of DEPRAVITY (Psalm 65:1-4)

The first and greatest reason that you have, Christian, to praise God’s providence this morning, is that
He has ATONED for your TRANSGRESSIONS against Him (v. 3; Isa 53:5)
When the record of your “iniquities”—the Hebrew word means “twistedness” or “perversions”—when the record of your iniquities prevail against you with recurring shame, with burdensome guilt that hounds you—praise God for the fact that He has paid the price for all of them through Christ!
As Isaiah prophesied about that Atonement:
Isaiah 53:5 (ESV)
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.
Your guilt has been atoned—it has been paid for—by the blood of Jesus Christ!
And in verse 4 the psalmist reminds you that it is by God’s providence that you have come to Him:
Psalm 65:4 (ESV)
4 Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts!
He not only atoned for your transgressions against Him, but
He ORDERED your STEPS to Him (v. 4; cp. Acts 17:26-27)
God’s purposeful sovereignty—His providence—brought you near to Him! He so ordered your steps so that you would come to Him, He orchestrated the times and seasons and events of your life so that when the time was just right you would reach out and find Him (Acts 17:26-27). Before you ever thought to draw near to Him, He providentially drew you to Himself by faith in Jesus Christ who purchased your atonement, taking away your old heart of rebellion and indifference to His holiness, and giving you a heart that is satisfied with His goodness and holiness!
Draw near to praise the providence of God that delivers you from your desolation of sin and rebellion, and draws you to Himself by faith in the atonement provided by the blood of Christ on the Cross. He brings holiness out of depravity, and in verses 5-8 we see that we are to praise God’s providence because

II. He brings RULE out of CHAOS (Psalm 65:5-8)

David goes on to instruct his people to sing in verses 5-8:
Psalm 65:5–8 (ESV)
5 By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas; 6 the one who by his strength established the mountains, being girded with might; 7 who stills the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples, 8 so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs. You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy.
David brings in the imagery of the mountains and seas, and God’s complete control over them—His strength “established the mountains”, and His power “stills the roaring of the seas”. But there is more to these verses than just God’s sovereignty over mountains and oceans—we can pick that up from the end of verse 7, where David equates the “roaring of the waves” with “the tumult of the peoples”.
Throughout the Old Testament (and into the New Testament as well), imagery of mountains and seas are used to describe governments and peoples—for instance, in Isaiah 2, God’s kingdom is described as the “mountain of the LORD”—and in Daniel 2, the stone that struck the image in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream became “a mountain that filled the whole earth” (Daniel 2:35)—an image of the kingdom of God. (Daniel 2:44).
And so I think it is fitting for us to see here in Psalm 65 that when David sings of God’s establishing the mountains in His strength, he is not just singing about God’s power and control reflected in the majesty and immensity of Mount Everest, but is also meant to remind us that
He is SOVEREIGN over KINGDOMS (vv. 5-6; cp. Acts 4:27-28)
The providence of God means that He is in control over the kingdoms of this world. Even unruly kingdoms and rebellious governments and wicked rulers are tools in His hand to accomplish all of His purposes. They try to thwart Him or rebel against Him or nullify His laws, but even their attempts to stop Him do nothing but advance His purposes!
This is what Peter told the crowds in his Pentecost sermon in Acts 4--
Acts 4:27–28 (ESV)
27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.
All of the governments of Judea and Rome—Pilate and Herod together, Jews and Gentiles alike—united to stop Jesus; but it was God’s hand that moved them! God used their rebellion against Him to accomplish His greatest purpose—the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God the Son whose kingdom is even now growing into a mountain that will fill the entire earth!
Praise is due your God in His providential care over you, Christian—He is sovereign over kingdoms, and
He SUBDUES the UNGOVERNABLE (vv. 7-8; cp. Psalm 2; Mal. 1:11)
Psalm 65:7–8 (ESV)
7 who stills the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples, 8 so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs. You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy.
The mobs of people who surge and roar against His authority, the chanting and jeering multitudes who protest and rail against the way He created the world (and the way He created them), the seas of people who, in their spite and rage are trying to burst their bonds and cast away the cords of His decrees about sexuality, marriage, the dignity of the unborn—the masses who demand that they be free of any and every constraint that God and His unalterable decrees place upon them—God stills their roaring and silences their tumult!
But look carefully at how He does this—He could “still” them by destroying them, but instead, He silences them by bringing them into awe of Him!
Psalm 65:8 (ESV)
8 so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs. You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy.
He does not destroy them; He transforms them from enemies to worshippers! The beautiful sentence at the end of the verse is a picture of the peoples in the East (where the sun rises in the morning) to the West (where it sets in the evening) are people who are no longer screaming in rebellion at God, but shouting with joy in Him!
Malachi 1:11 (ESV)
11 For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts.
The providential care of God—His purposeful sovereignty at work in the otherwise ungovernable peoples of the world—means that He is, by the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, transforming His enemies into His children! Taking children of wrath, as Paul says in Ephesians 2, and transforming them by His great mercy into beloved children of His grace!
Praise is due the God of such providential power—the purposeful sovereignty of your God that brings order out of chaos, Whose providence turns rebellious kingdoms into tools of His purposes, Who turns His enemies into His children by the power of His grace in the Gospel!
Praise the providence of God that delivers you from desolation, Christian! He brings holiness out of depravity, He brings order out of chaos, and

III. He brings ABUNDANCE out of DROUGHT (Psalm 65:9-13)

Look at the imagery of God watering the dryness in verses 9-10 of Psalm 65:
Psalm 65:9-10 (ESV)
9 You visit the earth and water it; you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provide their grain, for so you have prepared it. 10 You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth.
As David called his people to praise God for bringing their harvest out of a drought, so in the same way, Christian
God will WATER your DRYNESS with His PRESENCE (vv. 9-10)
Notice in verse 9 that God visits the earth and waters it; it is not just that He sends water to be delivered to the dry, parched, hard-packed ground, He personally brings it. If God is providentially governing the coming and going of the rains, that means that not only the watering of the ground, but the dryness of the ground is in His hands.
If God’s providence governs your dryness, Christian, then take heart that He will always visit you in that dryness. You may look on the barrenness of your soul today, mourning over the dryness and fruitlessness you are facing, wondering how you will ever bring forth the fruit of joy out of soil dry and hard-packed as concrete—but God promises that He will not leave you in that dryness!
Psalm 126:5–6 (ESV)
5 Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! 6 He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.
Your God is the God who sees your thirst for Him and comes to you to satisfy that thirst in Him, softening your hard-packed, dry soul with showers of His presence, blessing its growth—your God is the God who simply had to pass through Samaria because there was a thirsty woman at a well outside of Sychar that He was going to visit; He is the God who stands up in the midst of the dry religious observance of an Old Testament feast and promises rivers of living water to flow out of the hearts of those who thirst for Him (John 7:37).
Christian, praise the providence of God that delivers you from the desolation of your spiritual dryness—He will water your dryness with His presence and
He will OVERFLOW your PROVISION with His JOY (vv. 11-13; cp. Ecclesiastes 5:19)
Look at the imagery in verses 11-13:
Psalm 65:11–13 (ESV)
11 You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with abundance. 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 phrase “wagon tracks” can also be translated “chariot tracks”—think of that for a moment! What kind of wake does a king in his chariot leave behind him? A military campaign leaves behind destruction, misery, bloodshed, violence and grief—look at what the Russian forces are doing to the Ukrainian people, for example.
But what does the chariot of YHWH leave in His wake? “Abundance”—(the KJV says, “thy paths drop fatness...”) The visitation of God in your dryness, Christian, does not just bring the water of life to you, softening the harsh, dry soil of your heart, but His visitation leaves fullness and abundance in its wake!
And that abundance isn’t merely physical abundance (or financial abundance, as some weak and foolish teachers insist). Look carefully here in these verses and you will see that the real gift in these verses isn’t the grain—it’s the joy that comes with the grain!
The Scriptures are plain that the mere presence of abundance of physical gifts is not enough:
Ecclesiastes 6:2 (ESV)
2 a man to whom God gives wealth, possessions, and honor, so that he lacks nothing of all that he desires, yet God does not give him power to enjoy them, but a stranger enjoys them. This is vanity; it is a grievous evil.
The real gift of God is not the provision He makes for you, it is the joy He gives you in them!
Ecclesiastes 5:19 (ESV)
19 Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God.
David makes it as clear as can be in the closing verses of Psalm 65 that the real abundance that God has given His people isn’t just a good harvest of full granaries and healthy flocks—the real gift of God in His visitation of His people is in the ability to rejoice in that provision!
Beloved, have you come here today with a soul as parched and dry as drought-stricken grass under your feet? Have you come here today full of anxiety over the state of our nation, have you come here weighed down with your weakness and ineffectiveness in your battles with sin?
God’s Word calls you here in Psalm 65 to praise the providence of God who delivers you from your desolation. Marvel again at the providence of God that so ordered even the hatred and malice of Herod and Pilate and the Jews and the Romans so that the greatest sin in all of human history—the murder of the Son of God—was at the same time the greatest act of righteousness in all of history: The salvation of all of God’s people by the death of Jesus Christ!
And in the same way, marvel again at how the providence of this God so ordered the events of your life and so ordained the movements of your heart that, when the time was just right, you turned to Him in faith, calling on that crucified and risen Savior for your atonement!
Marvel—and let your marveling fuel your praise for the providence of this God who has moved in His mighty purposeful sovereignty to cause you to dwell in Him, satisfying you with His holiness that He is working into you day by day through His Holy Spirit who has made you His temple!
When the insolent and usurping voices of your ruling elites echo down to you from the heights of their mountainous ego and bureaucratic pride, rejoice again in the providence of God who sets up kings and removes kings, who has established not only the mountain ranges of the world but has also established every government and kingdom and congress in the world—which means He reigns over them, and even their insolent arrogance that tries to throw off His rule from their shoulders cannot succeed! Jesus Christ reigns over the nations, and His purposeful sovereignty will not be thwarted; His will shall be done on earth as it is in Heaven!
And at the end of the day today, as you look out over the western horizon and see the brilliant, joyful colors of the sunset sky, praise God for His providential care over you that turned you from His enemy to His child! Look at the beauty spread out before you and stand again in awe of your God—not only for the beauty of the world that He has created, but for the beauty that He is creating in your holiness.
You, who were once His enemy, who once cared nothing for His laws and took no thought of the guilt of your sin against Him. In His perfect timing, He transformed you from a child of His wrath into an object of His delight—bringing His holiness out of your depravity, bringing His order out of chaos, bringing His abundance out of your drought.
And if you are here this morning apart from faith in Christ; if you have no share in this salvation because you have never repented of your sin and trusted Him for your salvation, then here is the Good News for you: You are not here by accident. There is no “random chance” in this universe; there is not one rogue molecule that is not under the direct, sovereign control of God Himself. But His sovereign control is not arbitrary, it is not capricious; God has an eternal and glorious purpose in all that He does. The Word of God says that God’s purpose is
Colossians 1:20 (ESV)
20 reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of [Christ’s] cross.
Friend, you may think that your attendance here today is a coincidence or a random chance or a last-minute decision. But be assured that your presence here at this hour has been providentially arranged by the purposes of God from before the foundation of the world. He has brought you here to hear this Gospel—that you are a wretched, miserable sinner who has infinitely offended the perfect holiness of God, but God has made atonement for the iniquities that stand against you—He has sent His only Son, fully God and fully man, who suffered and died a death on the Cross that He did not deserve so that you would receive a righteousness from Him that you do not deserve.
The Scriptures call you this morning:
Romans 10:9–11 (ESV)
9 ...if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”
The providence of God has brought you here this morning to hear this message, to hear this declaration of the Gospel. He has providentially arranged for you to hear this message so that He may transform you from His enemy to His beloved child, to atone for your sins, grant you order out of your chaos, and transform the drought of your life into the overflowing abundance of joy in Him as your greatest treasure. So make this the best of all of your days, lay down your sin, your guilt, your shame, your dry barrenness and come—and welcome!—to Jesus Christ!
Jude 24–25 (ESV)
24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.


Consider again the definition of God’s providence. How do the attributes of God’s sovereignty and providence overlap? How are they different? How does Psalm 65 illustrate the providence of God in your life?
Read Psalm 65:1 again. How does this verse say you are to come into the presence of God in worship? What conditions in your life hinder you from praising God? How does reflecting on His providential care for you fuel your ability to praise Him?
Make a list this week of all of the ways you have seen God’s providence at work in your life. Each day, make it a point to praise Him for His providential care that has brought you to saving faith in Jesus Christ, the source of all your joy!
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