8Bless our God, O peoples;
let the sound of his praise be heard,
9who has kept our soul among the living
and has not let our feet slip.
10For you, O God, have tested us;
you have tried us as silver is tried.
11You brought us into the net;
you laid a crushing burden on our backs;
12you let men ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water;
yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.
13I will come into your house with burnt offerings;
I will perform my vows to you,
14that which my lips uttered
and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.
15I will offer to you burnt offerings of fattened animals,
with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams;
I will make an offering of bulls and goats. Selah
16Come and hear, all you who fear God,
and I will tell what he has done for my soul.
17I cried to him with my mouth,
and high praise was on my tongue.
18If I had cherished iniquity in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened.
19But truly God has listened;
he has attended to the voice of my prayer.
20Blessed be God,
because he has not rejected my prayer
or removed his steadfast love from me!
Strife and Trouble Don’t Get the Last Word
The pattern we see in Psalm 66 is a familiar one. It begins (1-9) and ends (13-20) with praise, rejoicing, and celebration. But in the middle of the Psalm, at the very heart of this Psalm, we find strife and trouble.
The life of Job follows this pattern. At the beginning of the book, Job has many blessings, he’s joyful in his worship of God, and things are good. But then Job is afflicted. His health, wealth, family, and everything else in his life falls to pieces. However, by the end, Job is again joyful, blessed beyond anything he could have expected, and his worship of the Lord is filled with praise.
Now in the scope of Job’s life, those times of trouble were actually relatively short. But I suspect for Job those times of trouble didn’t seem short at all. That’s how things tend to go in life; the good times fly by and the tough times drag on.
In this Psalm, the verses dealing with trouble are few, only 2 ½ verses. But in life, those times of trouble and strife can feel very long.
But strife and trouble do not get the last word. Those verses dealing with trouble and strife find their fulfillment in the conclusion of verse 12, “yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.” The Psalmist then goes on rejoicing and praising the Lord once again, because God has delivered him and his people.
The Psalm reminds us that we who seek to walk with the Lord will go through times of strife. It happened with God’s people of old, it happened with His disciples, and so it will be for us as well. In the midst of such strife sometimes it can feel as if there will be no end to the strife.
But God has not forgotten us. God has “engraved you on the palms of His hands.” (Isaiah 49:16). The Son of God has been pierced for your transgressions because He has remembered you in your strife and came into the world to ultimately deliver you from such times of trouble.
God has promised that the time of testing, the time of trouble will come to an end. The resurrection of Jesus assures us that this is so.
The strife is o’er, the battle done;
Now is the victor’s triumph won;
Now be the song of praise begun.
(LSB 464 stanza 1)
So in the midst of our strife, we continue to look to Jesus, because we know that because of Him, in the end, there will be rejoicing and celebration that will never end.