Psalm 65: Giving God His Due

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Psalm 65

Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion,
    and to you shall vows be performed.
O you who hear prayer,
    to you shall all flesh come.
When iniquities prevail against me,
    you atone for our transgressions.
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!

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;
the one who by his strength established the mountains,
    being girded with might;
who stills the roaring of the seas,
    the roaring of their waves,
    the tumult of the peoples,
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.

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.
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.

Leaning Tree | Tomball, TX | February 2023

In Psalm 116 comes the question: “What shall I render to the LORD for all his benefits to me?” This psalm shows at least one answer: praise and the acknowledgement by our actions that he is the only one to whom we must come for life and salvation.

I don’t think in those terms very often. I’m more often simply thankful for God’s blessings. I am deeply aware of how desperately I depend on God’s grace, forgiveness, steadfast faithfulness and love. This psalm is a reminder that we owe God something for all his benefits, blessings, gifts, and grace to us.

This is not like the debt we cannot repay and of which we must be forgiven. Jesus tells a parable about forgiveness. He compares the debts we owe God for the sins we have committed against him with those we commit against one another. The comparison is between 10,000 talents and 100 denari. That’s 160,000 years of earnings versus 100 days of earnings. The far greater debt is the debt owed to God. It’s beyond our ability to repay. Unless God forgives us of that debt we are doomed.

The debt we owe to God for his mercy and forgiveness of that impossible-to-repay-debt is different in nature and implication. It is not something we must repay lest we forfeit God’s grace and lose our salvation. It is something that we can repay simply in the way we live.

We repay God’s favor when we praise him. When we come to him in repentance and faith, we are giving God his due. When we take the cup of salvation, celebrating God’s deliverance in the Lord’s Supper, we are repaying God for his gifts. When we extend the same kindness and mercy to others that God has extended to us, we are repaying that debt.

Perhaps it would be better to say we are giving God his due. So it’s not quite like repaying a debt – even though we speak of what is due to God. This is a response to God’s kindness, not an attempt to climb out of a hole. A debt is something from which we seek to escape. We’ve been rescued. We’re out of the hole. God has lifted us up and put us in a place of honor. This is a time to say thanks. This is a time acknowledge the extent of his kindness. We do this because we have been gifted, not to grovel and beg to be relieved of the punishment for our failures and sins. We do this to give him the thanks and praise that is due his name.

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