Commentary by Dr Noel Donnelly

Psalm 66 Commentary
Psalm 66 is short, cheery and profound.
It starts with a prayer for God’s continuing blessing. Firstly the singer asks this
blessing for the people making the plea, but then the prayer extends to one
that recognises God’s face shining on “all the earth”. This is a psalm that
reaches out beyond Israel’s boundaries, especially beyond any narrow mindset
that has an exclusive understanding of God’s favour, seeing this love as
narrowly focussed on Israel. We might call Psalm 66 an ecumenical psalm. It
calls for a joining together of “all nations” in prayer to God who has provided a
good harvest.
But verse 3 tells us that God’s rule is one that seeks fairness, and so this is a
guide for our fair approach to food for all the earth.
In this psalm we are constantly reminded … at least twelve times … that God’s
face shines beyond my particular religious group or denomination.
There’s also an interesting structure to this psalm for those of us who are
accustomed to antiphonal singing. The psalm has a sung response or chorus
after verses 3 and 5: “Let ALL the nations praise you, O Lord; let ALL the
peoples praise you!” In this case the praise is for a good harvest. It makes me
think: is this praise something I might easily forget in my trips to the busy
supermarkets? I could do well to remember there’s more to food harvesting
than science and economics. Behind everything there’s the voice of the Lord
calling for a fair and just sharing. If John Lennon had written his song “Imagine”
today, I guess he may have had a line “Imagine there’s no foodbanks! I hope
some day you’ll join us.” After singing psalm 66 we can do more than just

Psalm 66: words (c) The Grail, England; music (c) Gerry Fitzpatrick; recorded by Catriona Glen and the St Mungo Singers