Psalm 66: Have You Heard?

Read Psalm 66.

Rahab the prostitute lived within the walls of Jericho, so she knew how solid they were. The people of Israel were coming, she had heard, but they had no horses or chariots. Their “army” consisted of former slaves; none of these “soldiers” had any military training. By all standard measures, it would seem Rahab and her family would be perfectly safe from invasion.

But that’s only by standard measures. There’s nothing “standard” about the God of Israel.

The people of Jericho heard what God had done to the Egyptians—and they were filled with terror (Joshua 2:9). Rahab, for her part, took that fear and made it faith. If God could topple the world’s superpower, she didn’t want to be fighting against Him; she wanted to be under His hand of protection. So when Israelite spies showed up one day, Rahab knew what she had to do: commit treason.

That’s right. Rahab switched sides. She gave her loyalty to Yahweh. She helped the spies, and when Joshua and the people of Israel returned to topple Jericho’s formidable walls, they rescued Rahab and her family, “and she lives among the Israelites to this day” (6:25). She even made her way into the family line of Jesus (Matthew 1:5).

This change in identity, this uprooting, this new life—it all came about because of how she responded to what she heard. In Psalm 66, the psalmist is asking the world to follow Rahab’s example: “Come and see what God has done, his awesome deeds for mankind! He turned the sea into dry land, they passed through the waters on foot—come, let us rejoice in him” (vv. 5­–6).

Of course, the crossing of the Red Sea and the crossing of the Jordan, the two event where God’s people walked through water on dry ground, were part of Israel’s history. No one could “come and see” those moments without a time machine (and we all know how hard it can be to generate the necessary 1.21 gigawatts), so what the psalmist is really saying is, “Take a look at us—the people of Israel. Our very existence is a miracle. God rescued our ancestors by opening up the sea so they could walk on dry ground! We wouldn’t be here, except by the Lord’s power!”

The people in the psalmist’s day (and in ours) are standing in the same place that Rahab stood. When the spies showed up in her home, she had not seen God’s miracle of deliverance with her own eyes. She could only go on what she had heard. She chose to believe and to bend to the will of God accordingly.

But that’s not the only way these things go. Just consider how some of the Pharisees reacted when they heard that Jesus had delivered a blind and mute man who had been possessed by a demon: “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons” (Matthew 12:24).

These were Pharisees, men renowned for their piety and devotion to God’s Word. But when they heard what God had done in their community, their gut response was to reject it out of hand. Worse than that, they attributed the miracle to the power of Satan. Imagine that—they had no problem believing the devil could be at work in their midst, but God? Well, He’s another story. Despite their heritage as Jews of Israel, despite their knowledge and their training, they couldn’t see God at work. For all their blessings, they were no better than the people of Jericho who fought against the work of God and were destroyed.

The thing about faith, though, is that it soon turns to sight. Years after Jericho fell, Rahab could look around at the blessings of God in her life and tell others what God had done. So can those who trust Jesus. With joy, our words can be the words of the psalmist: “Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me” (Psalm 66:16).

What is this all about?

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