In conclusion, the psalmist praises God for his bountiful providence with respect to the harvest. According to some, the whole poem is essentially a harvest thanksgiving, and the poet now "comes at last to the point aimed at from the first." He traces the whole process by which the glorious termination is arrived at. First, the "early rain" descending from "the river of God," or the reservoir for rain which God guards in the heavens ( Job 38:37 ), moistening the furrows, softening the ridges, and preparing the land for the seed-corn. Then the sowing, which, being man's work, is but just touched on ( Psalms 65:9 , ad fin. ). After that, the "latter rain"—the gentle showers of March and April—which cause the grain to burst and the blade to spring, and the ear to form itself, and turn the dull fallow into a mass of greenery ( Psalms 65:10 , Psalms 65:12 ). At last, the full result—pastures clothed with flocks; valleys, the "long broad sweeps between parallel ranges of hills," covered over with corn; all nature laughing and shouting for joy ( Psalms 65:13 ).
Thou crownest the year with thy goodness. As God had begun, so he goes on to the "crowning" of the whole. And thy paths drop fatness. As he moves about, visiting the earth ( Psalms 65:9 ), there drop from him fertility and abundance.
The lessons of harvest.
"Thou crownest the year," etc. Men see what they have eyes to see. The farmer looks on the field of golden grain, ripe for the sickle, and sees the reward of his toil and return for his capitol. The painter sees a glorious subject for a picture. The economist thinks of prices, averages, national prosperity. The devout Christian sees God's hand opening to answer the prayer for daily bread. Now, it is one leading characteristic of the Scripture writers that they see God in everything. In this light let us try to read the lessons of harvest.
I. THANKFULNESS . Literal rendering in margin, "Thou crownest the year of thy goodness," which some take to refer to some special year of remarkably bountiful harvest. Perhaps rather the thought is that God's unceasing goodness runs through the whole circle of the seasons, though the harvest is the crowning manifestation ( Matthew 5:45 ; Acts 14:17 ; 2 Corinthians 9:10 ). Grace at meals should be no dead form, but the welling-up and outpouring of new thankfulness for fresh goodness. God's hand spreads the daily table for all creatures. As the secret spring of life is in him, so all that nourishes and maintains life is from him. Hence our Saviour makes the gift of daily bread the image of himself—"the Bread of Life" ( John 6:33 , John 6:35 , John 6:48-51 ).
II. OBEDIENCE TO LAW . God works according to those unchanging laws which he has ordained—unchanging as long as the present order of the world continues ( Genesis 8:22 ). Human labour is profitable only as it conforms to those laws. He who would reap in harvest-time must sow in seed-time. The natural is the image of the spiritual order ( Galatians 6:7-9 ).
III. PATIENCE . ( James 5:7 .) Here also our Lord bids us see the spiritual order ( Mark 4:26-29 ). Do not expect ripe ears in January. Be patient with your children, your scholars, your hearers; yea, let the Christian even be patient with himself.
IV. COOPERATION . The ploughman, sower, reaper, must join their toil; and the ploughman did not make his plough, the sower his basket, the reaper his sickle. Other hands built the garner. Who can reckon how many hands have combined their labour to place on our table a single loaf (Rein. Psalms 14:7 )?
V. HOPE . Under dark wintry skies, beneath frost and snow, the grain is growing, which summer suns shall ripen. The worst harvest that was ever reaped kept Alive the germs of all the harvests that have since grown or ever will ( 1 Corinthians 15:58 ). And note, that as long as the grain is stored, it preserves life (even for centuries), but produces none. It must be flung away and buried, and, as grain, must perish, for the hidden life to burst forth. Hence our Lord makes it the image of his life-giving death ( John 12:24 ), and St. Paul of resurrection ( 1 Corinthians 15:35-38 ).
The three great Jewish feasts had reference to the harvest. The Passover was kept early in the year, when the barley harvest was begun, and a sheaf of the firstfruits was offered as a thank offering (Le 23:10). Fifty days later came Pentecost, when the wheat was ripe; and then two loaves of the new corn were presented (Le 23:17). Last of all was the Feast of Tabernacles, when the fruits of the earth had been gathered in, and the people gave thanks and rejoiced before the Lord with "the joy of harvest" (Le 23:40; Deuteronomy 16:13-17 ). This psalm is a song of thanksgiving to God for the harvest.
I. THE RIGHT STANDPOINT . Israel was a people near to God. They had been separated from other nations. They enjoyed special privileges and blessings. "Zion" was to them the great centre of unity. Thither the tribes went up. There the people, with their rulers, assembled to worship God. As with them, so with us. Our worship must be ruled by God's will as revealed to us. We can only come before him with acceptance when we come through Jesus Christ. Our standpoint also is "Zion" ( Matthew 18:20 ; Ephesians 2:11-18 ; Hebrew Ephesians 2:22 -28).
II. THE SPIRIT IN WHICH WE SHOULD DRAW NEAR .
1 . With unfeigned faith. "Waiting" expresses quiet confidence. It is both "praise" and "prayer."
2 . With assured hope in God ' s mercy. Sin meets us when we come before God. It fills our hearts with shame and apprehension. But when we look to Christ we are comforted. In him we have redemption and the forgiveness of sins. It is as sinners pardoned that we should praise God. All God's gifts are enhanced in value when we take them from the hands of the Crucified.
3 . With adoring thanksgiving. Relieved of sin, our hearts rise in joy to God ( Psalms 65:4 ). God in Christ is the true home of our souls. Here we reach peace. Here we are made glad in the light of our Father's face, and enriched out of the fulness of his grace and truth. Nay, more. Remembering God's "great love," and "the exceeding riches of his grace, in his kindness towards us" ( Ephesians 2:7 ), and realizing the power of Christ, we can rejoice in hope of the blessedness of the coming time when the "God of our salvation" shall be the Confidence of all the ends of the earth, and the people of every kindred and tongue shall sing his praise.
III. THE SUBJECTS WINCH SHOULD SPECIALLY ENGAGE OUR ATTENTION . The world is not a dead world, a mere piece of mechanism, subject to cold material laws. It is God's world, and is ruled by God's laws. Looking back, we should recall the great events of the year. We may consider what is general —national, social, and religious blessings common to all. Not only mercies, but chastisements; forevery chastisement is, when rightly received, a blessing. How comforting to know that the same God who "by his strength setteth fast the mountains" is the God "who heareth prayer;" that the same God "who stilleth the noise of the seas and the tumult of the people" is the "God of our salvation"! In particular we should consider God's goodness in the harvest ( Psalms 65:8-13 ). How vivid and beautiful is the picture! We see the various stages, from the sowing of the seed onward to the reaping time; from the sweet greenness of spring to the golden glow and manifold glories of harvest. All this is of God. "He worketh hitherto." During all the ages of the past he has blessed the labours of the husbandman, and every year we see new proofs of his faithfulness, and enjoy richer manifestations of his love and bounty. "While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest …shall not cease" ( Genesis 8:22 ), and as often as the harvest comes round God's Name will be praised.—W.F.
Reasons for praising God.
"Can hardly doubt that this psalm was composed on the occasion of an abundant harvest, and was intended to be sung as a hymn of thanksgiving by the whole congregation gathered before God in Zion." God is praised under three aspects.
I. AS THE GOD OF THE CHURCH . ( Psalms 65:1-5 .) "Whom thou choosest, and causest to approach."
1 . He is the Hearer of all true prayer. ( Psalms 65:2 .) "Unto thee doth all flesh come" in dependence and prayer.
2 . He pardons iniquity and transgression. ( Psalms 65:3 .) Pardons those who become conscious of their sins, and are persistent.
3 . Satisfies the desires of those whom he draws to himself. ( Psalms 65:4 .) God inspires the worship he rewards with such satisfying blessings.
4 . Manifests his righteousness in the salvation of his people.
II. AS THE GOD WHO REVEALS HIMSELF IN NATURE . ( Psalms 65:6-8 .)
1 . His work in nature manifests omnipotence. ( Psalms 65:6 .) "Setteth fast the mountains," etc.
2 . He overrules the greatest disturbances of nature and the nations. ( Psalms 65:7 .)
3 . Man and nature both ultimately subject to him.
3 . Man is afraid, but nature sings of God in the morning and in the evening. ( Psalms 65:8 .) The ignorant heathen are afraid, not those who know God.
III. AS THE GOD OF THE HARVEST . ( Psalms 65:9-13 .)
3 . God is the great Shepherd of the earth. ( Psalms 65:13 .) The pastures are clothed with flocks.—S.