After the Introduction in Psalm 66:1-4, summoning "all the earth" to praise Yahweh (verses 1, 4), the first main section of Psalm 66 is verses 5-12. Here the psalmist summons "all the earth" to "come and see" what Yahweh has done for the purpose of convincing them to worship the one true God, who is universal king and "rules by his might forever" (verse 7a). For convenience, we will discuss verses 5-12 in two parts. First we will consider verses 5-7:
"Come and see what God has done:
he is awesome in his deeds among mortals.
He turned the sea into dry land;
they passed through the river on foot.
There we rejoiced in him,
who rules by his might forever,
whose eyes keep watch on the nations--
let the rebellious not exalt themselves."
1. The imperatives "come" and "see" are plural, addressing the "peoples" (verse 8a), that is, the nations of the earth, therefore, "all the earth" (verses 1, 4), as the context shows. See the similar summons in Psalm 46:8. Here a spokesman for God's chosen people Israel calls all nations to see what Yahweh has done for his people as an object lesson to the nations to enable them to see what Yahweh does and who Yahweh is, so they will forsake their gods and their false ways and turn to the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, the everlasting king.
2. The composer of Psalm 66 highlights three "awesome deeds" Yahweh has done for his people Israel: (a) Yahweh delivered his people from Egyptian oppression (verse 6), (b) Yahweh led his people safely for forty years in the wilderness (verses 10-12b), and (c) Yahweh gave his people the land of Canaan (verse 12c). Exodus 15:11 refers to Yahweh's deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage as "awesome" (see the same term connected with Yahweh's reign as king in Psalms 47:2; 65:5; 96:3; 99:3; 145:6).
3. The ultimate purpose of Yahweh's mighty acts (awesome deeds) in behalf of his people is to convince the nations that Yahweh alone is God. Terence E. Fretheim, Exodus, Interpretation Commentary Series, 1991, page 13, writes:
"While the liberation of Israel is the focus of God's activity, it is not the ultimate purpose. The deliverance of Israel is ultimately for the sake of all creation (see Exodus 9:16). The issue for God is finally not that God's name be made known in Israel but that it be declared to the entire earth. God's purpose in these events is creation-wide. What is at stake is God's mission for the world for as Exodus 9:29 and 19:5 put it, 'All the earth is God's' (cf. Exodus 8:22; 9:14)."
4. Whether non-human creation, the nations, or God's people know and acknowledge it or not, Yahweh "rules by his might forever" (verse 7a), that is, he is universal king (Jeremiah 10:7, 10), and "his eyes keep watch on the nations" (verse 7b) in loving care and in evaluating scrutiny. Hebrews 4:13 says: "And before him [God] no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account."
Let us open our eyes wide to see God's awesome deeds; then let us open our hearts wide to proclaim Yahweh's royal power to all humankind.