May God be gracious to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine on us. So that Your way may be known on the earth, your salvation among all nations. Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You. Let the nations be glad and sing for joy; for you will judge the peoples with uprightness, and guide the nations on the earth. Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You. The earth has yielded its produce; God, our God, blesses us. God blesses us, so that all the ends of the earth may fear Him.Psalm 67
Psalm 67 is unusual in the Hebrew scriptures in that it shows a concern for the Gentiles to know God. Rather than calling for God to punish or destroy them like we find in other places, it wants them to be saved. The psalmist assumes that the way the Gentiles will turn to God is through seeing how Israel is blessed. In other words, it asks God for blessing not out of self-concern but out of a desire to demonstrate that God is so much more able to provide for his people than other gods, that the nations would be better off following him. It’s an apologetic not very popular in evangelical circles these days, partly through concern about the rise of prosperity teaching.
The psalm has five paragraphs, two of which are essentially repeated – verses 1-2 and 6-7, verses 3 and 5, and verse 4, which stands on its own. This is a classic Hebrew poetry pattern of A B C B A where paragraphs A mirror each other providing an introduction and conclusion, paragraphs B mirror each other focussing in towards the main theme, and paragraph C in the middle which is the crux of the poem. The essence of this is that unlike in European poetry, which generally builds towards a conclusion in the last line, in Hebrew poetry the most important bit is in the middle. In other words, the whole word can rejoice, because when they turn to God they too will be blessed.
An important point to notice is that in verse 2, the word for salvation in Hebrew is Yeshua – the Hebrew name of Jesus! We could equally read it that the psalmist is praying that all nations will know Jesus. This is what we as mission workers also are looking for, and we can be encouraged that as God blesses us we can use his miraculous provision for us as a witness to others. Even in adversity the comfort and strength we receive from God can be a testimony to our neighbours. Many of us, just like the psalmist, will be telling them that our God is stronger/more compassionate/more holy/more real than their idols, and hoping to reveal that in the way we live our lives, so that they too can come to know Yeshua.
I try to pray this psalm daily, as a reminder that when God blesses me, it’s not for me to keep for my own benefit – it’s for me to use to show his wisdom and power to a world which does not yet know him.
First published at www.syzygy.org.uk on 13 May 2019.
The views expressed in this blog post are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the GC network.