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It has always been God’s intention that His people would bear witness of Him in the midst of the nations (Deu 4:5-8; Isa 43:10-13). By doing so in obedience to Him, the people would also be abundantly blessed. As a result, Israel, as the offspring of Abraham in whom all nations are blessed, would be the channel through which God’s blessing would go to the nations (Gen 12:3). Israel, however, did not fulfill that mission, but turned away from God and followed the idols of the nations.
Yet God will fulfill His purposes with His people. His people will bear witness to the way He has gone with them. That testimony will have an effect; the nations will want to know their God in order to be blessed as well (Zec 8:23; Isa 2:3). All the good that God gives to Israel will serve for the good of man and the earth. That is the subject of this psalm.
It is the shortest prophetic psalm with a wonderful description of the condition of the nations during the realm of peace. It is the seventh in this series of prophetic psalms.
Prayer for God’s Blessing
For “for the choir director; with stringed instruments” (Psa 67:1a) see at Psalm 4:1.
For “a Psalm. A Song” see at Psalm 65:1.
The beginning (Psa 67:1b) and end (Psa 67:6-7) of this prayer recall the priestly blessing (Num 6:24-26). This priestly blessing is requested here by the whole people. God’s people here are, according to God’s original purpose, a priestly people (Exo 19:5-6). It will be so in the realm of peace (Isa 61:6). Their priestly service relates not only to God, but also to the nations. The blessing they seek for themselves will also go through them to the nations (cf. Rom 11:12). This fulfills the promise to Abraham: “And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Gen 12:3b).
There is no right to blessing. Therefore, any request for blessing can only be made in the awareness of grace. That is why this prayer begins by asking God to be gracious. God is the source of all grace. In His grace He wants to bless. We must be well aware that it is mere grace when God blesses us. God can bless on the basis of the new covenant. The new covenant involves a Mediator Who fulfilled all the conditions of the covenant. Therefore, for Israel, blessing is based on grace. Another has fulfilled the conditions and paid the price.
God’s blessing makes life on earth not only possible, but also pleasant. He takes away the curse and judgment from His own and in return “causes His face to shine”. It indicates that He receives His own into His presence and cares for them there in love. He does so with joy.
According to an old Jewish interpretation, “His face” is the Christ. Similarly, in the New Testament we find that the glory of God has shone in the face of Jesus Christ (2Cor 4:6). ‘His face to shine’ means that He is gracious. That is also the meaning in Numbers 6: “The LORD make His face shine on you, and [=, is equivalent to] be gracious to you” (Num 6:25). It means that someone is pleasing to Him. The opposite is: His face is dark = He is angry.
The Nations Will Praise God
The request for grace and blessing is not only to enjoy it ourselves, but in order that a testimony may proceed from it (cf. Jn 7:38) “on the earth”, “among all the nations” (Psa 67:2; Gen 12:3b). Through the grace and blessing God gives His people, people on earth will know God’s way. This is the way to receive that blessing as well, which means being brought into relationship with the God of Israel. This is only possible through repentance of sin and conversion to God and faith in Christ. He is the way to God (1Pet 3:18) and came forth from Israel as Man (Rom 9:5). This is also the way by which the remnant receives that grace and blessing.
When the nations will see God’s blessing on His people, when they see His salvation that He has given His people in Christ, they will also desire to possess that salvation. Thus they will come to desire to know the God of Israel as their God. If that God is also their God through repentance and regeneration and faith in the Messiah, they will have a part in all the blessings that God has given His people. They will be allowed, by their connection with God’s people, to know the God of that people as the source of grace and blessing.
The result is that the peoples will praise God (Psa 67:3). They will have the same incentive to praise God as His people Israel. Grace and blessing has also been given to them and the light of God’s face shines upon them as well. It is all grace alone, just as it is for God’s people (Rom 11:32). Once again the psalmist says that the peoples will praise God, while now he adds an emphatic “all”, “all the peoples”. The point is that God receives the praise of all who share in the grace and blessing.
The joy and rejoicing of the nations is not only caused by the grace granted, but also by the justice with which God will rule over the peoples (Psa 67:4). God can show mercy when His righteousness is acknowledged. This is true for the sinner in all ages and also for the nations in the time that is coming when His people come to repentance and confession of their sins. This will happen after the rapture of the church, when He will pour out the Spirit of grace and of prayer over His people. Then they will come to repentance because they will see Him Whom they have pierced (Zec 12:10-14).
God will rule righteously and lead the nations of the earth. This is the essence of this psalm. This psalm is what is known as an ‘envelope psalm’: it begins in Psa 67:1b with blessing and ends in Psa 67:7 with blessing. Blessing is, as it were, the envelope in which the psalm is wrapped. Exactly in the middle of the psalm we find in Psa 67:4 the two sentences that form the core of this psalm, namely, that in the realm of peace God Himself will judge the peoples and guide the nations on the earth. That is the reason the nations will glorify God. God, through Israel, will teach the nations about this because of the experiences they went through in the great tribulation.
He will guide them in the way of peace and prosperity. This applies to both individuals and nations. God guides them as Shepherd and as King. His guidance does not consist of merely pointing the way. He goes before them as Shepherd and leads them into the full blessing of the realm of peace.
For the second time, the psalmist twice tells God that the peoples will praise Him and that they “all” will do so (Psa 67:5). The first time (Psa 67:3), the occasion for praising God is knowing God’s way and God’s salvation. This second time the reason is the righteousness of God in judgment. Everything that God reveals of Himself is cause for all who see it to praise Him.
When God blesses His people, it means blessing for the whole earth (Psa 67:6). The earth is now set free from the curse that came upon it because of man’s sin, which prevented it from yielding its full harvest (Gen 3:17; Gen 4:12; Rom 8:19-21). The earth does now give “its produce”, that is, the rich harvest that the earth will produce under the blessing of God to be enjoyed by everyone on earth (cf. Lev 26:4).
Spiritually, it means that faithfulness rises from the earth. The ‘produce’ of the earth consists not only of what grows from the earth, but also consists of the people and nations who faithfully serve God and praise Him.
The blessing with which God blesses His people cultivates fear or awe of Him among all people to “all the ends of the earth” (Psa 67:7; cf. Jer 33:9). Now the earth is still full of people who blaspheme and challenge God, or deny His existence. In the realm of peace, these people will not be present. In the realm of peace, only people who have come to be impressed by His majesty and bow down to it, either in sincerity or hypocrisy, will enter. During the realm of peace, people who openly blaspheme and challenge God will be judged immediately.
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Psalms 67". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20