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ACCORDING to some, this psalm, like Psalms 65:1-13, is a harvest thanksgiving (Hengstenberg, Cheyne). But the single expression (in Psalms 65:6) on which this view is grounded seems insufficient to support it, more especially as that expression may well be understood figuratively (see Psalms 85:12; Jeremiah 8:20; Hosea 6:11; Joel 3:13; Matthew 9:37, etc.). The real idea of the psalm appears to be an aspiration after the general conversion of the world, to be effected by God's special manifestation of his mercy upon Israel. This will draw all nations to him. The psalm is one of three stanzas, consisting respectively of two, two, and three verses. The second and third stanzas have the same initiatory refrain (Psalms 65:3, Psalms 65:5). In the first stanza the "selah" is a pause of reverence, not a break in the sense.
God be merciful unto us, and bless us. An echo of the priestly blessing (Numbers 6:24, Numbers 6:25), but not necessarily uttered by a priest. The substitution of Elohim for Jehovah is natural, considering the universalist character of the psalm. And cause his face to shine upon us; literally, with us. "With us" especially, as the people of God; but not "with us" exclusively, as the whole psalm makes manifest.
That thy way may he known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations. God is besought to bless his people Israel (Psalms 67:1), in order that so his "way" may become known to all the earth, his "saving health," or his "salvation," to all (heathen) nations. The idea is not raised of any compulsory empire, but of one which will gradually extend itself, by winning the heathen over to it through the sight of Israel's blessedness (comp. Isaiah 49:18-23; Isaiah 60:3, Isaiah 60:4).
Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee; rather, the peoples, in both clauses. In the second clause the prayer is intensified by the addition of the word cullam, "all of them."
O let the nations be glad and sing for joy. There could be no greater blessing to the nations than their attraction into God's kingdom; nor, consequently, any event more worthy to be hailed with joyful acclaim, with songs of joy and thanksgiving. For thou shalt judge the people (rather, the peoples) righteously, and govern the nations upon earth. The main advantage of the change would be the bringing of the heathen into that kingdom of perfect righteousness, wherein God (in the Person of Christ) would dispense justice unerringly, and rule all men with perfect and absolute equity.
Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee. A repetition of Psalms 67:3 without any change.
Then shall the earth yield her increase; literally, the land hath given her increase—a quotation from Le Psalms 26:4, but probably in a metaphorical sense. An abundant spiritual harvest is seen by the psalmist as the result of the entrance of the Gentiles into the Church—an immense "increase" in the fruits of righteousness hitherto yielded—and this is spoken of as a result already obtained, through the perfect assurance of the writer that his prayers are granted and the result determined on in the Divine counsels. And God, even our own God, shall bless us. "Our own God" must certainly be Jehovah; but the writer, in his broad universalism, will not use the expression.
God shall bless us; or, "may God bless us" (Kay, Cheyne); but the form is identical with that used in Psalms 67:6. And all the ends of the earth shall fear him. One day the earth shall be full of the knowledge and fear of the Lord "as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:11).
Psalms 67:1, Psalms 67:2
God be merciful, etc.
No wonder this beautiful little psalm has been enshrined so prominently in the worship of the Christian Church. Its most remarkable character is its world wide breadth of sympathy, hope, and prayer. It is like a beam from the unrisen sun of Christianity. The more one studies the intense narrow national sentiment of the Jews, the more plain is it that strains like these could be inspired only by the Spirit of God. The psalm is Hebrew of the Hebrews—sung probably for ages in the temple. Yet its aspirations can be fulfilled only by the gospel and kingdom of Christ.
I. THE MEANING OF THIS PRAYER. "That thy way may be known"—"thy saving health."
1. God's way is:
(1) The revelation he has made of himself in his dealings with mankind. In its widest sense this includes his universal providence (Acts 14:17; Proverbs 8:22; Isaiah 55:8, Isaiah 55:9).
(2) The revealed path of man's duty (Psalms 25:9; Matthew 22:16).
(3) The way of salvation; of return, reconciliation, access to God (Acts 18:26; John 14:6).
2. God's "saving health" is salvation (simply another translation of the same Hebrew word). Not simply "the way of salvation"—the knowledge of the gospel, and provision for our salvation; but actual experience of deliverance from sin, pardon, peace with God, strength for holiness. Salvation, in the Scriptures, means both safety and health. Illust.: Matthew 8:25; Luke 18:42; Luke 7:50.
II. THE SCOPE OF THIS PRAYER. "On earth;" "among all nations." St. Paul says that the gospel was preached beforehand to Abraham, in the promise that in his offspring all nations should be blessed. We are apt to take too narrow a view both of the gospel and of salvation. We think and speak of "saving souls." That is the beginning; for there is no reconciliation to God but by personal repentance, faith, turning to God. But nations have their life; their collective action, righteousness, guilt, growth, decay, prosperity, ruin. Knowledge of God's truth, and obedience to God's law, are the conditions of national welfare. We have a message to "all nations" as well as to "every creature." We are to labour as well as pray, that God's will may be "done on earth, as it is in heaven.'
HOMILIES BY W. FORSYTH
This is a song of salvation.
It teaches that—
I. SALVATION IS FROM GOD. Hence God's mercy is specially invoked. It is as God causes his face to shine upon us in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 4:6) that his "way" is made known, and his "salvation" enjoyed (Psalms 67:1, Psalms 67:2).
II. SALVATION IS THE HIGHEST BLESSING FOR MAN. When the high priest blessed the people, he spoke for God (Numbers 6:22-27). Salvation is "saving health." Man is corrupt. There is no "soundness" in him. But God brings healing. Salvation is to be restored to health in body and soul and spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
III. SALVATION IS IMPARTED THROUGH HUMAN AGENCY. God works by means. He uses man to help man. "The Law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" (John 1:17; cf. Romans 5:12-15). When we believe on Christ, we may say, with Simeon, "Mine eyes have seen thy salvation" (Luke 2:30). And what Christ has won for us he would have us make known to others. All Christians are missionaries. "God does with us as we with torches do." Every lamp that is lighted is lighted in order to shine. We are to receive and reflect the light (1 Thessalonians 1:6-8; Matthew 5:16).
IV. SALVATION IS DESTINED TO SPREAD AMONG ALL NATIONS. It was not limited to Israel. There is no exclusiveness in the gospel. There is no brand of reprobation on any man's brow. The salvation of Christ is for all people—the Jew first, but also for all men. "The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations" (Revelation 22:2). This we have seen in part, and greater fulfilments are near. Paul could say (Romans 15:19), "From Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ." But how great has been the advance since then! Nations that Paul never knew have heard the joyful sound, and the most distant isles of the sea have been blessed in Christ.
V. SALVATION WILL ULTIMATELY FILL THE EARTH WITH JOY AND PEACE. Harvest is the time of joy. The great harvest-home of the world is coming (Isaiah 2:2, Isaiah 2:3; Zephaniah 3:9; Zechariah 14:16).—W.F.
"Let the nations be glad."
I. GOD IN THE GOVERNMENT OF THE WORLD RECOGNIZES THE EXISTENCE OF SEPARATE NATIONS.
II. GOD IN THE GOVERNMENT OF THE WORLD ADAPTS HIS METHODS TO THE NECESSITIES OF NATIONS. (Amos 9:7.)
III. GOD IN THE GOVERNMENT OF THE WORLD WORKS THROUGHOUT FOR THE HIGHEST GOOD OF NATIONS. His object is to bring all men everywhere to serve him. He would have them, through the power of Christ, be enlightened, sanctified, and blessed. It is true of nations as of individuals, "The nation that will not serve him shall perish" (Isaiah lx. 12). It is as nations forget God that they decline and fall. It is as nations become penetrated and ruled by Divine truth that they become truly free and strong and prosperous.—W.F.
HOMILIES BY C. SHORT
A missionary psalm.
The psalmist prays "that the favour of God towards the chosen people may become visible, in order that, by its splendour, it may lead the heathen to the hope of sharing in it." The salvation of the heathen is here felt to depend upon the following conditions:—
I. THE SALVATION OF THOSE WHO CLAIM TO BE HIS CHURCH. (Psalms 67:1, Psalms 67:2.) If it is God's "way" to save any, he must be able and willing to save all. And if his face shone upon them, his "saving health" would be made manifest to all peoples. This is the force of the prayer here used.
II. THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD'S RIGHTEOUS GOVERNMENT OF THE WORLD. (Psalms 67:4.)
1. God, as the experience of Israel shows, governs men upon righteous principles. The psalm was most probably written after the Exile—a terrible part of their history, which taught them how God punishes sin.
2. God is leading the world forward upon a Divine course. (Psalms 67:4.) He "governs" or leads the nations as a shepherd leads his flock. To this truth the Hebrews bore emphatic testimony.
III. GOD'S BOUNTY TO THE EARTH IS HIS BOUNTY TOWARDS MAN. (Psalms 67:6.) "The earth yields her increase; God, our God, blesses us." But the harvest is only a single, though a splendid, instance of God's goodness towards men; he blesses them in a thousand ways, which, when considered, are adapted deeply to impress the heathen mind.—S.
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Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Psalms 67". The Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20