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The Blue Letter Bible

David Guzik :: Study Guide for Psalm 67

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A Missionary Psalm

This Psalm has a heart to see God's way, God's salvation, and God's praise extended all through the earth.

A. A request and reason for blessing.

1. (Psa 67:1) A request for blessing.

God be merciful to us and bless us,
And cause His face to shine upon us. Selah

a. God be merciful to us and bless us: The words come from the Aaronic Blessing of Numbers 6:24-26, where the High Priest of Israel would pronounce this beautiful blessing upon the people.

b. God be merciful to us: The Psalmist first knew his need for mercy. This sets our heart in the right frame of mind; sinners who need the mercy of God. One may need more mercy than another, but we all need mercy.

i. "The best saints and the worst sinners may unite in this petition." (Spurgeon)

c. And bless us: Beyond the mercy of God - which He could show simply by leaving us alone, by not destroying us - we want God to bless us also. Can you imagine a guilty criminal before a judge, pleading for mercy, and receiving it - and then asking for a blessing! But God's love towards us is that great.

d. And cause His face to shine upon us: To have the glorious, happy face of God shining upon man is the greatest gift one could have. To know that as God looks upon you, He is well pleased - not because of who you are, or what you have done, but because you are in Jesus Christ - there is no greater source of peace and power in life.

i. "Why should he fret when God smiles? What matters though all the world should censure, if Jehovah countenances his servant. A look of approval from God creates a deep, delightful calm within the soul." (Spurgeon)

e. Selah: The idea in the Hebrew for this word (occurring 74 times in the Old Testament) is for a pause. Most people think it speaks of a reflective pause, a pause to meditate on the words just spoken. It may also be a musical instruction, for a musical interlude of some kind.

i. Think about the greatness of God's mercy, God's blessing, and the approval of God's shining face. "These three petitions include all that we need here or hereafter." (Spurgeon)

2. (Psa 67:2) The reason for blessing.

That Your way may be known on earth,
Your salvation among all nations.

a. That Your way may be known on earth: The reason the Psalmist asks for this high and great blessing isn't a selfish reason. He asks for this blessing for the sake of God's glory, and for the sake of the perishing multitudes.

b. Your way: Not simply the truth of God, or the word of God to be published abroad - but for Your way, the way of the Lord, to be known on earth. This reminds us of the idea behind the great missionary passage of Matthew 28:19-20: Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Jesus didn't tell them only to evangelize and save souls, but to make disciples of all the nations, and to teach them to observe all thing that I have commanded you.

i. Of course, we need to know God's Word to walk in His way; but walking in His way is more than knowing His Word!

c. May be known on earth: The Psalmist has a beautiful scope in mind. Not just Jerusalem, not just Judea, not just all of Israel, not just all the Middle East, not just all the Mediterranean world, not just his continent or hemisphere, but all the earth! God wants us to have the same heart and the same vision - for all the earth!

d. Your salvation among all nations: Of all of the ways of God, this is the most precious and needful. We should see a perishing world and long for God's salvation among all nations.

i. Again, this is the reason for blessing. Are you a member of the "bless me" club? Always crying out to God, "Bless me, bless me, bless me!" But your cry is essentially a selfish one, the kind of cry a self-interested child makes. Yes, we unashamedly ask God to bless us - but not only for ourselves, but so His way will be made known on all the earth, and His salvation among all nations!

B. A call to praise God.

1. (Psa 67:3) A prayer to God for all peoples.

Let the peoples praise You, O God;
Let all the peoples praise You.

a. Let the peoples praise You, O God: We notice that this is first and foremost a prayer to God. It is fine to call upon the peoples to praise God; but it is also fine to ask God to bring the nations to Himself. When we pray like this, we pray according to the heart of God, who desires that none perish but all come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), and who has ordained a great multitude from all nations, tribes, peoples and tongues to praise Him before His throne (Revelation 7:9).

b. Let all the peoples praise You: If it wasn't big enough to pray Let the peoples praise You, the Psalmist takes it a step deeper: Let all the peoples praise You! We don't only want the earth to know God's way; we don't even want it to stop with the nations knowing His salvation. We want the all the peoples to praise Him! There is something wonderful about a lot of people praising God, and our walk with God is incomplete until we are praising Him.

i. Do we have the same heart? Or will we write off some peoples, instead of having God's heart for all the peoples?

2. (Psa 67:4-5) A joyful anticipation of the Kingdom of God.

Oh, let the nations be glad and sing for joy!
For You shall judge the people righteously,
And govern the nations on earth. Selah
Let the peoples praise You, O God;
Let all the peoples praise You.

a. Let the nations be glad and sing for joy! Why? Why should the nations be so happy? Because God is coming to judge the people righteously, and govern the nations on earth. Jesus is coming back, and it should make us even more excited about bringing the nations God's way, God's salvation, and God's praise.

i. God forbid that knowing that Jesus is coming soon should make us less passionate about evangelism and missions. It should make us more passionate!

b. Govern the nations on earth: It's a fact. It's going to happen. Jesus Christ is going to reign on planet earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We want to get the nations ready for it!

c. Selah: This is worthy of reflection - the connection between being passionate about the return of Jesus and a passion to spread the gospel.

d. Let the peoples praise You: The idea of Psalm 67:3 is so important the Psalmist repeats it. "These words are no vain repetition, but are a chorus worthy to be sung again and again." (Spurgeon)

C. The answer to this prayer.

1. (6a) Blessing for the earth.

Then the earth shall yield her increase;

a. Then the earth shall yield her increase: When the earth knows God's way, God's salvation, and God's praise, then she will yield her increase. The fruit will come forth, the appointed purpose for the earth will be fulfilled. Praise God!

b. Shall yield her increase: This also tells us that the earth will never yield her increase, find its fruitfulness and fulfillment, until she knows God's way, God's salvation, and God's praise.

2. (6b-7a) Blessing for the one who prayed.

God, our own God, shall bless us.
God shall bless us,

a. God shall bless us: When we share God's heart and vision for the world, we will be blessed. We must be blessed. So we see a glorious circle. We are blessed; we use that blessing to pray for and reach a hurting world, and as that aligns us the with the heart of God, we are blessed even more, so we use that blessing for all the earth, and it just goes on and on.

i. It's worth looking at our lives and seeing if we have broken the circle anywhere. Have we stopped believing that God blesses? Have we stopped seeking to extend that blessing? Have we stopped seeing God's heart in it all? If we don't break the circle, we really move from glory to glory!

b. God shall bless us: It is repeated twice - in a row - to emphasize the confident expectation.

3. (7b) Conclusion: The answer to the prayer.

And all the ends of the earth shall fear Him.

a. All the ends of the earth shall fear Him: God gets the respect, the honor, the praise, the glory, He is worthy of. We may never get respect; we may never face anything but hardship; we may end up poor and broken and persecuted and even laying down our lives - and be more blessed than ever, because God has used us in a great way.

© 2006 David Guzik - No distribution beyond personal use without permission

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