PFOA: Psalm 67

God be gracious to us and bless us,
And cause His face to shine upon us--Selah.
That Thy way may be known on the earth,
Thy salvation among all nations.
Let the peoples praise Thee, O God;
Let all the peoples praise Thee.
Let the nations be glad and sing for joy;
For Thou wilt judge the peoples with uprightness,
And guide the nations on the earth--Selah.
Let the peoples praise Thee, O God;
Let all the peoples praise Thee.
The earth has yielded its produce;
God, our God, blesses us.
God blesses us,
That all the ends of the earth may fear Him.

(Psalm 67, NASB)

One of the benedictions we use at the end of the Sunday worship service is known as the Aaronic blessing: “The Lord bless you, and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace” (Num. 6:24-26). Too often we treat this like “The End” in a movie. What do you say after you receive the benediction? Well one suggestion is Psalm 67.

One of the problems of modern English is that “you” can be the second person singular or plural, unlike the older Authorised Version with “thou” for singular and “thee” for plural. There we find that "thee" is used; that is, the blessing is pronounced to not to you as individuals, but to the whole assembly or congregation. So we together, as God's people, can ask that God be gracious to us, and bless us together. The farmer, looking at his drought-stricken fields may pray for rain and the construction manager may pray for fine weather so that his men can work safely. But together they can ask God to be gracious to them and bless them and God in His infinite wisdom and sovereign power will bless them both.

We all pray for God's blessing. Is there anyone who does not desire to be blessed? And our gracious and merciful God will bless. But have we ever stopped to ask why? Why does God bless us and provide for our daily needs? Why does He answer when we plead with Him for healing or strength? We ask for wisdom and he gives to us generously (James 1:5).

Verse 7 of Psalm 67 gives us a good reason. "God blesses us, [so] that all the ends of the earth may fear Him." You see, like the Children of Israel in the Old Testament, we are the "so that" people. God blesses us - so that ... This is not something new, not something that the psalmist realised as he reflected on God's mercy and grace. This is God's intent all along. When God called Abram and made the covenant with him, He said "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, [so that] you will be a blessing" (Gen. 12:2).

This is where missions began - when God chose and called Abraham. Eventually all who believe God are children of Abraham (Gal. 3:7). Abraham and his off-springs, which is the church now, are blessed so that they will be a blessing to others; so that all the ends of the earth may fear God. Today, God continues to bless the church, hears the prayers of the faithful, fulfils the promises he made according to the scriptures, and accomplishes all things for our benefit so that His grace reaches more and more people, causing thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God (2 Cor. 4:15).

This is why God blesses us. This is why when you pray He answers. So that when the world sees us they will give Him the glory (John 14:13). And when they received the grace of the gospel, their praise and thanksgiving to God abound.