The theme of Psalm 67:1-7 is a major theme of the Bible: We should seek God’s blessing so that our gladness in God will spread to all the nations. This psalm gives us the link between believers' prayers, God's blessings, and missions. The Bible is abundantly clear that God is ready to pour out His blessing on His people, but only when we order our lives rightly before Him and seek God Himself as the Supreme blessing.
A. God’s blessing is rooted in His grace.
“God be gracious to us and bless us” (67:1a).
Grace means that we get blessings that we do not deserve. We deserve God’s judgment for our sins, but He gives us a free pardon and eternal life through Jesus Christ who paid our debt. The Christian life from beginning to end depends on God’s grace. We received Christ because of God’s grace; we walk in God’s grace (Col. 2:6). We enjoy all of God’s blessings because of His grace that He ordained for us in Christ (Eph. 1:3-6).
B. God’s blessing means that we enjoy His favorable presence.
The psalmist continues, “…and cause His face to shine upon us”(67:1b). This comes out of the Aaronic blessing and is a theme in several other Psalms (31:16; 80:3, 7, 19;119:135). To have God’s face shining on us is the opposite of a scowling or angry face. It is the opposite of having Him turn His face away from us with indifference or disgust. It means to have His smile or favor upon us.
An old Jewish comment interprets God’s face to be that of Messiah. Thus, Charles Simeon interprets the prayer of Psalm 67:1 to be for the advent of Messiah to His people and His manifestation to all the world. God’s face would shine on His people in the person of Christ, who is the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person. At the end of Psalm 67, which ties back into the beginning, the psalmist repeats the name of God three times in connection with His blessing: “God, our God, blesses us. God blesses us…” (67:6-7).
This emphasizes that we cannot separate God’s blessing from God Himself. He is the blessing; to have Him as our God. You can have everything that the world counts as blessings, but if you don’t have God you are not truly blessed. And, you may not have anything that the world counts as blessings, but if you have God and His smiling face in Christ, you are actually truly blessed.
C. God’s blessing is not just individual, but corporate.
The blessings prayed for here are “to us.” The prayer is for God’s chosen people to be blessed. The aim of God’s blessing is that His way and salvation would be known among all nations. This cannot be accomplished by individuals working independently, but only by His people together.
I often encounter Christians who think that they don’t need the church. Often they’ve been hurt or disappointed by the church. They’re afraid that if they get involved closely with other Christians, they’ll get hurt again. So, at best, they attend church like they attend the theater, coming and going without getting to know anyone very well. Or, at worst, they avoid the church altogether and get the teaching they need from the Internet or radio. But the Bible is clear that we cannot experience God’s full blessing if we isolate ourselves from His people. And His blessing will not go from us to the nations unless we are strong as a church.
And if God’s blessing does not go to the nations through us, we are not helping fulfill His purpose of being glorified among every people group. Thus, God’s blessing is rooted in His grace. His blessing means that we enjoy His favorable presence, not just individually, but corporately.
D. We will experience God’s blessing when we align ourselves with His purpose for the nations.
If God blesses his people for the sake of the nations, then God is most likely to bless us when we are planning and longing and praying to bless the nations. If God wants his goods to get to the nations, then he will fill the truck that’s driving toward the nations. He will bless the church that’s pouring itself out for unreached peoples of the world. And this blessing is not payment for a service rendered; it is power and joy for a mission to accomplish. When we move toward the unreached peoples, we are not earning God’s blessings, we are leaping into the river of blessings that is already flowing to the nations.
So, we must never limit seeking God’s blessing to selfish requests like “God, bless me with a wife and children and a house and a better car and a good job, so that I will be happy.” Those things may be legitimate requests, but the prayer should be that God would bless you with those things so that you and your family and all of your belongings may be used to further God’s glory among the nations. It is the principle that Jesus stated (Matt. 6:33): “But seek first His kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Seek God’s blessing for the sake of the nations.
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