God be gracious and kind-hearted to us and bless us,And make His face shine [with favor] on us— Selah. That Your way may be known on earth,Your salvation and deliverance among all nations. Let the peoples praise You, O God;Let all the peoples praise You. Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,For You will judge the people fairlyAnd guide the nations on earth. Selah. Let the peoples praise You, O God;Let all the peoples praise You. The earth has yielded its harvest [as evidence of His approval];God, our God, blesses us. God blesses us,And all the ends of the earth shall fear Him [with awe-inspired reverence and submissive wonder].
This psalm begins by responding to the prayer Aaron and his sons gave as a benediction upon God’s people. “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)
A comment from God follows explaining why He gave the words to this prayer: “So they (I.e., the priests) will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them. (Numbers 6:27)
Car titles, land deeds, office door plaques all speak of ownership because we have put our names on them. In the same manner, God has put His name on us. How should we respond? Do we desire to be known as owned by God and do we really want that to happen?
This is where Psalm 67 comes in. It opens with a willing acknowledgment and acceptance to what God wishes to do in our lives: “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us.”
Have you ever asked yourself why you want the blessing of God? As humans all kinds of reasons may pop up. We might prefer to pray….”Lord, it would be nice if You gave me whatever I ask of You. I don’t like frustrations or disappointment. I’d like you to keep sorrow from me. It also be wonderful if some rich unknown relative left me his entire estate. Do you suppose You could arrange that Lord? While You’re at I could You help everyone to see things my way? Would You also rescue me from having to do anything I don’t want to do? And if it wouldn’t be asking too much, Lord if you could, I’d like to live the lifestyle of the wealthy and famous while at the same time being humble and godly. Please provide me roses without thorns and for those who would try to harm me, break both their arms.”
Do we really think that’s why God wants to put His name on us, so that we can live in comfort and ease? I don’t think so!
In Psalm 67, the psalmist goes deeper in his prayer. His sentence doesn’t end after “shine on us,” rather the rational he gives for asking God to put His name upon him is: “May your ways be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.”
God has put His name upon us to advance His purposes in the world and He wants us to be Christ-centered rather than self-centered.
George Wood asks us to consider the following prayer:
“Lord, whose lives will touch mine today? Will You grace me so that they can pick up something from me of Your presence? By Your being with me today, may I help them know Your ways. I don’t want to just do my own thing. Help me to be transparent and to have no agenda for this day other than Your will.
You do want to bless me and shine through me, Lord, but for Your reasons and not mine. You give me freedom to regulate the degree of Your shining in me. I choose the extent of Your blessing. If I abandon myself to you, relinquishing all claims of privilege, if I release myself to You this day as Your servant- then Your ways do become known through me. Do bless me, Lord, today- not just for my sake but Yours.
The focus of verses 3-5 is for us to live and pray rightly and we want others to join in as well: “May the people’s praise you, O God.”
Our satisfaction in doing God’s will often will come only after long seasons of great struggle. Consciously letting Christ live in you and fully surrendering may require long battles with God over whether we will say, “Not my will, but yours be done,” the same words that Jesus prayed. It is only in the obedient life will we find words of praise rising from our hearts. Those who choose to walk in disobedience usually have nothing to to say to God.
What is the end result of letting God own you? “Then the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God, will bless us, and all the ends of the earth will fear him.” Our efforts will pay off and we will be rewarded abundantly for our investment of seed and work.
There’s an old hymn that has been mostly forgotten: “It’s pays to serve Jesus; it pays every day; it pays every step of the way.” That’s the spirit of the closing words of Psalm 67.
When we permit God to own us and therefore bless us, we become productive. God has a harvest that results from your life. We might not always like the way God makes us more useful to Him and others, but we will always be grateful on His payday- when we see the end results of what the Lord has done through our obedience and faithfulness to Him. Ask Joseph.
Dr. John Thompson