May God be merciful and bless us. May his face shine with favor upon us. - Psalm 67:1
According to Jewish custom, Psalm 67 is recited at the termination of the Sabbath, the day set aside each week specifically for rest, reflection, worship, and thanksgiving. At the end of this time, the people pray, “May God be merciful and bless us. May his face shine with favor upon us” (Ps. 67:1).
The request of the psalm writer and those who, to this day, recite this psalm is clearly based on the ancient blessing pronounced by Aaron and repeated down through the centuries: “May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace” (Numbers 6:24-26). The exact nature of the requested blessing was spelled out by Moses in detail. God would bless their “towns” and “country,” “children” and “fields,” “herds” and “flocks,” “baskets” and “kneading bowls.” In fact, God would bless everything associated with their “coming and going” (Deut. 28:3-6). All these blessings were physical, but spiritual blessings were promised, too. It was as the Israelites contemplated their physical blessings that they recognized the spiritual dimensions of their blessedness at the hand of a merciful and gracious God. In the material blessings given to them they could see the way in which the Lord was making “his face shine with favor upon” them (Ps. 67:1).
But the prayer of the worshipers went far beyond a concern for personal blessings. Beyond the boundaries of their own lives lay “people” and “nations” who also needed the blessing of God on their lives. So, having sought their own blessing, the worshipers then added, “May your ways be known throughout the earth, your saving power among people everywhere” (67:2). Those who know the blessings of God upon their lives should never become so enamored of their blessed condition that they ignore a world outside that lacks what they enjoy in abundance.
What enlarges the vision of the recipient of divine blessing? It is the recognition that the Lord “direct[s] the actions of the whole world” (67:4). Ingrained selfishness precludes a vision that stretches beyond the borders of one’s self. But the reminder that “the whole world” is precious to the Lord serves to redress such imbalance. Those who taste God’s blessings begin to feel his heartbeat, and their heart cry becomes, “May the nations praise you, O God” (67:5).
There is no better way to end a day of worship and blessing than to seek the blessing of the world that lacks it! And what blessing there is in being a blessing!
For Further Study: Psalm 67:1-7
Excerpted from The One Year Devotions for Men, Copyright ©2000 by Stuart Briscoe. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.
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