Psalm 67: A Day of Blessing

“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us—2 so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.  3 May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you.  4 May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples with equity and guide the nations of the earth.  5 May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you. The land yields its harvest; God, our God, blesses us.  7 May God bless us still, so that all the ends of the earth will fear him.”

The harvest reference in verse 6 may indicate this psalm was composed for one of the annual celebrations of this event, such as the Feast of Tabernacles, also called 'The Feast of Ingathering' (Exod. 23:16), to be held “after you have gathered the crops of the land” (Lev. 23:39). Judging from its first-person plural pronouns (“us”), this psalm is a community psalm of thanksgiving.  Hakham, a commentator, calls it a psalm of thanksgiving for an abundant harvest. 

Most commentators deal with this psalm in brief comments because it doesn’t seem to be as well known as other psalms.  However, there are exceptions: John R. Stott well known author selected this Psalm with only thirty-seven other psalms for inclusion in his book of Favorite Psalms. The reason for this may be regarding what Alexander Maclaren, another commentator, wrote, “This psalm is a truly missionary psalm, in its clear anticipation of the universal spread of the knowledge of God.”  Charles H. Spurgeon stated much the same when he said, “The great theme of this psalm is the participation of the Gentiles in the worship of Jehovah.”

Psalm 66 ends with a word of blessing, and Psalm 67 continues the concluding theme with a prayer of blessing in language like the priestly benediction (Num. 6:24-26) that was given to Israel by a priest: The Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

Parts of the Aaronic benediction is mentioned also in Psalms 4:6; 29:11; 31:16; and 80:3, 7, 19.

The people are praying for themselves and the nations, acting in the priestly role of a “kingdom of priests” (Exod. 19:6) that Yahweh assigned them at Sinai. Yet, unlike the prophets, they never address the nations directly, but they refer to the nations only indirectly (“the peoples,” “the nations”), for in their priestly (not prophetic) role they are praying for the nations.

God’s blessing for Israel was not for great riches. Jesus taught us that the narrow and selfish idea of riches will not profit us when He asked: “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36).  If we gain the world and lack the spiritual blessings of knowing God and serving Him, then all material blessings are hollow and useless. 

This psalm is a prayer that will ultimately find its fulfillment in the coming kingdom of Jesus Christ. This is what our hope and prayer should be for the World.  One of the heartbeats of the Bible is that all the nations will come to worship the living and true God. In fact, the goal of Paul's evangelism is that all may worship: "For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God" (2 Cor. 4:15). Thus, the call for all peoples to worship God is also a call to evangelism.

God, however, desires and even longs for our worship. Psalm 67 is His call to worship. Its goal is that all the peoples praise God and "sing for joy." The promise is that fruitfulness will come from worship and the blessing of God will be upon His people.  Worship is always a response to God's initiative, His mercy and blessing. Praise is the appropriate reaction on our part to the revelation of His way and His salvation. This praise is to include ringing cries of joy for God's just judgment and government.

The reason this psalm concerns all nations is because all nations are subject to God and one day will face Him in Judgment; “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14).