“May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face shine upon us, Selah
that your ways may be known on earth,
your salvation among all nations.”
~Psalm 67:1-2 (NIV).
This psalm is a song as the superscription tells us; what makes it a giveaway is its repetitive refrain (“May the people praise you, [O God]” in both A and B lines of verses 3 and 5) for such a short seven-verse psalm.
The idea that all people (literally) might praise God—within those middle verses—appears to make something of a consequential connection for the first two verses and the last two; both of which speak of God’s blessings, particularly the first and last.
An Inside-Out Pattern
The structure of this psalm is typical of a teaching method for commencing broadly, before narrowing, and then ending broadly. The learner is edified at different levels.
What this means is it speaks a very simple message. We can readily foresee a time when all people might praise God—indeed, this often happens already when we consider the outpourings of love when we as a planet-of-people grapple with natural disasters, helping those destitute. God is greatly praised by the multitudes in this; perhaps not by name, but certainly by the heart-conviction to heal broken humanity in collusion with God’s purposes.
Perhaps as we view the psalm in this inside-out sort of way we can see the role of the hinging middle verse, number 4.
The Pivoting Point – Justice of God (Verse 4)
This is what people celebrate more than anything else when they see it; especially as the “guiding” Western nations’ control, for God, the peace of the world, despite the will of some extremist groups and nations.
May all peoples praise God,
a prayer every believer can come to pray,
and when the whole globe can nod,
‘one’ we will be on that day.
The Justice of the Lord is equal for all,
everyone who’s alive can attest,
as we who believe live the call,
never surer of being blessed.
Perhaps most fundamentally, the psalmist here is a visionary for the gospel way—to the extension of the Lord to the darkest furrow of the known world.
It is here that we see the blessing of the Lord implicit to the multiplication of blessing. Blessing is always about abundance. This is the underpinning theme to this psalm—it is richness through each level of conversion to God’s way.
And always, in this, is God’s holy name and nature praised. Nothing is surer.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.