August 14, 2011
Psalm 67

In South Korea, every 12th grader has the SAT college entrance exams on the same day in November. On that day, their mothers gather together in Buddhist temples, cathedrals or churches to pray for a good score. For some of the religious institutions, it is one of the most significant days for their financial receipts because mothers donate a lot of money as part of their praying for the SAT. When their children get a good score, parents believe their god has blessed them.

Why does God bless us? Is it a payback for our good deeds? Psalm 67 is a beautifully structured psalm that teaches about these questions. Psalm 67’s structure emphasizes that God rules all nations, which is the middle of the psalm (v. 4), and God blesses for a reason.

Psalm’s Structure
A. Prayer for God’s blessing (vv. 1-2)
B. Prayer for inclusion of the nations in praise (v. 3)
C. Prayer for the righteous ruling of God (v. 4)
B1. Prayer for inclusion of the nations in praise (v. 5)
A1. Prayer for God’s blessing (vv. 6-7)

1. God’s Blessing Is for Life (vv. 1-2, 6-7)
The psalmist sets God’s blessing as the foundation of his prayer. God blesses His people by shining on the land so it yields products for people (vv. 6-7). God sends rain in its season (Deuteronomy 11:14; Joel 2:23) and controls drought. God’s blessings on His people are shown by His support of their physical condition.

God also shines on His people to save them from the darkness. God’s face—or its shine—means His salvation (Psalms 80:19). He shows them the way of life (vv. 1-2), which sustains our spiritual life. God’s way is His Word, torah (Psalms 119; Isaiah 2:3). God’s blessing is more than abundant harvest. It is His teaching how to live not only by bread, but also by His Word (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4).

2. God’s Blessing Is for Ministry (vv. 3-5)
In the second layer of the psalm, the psalmist implores God to let the people praise Him. Praise of all people comes as a result of their knowledge of the ways of God and their experience of His salvation (v. 2). God is exalted among the Gentiles.

While this psalm is reminiscent of Moses’ blessing on Aaron’s descendants (Numbers 6:22-27), it goes beyond Israel’s privilege as God’s chosen people. God’s blessing is not their own possession. God’s people never celebrate their own glorification, but understand it as the consequence of divine election—their destiny and mission in the world. Their upward relationship with God should be reflected in an outward relationships, as God’s people gather for worship and scatter to let others know of God’s blessing.

3. God’s Blessing Is to Show Dominion (v. 4)
The final layer is the center of the psalm, conveying its key theme. In relationship with His people through blessing and praise, God rules the world. Salvation and sustenance (vv.1-2, 6-7) are ways in which God exerts His sovereignty over His creatures.

The ultimate Christian doxology lies in this divine dominion. Without being under God’s control, material blessing cannot be blessing, but blizzard. We see many cases of lottery winners going bankrupt and their lives destroyed by what they thought would be a blessing.

Even God’s salvation aims at His dominion. What does God want to do by saving the sinner? He wants to reign over his or her life as King. He wants to be King of justice, the King of love. God’s rule is not that of secular kingship. It is not pushing subjects down under His authority. It is guiding them to follow His law (v. 4b).

In the final harvest, the consummation of the kingdom of God (Matthew 9:37-38; John 4:35-38), all the ends of the earth will fear God; and all the nations will praise Him in response to His reign. The kingdom of God in which God rules His people by love and justice is expanded through our ministry. When God blesses us, it reminds us He is the sovereign Lord of all.

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