Be BLESSED by GOD and be a BLESSING to OTHERS
June 15 Bible Reading: Psalms Chapters 60-67
"God be merciful to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us. That Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations." (Psalms 67:1-2)
When God had called the nation of Israel, He had intended that this nation should have a missionary character. Israel was to be a witness and a testimony to the surrounding nations to the fact that there was only one God to be worshipped by all the people of the earth (see Ex. 20:2, 3; Deut. 6:4; Isa. 43:10–12). The other aspect of this missionary character was that Israel was to be a channel of God’s blessing as well. This was clearly revealed in the ‘Great Promise’ that God had given to the patriarch Abraham: "I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." (Gen. 12:2-3)
Unfortunately Israel failed to maintain their missionary character. Instead of maintaining their unique position as God’s people on the earth, they wanted to be like the other nations around them. They rejected God as their ruler and His prophets as their guide (1 Sam. 8:7-8), and lapsed into idolatry thus denying the very truths they were called on to proclaim. However, God’s purpose will be fulfilled one day in the future when the "gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations" (Matt. 24:14). In the ensuing kingdom of God, Israel will be the channel of blessing to all the nations (see Isa. 61:6; Zech. 8:23).
Keeping this background in mind, we see that the unknown psalmist who wrote the 67th psalm calls on all the nations of the world to praise God. Actually, there are three calls recorded in this psalm: (a) a call for God’s blessing for the purpose of world evangelization (vv. 1, 2), (b) a call for the nations to bless God in view of His righteous judgments (vv. 3, 4), and (c) a call for the nations to bless God in view of His coming kingdom (vv. 5–7). The reason for these three calls is because the psalmist recognized that the destiny of all the nations was wrapped up in God’s blessing of Israel. The (Elōhı̄m) God’s blessing on Israel is only a harbinger of His divine blessings for the entire world, and the point in this psalm is clear: May God bless His people Israel in such a manner that the message of God’s way of salvation would become known throughout the earth!
Psalms 67 begins with the priestly blessing of Numbers 6:24-26 where the shining face is equivalent to our modern “smile of approval”. In fact, this psalm begins with a prayer for blessing (v. 1), and the reason for this prayer is mentioned immediately: that God’s way and God’s salvation might become globally known (v. 2). The psalmist’s desire was that everyone on the earth would come to recognize that life’s blessings are from God and that therefore He should be glorified (v. 7).
This psalm offers strong evidence that God wants salvation for all the people of the earth (vv. 3–7). This has been fulfilled through Jesus Christ, the Messiah, who came as a branch out of Israel and offered Himself as a blessing to all the peoples of the world. We can thus infer that this psalm is definitely prophetic as it points to Jesus Christ who is ‘The Way’ (John 14:6) and ‘The Salvation’ (Acts 4:12) that God has provided for the entire humanity. This passage anticipates the thrust of world mission that is found in the ‘Great Commission’: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you" (Matt. 28:19-20)