God be merciful unto us, and bless us;
and cause his face to shine upon us; Selah.
That thy way may be known upon earth,
thy saving health among all nations.
Let the people praise thee, O God;
let all the people praise thee.
Psalm 67:1 – 3
Background: Daniel 5,7; 2 Chronicles 36
It had been almost 70 years of exile in Babylon and Daniel had just received another vision. His first vision had been of a giant statue made of various metals – each speaking of different Gentile kingdoms that follow each other in world domination. The head was gold – symbolizing the Babylonian kingdom, the shoulders and torso were silver – denoting the Medes and Persians, the waist was bronze – speaking of the Hellenists, headed by Alexander the Great, and the legs were of iron – hinting of the iron hand of the Roman empire. Holding it all up were two feet made of a mixture of iron and clay, pointing to the alliance that would produce the final Gentile world kingdom – that of the Antichrist. At the end of the vision, a stone, that represents the coming kingdom of Christ, came and crushed the feet as well as the rest of the statue.
This vision was like the one in chapter two of Daniel but from a different viewpoint. The vision of Daniel, chapter seven, were of four fierce beasts coming out of the Mediterranean Sea – not a beautiful statue. The first beast was a lion that had eagle’s wings. The wings were eventually plucked and the lion stood up like a man and was given a man’s heart – a picture of Nebuchadnezzar’s humbling experience. The next beast was a bear with three ribs in its mouth and was raised up on one side and a voice was heard inviting it to eat much flesh speaking of the ravenous nature of the Medes and Persians. The third was a leopard with four heads and four wings like a bird and symbolizes the Hellenistic empire under Alexander the Great that was divided among his top four generals after his early death.
The fourth beast was a hideous beast that was “dreadful and terrible.” It was very strong and had iron teeth. With those teeth it devoured and destroyed kingdoms, and stamped down what was left. What really distinguished it from the other were the its ten horns and that three of the original ten broke off and were replaced by a little horn with a mouth that spoke great things.
At the end of the vision – instead of a stone there was a man – the “Ancient of Days” who makes a glorious appearance with a million personages waiting for His command. The hideous beast was slain and given to the flame, the other three beasts had their dominion taken away although they were allowed to live for a “season and a time.” Then the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven and was given an everlasting dominion, glory, and a kingdom that will not be destroyed, that all peoples and nations should serve him.
It is at this point that Edward Reese places this Psalm in his Chronological Bible. It is directed to the overseer of the musicians and was to be played on the neginoth – a stringed instrument (it could also mean a taunting song (Job 30:9.) Like the other songs of uncertain origin in this group, it could have been written by David but not attributed to him. Whoever did write it, the psalm does seem to fit here as its scope (“all nations,” “all the people of the earth,” “all the ends of the earth”) fits the universal vision of the future that Daniel gives to us in chapter seven of his book.
The psalm begins with a cry for blessing. Israel and the Jewish people were blessed, have been blessed through the years, and will continue to be blessed by God per His promise to Abraham. They have also suffered much over that same time. This psalm is placed at the end of 70 years of suffering, as captives of the Babylonians, because of their idolatry.
Israel had been a blessed nation, but they forgot the purpose of that blessing. Verse one asks God to be bend down and help them, to bless them, and for his face – his attention and care – to shine upon them. This was an echo of the benediction that God commanded Aaron and his sons to pronounce upon the newborn nation of Israel in Numbers 6:24 – 27. The problem was they eventually forgot the reason for that blessing. They might have even thought the blessing came because it they were better than other nations, or more righteous.
Seventy years of captivity could have awakened them to the purpose of that blessing. The psalmist who penned this song certainly understood it – “that Your way may be known upon earth and Your salvation (Yeshua is the word used here) among the nations.” God’s whole purpose in blessing the nation of Israel was to show the whole world His way, to let them know His provision of salvation so all people could praise Him.
At this Selah, pause for a moment and consider why God has blessed you. God blesses His people – the Jewish people because they are descendants of Abraham and the Gentile Christians because they are “grafted in” to that same “olive tree” (Romans 11:13-36.) God also blesses whole nations to the degree that they bless His people and walk in His ways (Genesis 12: 1-3). The reason He blesses us is seen in the verse before our Selah. First, so that you can show the wisdom of His ways in your everyday life. This was the purpose of Israel’s existence – that they would keep the statutes and laws they were given and, in that way, the nations around would see the fruits of obedience and recognize Israel as a wise nation (Deuteronomy 4:5-8). As Christians there should always be something different about the way we conduct ourselves. Are you using His blessings to help you order your life in the way Jesus taught us? When you do, even if it goes against our nature (which it does most of the time) it opens the door for God to work in ways that all around can see.
Another reason for God’s blessing is so that His “saving health” – Jesus – cold be known among all nations. When God blesses us, He blesses us with resources – energy (health), finances, talents, and time. Some of us may be wealthier in one than the others. But they are all given to us to invest. Jesus makes this point in a parable that He shares with His disciples because, as they neared Jerusalem, they thought the kingdom of God was soon to appear (Luke 19:12-27). In this parable, a nobleman was going off to a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. Before he did, he gave each of his 10 servants a mina and told them, “Trade with this until I come back.” The nobleman was hated by many people there (Luke 19:14) and knew, that if servants would trade wisely and diligently, his influence and authority in that area would increase greatly. While he was gone most of his servants traded wisely – but there was one who wrapped up his mina and buried it in the ground. When the master returned he rewarded those who used the money wisely and punished the one who hid it in the ground.
The mina is the Gospel. Christ has committed this Gospel to every believer to “trade with” until He returns. His blessing of whatever resources (energy, finances, time, or talents) He has given you is to be used to promote His authority and influence through the Gospel. Of course, those blessings are given to sustain and bless you and your family (that, in itself, is a testimony to others of God’s mercy) but His blessing is always abundant – above and beyond what we need, and that is for a reason. That “abundance” may be one or two extra dollars, or may be a free hour during the week. If so, how are you investing them? I know a pastor’s widow who is 93 years old, still ambulatory, active, happy, and very alert. Before her marriage she barnstormed the Penn-York area as an evangelist. During her 60 years as a pastor’s wife she worked tirelessly, expending what seemed to be endless time, energy and finances for the Gospel. After her husband died she has held countless garage sales and would give all the proceeds to missions. She gave what little she had – so God gave her more – then she used that as well. By the way, her pastor-husband lived the same way and together they made a huge impact in our area for the Gospel.
God blesses us for a reason. As we understand that, and act accordingly, He blesses us more. Sometimes those blessings do not look like blessings – but more like opportunities to invest time and energy to help someone else and bring glory to Him in the process.