May 29, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (Psalm 67)

 

Submitted by Sara H. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Psalm 67

Key Verse

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.

God is …

Unlike some of the intimate, private voice of some of the other psalms, this is a psalm that emphasizes a collective “we” and “us,” and the fact that God is a God of all peoples. The first verse begins, “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us.”  The theme of “us” is picked up again in words like “all nations,” “the peoples,” “all the peoples,” and though this is a short psalm of seven verses, it’s a psalm that literally teems with people and nations, and effectively communicates God’s sovereignty and grace that reaches to the ends of the earth.  In this way, when the psalmist describes God’s blessing and his face shining upon us in verse one, it’s clear that God’s blessing and grace are so abundant and vast.  God’s blessing is not limited to just a certain region or culture; His face shines upon all of us.  My God, our God, is worthy of praise and great enough to encompass all the peoples and all the nations.  The Gospel message is a message that will bring joy to all nations, for all peoples are in dire need of God—to be ruled justly by Him and to know whom they ought to worship.

The emphasis on “us” and “our God” also highlight the important truth that Christian life is one that is experienced in community: “May God be gracious to us and bless us.”  It’s not a request for personal, individualistic blessing; it’s a request that thinks about the self as deeply intertwined with a communal “us.”  This is an important truth about Christian life that I have experienced over the years.  It’s the truth described so aptly by Apostle Paul when he describes the church as a human body and all of us as “members” within it—when one part hurts, we all hurt; when one part succeeds, we all rejoice.  It’s another way to understand the church community as one that is so closely knit and bound together, that the we/I becomes indistinguishable.  I experienced this blurring between the I/we most recently through my husband’s graduation from his PhD program.  The relief of filing his dissertation after 8 years in graduate school became magnified through experiencing this through our church, and the celebration that normally just touches immediate family members and friends became a celebration that our entire church participated in.  Indeed, the graduation was a celebration not of individual accomplishment, but a celebration of God and God’s people.   Completing the program would not have been possible without God’s provision, which concretely manifested itself through God’s people—the many prayers he received, the countless care packages that helped him through exams and paper writing times, the babysitting help we received, the words of encouragement and exhortation that came…  The fact that so many people labored together with him really made his graduation a collective celebration.  In this individualistic, self-glorifying culture, this kind of “we” and “us” identity may seem foreign, but as I have experienced through so many instances, it is such a rich blessing.

The rest of the sentence that continues the thought in verse one helps me to know why we ask for God’s blessing.  We ask for God’s blessings upon us so that “your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.”  God’s ways are just and because of this wise ruling, the people and nations are able to be glad and sing for joy.  The lesson for me is not to keep His blessings to myself but know that there is a greater purpose for having God’s grace, blessing, and face shining in my life—so that His ways may be known on the earth.  So as much as God allows me to experience the rich joys of fellowship and community, I cannot be satisfied to just enjoy them on my own; freely I have received, freely I must give.

Lessons for me …

One lesson for me from this psalm is to be certain about how God is the God for all nations, that the Gospel is indeed relevant and necessary for every single person.  Although I know this in my head, I often forget this truth when I encounter people who seem so put together or just so confident in their worldview.  I have to have this sentiment of the psalmist, the beautiful vision of all peoples praising God and the nations being glad and singing for joy.  This is only possible when I am able to see people as God sees them—as harassed and helpless sheep without a shepherd, lacking joy and leading fruitless lives because they worship the wrong things and not the true, living God.

As I live within the community of God’s church, I find myself at times chafing against the “we” of the body of Christ; I don’t want to be so interconnected to other people because I don’t want to be a burden and vice versa.  However, this is just kicking against the goads since it’s like I want to insist on being an only child when there are other siblings in the family.  This is a result of my independent, rebellious nature that idolizes a kind of worldly individualism rather than the beautiful “we” and “us” of the Bible.  Thankfully, God has allowed me to experience the concrete blessings of being in a community through our church, and these memories are facts that help me to talk myself out of my rebellious ways and recognize the beautiful blessing of the church and the culture of “one another.”  Besides sharing in common joys and blessings, God calls me to share in the burdens of others and to be carried myself in times of need.  And this is perhaps even a greater joy than the joy of celebrating in some victory together, since it’s the dark times of emotional trials or spiritual uncertainty that have led me to experience God’s love.  It’s the times when I want to give up on myself or on a situation, but other people don’t let me, which remind me of the tenacity of God’s love.

Lastly, the lesson for me here is also about not hoarding the blessings from our God to myself—that is, just to remain content in a holy huddle of sorts and enjoying the blessings of community.  This psalm is all about our God and His blessings, and the way we need to make His ways known to all the earth.  There is a purpose to all the blessings that God gives us, and it’s so that more and more people can come back to the Father’s household.  If I just focus on the blessings and don’t move onto verse two in this psalm, then I miss out on the whole meaning and purpose of God’s blessings.

Prayer

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.

May you be gracious and bless us and make your face shine upon us, O Lord, for you are Sovereign God, the maker of heaven and earth, and your glory reaches to the ends of the earth.  Lord, make your face shine upon us and help us to gaze upon the beauty of your countenance; we are foolishly darkened in our way of thinking, and we need your light to shine upon us and shed light on the darkness and sins within, so that we may turn to you.  I thank you that you place me in a community of “we” and “us” so that what I experience—the trials and triumphs—are never experienced on my own.  Thank you for the provision of your people and community, O Lord.

May the peoples praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you.
May the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you rule the peoples justly
and guide the nations of the earth. Selah

Lord, you are the rightful God of all the peoples and all the nations.  Although the peoples and nations try to satisfy themselves with wealth, political infrastructure, education, romance, philosophies about government and social classes, the American dream—none of these things satisfy, because they are false gods that cannot meet our true need for a living God.  So may the people praise you and admit that they need a Savior, that they need to be subjects to the one, true, compassionate God.  The other gods of the earth are mere slave drivers in disguise—there is never enough security, beauty, fame, intelligence, relational intimacy to satisfy our desire for you.

May the peoples praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you.

Then the land will yield its harvest,
and God, our God, will bless us.
God will bless us,
and all the ends of the earth will fear him.

Lord, as I have experienced your abundant blessings, may I do my utmost to have others praise you.  May I praise you with genuine gratitude and out of the overflowing of that gratitude, may I turn to others and seek to have them praise you.

Submitted by Sharon K. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Psalm 67 (NIV1984)

Key Verse

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.

God is …

God is gracious and is the source of all our blessings. He blesses us with knowledge of Him, makes his face shine upon us, and He lets his ways be known in all the earth. He brings salvation amongst the nations. He is the creator and judge of all the nations, and He is someone who is worthy and deserving of all the praise, gladness, gratitude and singing from all the peoples and the nations. God is someone who blesses every person on this earth.

Lessons for me …

God is so much bigger and greater than my limited experiences of Him. With the kind of care, love and mercy poured out to me in my life, God loves every sinner on this earth. There is no one who is exempt; there is no one who escapes his notice and care.  Everyone on this earth has been blessed by God, receiving the goodness of the sun, of rain and of this nature. With this truth, the psalmist talks about the result of God’s blessing:

that your ways may be known on earth,
your salvation among all nations.

God will bless us,
and all the ends of the earth will fear him.

God’s ultimate blessing that the psalmist prays for is that His ways be known in all the earth so that all nations will come to know His salvation so that there will be proper fear toward our creator from the ends of the earth. How proper and fitting is the psalmist’s prayer! How sad and dreadful it will be for people to have been born on this earth, have enjoyed the blessings from His hands but lived as if He doesn’t exist and to face the consequences of their lives, without having reconciled to Him. This psalmist’s desire and prayer for all the nations challenges me to come out of myself and to reflection upon all the people on the earth. It will be so wrong of me if I held onto the gospel for myself and did not make it a goal for me to share it with the nations. How wonderful and fitting it will be for all peoples and nations to gather for this song of joy, praising God’s gracious and just rule upon all of us! God’s name is to be praised on all the earth.

Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father,

Not only are you a heavenly father to me, but You are a heavenly father to all of us who live on this earth. I praise Your name for You are a God who has blessed all of us with families, with sunshine and rain, and You are worthy and deserving of all our praise. What a wonderful day it will be when all of us gather before your throne, all the peoples and nations from the ends of the earth, to worship and praise you. How wonderful it will be when multitudes are gathered from each tribe with people too many to count. We long for that day! And in light of this, please forgive me for I have lived a very selfish, self-centered life, only thinking about myself, my life and just the immediate people in my life. Please widen my horizon, enlarge my perspective so that I may have a bigger vision for the world. You are the creator and God who is worthy of such joy, gratitude and praise from everyone on this earth, and I pray that I will be someone who will care about not only what’s going on in my specific ministry or my church but in the greater Christiandom and all the earth. How proper and fitting it is for all the peoples and nations to fear our Maker and give your praise for Your blessings and graciousness in our lives. How dreadful it will be for people to perish not knowing the saving grace of Jesus. Please help me and all of us to be active in sharing our faith, in spreading the gospel so that all the people on this earth maybe able to come to a saving knowledge of You.

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