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Friday, December 1st, 2023
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 67

Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & PsalmsHengstenberg's Commentary


Psalms 67

THE church of the Lord expresses a wish that he would impart to her blessing and salvation, in order that the manifestation of his grace, in his guidance of his people, may bring all the heathen to him: Psalms 67:2 and Psalms 67:3. This wish depends on the firm basis of the word and the deeds of God; and therefore the confident assurance, comes next ( Psalms 67:4 and Psalms 67:5) therefore stands in its proper place, that the nations in future shall praise the Lord, on account of his righteous and good government, with which they become acquainted in the first instance, from his the guidance of his people. In Psalms 67:6-7 the church grounds this confidence, specially on a blessing enjoyed at the present time, namely, the rich harvest which God grants to his people.

The only reference to a matter of fact contained in the Psalm, viz: “the land gave its increase,” is sufficient to determine the occasion on which it was composed: the title, To the Chief Musician, for instrumental music, a song of praise, is altogether general. The Psalm was composed on the completion of harvest; and that it was designed for the temple service, is obvious from the title, “to the chief musician,” and from the reference to the priestly blessing in Psalms 67:1 st.

The Psalm contains the complete number of seven verses, which is divided, as generally, into a four and a three. The second part is separated from the first, by the fact, that the blessing of God, presently enjoyed, is first made mention of in it—the circumstance which had given rise to the thought of the Psalm, “that the blessing of God upon Israel shall at a future time allure to him all the nations of the earth.” By this thought the Psalm is connected with the preceding one. The same thought which had been called forth by a deliverance of the people, is here suggested by the usual operations of nature. Every manifestation of the power and grace of God awakens in Israel the hope, that the unnatural relation, in which the heathen stood towards him would, in future, cease to exist. This Psalm, along with the two which precede it, forms a Trilogy. At the beginning and at the end there is a praise-song of David, which celebrates the goodness of God in nature, the former to be sung in prospect of an abundant harvest, and the latter after the harvest has been gathered in, and in the middle there is a song of praise to God because of his goodness in the dispensations of his providence.

The constant use of the general name of God, Elohim, is occasioned by the contents of the Psalm, which announce the conversion of all the nations of the earth. The name Jehovah is to be regarded as in fact standing along side of it, and Elohim only gives prominence to the idea of generality which is coupled with that of the greatest limitation, but for this reason was frequently misunderstood. The word Elohim must have served to recall this idea always afresh to the minds of the people: comp. the Beitr. P. II. p. 299, 312.

Verses 1-2

The first part of the first strophe is Psalms 67:1 and Psalms 67:2.

Ver. 1 May God be gracious to us, and bless us, may he cause his face to shine with us. Ver. 2. That thy way may be known upon the earth, thy salvation among all nations. The Psalmist at first speaks of God, because he confines himself strictly to the blessing of Moses, Numbers 6:24-25; but as soon as he leaves it, he addresses God. The wish in Psalms 67:1, is for grace and blessing, in this connection. The sixth verse renders it manifest that temporal blessings are not excluded, but that these are in the first instance referred to; compare also the expansion in Deuteronomy 28:1-14. In the fullest sense, however, (and we may say this both of the prayer and of the intention of it), the fulfilment is only in Christ. It is only after God has imparted all the blessings of grace and salvation in him to his own people, that there follow really and comprehensively those effects upon the heathen world which is the object of the Psalmist’s wishes and hopes. In reference to the light and the shining of the face of God, comp. at Psalms 4:6, Psalms 31:16. Instead of the “upon” of the priestly blessing, we have here “with,”—the את being used exactly as it is in Genesis 4:1,—so that his shining countenance guides us along our way.

On Psalms 67:2, Calvin says: “The prophet wishes, that the favour of God towards the chosen people may become visible, in order that, by its splendour, it may lead the heathen to the hope of sharing in it.” The way of God is his procedure: from the experience of Israel, the heathen shall know how God acts, what are those treasures of salvation which are laid up with him for his people; as, even at the present time, there are not more powerful means of bringing the world to God, than the perception of the gifts which he imparts to the living members of his church: comp. Psalms 25:10, “all the ways of God are grace and truth”: Psalms 103:7, “He has made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the children of Israel.” The parallel term, “his salvation,” is decisive against the translation, “his religion”: comp. Psalms 96:2, Psalms 98:2. The idea, that the blessings of Israel shall exert an attractive influence on heathen nations, occurs also in the promises made to the patriarchs, Genesis 22:18, Genesis 26:4, “And all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in thy seed,” i.e. they wish for, and they earnestly desire for themselves the lot of Israel as the highest good, and this wish shall be the means of their obtaining the blessing, ( to be blessed, Niph. Genesis 12:3; Genesis 18:18), inasmuch as it will lead them to the author of the blessing. Isaiah 60:3 also is parallel: “and the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.”

Verses 3-4

The second part of the first strophe is Psalms 67:3 and Psalms 67:5.

Ver. 3. The nations shall praise thee, O God, all the nations shall praise thee. Ver. 4. The nations shall be glad and shout for joy, because thou judgest the people righteously, and guidest the nations upon earth. There is first an announcement of the future conversion of all nations, and then a reference to the basis of this. The latter is to be supplemented from Psalms 67:1 and Psalms 67:2:—because, as the example of Israel shows, or as they see from the experience of Israel. Calvin saw that, according to the expression and connection, the language refers only to these nations who were subject to the dominion of the Lord, and who speak as at Isaiah 2:3. As an expansion of “he judges,” we may refer to what is said in Ps. 67:12-14, of the judicial conduct of Messiah. On מישור , properly, “even,” then “evenness,” in a moral sense, in the accusative here, as מישרים in Psalms 58:1, comp. at Psalms 45:6. On “thou guidest;” comp. Isaiah 58:11, “And the Lord guides thee continually and satisfies thy soul in drought.”

Verses 5-7

The second strophe is Psalms 67:5-7.

Ver. 5. Nations shall praise thee, O God, all the nations shall praise thee. Ver. 6. The land gave its increase, God, our God, blesses us. Ver. 7. God blesses us, and all the ends of the earth shall fear him.

For ought in reality to be supplied before Psalms 67:6. The Psalmist tells us in these verses what it was that had given him occasion and ground for his hope that the heathen, at a future time, should praise the Lord. First, a special event, which had just occurred, and which is expressed in the preterite tense; and, second, a general truth which had received from that event a recent confirmation, and, in the annunciation of which, the future tense is employed. The words in which the first is represented are borrowed from Leviticus 26:4 so designedly literal, as to render it manifest that attention was designed to be directed to the faithfulness of God in fulfilling his promises: “And I give you rain in due season, and the land gives its increase, and the trees of the fields give their fruit,”—a reference which refutes the idea that the הארץ here denotes the whole earth, (the “ our God” serves the same purpose), and that the fruit of the land is a figurative expression for blessings generally. In reference to this thought, Calvin: “We must maintain, that as often as God adorned that ancient people with his benefits, he, at the same time, shone upon the whole world with a burning torch, so as to allure the heathen to seek him.” In Psalms 67:7, “God blesses us,” is repeated for the purpose of connecting immediately together cause and effect:—”And because God blesses us,” etc.

Bibliographical Information
Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Psalms 67". Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/heg/psalms-67.html.
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