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Superscription. “To the chief Musician:” see Introduction to Psalms 57:0. “On Neginoth:” see Introduction to Psalms 54:0. “A Song or Psalm:” see Introduction to Psalms 48:0.
Neither the author of the psalm nor the occasion of its composition are known unto us.
The chief feature of the psalm is the intense desire of the Psalmist (who wrote the psalm for the Temple service) for the universal worship of God. This is quite clear from the repetition of Psalms 67:3. Twice in this brief poem he exclaims, “Let the people praise Thee, O God; let all the people praise Thee.”
Homiletically, we regard the psalm as setting forth—
THE MISSIONARY PRAYER OF THE CHURCH
I. The great object of the missionary prayer of the Church. In this psalm, the Church seeks,
1. That God may be known by all men.
(1.) As to His way. “That Thy way may be known upon earth.” The way of God is His procedure towards mankind; “the principles and methods of the Divine administration; the way in which God rules mankind, and in which He bestows His blessings on men.” It seems to us that to understand this way aright we must view it as comprising two aspects: the way of the Divine requirement, or what He demands from men; and the way of the Divine treatment, or what He does for men.
(2.) As to His salvation. “Thy saving health among all nations.” Instead of “saving health,” we should read, salvation. The Church prays that the Divine salvation may be known by all peoples—that all peoples may experience it. The heart that knows the blessedness of personal religion will seek to extend that experience to others. There is a vital connection between these two branches of knowledge. “If God make known His way to us, and we walk in it, He will show us His saving health.” In the way of Divine requirement and the way of Divine treatment, in God’s grace and his own obedience to God, man finds salvation.
2. That God may be worshipped by all men. “Let the people praise Thee, O God; let all the people praise Thee. O let the nations be glad and sing for joy.” We have here
(1.) Worship in its object. “Let the people praise Thee, O God.” It is natural and right that the kindest Being should be regarded with gratitude, the best Being with reverence. Both on account of what He is and of what He does, God should be praised. He is the only true object of worship.
(2.) Worship in its character. “O let the nations be glad and sing for joy.” The worship of God should be joyous. Its fitting expressions are songs, not groans; declarations of confidence, not the murmurs of discontent.
(3.) Worship in its extent. “Let all the people praise Thee. O let the nations,” &c. It is a prayer that all the Gentiles may be brought to know and worship the Lord God. (See on Psalms 66:4.) Let us clearly and firmly apprehend the universality of the aim of this prayer. How grand this aim! A saved world joyously worshipping the one living and true God!
II. The means by which the attainment of this object is sought. These means are various; but that which is brought into prominence here is Prayer for the gracious presence of God with His Church. “God be merciful unto us, and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us.” Margin: “With us.” Moll: “ ‘Among us.’ The expression among or with us does not indicate the nearness of the help but the accompanying, or better, the guiding presence of God.” There is a manifest reference to the benediction of the High Priest (Numbers 6:24-26). To cause the face to shine upon any one is to look upon him with favour. It is a beautiful representation of the Divine approval and blessing. This blessing is sought as a favour, not demanded as a right. The Divine mercy, and not their own merit, is the ground on which their petition is urged. “God be merciful unto us.” How profound is the philosophy of this prayer! Superficially the idea is: Bless us with guidance, with prosperity, with outward and visible tokens of Thy blessing, so that the heathen, in the hope of sharing in these favours, may be led to acknowledge Thee. But there is a deeper and more spiritual idea here: when the Church is richly filled with the presence and blessing of her Divine Lord, men will numerously and eagerly seek to know the way and salvation of God. A living, active, holy Church would speedily result in the conversion of the world to God. What the Church most pressingly needs for the accomplishment of her great work is not more numerous agencies, not new methods of evangelisation, not increase of material wealth, but a deeper and more abiding realisation of the presence and blessing of God in her midst. Our successes in missionary enterprise, both at home and abroad, are comparatively few and small because we are spiritually feeble; we are spiritually feeble because our realisation of the presence of God with us is so fluctuating and faint; and our realisation of the presence of God with us is faint and fluctuating because we have not sought it with earnest purpose and strong faith. “These,” says Guenther, “are the true prophets and teachers, upon whose countenance the glance of the Divine light still remains.” When that light shines clearly upon the countenances of the members of the Christian Church, the day will not be far distant when “all the people” shall praise God.
III. The confidence in which this prayer is offered. Here are two things—
1. The confidence expressed. “God, even our own God, shall bless us. God shall bless us; and all the ends of the earth shall fear Him.” The poet expresses the assurance that the object prayed for would be granted; that God would bless His own people, and that so the world would be won to Him in joyous worship.
2. The basis of this confidence. This is twofold.
(1) The relation of God to men, and His work for men. “Thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth.” God appears here as the righteous Sovereign of men. The great principles of the Divine government as seen in the history of the world are so righteous and gracious that the heathen will joyously give Him their allegiance. He also appears here as the gracious Leader of men. Margin: “And lead the nations” Hengstenberg: “And guidest.” Perowne: “The verb is the same as in Psalms 23:3, God being the great Shepherd of all nations.” He guides in paths of safety, prosperity, peace, and life. His government and guidance are powerful incentives to trust and worship Him.
(2) The blessing bestowed upon the Church. The Hebrew verb in the first clause of Psalms 67:6 is in the past tense. Conant: “The earth hath yielded her increase.” Hengstenberg: “The land gave its increase.” There is an obvious reference to a recent harvest. Calvin expresses what we hold as the meaning and bearing of the clause: “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.” His blessings to His Church encourage and strengthen faith in the progress, and ultimately the complete triumph of His cause and kingdom. (For additional grounds of confidence see on Psalms 66:4.)
CONCLUSION.—The subject presents to us a word of—
1. Encouragement. How glorious is the prospect!
2. Instruction. How wise are the means for realising it!
3. Exhortation. Let us diligently use these means. “God be merciful unto us,” &c.
GOD REALISED BY HIS PEOPLE
“Our own God shall bless us.”
The heathen nations had their numerous gods,—gods for every phase of nature, for all seasons, and for all events. But these gods were senseless idols, puerile, contemptible, and valueless; so also were all those who trusted in them. (See Psalms 115:0.) But Jehovah was the God of Israel, and as such the object of their faith and hope. In Him they trusted, to Him gave homage, and in Him exulted, as in the text.
I. The Divine Being, in the text—“GOD.” This Being was unknown to the heathen, but He revealed Himself to the holy patriarchs, and especially to Abraham and Moses. Our God,
1. Is a Spirit, not material. Angels are in a secondary sense spirits; but it is obvious that they have ethereal vestments, and can manifest themselves, and be seen by men; but not so God (John 4:24; 2 Corinthians 3:17; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 11:27).
2. Self-existent. He, the Creator, has no maker; from Himself and in Himself,—absolutely underived; before all things (Deuteronomy 4:35; Isaiah 44:6).
3. Eternal. From eternity to eternity,—God. No beginning, nor capable of any end of His existence (Isaiah 57:15; Romans 1:20).
4. Unchangeable; or, He would not be absolutely perfect. “The same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever.” So in His essence, attributes, and purposes; of one eternal, unalterable mind (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17).
5. Omnipotent,—of unlimited energy. Able to do all things worthy of His effectuating (Genesis 17:1; Revelation 19:6).
6. Omniscient,—knowing all things accurately, distinctly, infallibly. And, with these His natural attributes, possessing every moral perfection—wisdom, holiness, goodness, truth, mercy, love. Such is the Divine Being exhibited in the text.
II. His relationship to us. “Our own God.” Not merely the God of the universe, the only God, the God of the seraphim and the holy angels, but “our God.” The God—
1. Of our being. Our Maker, Father, source of existence (Genesis 2:7; Job 33:4; Psalms 139:14; Isaiah 57:6).
2. Our good Benefactor. Fountain of all goodness, the Giver of every good and perfect gift (Exodus 34:6; 1 Chronicles 16:34; Psalms 33:5).
3. Our Divine Lord and Ruler. To whom we are subject, and owe all loyal obedience, and worship, and love (2 Kings 19:15; 2 Chronicles 20:6; Psalms 95:3).
4. Our covenant God, who remembered us in our low estate, and in infinite condescension and mercy entered into gracious covenant relationship with His Son for our redemption and restoration to holiness and eternal life (2 Samuel 23:5; Jeremiah 31:31; Hebrews 8:8).
5. Our gracious God, who has called us and adopted us into His Divine and heavenly family.
6. The God of our profession and worship. Ours by obedience to His call, and faith in His name, and avowal of delight in His service.
7. Our God for ever and ever,—in close, unbroken fellowship, and eternal oneness and joy. God is ours consciously by the indwelling of His Spirit, and by our union with His only begotten Son Jesus Christ.
III. The blessed assurance of this relationship,—“shall bless us.”
1. With all the good we need.
2. With the evident tokens of His favour. His Spirit, His presence, communion, &c.
3. With the rich treasures of His grace.
4. With eternal life and glory.
A few words in conclusion—
1. These blessings are of His sovereign bestowment.
2. Are laid up for us in His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom all fulness dwells.
3. Are realised by us as we ask and believe.
4. Are absolutely certain, as based on His own immutable word, ratified by His solemn oath and sealed with the precious blood of the Lord Jesus.
5. And are experienced by all His saints in the dispensation of His grace and love.
Yes; “God, our own God will bless us.” Grateful acknowledgment and entire consecration are His right and due. To our God be glory evermore.—Jabes Burns, D.D.
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Psalms 67". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
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