Psalm 67: Let All The Peoples Praise You

One of the rewards of taking a close examination of the Book of Psalms is a realization of how universal the biblical ideal was from the very beginning. It is commonly and mistakenly thought that the Mosaic covenant (popularly, but mistakenly, thought of as merely the ‘Old’ Covenant) was about race while the ‘New’ Covenant was about grace. As a matter of fact, there are numerous psalms and other passages of the Bible that deal with the same material of Psalm 67, the reality of God’s desire for the blessing and conversion of all peoples of the world to His ways. Many of these passages have been discussed here before [1], but this is another one to add to the list of passages that show Gentile believers in a good light and show God’s universal design for worship from the beginning.

Psalm 67 is an anonymous song, whose superscription reads: “To the chief musician. On stringed instruments. A Psalm. A Song.” This superscription is very general, given that it does not include the material one would most want to know about the psalm–like its author, or any specific incident that inspired it. Nevertheless, besides this, the psalm is popularly known as an invocation and a doxology, which is perhaps similarly unhelpful to many readers. An invocation is a calling on someone or something as an authority (in this case, God–using the form Elohim rather than Yahweh, showing its applicability to the peoples of the world and not merely those in a special covenant relationship with God). A doxology is a short hymn of praises to God that is often added to the end of other psalms. For example, the end of the “Lord’s Prayer” of Matthew 6 includes a doxology. Nevertheless, this title does not indicate the materials of the psalm very well either.

The best way to examine this psalm is to look at what it says. Fortunately, as Psalm 67 is short, this can be done without too much trouble. Psalm 67:1-7 reads in its entirety: ” God be merciful to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us, (Selah) that Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations. Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You. Oh, let the nations be glad and sing for joy! For you shall judge the people righteously, and govern the nations on earth. Selah. Let the peoples praise You, O God, let all the peoples praise You. Then the earth shall yield her increase; God, our own God, shall bless us. God shall bless us, and all the ends of the earth shall fear Him.”

Fortunately, even though somewhat obscure, this psalm is entirely straightforward. Despite (or maybe because) of its straightforwardness call on universal repentance, this is not a very well known psalm. In many ways, the sentiments of this psalm are not that different from Psalm 150 [2], which calls upon everything that has breath to praise God. Here, though, it is clear that what is wanted is more than praise from all nations, but also the offer of salvation to spread throughout the entire earth. Psalm 67 is one of the most bluntspoken hymns about the universal appeal to salvation for the entire world that can be found in the Hebrew scriptures, a reminder that God’s ways were never merely about a small corner of the Middle East, but had universal importance from the very beginning, long before the post-exilic period. This particular hymn springs from the period of the monarchy, possibly even as early as the time of David around 1000 BC.

It is striking as well how the book connects praise to God and worshiping God among the entire world, where God’s ways are known to all the nations and peoples and followed universally with the blessings of increase to the whole world. Obedience is connected to blessing. The praiseworthiness of wishing for salvation for the entire world makes Psalm 67 among the most universal of psalms, and a useful antidote to those who think of the Hebrew scriptures as being narrowly focused only on Israel and Judah and their affairs, without interest in the repercussions of their ways for the well-being of the entire world. The same could be said about the contemporary church–if we are fulfilling our purpose to show God’s ways on the face of the earth, those ways will eventually lead to blessings that spread over the earth as the waters cover the sea.

It is also noteworthy, in echoes of the prophets and the prophecies of Revelation that the anonymous psalmist points to obedience and blessing coming only when God judges the earth righteously and governs it. Accepting and obeying God’s laws means accepting God’s authority and rejecting the corrupt ways of mankind, often resulting from the dereliction of duty among authorities or their tyrannical and authoritarian abuses. By rejecting both of these extremes, those who follow God’s ways accept His judgment and his government, which leads to their blessings and salvation. Authority and obedience are here connected not in the debased way in which they are familiar around the world, but rather in the enlightened way that they are presented in God’s word [3]. Let us therefore hope that the day comes soon when God’s government will rule over the world, and when the world will follow God’s ways and reap the blessings that result from obedience through love. Let us also be models of the ways of God as well, to do our part in helping to bring blessing instead of cursing into this dark and troubled world.

[1] These passages are from the law, the prophets, as well as the writings:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/08/18/deuteronomy-10-12-21-what-does-the-eternal-require-of-you/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/deuteronomy-4-5-9-the-evangelistic-mission-of-israel/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/09/15/lessons-from-the-book-of-obadiah/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/06/29/psalm-45-my-tongue-is-the-pen-of-a-ready-writer/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/psalm-87-this-one-was-born-there-glorious-things-of-thee-are-spoken/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/06/16/exodus-31-12-18-the-sabbath-covenant/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/05/26/divine-providence-in-the-book-of-ruth-part-one/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/04/06/what-the-jews-should-have-known-from-the-night-to-be-much-observed/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2010/11/19/divine-providence-in-the-story-of-naaman-the-syrian/

[2] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/07/06/psalm-150-let-everything-that-has-breath/

[3] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/08/04/two-approaches-to-government-part-one/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/08/18/two-approaches-to-government-part-two/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Christianity, Psalms and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Psalm 67: Let All The Peoples Praise You

  1. Pingback: An Introduction To The Psalms Commentary Project | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Book Review: A Musician Looks At The Psalms | Edge Induced Cohesion

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