Do me a favor and please read Psalm 67.
I love how this psalm is simple and to the point. It’s a psalm of blessings that I can see giving to a friend as we depart, a psalm of blessings that would work wonderfully to close out a worship service, because it’s a psalm of blessings of hopeful praise and a simple psalm of thankful blessings from God.
When you read this you may recognize the very beginning of the verses as those very similar to Numbers 6:24-26. Used frequently as a closing blessing, the words that come from the book of Numbers were the blessings of the church as people departed. It was a request for the blessings of the Lord to watch and keep you from all harm, to feel the warmth and goodness of the Lord’s face shining upon you as you went out – and finally it’s a request of a peace to fall upon you that only the Lord can give.
It was, and is, an understanding that God is in everything and everywhere
(this is important to remember…so hold on to that statement/understanding).
We don’t know the context of this song. We simply know that it’s a song and songs should be sung. And this song simply asks that the blessings of God be received so that His name can be known. And not only known to the people there, not only known to those gathered in worship, but also known to the ends of the earth. And twice we see the words “May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you.” When we see words repeating, especially when the text itself is so short in length, we should probably take notice. And what we find here is really nothing complex – the author realizes that it is by God’s blessings that goodness happens – and yet it is also by God’s blessings that people will know him. And not only those in their immediate circle – but all people everywhere.
What I find truly fascinating is that the author ends this text with this request for blessings so that people would fear God. Maybe it’s just me but “blessings” and “fear” simply are not two words that work well together. It just doesn’t make sense to have a petition of goodness for me in the same breath as a petition of fear and anxiety for others.
Deuteronomy 10:12 has this beautiful charge to Israel in that the Lord asks them to fear him, walk in obedience with him, love and serve him, and do so with all your heart. Those words have always been really interesting to me. Love and fear the Lord? Train your children up to love and fear the Lord (Psalm 34:11; Prov 22:6) – that seems so odd. Right? Well – if we think of it as “fear” as in being afraid of something then yeah…it IS kind of odd. But when we think of fear as respect, honor, AND fear then it becomes more understandable. What we’re aiming to understand here is that with God’s authority there is all these emotions…and fear has to be one of those. There’s a power there that is unlimited and that must be respected…and feared.
So when we take those feelings we have…what we are brought to is this “total and complete respect” for God. And not just total and complete but the HIGHEST of highest respects for God. It’s a 100% “all-in” for who God is and what he does and is capable of doing. It’s an ability to fully walk in obedience and respect and love and commitment to God because you know that there simply is nothing he isn’t capable of being able to do. Now that doesn’t mean “capable” as in, “We’re not sure if God’s going to go pscho on us today…so be aware!” That’s not what this means. It’s more like, “There simply is nothing that is outside of what God can do for he is the creator of all, holder of all things, and is in complete control of everything. His power and abilities are limitless.” And we, as his created beings, find awe and fear in just how powerful God is. And that’s something that should be understood and feared…and not simply finding only fear in our hearts.
Now, with all of that said, and coming back to our psalm – the understanding from the psalmist is that everything and all blessings simply come from God AND BECAUSE OF THAT all people, every tribe and tongue and nation, should praise him. All people should sing with joy and gladness for the blessings and goodness of God. All people should praise God for he gives harvest(s) to the lands, rules the peoples with equity (think of “fairness”), and leads and guides them in all they do.
The psalmist simply wants all the people of the world to know, believe, fear, and love the One who creates it all, sustains it all, guides it all, brings joy to it all – and simply blesses all things. It’s a prayer we have every day – right? That people come to know the Lord. That those who do not know God come to realize the love and mercy and grace he rains upon us and that there simply isn’t a part of this world or beyond that doesn’t have his stamp of “mine” on it. And yes, there is a fear there on just how amazing and powerful God is and how easily he could simply snuff us all out…and yet he doesn’t – because that’s not who he is.
Sometimes the simple and short psalms are richly complex, challenging, and affirming all in the same breath.