Shine on Us (Psalm 67)
When I was a senior in college, I went on a mission trip to Tirana, Albania. The plane tickets were around $850.00, and I couldn’t afford that as a college kid. So, I wrote several churches to ask for contributions, and many congregations gave generously. Good, godly Christians had been blessed financially; they gave generously to the church. The church, in turn, was able to bless me in my mission effort. Because churches gave the necessary funds, I traveled to Eastern Europe in October 1995.
While I was in Albania, I preached, visited a couple churches, met with local Christians, and spent time with several missionaries. I was able to bless Christians in Albania because Christians in America had blessed me.
So many of you use your blessings to bless others. So many of you give generously which allows me to do my work. Several of you use your talents with World Bible School to spread the good news of Jesus. Several of you sisters use your talents to sew pillows to bless the hurting. So many of you use your resources to bring items for the pantry and the children’s homes. So many of you use your time and other gifts to bless the men at the Wheelhouse.
Israel was the same. God blessed them that they might bless others.
That was the promise to Abraham.
Genesis 12:2-3. Abraham, a childless old man, was promised to be the father of a great nation. God specifically said that Abraham’s blessing would be so that Abraham himself would be a blessing for others; in fact, all the families of the earth would be blessed through Abraham. That is an unmistakable allusion to the Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ. You and I are blessed in Christ this morning because God blessed Abraham.
That was the promise to Aaron and his sons.
Numbers 6:22-26. The priests, who had been blessed with the priesthood from God, would bless the Israelites.
Those two passages form the background for this morning’s text, Psalm 67. God was blessing the Israelites in order that they might be a blessing to others.
It is absolutely imperative that we keep this psalm in its historical context. It would be grossly irresponsible for me to pluck this passage out of its original setting and apply it directly to you today. This psalm is based on the promise to make Abraham a great nation and to bless all the families of the earth through him. This is, in many respects, therefore, a messianic psalm. The passage, in essence, is a prayer asking God to bless the Israelites with the Messiah so that he, in turn, might bless the world. You and I aren’t awaiting the Messiah through whom we will bless the world, so I can’t take this passage and start making direct application.
However, the psalm does present a principle I want you to grasp: “God blesses his people so they can bless others.”
Scripture (Psalm 67)
These verses repeat the priestly blessing from Numbers 6. To cause your face to shine on someone meant to smile at that person with favor and approval.
God’s blessing the Israelites would cause his way and saving power to be known throughout the world. God’s truth would be made known through the Messiah. God’s saving power—his power to save from sin and from all other enemies—would be made known through the Messiah.
All peoples—Gentiles and Jews—should praise God.
Nations should praise God, for he judges the peoples with equity. The translation “judge” is misleading because the ancients didn’t divide their government into three branches—executive, legislative, and judicial—like most governments today. Instead, the king functioned as all three branches by himself. Thus, “rule” is a far better translation—the idea is that God rules over the nations.
God rules over the nations with equity—He does so fairly.
God guides the nations of the earth. The Hebrew word for “guide” refers to leading someone on the right path with tender care. The word was used of a shepherd’s guiding his flock. The word was also used of God’s leading his people with the pillars of cloud and fire (Ex 13:21). The idea is that God is more than willing to lead with graciousness all the nations of the earth.
This verse repeats verse 3 verbatim. The repetition demonstrates the importance of all nations’ praising God.
These two verses expect blessings from God. The chief blessing in view throughout this psalm is the Messiah’s coming. However, an increasing abundance of crops is also mentioned. The Messiah’s coming and God’s graciousness through a bountiful harvest would allow even the far ends of the earth to praise God.
This passage demonstrates that God blessed the Israelites to bless the world. There’s no way for me to apply this passage directly today, for the church isn’t waiting on the Messiah through whom she will bless the world. However, every passage of the Old Testament came from God and is for our instruction. Therefore, there is God’s truth to be gleaned from Psalm 67, and we can apply the principle: “God blesses his people so they can bless others.” How can you bless others through God’s blessings?
This psalm itself is a prayer for God’s blessings. If this psalm can be applied in any way, therefore, we must start with prayer.
You know the importance of prayer. “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:17). You need to be “building yourselves up in the most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit” (Jude 20).
You need to pray for God to bless you so that you can bless others. Specifically, how can you pray for such blessings?
Pray for the financial means to bless others.
Jabez prayed that God would bless him financially, and the Lord granted his request (1 Chron 4:10).
All your financial blessings come from God’s hands. God so blessed Job: “And the LORD restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before” (Job 42:10). “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (Js 1:17).
Pray this week for God to bless you financially. Do not pray for selfish gain: “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (Js 4:3). Instead, pray that you might bless others with your blessings.
- Pray that you can contribute more to the church’s work.
- Pray that you can bring more for the pantry.
- Pray that you might give more to the children’s homes.
- Pray that you might help people whom you know who are hurting.
Pray for talents to bless others.
God gives you talents, and he expects you to use those talents to bless others: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Pet 4:10). Pray:
- That God might give you a new talent to bless others.
- That God might help you to develop your current talents in his service.
- That God will help you discover new talents to use in blessing others.
Pray this very day that God will bless you so that you might ably bless others.
You must use your blessings to bless others. It will do you no good to have great blessings but not to use them. The man with one talent was condemned because he did nothing with his blessing (Matt 25:24-30). In a context of the brevity of life, James wrote: “Whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (Js 4:17).
So, sit down and take a look at your blessings—material blessings and your talents—and plan how you will use your blessings in God’s kingdom. Then, produce—use your blessings to bless others.
In Psalm 67, the purpose of Israel’s blessing the world was so that the world might praise God. Your blessing others isn’t so you can feel good or to participate in some sort of philanthropy; your goal is to bless others so they might praise God. If people don’t know that you’re doing good in the Lord’s name, God cannot be honored; you need to make it clear—proclaim—that you’re blessing others in Jesus’s name.
God must be honored when you bless others. “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt 5:16). In every way you bless others, you need to see that God—not you—gets the credit.
Blessing others is not about you. Blessing others is about God. You bless because God has blessed you. You bless because God is love. You bless because God uses you to serve others. You bless because God created all men in his image.
This psalm focuses on Israel’s being blessed to bless others so that the whole world might praise God. As Gentiles, you and I have been blessed through the Jewish Messiah who brought God’s redemption to all men. Since you have been redeemed from your sins, you owe God praise.
Are you giving God that praise throughout your life? Do you need to come this morning and begin living a life of praise?
This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at Church of Christ Deer Park in Deer Park, Texas.