May 17, 2016

Tom Lowe





Title: A Missionary Hymn of Praise

(To the chief musician, to be played on Neginoth (stringed Instruments), a Psalm or Song)


Theme: A psalm reflecting Israel, as God’s priest to the nations..


Psalm 67 (KJV)

1God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us; Selah.

2 That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations.

3 Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee.

4 O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth. Selah.

5 Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee.

6 Then shall the earth yield her increase; and God, even our own God, shall bless us.

7 God shall bless us; and all the ends of the earth shall fear him.



Like the preceding psalm, this one is anonymous.  We do not know when it was written, but it may belong to the period of joy, relief, and blessing which overtook the nation of Israel in the days of Hezekiah after the miraculous destruction of the Assyrian army outside the gates of Jerusalem.  The psalmist, in that case, would be expressing his adoration and praise to God who gave the victory. Many Bible scholars have another interpretation of the psalm; that it is a song of thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest (see verse 6). Others have gone on record expressing their opinion that it was used at one of the great annual festivals, probably the Feast of Tabernacles. It could have been sung on all these occasions.


Like the preceding two psalms and the one to follow, the psalm is clearly millennial in scope.  It has been called “Israel’s missionary psalm” and also “Israel’s millennial prayer.” It has to do with Messiah’s missionaries sent to the nations during the millennium.  It is a psalm of praise to God that His blessings will flow out to the Gentiles, especially His salvation.  This was part of God’s covenant with Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3).  A blessing is a gift from God that glorifies His name, helps His people, and through them reaches out to help others who will glorify His name.  God blesses us so that we might be a blessing to others.  The psalm describes the stages in this sequence. 


When God called the nation of Israel, He intended that the nation would have a missionary character.  It was to be a witness and a testimony to the surrounding nations of two important truths. 

  1. The truth of monotheism—that there is only one God (Exodus 20:2, 3; Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 43:10-12).
  2. The truth that the people living in obedience under the government of Jehovah would be happy and prosperous (Leviticus 26:3-12; Deuteronomy 33:26-29; 1 Chronicles 17:20; Jeremiah 33:9).

But unfortunately Israel failed in this aspect of its mission.  By lapsing into idolatry, it denied the very truths it was called on to proclaim.


But God’s purposes are not so easily defeated.  During the Tribulation, a remnant of believing Jews will carry the Gospel of the kingdom to the entire world: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14).  And in the ensuing kingdom, Israel will be the channel of blessing to the nations: “And you will be called priests of the Lord, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast” (Isaiah 61:6; Zechariah 8:23).



1God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us; Selah.


There was a specific formula given to Moses by God for the blessing of the people of God: “The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26).  The psalmist borrows this formula. 


“God be merciful unto us, and bless us.”  This short paragraph is an echo of the priestly (or “Aaronic”) benediction you just read (Numbers 6:24-26) and it may well be that this blessing was spoken by the high priest before the assembled people responded in the words of this psalm. Think, for a moment, how dreadful it will be on the night preceding the dawn of the millennium, and then listen to this shout: “God be merciful unto us!” Jerusalem will be surrounded by anti-Semitic hordes determined that Israel must be stamped out.  Just as Hitler’s Gestapo kept busy right up to the last moment, shoveling Jews into the gas ovens, even when the war was lost, so the beast will pursue his mad determination to exterminate every last living Jew on this planet, even though his empire will be reeling from supernatural disasters and from the defiance of the Kings of the East. 


“God be merciful unto us,” namely, “Thy people of Israel.” What else will the beleaguered Jewish people be able to say! God will bless Israel, and as God blesses Israel, other nations will take notice and learn of salvation (experienced personally) as well.  God’s ongoing salvation of individual Jewish people—as well as his future salvation of the entire nation—stands as one of the greatest testimonies in this world that “the Word of God has not failed” (Romans 9:6; Romans 11: 1-32).


Think, too, of how dismal it will be on the night preceding the millennial dawn, and then listen to this shout: “God be merciful unto us, and bless us!”  Here is a nation which drew down upon itself the curse of God in Pilate’s judgment hall: “His blood be on us and upon our children.” They have not been able to wash that blood from their history any more than Pilate was able to wash it from his hands.  The fearful agelong sufferings will peak when the nations, with one mighty curse, are united in this at last—to eradicate the Jews from the earth.


“And cause his face to shine upon us; Selah.” Think also of how dark it will be the night that precedes the millennium.  The Jews will find themselves utterly friendless, with no hope left.  There will be a swiftly setting sun and darkness falling.  Out of that darkness will ring the anguished cry of a people without hope in the world. “Cause his face to shine upon us” means to “look upon us with His favor and approval.” When a king smiled on a petitioner with pleasure, the petitioner was likely to receive his request (Numbers 6:24-26; Psalm 31:16; 44:3). We need to desire nothing else to make us happy than to have God’s face shine upon us, to have God love us, and let us know that He loves us. If we by faith walk with God, we have good reason to hope that His face will shine on us. Abraham and Enoch can serve as good examples of people who walked with God. When Abraham and his seed are blessed, the world is blessed through them. Similarly we may plead that God would bless His church and people as the condition of blessing to the world. Oh how I pray for the shinning of that dear face, undimmed by any cloud born of our sin and neglect!


The glory of God was an important part of Israel’s heritage (Romans 9:1-5), for God’s glory led Israel through the wilderness and rested over the tabernacle whenever the nation camped.  To have the light of God’s countenance smile upon them was the height of Israel’s blessing, and to lose that glory meant judgment (1 Samuel 4, especially vs. 21-22).  The prophet Ezekiel watched the glory depart before the temple was destroyed (Ezekiel 8:4; 9:3; 10:4, 18; 11:22-23).  God’s people today have God’s glory within them (1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 2 Corinthians 4:6), and in our good works, godly character, and loving ministry we should reveal that glory to the world: “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16; Philippians 2:14-16).  In the same manner, Israel was to be a light and a blessing to the nations (Isaiah 42:6; 49:6-7; Acts 13:47).  Israel gave us the knowledge of the true and living God, the Word of God and the Son of God, Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.  The prayer of this verse is three-fold: for mercy, the prerequisite for salvation; then for blessing, the accomplishment of salvation; and finally for divine favor, the end of salvation.


“God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us!” Any light to banish the darkness must come from on high.  The Jews at last will unitedly, openly, desperately make known their need for God.  The first verse of this psalm expresses a cry and at the heart of that cry is an acknowledgment of the need for the millennium.


The shout of verse one is a reminder of the dreadful, dark night which now gives way to the dawn.  The next two verses show what happens, once the day dawns and the shadows flee away.


“Selah!”  The word “Selah” occurs seventy-three times in the Psalms, and is found also in Habakkuk 3:3, 9, 13. The exact meaning of the word is unknown, but it’s believed by many scholars to be a musical term that means to pause, or reflect. For example, in Psalm 32:5 we read: “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”—and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah” So when we see “Selah” it means we should pause and reflect on these words.


That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations.

Verses two and three touch upon the nature of the millennium.  The nation of Israel will come into immediate blessing.  Then it will be the turn of the ravaged nations of the earth to be blessed.  God will judge the nations at the valley of Jehoshaphat which will result in a total reduction in the population of the earth. The remnant of the peoples of the earth must learn how to dwell under the new conditions of righteousness which will mark the personal reign of Christ upon this planet.  Jewish evangelists, pastors, and teachers will follow them back to their distant homelands to teach them the new principles of life. 


The Jews, of all people, are well-equipped to do this, for the Jews for centuries have been found in every nation under heaven.  Doubtless the Lord has been using even the centuries of their exile to equip the Jews for the role of ambassadors and evangelists to the nations.  Every nation has Jews born and bred in its lands; Jews taught and trained there, Jews involved and influential.  Back to those lands they will go, aflame with love for the Lord Jesus, seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, eager to guide the footsteps of the new millennial kingdom in the Word and will of God.


The psalmist mentions three areas where the impact of millennial imperialism will be expressed—two in verse 2, and one in verse 3.  There Will Be An Outflow Of Undiluted Wisdom: “That thy way may be known upon earth.” Who is better equipped to teach that to the earth’s people than the regenerated Jew?  By “thy way” is meant either: (1) that way in which God walks; or the manner of his dealing with His people: How gracious and bountiful a Master thou art to all thy servants!  Or rather, (2) That way in which God requires man to walk, the way of God’s precepts, the way of truth, or the true religion; as the way or ways of the Lord are frequently taken (Genesis 18:19; Judges 2:22). The ways of God upon the earth are written on every page of Hebrew history and prophecy.  When we read the words, “that Thy way may be known on earth,” we should remember that Christ is the way (John 14:6).  Only through Him can God’s saving power be experienced by nations or individuals. 


We think of the bondage of the Hebrew nation—400 years in Egypt to learn fully the bitterness of life under Gentile rule.  Then the miraculous exodus, followed by those rich spiritual experiences all the way from Egypt to Canaan while God was teaching this people to trust Him wholly.


We think of the battles of the Hebrew nation—battles during the days of Joshua and the judges, battles in the days of Samuel and Saul, battles in the days of David and the divided kingdoms.  In those battles God sought to teach them the price of sin and the principles of victory.


We think of the badnessof the Hebrew nation—its repeated chastisements under the mighty hand of God for its constant apostasies.  Uprooted and replanted; expecting the Messiah and executing the Messiah; the cross and the curse—such rebellion and apostasy as has never been seen elsewhere on earth.


We think of the bitterness of this people—for two-thousand years chased from land to land, allowed to prosper and then cut down like fuel for the flames—all to be climaxed in the “time of Jacob’s trouble.” [The phrase "the time of Jacob's trouble" is a quote from Jeremiah 30:7 which says, "Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it" (KJV).In the previous verses of Jeremiah 30, we find that the Lord is speaking to Jeremiah the prophet about Judah and Israel (30:3-4). In verse 3, the Lord promises that one day in the future, He will bring both Judah and Israel back to the land that He had promised their forefathers. Verse 5 describes a time of great fear and trembling. Verse 6 describes this time in a way that pictures men going through the pains of childbirth, again indicating a time of agony. But there is hope for Judah and Israel, for though this is called "the time of Jacob's trouble,” the Lord promises He will save Jacob (referring to Judah and Israel) out of this time of great trouble (verse 7); God's judgment on the unbelieving world and His discipline of Israel during the Tribulation.]


We think of the blessingof this people—when at last, they will be not only regathered but reborn!  What wonderful lessons Israel will have to teach to the nations of God’s government and grace: “That Thy way may be known upon the earth.” In other words God blesses them with a missionary purpose in view. Otherwise how could all the peoples praise Thee? This wish should be included in our prayers too: “Lord, I pray thee not only that thou wilt be merciful to us and bless us, but that thou will be merciful to all mankind, so “that thy way may be known upon earth.” And so the sense of the verse is this; “Deal so graciously with thy people Israel, that in so doing the Gentile world may at last be allured away from their idols to embrace their religion and Messiah; according to that famous prophecy which is Zechariah 8:23: “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In those days ten people from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.’”


If nothing had been spoken in Scripture regarding the conversion of the heathen, we might think it a waste of time to attempt such a hopeless task.  But when we see with what confidence it is declared in the Scriptures, we may engage in missionary labors, assured that God will fulfill His own Word.  But if we are too shy or too aloof to make known to the heathen the knowledge with which we are favored and the salvation we profess to glory in?  They cannot learn unless they are informed.  Therefore let us press on in the strength of the Lord, and look to Him—the Holy Ghost—to accompany the Word; then Satan’s kingdom shall be destroyed, and the kingdom of our Redeemer established.


“Thy saving health [salvation] among all nations.”After the horrifying battles which will terminate Gentile misrule on this planet, there will be vast changes in human life and society.  During the millennial reign true utopia will have arrived.  There Will Be Unlimited Welfare for men—not just social welfare, but saving welfare.  There will be social conscience controlled by spiritual concepts.  God will send out His “saving health among all nations.” Only the Lord Jesus can so rule men that this state of health is insured.  After the wicked have been rooted out from the nations in the judgment of the valley of Jehoshaphat only saved people will be left on earth.  The millennial age will begin with a nucleus of saved and regenerated people, Jews and Gentiles.  The knowledge of salvation will be universal.  And as always, spiritual conversion will be accompanied by social concern.


Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee.

There Will Be An Outflow Of Unfailing Worship: “Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee.” The word “people” is simply “peoples”—all the people of the earth.  Our Father, please hasten that time, when all the Gentiles shall forsake their dumb idols, and serve and praise Thee the living God, as they will have abundant cause to do. Praise is our first human reaction to God’s action; dependence on Him is our second one (Acts 17:28). Ideally, praise will not be confined within Israel. The psalmist wants all the people to praise God, who is a just ruler of people and a guide for all the countries. Those who acknowledge God’s role in leading the nations can experience the joy He provides.


O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth. Selah.


“O let the nations be glad and sing for joy.” Today the nations do not acknowledge God, so it is no wonder that their world is full of sobs instead of songs.  The United Nations displays in its foyer a statue of Zeus, the pagan thunderer of Olympus, but no one makes public mention of the Lord Jesus Christ or suggests that prayer be offered in His name—that would offend Muslims or the atheist crowd.  Our country goes along with that, being far more concerned about offending the Muslims or the atheists than about acknowledging God.


“Righteousness exalts a nation and it exalts a person.” The blessing of the Lord brings prosperity to nations and sweetens all our creature-comforts; it is good to cast in our lot with those that are the blessed of the Lord. The nations today have no use for God, but during the millennium, as it reaches towards its daytime splendor, as men enter into all the abundant blessings which will flow from Jerusalem, from the person of a reigning Christ, then the nations will sing!  It will be a time of spontaneous joy! Then the hymnwriters vision will be realized:


Joy to the world, the Lord is come;

Let earth receive her King,

Let every heart prepare Him room,

And Heaven and nature sing!


“For thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth. Selah.” Man’s efforts to establish the principle of justice on the earth break down because of human frailty, weakness, and corruption.  As it is used here, “shalt judge” refers to the Lord’s rule and governing of them, as it is explained in the next clause—“and govern the nations upon earth.” All saved persons are regarded as the Israel of God; they are radiantly happy because He judges them (in the sense of “governs”) and fully secure because He governs, or guides, them even as he ruled and led the chosen people through the wilderness.


When Jesus comes, it will be different.  It will be a time of superlative justice.  He who wrote the Ten Commandments on the tables of stone, who commanded Moses to keep those very stones in the sacred ark in the holy of holies, He who trod these scenes of time with that Law hidden in His own heart, and who lived out every jot and tittle of that Law for the entire length of His life, He will administer justice on this planet. 


“Selah!”  See verse 1.



Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee.

This verse is identical with verse three, emphasizing that praise will be the great characteristic of the golden age (millennium). 


War will be forgotten.  Hospitals, prisons, graveyards, and insane asylums will become part of a memory quickly fading from the minds of men.  Instead of massing and mobilizing for war, the nations will converge for Bible conferences, praise meetings, trips to the Holy Land to see for themselves the throne of David, the splendors of Jerusalem, the celestial city in the blue sky over the Mount of Olives.  It will be an age of moral blessings. 


Then shall the earth yield her increase; and God, even our own God, shall bless us.

The last two verses picture the millennium as having already arrived.


Here we have an echo from the Law: Ye shall keep my Sabbaths,” the Lord declared, “and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord. If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely” (Leviticus 26:2-5).Then shall the earth yield her increase” it is a quotation taken from Leviticus 26:4 and it is designed to show that the curse placed upon this planet by sin (Genesis 3:17-18) can only be removed by salvation.  When the Lord Jesus Christ reins in righteousness this earth shall yield a harvest more abundant than humanly conceivable.


When the Israelite spies first searched out the Promised Land, they were impressed with the produce that grew there (Numbers 13:23-27), and the abundance of the land continued to be important to Israel. In an agricultural society, the blessings of God were usually apparent in a bountiful harvest. As God blesses the people and the crops grow, people far away will revere the God of Israel.  God made it clear that His blessing on the land depended on Israel’s obedience to His law (Leviticus 26:1-13).  But if Israel disobeyed the Lord, He would withhold the rain and their fields would yield no harvest (Leviticus 26:14-39), and this would put Israel to shame before the Gentile nations (Jeremiah 33:1-9; Joel 2:17-19; Deuteronomy 9:26-29).


“Our own God” What rapture there is in these words! Faith lays its hand on God, and appropriates Him for itself. There is a wide difference between speaking of things and people as fair and useful, and saying about them, “These are my own.” He is our own, because He made Himself so, and has taken us to be His forever. Everything He does is an act of pure blessing. Here’s a Word you can take to the bank: “Those who through grace call God their own may with a humble confidence expect a blessing from Him.”


God shall bless us; and all the ends of the earth shall fear him.

“God shall bless us.” Dissatisfaction will not arise because God has ceased to bless, for He will go on pouring out His blessings to the very end.  It is always man who turns away, not God.  The clouds that arise are earthborn clouds.


“And all the ends of the earth shall fear him.” God’s protection and preservation of Israel will in turn serve as a worldwide testimony to His sovereign power, causing people in “all the ends of the earth” to “fear Him.” One would have thought that after hundreds of years of benevolent, blessed, and bountiful government people would love Him, not just fear Him.  Those who “shall fear him” are not afraid that He will hurt them—the psalmist is not talking about that kind of fear. The thought he wants to express with this verse is “God shall bless us; and all the ends of the earth shall’ look to Him with reverence and awe,” for He has blessed Israel with a miraculous existence (as both a nation and a people) to this day.  These are promises made to the nation and people of Israel. They require a fulfillment that includes the Jewish people’s presence in the land as a national body.  Promises such as this cannot be fulfilled by a “New Israel” or a “spiritual Israel,” i.e., the church consisting of many nations, as it is sometimes argued.  Only when Israel as a restored nation among other nations exhibits God’s sovereignty and grace can such promises as those here in Psalm 67 be fulfilled.  At that time, Israel as a nation will convey God’s blessings to other nations of the world, and thus the family’s of earth’s nations will be able to receive the same salvation (Genesis 12:3; 22:18; 26:4; Isaiah 42:6; 49:6).


We must remember however those mentioned in the previous psalm, who offer Him only “feigned obedience” (66:3).  These are the ones who will cause that distant shadow to rise on the millennium.  Their power has not yet come; Satan has not yet been released from the abyss to inspire them to outright rebellion.  So those with a false allegiance will fear Him, but will secretly hunger after the right to express their passions and lusts without millennial restraints.  Such is the heart of man.  It is a sad note on which to end this psalm.