Your Face is Shining on Me: Psalm 67
For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A psalm. A song. “Make Your Face Shine Upon Us”
1 May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us,
2 that your way may be known on earth,
your saving power among all nations.
3 Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!
4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth.
5 Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!
6 The earth has yielded its increase;
God, our God, shall bless us.
7 God shall bless us;
let all the ends of the earth fear him!
This dear one, is what we call a “liturgical” song, it’s a classic. The author was most likely a Levite, one of the priest’s assistants, but he had a gift for this. The song had been created for Israel, for the profound purpose of bringing and guiding God’s covenant people into a special place of worship. I suppose we all could use the help in this.
Two “Selahs”. I believe this is our first contact with this term in our study. We don’t grasp the meaning, but a Hebrew psalmist would. Actually almost every school boy would understand this. But it keeps everyone aware that we are reading songs (but you don’t read them, you sing them!) These are lyrics, people. You got to sing them, even if you annoy your neighbors. And so singing is perhaps what we should being doing, and less reading.
Our lives don’t do that, we would vastly prefer reading or studying. The musical part of us, is to a large degree, atrophied and crippled. Back in the day, I was a student in a small Bible college. One class was something fiendishly called “Music Conducting.” Now I’m tone-deaf, and furthermore have the musical rhythmic acumen of a tree sloth. I passed the class due to the incredible kindness of my instructor, who understood my calling to someday be a pastor; and she couldn’t bear to be the one to fail me.
V.1, and bring out the howitzers! No one does this better and more intensely than writer of Ps. 67. Key words are “graciousness and blessing.” If we wake up tomorrow without these two graces, we would definitely know it. The writer uses the phrase, “make his face to shine upon us”. This is taken from the Priest’s Prayer we find in Numbers 6:24-26, I’m using the Message Bible here.
24 God bless you and keep you,
25 God smile on you and gift you,
26 God look you full in the face
–and make you prosper.
Blessing, and then keeping: Smiling, and then gifting: Caring, and then making you prosper. Additionally the word for “God” is “Jehovah.” That was the name He chose to use with His own people. The Levitical Blessing was a wonderful place to pray (or sing!) like this.
V. 2-3 places the deep-seated need to take God on a “world tour.” However v. 1 tells us that this special friendship between God and His people needs to be genuinely figured out first. But the vision is universal– for everyone, everywhere. The joy just oozes out, like a very saturated and soggy sponge.
V. 4 doesn’t seem to have the charismatic personality of its brother in v.1. But neither is it to be trifled with. It places everything God wants to do, with all that He intends. My brother John Piper, has used v. 4 as the title of his book on World Missions, “Let the Nations Be Glad.” Great book, see DesiringGod.org.
V. 5 repeats v.3. It doesn’t compete with it, or supersede it in anyway. Maybe I need two feet to be mobile– a right and a left? Perhaps it made sense lyrically, or even musically?
V. 6 is well done as you would appreciate living in an agrarian society like Israel. It’s often seems like these guys are from Iowa, they know what a manure spreader looks like (and how it smells). Everything in terms of surviving or feasting was from the land. God’s presence, His name, and His deep care was a measurable and tangible blessing. Theology is reduced and perhaps, most appreciated by the poor farmer watching a tornado bypass his property.
V.7, is as sure of itself you could ever get. Boldness, without cockiness. Confidence, without arrogance. Steady, like a rock.