1 May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us, Selah
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. Selah
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!
Do you remember what you were like when you were a little kid at Christmastime? If you were like many little kids, you couldn’t wait to open up the toy catalogues and make a nice LOOOOOONNNNNGGG list to give to anyone and everyone. Maybe you still kind of do this. Hopefully, as you are maturing, you are beginning to understand that gift-giving and gift-receiving holds meaning far beyond just amassing things for yourself.
Sometimes, as the people of God, we act like kids with long, selfish lists. Please heal my cough, please keep me safe, please help me pass this test… Not that these prayers are not bad in and of themselves–the Lord invites us to come before him with our worries. However, Psalm 67 helps open our eyes to a deeper meaning for the gifts that God gives to us.
This psalm starts with a declaration: “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us” (v. 1, also check out Numbers 6:24-26). That sounds pretty great. That sounds kind of like a long list of gifts, if you ask me. But the people of Israel, all the way back to Abraham, understood that their blessings from God were not just for themselves, but were to bless others as well (Genesis 12:2-3).
In Psalm 67, we see the people of God coming to him with a wish list, but it is not for their own benefit. They ask God for a gift, but with His purpose in mind. Blessings for them would be for the benefit of the nations–that all nations may know the salvation of our God, that all nations would praise our God, and that all nations would be glad and sing for joy. What a gift!
We see this blessing brought to its fullness in Jesus.
Jesus offered his life in place of our own. Jesus took our punishment, nailed it to a cross, and now gives us his life in return. The life we now live is actually Jesus living in us (Galatians 2:20). What a gift! And you’d better believe that that gift is not just for you to hold tightly, but it is to bless others, so that they might know and rejoice in the God who loves them deeply.
Wow. What a generous heart God has toward his followers. What a love he has to reach the people who do not yet know him. What a wonderful plan he has to work through the blessed in order to be a blessing to many more.
This week, try taking your mind off of yourself in your “wish list”-type prayers. Try instead to think about the way God might want to make his name known through the blessings he has given you.
Father, I confess that I am often selfish in my prayers. Thank you for giving me every blessing I need through Jesus. Please use the blessings in my life to reach the people who don’t know you yet. Amen.