George Booker
Psalms Studies - Book 2

Psalm 67

1. Structure

1,2. God’s blessing on Israel and the nations

3. Praise

4. The nations — Israel — the nations

5. Praise
6,7. God’s blessing on Israel and the nations

Note the repetition of key words:

“bless” (vv. 1,6,7)

“praise” (vv. 3 twice, 5 twice)

“nations” — i.e. Gentiles (vv. 2, 4 twice)

“people”/“peoples” — i.e. Israel (vv. 3 twice, 4, 5 twice)

2. Historical setting

The God-controlled cataclysm which destroyed Sennacherib’s army had a marvelous impact on Israel and the surrounding nations. This ensured an unexpected period of peace for Israel, and also a respite from Assyrian invasions for the nations they had oppressed. This divine deliverance was followed by the astonishing fruitfulness of a Year of Jubilee (2 Kings 19:29) and, in glad relief, a surge of Gentile enthusiasm for the worship of the Lord (2 Chron. 32:23). Isaiah refers to this in such passages as 60:3,4.

This lovely psalm is practically a commentary, in its far-reaching perspective, upon the Abrahamic promises, in that it expresses poetically God’s blessing of all nations through Abraham and his “seed” (Gen. 12:1-3; 13:14-17; 22:18; etc.). And so the whole “creation” (i.e. the New Creation especially) trembles in anticipation, and stretches forward as though to grasp the blessings of the age to come (Rom. 8:18-24).

3. Messianic fulfillment

God be merciful unto us and bless us (Psa 29:11). This echoes the high-priestly blessing in Num. 6:24-27, but with the significant difference that the Covenant Name (Yahweh/Jehovah) is replaced by Elohim. This is fitting to the divine might of the God of Israel being acknowledged by all Gentile, or non-covenanted, nations. This verse invites attention to Heb. 9:28: “Unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation” — Christ, the heavenly high-priest, coming forth from the Holy of Holies (cp. Psa. 65:1).

And bless us. Verses 1,6,7. Compare the three blessings of Num. 6:23-27.

And cause his face to shine upon us (cp. Psa. 4:6; 31:16; 80:3,7,19) is, more exactly, “make the light of his face (abide) with us” (Kay). Thus this calls to mind John 1:14: “The word was made flesh and tabernacled among us”. And Rev. 21:3: “The tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them — God himself shall be with them”. The reference to face suggests, in Messianic fulfillment, 2 Cor. 4:6:

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
That thy way may be known upon earth. Here, and until v. 6, the pronouns change to second person. God’s way is strongly emphasized in Acts (8:31,36,39; 9:2; 18:25,26; 19:9,23; 22:4) as the gospel in action, bringing Israel and Gentiles to God through Christ. Also consider Gen. 3:24 (the way to the tree of life); 6:12 (God’s way); and John 14:6 — where “the way, the truth, and the life” should be read “the true way of (the tree of) life”!

Thy saving health is, simply, the Hebrew yeshua, which means salvation. (In archaic English, “health” had a much wider range of meanings, and was used by King James’ men as the equivalent of “deliverance”. Notice how yeshua is translated by “health” in Psa. 42:11 and 43:5.) Yeshua is almost the name of Jesus. It also comes in 68:20; 69:29; and 70:4.

Thy saving health among all nations. This is clearly referred to by Paul in Acts 28:28 (“the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles”) and also (less obviously) in Tit. 2:11 (“the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared unto all men”).
Let the people praise thee. The LXX has the same word as appears in Phil. 2:11.

All the people. In the refrains (in both verses) the word is plural: peoples. The second phrase in each verse is not merely repetitive; it is expansive: ‘First one people, and then all peoples!’ It is the word very commonly used for the tribes of Israel. After the destruction of the Assyrians, Hezekiah’s reformation must have come to a great climax: first, the people of Judah rejoiced and praised God. Then the multitudinous captives, from all the twelve tribes of Israel, returning from captivity, joined in their rejoicing and praise. The word for all is unusual and is characteristic of Isaiah — it is not improbable that he wrote this psalm himself. (But of course the real intent of these words is as a prophecy of Messiah’s kingdom — when first one people and then all peoples, worldwide, will worship the Lord. Compared with this, the initial reference is relatively trivial!)
For thou shalt judge... and govern. The words imply both the strength and the tenderness of Christ’s rule. Such passages as Exod. 34:6,7; Isa. 11:1-9; and 42:1-4 anticipate this dual nature of his kingdom.

Govern = “lead” (mg.): cp. Psa. 23:3; 78:72.
The Hebrew and the RV: The earth hath yielded. Apart from the tense, this is an exact quotation from Lev. 26:4 — the blessing which God promised to His people when they were loyal to Him. This is a brief echo of the lovely “harvest” passage in Psa. 65:9-13; the Edenic curse (Gen. 3:17-19) has been rescinded, and the Land of Israel has been returned to its former fruitfulness (Num. 13:23).
God shall bless us, thus rounding off the psalm precisely as the high-priestly blessing is concluded: “And I will bless them” (Num. 6:27c).

And all the ends of the earth shall fear him. Psa. 22:27.

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