Prove God’s Purpose to Bless All the Nations – Psalm 67

Our third and final text in this section comes from Psalm 67. We have seen how God call Israel: a) to proclaim His plan to the nation in Genesis 12, b) to participate in His priesthood as agents of blessing to all the nations in Exodus 19, and now c) to prove His purpose to bless all the nations in Psalm 67.

This Psalm is derived from the Aaronic benediction[1] found in Numbers 6,24-26. In this Psalm the Psalmist rather than saying “Yahweh[2] (indicating Lord, Israel’s covenantal and personal name for God), he substitutes it with “Elohim[3] (indicating God, the named used when God’s relationship to all people, nations and creation is needed) the Psalmist prayed: “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us” (Ps 67,1). It is significant that this missionary Psalm has applied what God gave through Aaron and the priests to all peoples. The purpose for this enlarged blessing is given immediately in verse Psalm 67,2: “that thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving power among all nations.” That is why God had been gracious and blessed Israel and all who believed. This agrees, then, with Genesis 12,3. The sentiment was ‘may God bless us, fellow Israelites and be pleased to benefit us, so that the nations may look at us and say that what Aaron prayed for, by way of God’s blessing, has indeed happened.’[4] Therefore, may the rest of His purpose come to pass also; that in blessing Israel all the nations of the earth might come to know Him as well.

Three times this Psalm refers to the blessing from God (Ps 67,1.6.7). The structure is almost an exact replica of Genesis 12,2-3.[5] The Psalmist calls the people to prove and test God’s purpose for three reasons. The first is because God has been gracious to us[6] (Ps 67,1-3). We have experienced the grace of God in His ways and manner of dealing with Israel; and that grace in the knowledge that His salvation has been extended to all nations.

The second reason is because God rules and guides all nations[7] (Ps 67,4-5). He is a royal ruler who judiciously rules in righteousness, as in Isaiah 11,3ff. He is a guide for the nations as the shepherd of Psalm 23,3. The third reason given is the very goodness of God[8] (Ps 67,6-7). We ought to prove the purpose of God in blessing the nations because He has been so good to us. This purpose for Israel is seen even more clearly in the passages of our later discussion; namely, the ‘Servant of the Lord’ passages of Isaiah 42 and 49. Israel is that servant of the Lord, as such, to be “a light to the nations.”


[1] Cf. M. E. Tate, Psalms 51-100, WBC, Vol. 20, Word Books Publishers, Texas, (1990), 158.

[2] Cf. R. de Menezes, “One Lord, God, Yahweh,” Awakening Faith, Vol. XI, no. 6, The Diocesan Catechetical Centre, Mumbai, (1998), 190-195, 192-195.

[3] W. C. Kaiser, “Israel’s Missionary Call,” in R. D. Winter and S. C. Hawthrone (eds.), Perspectives on the World Christian Movement: A Reader, William Carvey Library, California, (1983), 25-34, 31.

[4] Cf. M. E. Tate, Psalms 51-100, WBC, Vol. 20, Word Books Publishers, Texas, (1990), 159.

[5] W. C. Kaiser, “Israel’s Missionary Call,” in R. D. Winter and S. C. Hawthrone (eds.), Perspectives on the World Christian Movement: A Reader, William Carvey Library, California, (1983), 25-34, 32.

[6] Cf. J. C. McCann, The Book of Psalms: Introduction, Commentary and Reflections, NIB, Vol. IV, Abingdon Press, Nashville, (1996), 940.

[7] Cf. M. E. Tate, Psalms 51-100, WBC, Vol. 20, Word Books Publishers, Texas, (1990), 157.

[8] Cf. M. E. Tate, Psalms 51-100, WBC, Vol. 20, Word Books Publishers, Texas, (1990), 157-158.

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