October 1 – Psalm 67


Main Focus: God offers salvation to people from every nation.

This week we explore God’s heart for all cultures and people groups. Psalm 67 is a song of praise meant to be sung in the context of worship; God is praised and beseeched for mercy, blessing, and salvation. But don’t miss for whom the psalm is asking—“the peoples” and “the nations” are terms for describing all the different cultural, ethnic, and linguistic groups of the earth. Simply put: everyone. God wants and deserves the praise of all peoples, so the psalm leads us in praying for God’s own desire to extend his salvation to all people, regardless of their culture or ethnicity, in order that they might hope in him.

When reading the New Testament, it’s relatively easy to assume that Israel was meant to despise all non-Jews. By Jesus’s day, devout Jews would avoid contact with Gentiles almost at any cost. However, this wasn’t always the case, nor was it God’s intent for his people. During the reign of Solomon, we catch a glimpse of the original plan for the nation-state of Israel (1 Kings 10). There the Queen of Sheba, a kingdom in southern Arabia, hears about the fame of Israel and pays Solomon a visit, bringing gifts and admiration.

All along, Israel was meant to be a “light for the nations” (Isa 42:6), an outpost of God’s kingdom in the world in order to bless the world with the knowledge of him, a “kingdom of priests” (Exo 19:6) teaching the world about the one true God. As we’ll see in discussion, this is simply a conscious fulfillment of the promises God made to Abraham, that through his family (Israel) all the families of the world might be blessed.

That’s certainly the feeling behind Psalm 67. There Israel thoroughly understands their role as a “light for the nations,” and we’ll spend some time in discussion thinking about the emotive disposition of the psalm. Imagine the people of Israel singing this in a worship service. It’s meant to not merely connect the theological dots, to simply acknowledge that it is correct for people of other nations to praise God, but to stir up our hearts in longing for this reality. There is a wide difference between mental assent and yearning, and the psalm quite clearly intends to move us from the former to the latter.

For many of us, that is the movement we need to make. You’d be hard-pressed to find a follower of Jesus who admits, “No, I don’t believe that people of other ethnicities and nationalities should come to know Jesus.” We know this to be true, but likely many of us rarely find that knowledge thrilling. Rarely do we yearn for this to come about. Perhaps this is, in part, because our closest relationships often do not include people who represent other ethnicities and nationalities. It is hard to experience longing for people you do not know or love.

In fact, the study guide this week takes it one step further, asking whether there are any kinds or groups of people for whom you find it hard to want God’s blessing. We all have these; think of people on the radical ends of the political spectrum, or international villains and aggressors, or people who take advantage of others. Consider also people who live on the side of town you don’t visit after dark, the people who sometimes scare you, or people who have wronged you in the past. What would it mean to sing about these people, “Let [them] be glad and sing for joy”?

Truly singing this psalm shows us the radical demands of the love of God. For this reason we’ll ask how this psalm can be our teacher, how we might grow in living out this desire. Wanting what this psalm wants is in actuality to want what God wants: “He says, ‘It is too light a thing…to bring back the preserved of Israel. I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth’” (Isa 49:6). God desires to bring the saving knowledge of himself through the good news of Jesus to all peoples because he is worthy of the praise of all peoples. And God desires his people to learn how to “rejoice with those who rejoice” (Rom 12:15), to long for others, even those vastly different from you, to know the blessing of God.

Questions for Discussion

• Could someone read Psalm 67 for us?

• A few weeks ago we looked at Genesis 12:1-3—how do you think Psalm 67 connects with God’s promises to Abraham?

• How would you describe the attitude of this psalm towards people of other nations?

• If you think about people of other nations or ethnicities coming to know Jesus, what response does that stir up in you?

• What ways do you think you could grow in wanting what this psalm wants?

• How do you think this psalm could help drive the way you relate to people who are different from you?

• Prayer prompt: Venture to boldly pray that God would use your group specifically in fulfilling Psalm 67, that through you different peoples and nations might know the goodness of God.