Theme: We Shall See God
This week’s lessons teach us of God’s gracious intention to call a people for himself from every nation, and of our great privilege and responsibility to make the gospel of Christ known to them.
Scripture: Psalm 67:1-7
The third and final stanza of this psalm is a little bit surprising in one respect, and that is its mention of God causing the land to yield a good harvest (v. 6). Nothing has been said about harvests or any other specific material blessing thus far in the psalm, and we wonder why this seems to be thrown in. The answer is probably that if material blessings are to be thought of at all, the most evident place they can be seen is in an abundant harvest. And the desire of the people is that God will bless them there so that the surrounding nations may see how God provides for a people who love him and seek to walk in his ways.
There is a question about how the tense of the verb in verse 5 should be taken. In fact, there are questions about most of the tenses in this psalm. In the main part of the psalm, following verse 1, the verbs are in the Hebrew imperfect tense, which is usually rendered in English as the present tense. However, the imperfect is also used wishfully (called an optative), and most translators understand that and therefore translate these verses as the New International Version does: “May your ways be known…” “May the peoples praise you…” and “May the nations be glad…” (vv. 2-5).
So far so good. The problem is that in verse 6 “yield” suddenly appears in the past tense, which is why some Bibles say, “The earth has yielded its produce” (see the New American Standard Version, for example). Should it be translated as something that has already happened, thus, the Lord has blessed us; therefore, he will bless us (vv. 6, 7)? That is possible, but most students of the psalm feel that breaks the pattern of the other verses in which the imperfects are used to express a wish for what the people want to see happen in the future. Therefore, because the past can also sometimes be used of the future (in this case “will have yielded”), more commentators in recent days take verse 6 to be future. This is what the New International Version does: “Then the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God, will bless us.”
It is no small matter to look forward to such abundant blessing from our good God. Indeed, the thought of blessings on the land are exactly what is set out in Deuteronomy as the result of faithful obedience by God’s people. “If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God: You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed. You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out” (Deut. 28:1-6).
The opposite of such blessing is the list of curses found in the remainder of the chapter. The future blessing of God on our lives and labors for him is a very great thing. But still, the greatest blessing will be to see God. Which takes us back to the beginning of the psalm and its prayer that God might “be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us.” Do you remember the prayer of Moses found in Exodus 33? Moses made three requests in that prayer: first, that God would teach him his way so that he might know him and continue to find favor with him; second, that God would remain with the people and never take his presence from them; and third, that he might look on God’s face and see his glory (vv. 12-18). God granted the first two of those requests. He even said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live” (vv. 19, 20).
That is profoundly true, of course. No sinner, however devout or pious, as Moses was, can possibly look upon the face of God and survive that holy, piercing sight. But one day we shall! We shall look upon God in the day when all his redeemed people, drawn from every tribe and people and tongue and nation, and purged of even the slightest taint of sin, stand before his throne to sing praises to the Almighty God and to the Lamb. In that day God’s face will shine upon us in the fullest measure—we will see him “face to face”—and the ultimate beatific vision anticipated by Psalm 67 will be ours. In that day our joy will be even greater because such great multitudes from all the nations of the earth will be praising God with us.
How is the final stanza of this psalm surprising?
Has the blessing in verse 7 already occurred?
Of what are blessings a result? What is the greatest blessing?
Key Point: We shall look upon God in the day when all his redeemed people, drawn from every tribe and people and tongue and nation, and purged of even the slightest taint of sin, stand before his throne to sing praises to the Almighty God and to the Lamb. In that day God’s face will shine upon us in the fullest measure—we will see him “face to face”—and the ultimate beatific vision anticipated by Psalm 67 will be ours.
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