It has been five months since I returned from a mission trip to the island St. Vincent in the Caribbean. This past Sunday we had a national church planter from Ghana (West Africa) share his ministry, and in about three weeks our youth pastor and I will be taking a group of teens to work with a church planter in Manhattan. To state the obvious, missions work is on my mind. As a result, I’ve been meditating on Psalm 67.
1May 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!
The tone of this Psalm is clearly missional (cf. vv.2, 3, 4, 7b). As I’ve been meditating on this Psalm two things have struck me:
First, there is a clear desire on the part of the Psalmist that the Gospel be spread throughout the world. This has reminded me that a missional attitude is clearly not limited to the NT. The redeemed of all ages should be displaying this kind of desire to see others experience the salvation which they have experienced.
Second, this psalm combines that desire for the Gospel to go forth with a prayer for the Lord’s blessing on Israel. Very pointedly, the Psalmist sees the purpose of God’s blessing and calling on their lives as the means of the Gospel going forth. Verse 1 expresses a desire for blessing. Verse 2 reveals the purpose of that blessing: “that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations.” This is clearly in line with OT theology as well as a theme that Paul draws on in the NT (cf. Gen. 12:2-3; Gal. 3:8, 14). The Lord’s salvation and blessing are always accomplished with others in view. In other words, God saves and blesses His people in order to have them play a role in the salvation of others.
This second point has made me consider what it is that motivates our desire for God’s blessing. Whether we are talking about physical, financial, or even spiritual blessing, for what purpose are these things given? If we are honest, our desire for these is often for other reasons than concern for the glory of God by seeing the lost saved (cf. v.7). At the very least, I think it is worth the time for Christians to wrestle through why we desire God’s blessing, why we pray the way we do, why we want the things we want. Do we have a Gospel driven focus that says, out of a love for God and others, I desire God’s blessing in these areas so that others might know Him?