May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us.
When you think about God blessing you, what do you want to receive as the result of that blessing?
It’s hard not to have a desire for a better life, which we often describe as fewer troubles—in our jobs, our marriages, our families, and our finances. At times, perhaps we assume that God’s blessing translates into our “team” winning. Obviously, winning could be defined in a multitude of ways, many of them having nothing to do with sports or games. Maybe God’s blessing for you is for a desire for peace in your life. The Old Testament writers would have called this “Shalom” and it referred to more than peace as an absence of war, it meant something along the lines of everything being just like it was created to be.
Psalm 67 begins with an echo of the priestly blessing found in Numbers 6:
The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace. (Number 6:24-26)
Nothing in this blessing would cause us not to think of the ideas we first mentioned about what a blessing would (or perhaps we might say should) look like for us.
But in verse 2, the psalmist turns an unexpected corner:
“so that your ways may be known on earth,
your salvation among all the nations.
It would seem that the blessing of God has little to do with what we receive, or at least in this moment, the writer of the psalm understands that more important than what he receives is the awareness (publicity is probably an appropriate word, although we may find ourselves uncomfortable using it) that God receives because of the great things he has done.
Which brings up a question: What if we asked God to bless us in ways that we could use to share his glory with others? What if, instead of asking for better jobs, marriages, families, or more money, we asked God to give us what we need to be a mouthpiece for him?
•Spend a few minutes writing down all of the things you would like to “ascribe” to God, that is, list the great things that God has done in your life.
•How does your life communicate to others that “Salvation comes from the Lord?” How can you do a better job telling others this?
•Describe a time when you have felt intense grief for those you love who have turned their back on God. How have you expressed this grief to them and also to God?
•It is interesting that Jesus chose to spend time alone praying to God. Why do you think this was so important to Jesus (who came from God, after all) and what does his actions say about how we should also approach God in prayer?
•When have you heard Jesus tell you to “Take courage!” and really needed the courage that only he can bring?