May God Be Gracious To Us

Psalm 67:1-7 May 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!

Welcome, once again, to missions week. For several years now we’ve chosen to carve out a week each year to highlight the call of God to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth. Today is the beginning of that week.

Among the various things we do to highlight the need for missions is to preach on missions. That is, we want to make sure to lay out a biblical case for bringing the gospel to other tribes and tongues and nations. If it weren’t for such a clear divine mandate, missions, with its exceedingly significant financial, logistical, political, social, and safety challenges, would be nearly unimaginable and utterly overwhelming. But with God’s charge and accompanying power, missions is to be in the bloodstream of every Christ-follower—it is a part of who we are and what we do.

Therefore, to that end (to the end of making the divine missions mandate clear), from Psalm 67, I’m going to preach on one aspect of missions this week and another next week. Specifically, this week I want to help us all see the connection between the blessing of God on the people of God and missions. And then, next week, I want to help us all see the effect of God-honoring missions on the nations.

Please pray with me that God would make his Word clear to us and empower us to live it out.

If you knew that God would grant you anything you asked for, what would you ask for? A shopping spree? Health for someone you love? Wealth enough to live comfortably for the rest of your life? Unlimited video game time?

There’s at least one example in the bible of God directly offering to do just that. In the familiar story of Solomon, David’s son (recorded in 2 Chronicles 1), God offers to grant Solomon anything he asks for. Solomon, instead of riches or honor or military victory or long life, asks God for wisdom—which God gave abundantly, along with riches and honor and military victory and long life.

In the opening lines of Psalm 67, the psalmist makes not one, but three requests of God on behalf of Israel:

1. Be gracious to us.
2. Bless us.
3. Make your face shine upon us.

Before we get into the meaning of these specific requests, please note the fact that the requests are all corporate. That is, while many of us might ask God to bless us personally, or perhaps someone very close to us, the Psalmist asks God to bless all the people of God. He doesn’t merely ask God to be gracious to him, to bless him, and to make his face shine upon him; he asks God to grant those things to all of Israel.

Grace, would you consider freshly the corporate, communal nature of the Christian life? Would you consider whether or not you’ve made Christianity into an individual pursuit—your faith, your spiritual growth, your wants, your needs, your sin, your perseverance, your salvation—when it is in reality, from Adam to Christ’s first coming, to Christ’s return, to the new heavens and the new earth, always about God calling a people to himself?

Would you consider freshly the need to think corporately, pray corporately, serve corporately, fight sin corporately, worship corporately, and obey Jesus corporately, because that’s what it means to be Christian.

With that, let’s come back to the Psalmist’s corporate prayer, asking God to be gracious to us, bless us, and shine his face upon us.

For God to be gracious to his people means not giving them what they deserve. In other words, because all people have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, all people deserve only God’s wrath and condemnation. Justice equals hell for sinners (which includes the entire human race). But for his chosen people, God has determined to give, not what we deserve, but something else entirely: grace.

And this leads to the Psalmist’s second request: that God would bless his people. Not only does the Psalmist cry out to God to refuse to give his people what they deserve, he is so bold as to ask for blessing; and God is eager to do just that. God does not punish the elect for their sins, but instead grants love and mercy and kindness and patience and forgiveness; blessing upon blessing upon blessing.

One commentator notes that the grace of God leads to the blessing of God and “the blessing of God makes life on earth not only possible but even enjoyable” (EBC vol.5, 440).

As if this were not enough, the Psalmist goes even further, beseeching God for his grace, blessing, and uplifted countenance. God, make your “face to shine upon us,” he pleads. Don’t give us what we deserve, give us blessing instead, and beyond that, take delight in us; look down upon us with pleasure.

These are bold requests indeed, but God loves to give his people good gifts, and because of the cross of Jesus Christ it is good and right that he does. The Psalmist didn’t yet know of the Man from Nazareth, but he did know that mankind’s only hope was the mercy of God, and so called the people of God to throw themselves upon God for mercy.

Oh that God would grant his grace and blessing and pleasure to us—and he has, Grace Church. If you are a Christian he has! Marvel in that. Wonder at that. Be awed by that.

Oh that God would increase those things on earth as he will in heaven—and he is. Because of this love and mercy and grace, every day the Father is increasing his grace and blessing and pleasure on us.

And oh that we might continue to receive grace and blessing and that we’d continue to experience the shining face of God upon us—and he will. It is as certain for the people of God as the name of God itself.

Recognizing all of this, the grace and blessing and pleasure of God upon them, the Jews wrote songs about it and sang about it and so we have Psalm 67.

Throughout this week I often wondered how many parents have prayed for God’s grace and blessing and pleasure to be upon a sick child? How many single moms have prayed these things as they tried to figure out how they were going to make enough money to provide for their kids? How many dads have prayed these things over wayward sons and daughters? How many young men and women have prayed these things as they tried to discern God’s will for their lives? How many husbands have prayed these things over their cancer-battling wives? How many people have prayed these things as they watched a friend wander off into a life of drugs or addiction? How many pastors have prayed these things over their struggling churches? How many Christians have desperately prayed these things for themselves, longing for God to work in their lives?

Certainly thousands and tens of thousands and maybe hundreds of thousands of God’s people have prayed countless hours over each of these things in the knowledge that God is good and faithful and loving—that he is gracious and kind and delights to give good gifts to his people.

Grace, never forget, this is our God. It is who he was and is and ever shall be. We too can cry out to him as the Psalmist did on behalf of God’s people. Let’s, therefore, cry out to God even now.

Father, be gracious to us, bless us, and make your face shine upon us! Do a work in us to make us long for these things above the fleeting things of this world. And then satisfy our longing. Pour out your grace upon us. Let your blessings flow down to us. And let us find joy in your shining face. Amen.

This is what God does for his people, because this is who God is: gracious and generous and kind.

But have you ever stopped to consider what the result would be if God saw fit to grant these requests? What would happen if he suddenly were more gracious to us than he’d ever been? What would the staggering blessings of God look like in our lives? What would change if God’s face were to shine upon us as it did Moses on Sinai or the disciples at the Transfiguration or Paul on the Damascus road?

Would that mean curing the sickness of your loved ones? The restoration of your marriage? Raises and bonuses at work? Happier marriages? Larger church attendance? Saved kids? Freedom from addiction?

Maybe. Probably—some of them at least.

In this Psalm three specific expressions of God’s grace, blessing, and pleasure are mentioned…two in v.4 and one in v.6. In these passages God’s blessings, like the Psalmists requests, are far more corporate than most of us probably imagine God’s blessings to be. They come in the form of judging with equity, guiding the nations upon the earth, causing the earth to yield its increase. These are among the good gifts of God to his people.

While earthly rulers judge with limited wisdom and often for personal gain, it is not so with God.

“…you judge the peoples with equity…”

Everyone will be judged by God with perfect equality and justice. One aspect of God’s blessing upon his people is his unwavering fairness.

What’s more, in this Psalm we learn also of God’s blessing in the form of his sovereign rule.

“…[You] guide the nations upon earth…”

God not only judges all things, he also sovereignly rules over all thing, guiding them for the good of those who love God. What a blessing it is to know that for all who acknowledge God’s right to rule his creation, all things are being guided by God for their blessing.

More still, God’s blessing comes, at times, in the way of physical abundance as well.

“… The earth has yielded its increase…”

God makes rain fall and crops grow and bugs stay away. He makes the earth yield to his power and when he does the thorns and thistles of the curse give way to fruitfulness and increase for the people of God according to v.6.

What does it look like in real life when God’s grace, blessing, and favor come upon his people? Judging with equity, guiding the nations upon the earth, and causing the earth to produce abundantly are just three of the billions and billions of ways that God pours out grace and blessing and pleasure.

As amazing as that is, we need to go a bit deeper. The Psalm requires us to dig further down still. We need to go beyond simply asking what God’s grace and blessing and pleasure look like. We need to ask why the Psalmist asked for these things. That question leads us to my final point this morning, and to the answer to another question I hope you’re all asking, “what does any of this have to do with missions?”.

Again, then, we’ve seen the Psalmist’s requests (the grace, blessing, and pleasure of God to come upon the people of God) and a few examples of what it looks like when God answers those requests (fairness, sovereign rule, and physical increase). And now we need to see why the Psalmist asks for the grace and blessing and pleasure of God?

Some might ask for their own enjoyment and pleasure, or even the enjoyment and pleasure of the people around them. Some might ask for them to relieve the suffering of others. Some might ask for them to eliminate their enemies. Some might ask for them to rescue them from some challenging situation.

Each of those things might be reasonable in proper context.

But none of those things are why the Psalmist asks for them in his song. Instead, the Psalmist invites God’s people to join him in musically crying out to God that he might bring grace and blessing and light, not finally for themselves or their own interests, but for the nations.

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, 2 that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations.

The Psalmist wants the blessing of God to be upon the people of God in order that God’s goodness and saving power would extend beyond Israel to all peoples and all nations.

How often have you considered the massive blessing of God coming upon your life, not as an end in itself, but so that others—even those at the ends of the earth—would hear of the greatness and glory and gospel of God?

Have you every longed deeply for God to bless you, not ultimately so that you could be happier or more comfortable, but so that your evangelism would carry more weight? So that the reality and glory and goodness of the gospel would be obvious because of how different your life is than that of everyone who has not hoped in God?

That’s what the Psalmist and the people of God were longing for.

Forgive us, God, so that your mercy will be known by all.

Bless your people, God, so that word of your glory would spread throughout the earth.

Make your pleasure in us evident, God, so that knowledge of your love will reach ever corner of creation.

Be gracious and generous and pleased with us, so that word of your greatness will go before our testimony of your salvation.

It is the joyful privilege of the people of God to be a light to the nations. That is, God’s people are charged to tell the world of the good news of the person and salvation of God. When God blesses his people in the kinds of significant ways we see in Psalm 67, two things happen: 1) God’s people are compelled to tell others about it, and 2) word of God’s blessing spreads quickly and goes before God’s people, authenticating the message of love and salvation.

Do you see the connection between missions and the grace, blessing, and pleasure of God, then? As God grants those things to his people, fruitful missions is the natural result. God’s people, wholly satisfied in God because of the grace, blessing, and pleasure of God, will go eagerly to all nations to proclaim the way and saving power of God, and the nations will believe God’s people because the favor of God upon them proves their message.

God’s kindness to God’s people is meant to result in missions.

God’s grace and blessing and pleasure are not meant to be kept and protected; they are meant to propel his people forward eager to give away the grace, blessing, and pleasure of God.

That’s missions!

Is the connection between God’s blessing and missions clear? God is gracious and generous and pleased with his people so that they would go out to the far corners of the earth declaring the grace and blessing and pleasure of God to all the nations and to prove the truthfulness of the message.

Long for the blessing of God, Grace; not to burry and hoard it, but to give away at any cost. That’s what missions week is all about. That’s what our entire lives are all about.

As God blesses his people, his fame and his people are catapulted out into the world in order to declare the glory of God—that’s missions. God is good to his children, in part, in order to fuel missions. In this sense, then, missions exists because of the grace and blessing and pleasure of God. Where those things are found, so also must missions be found. They are found in us, so also missions must be found in us.

Grace, as we’ve said countless times, missions must be in our blood. Not engaging is not an option. Some who have tasted the goodness of the blessing of God must go. All who have must send and support.

Next week I’ll preach another message on Psalm 67 highlighting the goal of missions. That is, we’ll consider from this Psalm what happens when God blesses his people and they go out to share the blessing.

For now, let’s pray. Let’s pray that God’s grace and blessing and favor would be upon us so that missions would flow from us.