Psalm 67 opens with a quotation from the High Priestly blessing in Numbers 6:22-27. This was a particular blessing which God gave to Aaron and his sons for them to speak over the nation of Israel so as to bless them. The love and tenderness of God towards His people jumps off the page as you read the full blessing in Numbers. It asks for the gaze of God to be towards His people and for Him to offer protection, favour, grace, and peace for the nation. And then God promises to answer when the blessing is invoked (v27).
So when the psalmist begins Psalm 67 with an extract of this blessing one can’t help but be reminded that this is a prayer which God loves to answer and is from the most intimate and holy of settings: the High Priest praying for the nation.
And so it seems surprising, if not shocking, to hear the psalmist go on to use this blessing as a springboard for asking for the nations of the world to be blessed. Surely this was a blessing for Israel? But the psalmist in verse 2 asks for God’s ways to be known and His salvation to flow to the nations. In verse 4 the request is made for the nations to be glad and rejoice. And verses 3 and 5 have the repeated refrain, ‘Let the peoples praise You, O God; Let all the peoples praise You.’
This is not a begrudging or reluctant request. This is desiring the very best for the whole of the earth, for every people group and every nation. And yet the starting point is the High Priestly blessing for Israel…
So is it really that surprising? Well, maybe not! The promise God made to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3 indicated that it was His intention that all the nations of the earth would be blessed through Abraham and his descendants. And the psalmist gives us a clue in verses 6 and 7 which ask for blessing from God to fall on Israel so that the ends of the earth may fear God: ‘God, our God, blesses us. God blesses us, that all the ends of the earth may fear Him.’
So in fact, this Psalm reflects the very heart of God in asking for a blessing upon Israel for the sake of Israel AND for the sake of the whole world.
And we live in the glow of the shining of His face towards Israel!