PSALM 67 OVERVIEW
Title. To the Chief Musician. Who he was matters not, and who we may be is also of small consequence, so long as the Lord is glorified. On Neginoth, or upon stringed instruments. This is the fifth Psalm so entitled, and no doubt like the others was meant to be sung with the accompaniment of "harpers harping with their harps." No author's name is given, but he would be a bold man who should attempt to prove that David did not write it. We will be hard pushed before we will look for any other author upon whom to father these anonymous odes which lie side by side with those ascribed to David, and wear a family likeness to them. A Psalm or Song. Solemnity and vivacity are here united. A Psalm is a song, but all songs are not Psalms: this is both one and the other.
Verse 1. God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us. This is a fit refrain to the benediction of the High Priest in the name of the Lord, as recorded in Numbers 6:24-25 . "The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: the Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee." It begins at the beginning with a cry for mercy. Forgiveness of sin is always the first link in the chain of mercies experienced by us. Mercy is a foundation attribute in our salvation. The best saints and the worst sinners may unite in this petition. It is addressed to the God of mercy, by those who feel their need of mercy, and it implies the death of all legal hopes or claims of merit. Next, the church begs for a blessing; bless us -- a very comprehensive and far reaching prayer. When we bless God we do but little, for our blessings are but words, but when God blesses he enriches us indeed, for his blessings are gifts and deeds. But his blessing alone is not all his people crave, they desire a personal consciousness of his favour, and pray for a smile from his face. These three petitions include all that we need here or hereafter. This verse may be regarded as the prayer of Israel, and spiritually of the Christian church. The largest charity is shown in this Psalm, but it begins at home. The whole church, each church, and each little company, may rightly pray, bless us. It would, however, be very wrong to let our charity end where it begins, as some do; our love must make long marches, and our prayers must have a wide sweep, we must embrace the whole world in our intercessions.
Selah. Lift up the heart, lift up the voice. A higher key, a sweeter note is called for.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. How admirably balanced are the parts of this missionary song! The people of God long to see all the nations participating in their privileges, "visited with God's salvation, and gladdened with the gladness of his nation" ( Psalms 106:5 ). They long to hear all the nationalities giving thanks to the Lord, and hallowing his name; to see the face of the whole earth, which sin has darkened so long, smiling with the brightness of a second Eden. This is not a vapid sentiment. The desire is so expressed as to connect with it the thought of duty and responsibility. For how do they expect that the happy times are to be reached? They trust, in the first instance, to the general diffusion of the knowledge of God's way, the spreading abroad of the truth regarding the way of salvation. With a view to that, they cry for a time of quickening from the presence of the Lord, and take encouragement in this prayer from the terms of the divinely appointed benediction. As if they had said, "Hast thou not commanded the sons of Aaron to put thy name upon us, and to say: The Lord bless thee and keep thee; the Lord cause his face to shine on thee and be gracious to thee? Remember that sure word of thine. God be gracious unto us and bless us, and cause his face to shine upon us. Let us be thus blessed, and we shall in our turn become a blessing. All the families of the earth shall, through us, become acquainted with thy salvation." Such is the church's expectation. And who shall say it is unreasonable? If the little company of a hundred and twenty disciples who met in the upper chamber at Jerusalem, all of them persons of humble station, and inconspicuous talents, were endued with such power by the baptism of the Holy Ghost, that within three hundred years the paganism of the empire was overthrown, one need not fear to affirm that, in order to the evangelisation of the world, nothing more is required than that the churches of Christendom be baptised with a fresh effusion of the same Spirit of power. William Binnie.
Whole Psalm. There are seven stanzas; twice three two line stanzas, having one of three lines in the middle, which forms the clasp or spangle of the septiad, a circumstance which is strikingly appropriate to the fact that the psalm is called "the Old Testament Paternoster" in some of the old expositors. Franz Delitzsch.
Verse 1. God be merciful unto us, and bless us, etc. God forgives, then he gives; till he be merciful to pardon our sins through Christ, he cannot bless or look kindly on us sinners. All our enjoyments are but blessings in bullion, till gospel grace and pardoning mercy stamp and make them current. God cannot so much as bear any good will to us, till Christ makes peace for us; "On earth peace, good will toward men." Luke 2:14 . And what joy can a sinner take, though it were to hear of a kingdom fallen to him, if he may not have it with God's good will. William Gurnall.
Verse 1. God be merciful unto us. Hugo attributes these words to penitents; Bless us, to those setting out in the Christian life; Cause his face to shine upon us, to those who have attained, or the sanctified. The first seek for pardon, the second for justifying peace, the third for edification and the grace of contemplation. Lorinus.
Verse 1-2. Connect the last clause of Psalms 67:1 with the first of Psalms 67:2 , and observe that God made his face to shine upon Moses, and made known to him his way. "He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel," as if the common people could only see the deeds of the Lord, but his way, his plans, his secrets were revealed only to him upon whom the light of God's face had shone. C. H. S.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
- Here is mercy in God the Father.
- Here is blessing as the fruit of that mercy in God
- Here is the experience of that blessing in the
comfort of the Holy Ghost.
Verse 1. The need of seeking a blessing for ourselves.
Verse 1-2. The prosperity of the church at home, the hope for missions abroad.
WORKS WRITTEN ABOUT THE SIXTY-SEVENTH PSALM IN SPURGEON'S DAY
In "The Works of JOHN BOYS," 1626, folio, pp. 42-45, there is an Exposition of this Psalm.