by Denise Sciuto, Associate Director
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us—so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you. May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples with equity and guide the nations of the earth. May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you. The land yields its harvest; God, our God, blesses us. May God bless us still, so that all the ends of the earth will fear him. —Psalm 67 (NIV)
I fondly remember one of my pastor’s benedictions from when I was a young girl: “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine upon us.” It wasn’t until I took the Perspectives course as an adult that I realized there was more to this blessing found in Psalm 67. There’s a hyphen after the word “us,” followed by “so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.” The psalmist’s desire for God’s blessing is motivated by a desire that all peoples would come to salvation in Him.
The late Rev. Dr. Ken Bailey taught me that the word “nation” in the Bible is translated from the Greek word ethne, which refers to an ethnolinguistic group rather than a geopolitical nation. For example, there are two official languages in Sudan and South Sudan (Arabic and English), but some figures estimate that over 400 languages and dialects are actually spoken. Joshua Project identifies 239 distinct ethnic groups in these two nations, and nearly 60% are still without access to the Gospel.
Psalm 67 makes me picture Sudanese Christians worshipping. They’ve experienced the destruction of their church buildings, the loss of their books and even the arrest and imprisonment of their pastors. Despite persecution, they worship joyfully because they have Jesus—a gift more precious than anything else. They understand that their joy in the face of hardship is a witness to others about the goodness of the God they follow. What more powerful way is there to make His ways known to “all the nations”?
The situation in South Sudan is even more difficult. There’s famine, political instability, economic inflation and ethnic conflicts. Yet Christians still sing and praise God with joy—even with empty stomachs. Frontier Fellowship has helped raise funds for the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church to buy food. They in turn are sharing the food with their neighbors despite the fact this means less for their own families. They believe God blesses them so they can bless their neighbors, and they trust God to provide what they need.
Psalm 67 reminds me of the phrase “blessed to be a blessing.” In Genesis 12:1–3, God calls Abram (who later becomes Abraham) and promises not only to bless him, but to bless others through his future family. I imagine the psalmist who wrote Psalm 67 had a great desire to see all the families of the earth worshipping God and receiving the same blessing.
I write my prayers and blessings in a journal. This practice helps me to see more clearly how God has blessed me with answered prayers. As I studied Psalm 67, I added a list of the gifts I’ve received “so that [God’s] ways may be known on earth, [His] salvation among all nations.” I encourage you to make your own list of blessings and think about the ways He might use you to bless those who don’t yet know of His redeeming love. What a privilege to join His work as the nations find their joy in Him!