May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face shine on us
Have you ever seen anyone with a “shining face”? Not literally of course, but I have been in someone’s company when they seem to have come alive, and their face seems to light up with expressions of enthusiasm and excitement. They seem to radiate with an infectiousness that impresses and invites us as well to get caught up with whatever is illuminating their thoughts and communication.
Psalm 67 starts with a request that God would make His face shine on us and that He will be gracious to us and will bless us. But what does that look like in our societies today? Would we know if God behaved in that way to us? Calvinistic theologians talk about “common grace”, which is defined as the protection and care that God provides for everyone. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said in Matthew 5:45, “…For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.” So this would include the air we breathe, or the rain watering the crops in the fields. The sun for warmth, and so on; everyone, Christian or not, will benefit from His “common grace”. But the Psalmist was meaning more than that. He was asking God for His specific grace to be poured out on His people, encompassing natural and spiritual blessings. So in the natural world today, as God’s people, we will ask for blessings that will encompass good health, provision for our everyday needs, success in whatever we turn our hand to, for example, our employment, and so on. And God’s graciousness also extends to spiritual blessings. We can find a few in the first chapter of Ephesians. In verse 3 it says that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing because of our relationship with Jesus. And, amazingly, these blessings are not held back because through Jesus we are holy and without fault in His eyes. We were chosen and loved by God even before He put the world together (verse 4). We have been adopted into God’s family and we give Him great pleasure (verse 5). He has smothered us in His grace (verse 6). He forgave our sins through the blood of Jesus (verse 7). God has poured out on us His kindness, wisdom and understanding (verse 8). Through Jesus we have an inheritance from God (verse 11). The spiritual blessings that we receive are limitless, and available to us just for the asking.
So when we pray the first verse of today’s Psalm, we are tapping into God’s unlimited resources, both natural and spiritual. But is that our experience? Do we enjoy God’s blessings on a daily basis? But do we ask God for His blessings? Do we ask for more of Him in our lives, with more love and more power? Do we pray for Him to meet our needs, thanking Him for the provision He continually makes for us? That is not to say that we will not encounter problems in our daily lives, but His provision and presence will always help us to overcome them. Too many questions? The Psalmist was quite simply asking God for His blessings, and so must we. And as we stare into the face of Jesus, His shining face dims the world and its contents around us. Jesus is enough for me. You as well?