January 31, 2020

Liturgy of the Psalms: "God be Gracious to us and Bless us"

Psalm 67 
Scripture Reading: Psalm 67

In the words of the psalms we hear the liturgy of the Church. In this series of sermons from the psalms we have heard a “Call to Worship” from Psalm 95, words of “Confession and Assurance of Pardon” from Psalm 51, “God’s Will for our lives” from Psalm 119, and last week we read Psalm 29 and learned what it means to hear the Voice of God through preaching. Today we hear God’s Word of Blessing from Psalm 67. In this liturgy of the psalms, God comes near to us
and we come to know the Creator and Redeemer of the universe. As such, we come to know God in Jesus Christ through whom all things were made and by whom all things are made new.
What is a blessing? It is something good. Family, friends, a good job, financial security and the like can all be called “blessings”. However, from a spiritual perspective, a blessing from God is more than “good things”, it is a “Good Word”. After we have gathered together for worship and
the time comes for us to leave the worship setting and re-enter our lives in this world, we receive God’s Blessing for the work ahead. This part of our Worship Service is not a matter of receiving some material reward at the end. Worship that begins with God’s Call, finishes with
God’s Blessing. It is the “Good Word” in which God himself enters the life of his people as they enter the world. In this Blessing, God enters into a gracious and personal relationship with us, his people.

Questions:
What is the Blessing given in Numbers 6:24-26? Who is it for?
Who was “Aaron”? and what was his role among God’s people?
How does our worship service begin and end?

Psalm 67 is a short psalm that can be divided into three stanzas. The first stanza in verses 1-2 calls on God to bless his people so that they might make his salvation known to all nations. Verse 2 says, “That your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.” The old King James version states it in a way that rather fits our pandemic focused world of today. The KJV says, “That thy ways may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations.”
The second stanza is found in verses 3-5 in the middle of the psalm and it begins in verses 3 and 5 with the exact same words, “May all the people’s praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you.” The third stanza in verses 6-7 finishes the psalm with words that speak confidently of God’s gracious blessing that is given. “God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth will fear him.” All in all, Psalm 67 is a celebration of God’s blessing upon Israel who in turn was called to be a blessing to the whole world.

Questions:
How does Psalm 67 help us have a large vision of God?
What was the purpose for God giving his blessing to Abraham and Israel?

God’s Word of Blessing, given at the end of our worship service, should give us a large vision of God at work in this world. The problem is that we often have an image of God that is too small.
Liturgy and worship that is not God-centered and Christ-focused leads to a worldview that becomes more about felt needs, social causes, family drama, and cultural expectations. Not only is that unbiblical, it’s boring. When we see the big picture of the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer of the universe, we know that in God we live, move, and have our being. His blessing is for all our callings in life from the home, to our place of labor, to the classroom, to our
favorite vacation place. We can embrace it all because it has all been embraced by God. When God pronounces his blessing upon his people the Name of God is sealed upon our foreheads and we take God’s Name with us into our day to day lives.

Questions:
Who are you called to “bless” this coming week? How can you be a blessing to the world?
What does the apostle Peter say in I Peter 3:9?

The Conclusion:
Worship does not end with the conclusion of the worship service. The world is watching and what we do and say in worship matters for how we live our lives. It’s out there in the midst of life, that worship is exercised in faithful living. As we read through the psalms, we hear the liturgy of the Church. Our vision of God, the
Kingdom, and salvation needs to be as large as God’s revelation. The world needs to the Church to step up and live out the good word. We cannot have small, self-centered visions. A God made in our own image is not the true God of heaven and earth who has made himself known fully in Jesus Christ. In Christ we are blessed to be a blessing so that God’s ways may be known on earth, and his salvation among all nations. Amen.