April 29th 2020: Psalm 67

It’s Time to Praise Him

67 For the Pure and Shining One
A poetic song of praise for guitar
God, keep us near your mercy-fountain and bless us!
And when you look down on us, may your face beam with joy!
Pause in his presence
Send us out all over the world so that everyone everywhere
will discover your ways and know who you are
and see your power to save.
Let all the nations burst forth with praise;
let everyone everywhere love and enjoy you!
Then how glad the nations will be when you are their King.
They will sing, they will shout, for you give true justice to the people.
Yes! You, Lord, are the shepherd of the nations!
Pause in his presence
No wonder the peoples praise you!
Let all the people praise you more!
The harvest of the earth is here!
God, the very God we worship,
keeps us satisfied at his banquet of blessings.
And the blessings keep coming!
Then all the ends of the earth will give him
the honor he deserves and be in awe of him!I find The Passion translation of the Bible useful as a counterpoint to some that I usually use – there’s so much life to it – and when we’re looking at a piece of joyful poetry like today’s Psalm it’s perfect.  Some of the phrasing is so evocative. ‘keep us near your mercy-fountain’ is such a powerful image of the way that God keeps pouring out daily mercy to people who seek it from him. Whether we think it should or not, it flows freely, it keeps on flowing and it would only stop flowing if God chose to make it stop. Except God doesn’t choose to make it stop. This might seem odd, or even stupid to us, but that’s the choice that God has made. Do you ever stop to think about God and end up thinking, ‘no wonder people praise you’? If not, you’re probably thinking about a conception of god which is not God at all, but some other kind of less-than, false god. It’s easy for any of us to create an image of God as a frustrated parent, an absent guardian, a school teacher with a cane ready to discipline us for a small or larger step out of line. It’s easy for us to decide that the things that happen in our lives or in the wider world are because of the defective character of this god, or the demands that this god makes. I said last week in the Emmanuel Sunday service, that if you’ve met Jesus, you know. It’s hard to describe in mere words. All the good theology, good translation of scripture, good thinking, learning, attention to doctrinal detail and everything else that are all good elements of a life of faith, enquiry and honouring the one we love only work and make sense if they are aligned with an experience of a living relationship with God. It is this God that the psalmist is praising in our reading today. It is this God who does bring justice to the people and it’s to this God that the people shout for joy and lift up their praise. No need for counterfeit gods here. The real God, giving love and justice, mercy and peace, hope and joy to all who ask for it and put their trust in Him, is the only one worth following. 

Something To Do: Spend a bit of time seeing if your God is the real God. This might sound silly, but spend a bit of time working out if the God that you follow causes you to overflow with joy and praise, even in the hardest and most pressing of times, like the Psalmist here says the living God does. If you’re not in that place today, think again about whether you’re really relating to the living God. That’s not to say life won’t be hard. That’s not to say that we can’t be angry or disappointed, or ask questions, all at the same time as praising… 

Something To Pray: Pray that God would fill you with His joy and keep you near his mercy-fountain.  

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