Psalm 67 and Charlottesville, VA
1 May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us,
2 that your way may be known on the earth,
your saving power among all nations.
3 Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!
4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth.
5 Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!
6 The earth has yielded its increase;
God, our God shall bless us.
God shall bless us;
7 let all the ends of the earth fear him!
Psalm 67 begins with the blessing Aaron and his sons, the priests of Israel, were to pronounce over the nation of Israel. “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us.” A fuller version of this pronouncement of blessing is found in Numbers 6:24-26. “The LORD bless you and keep you, the LORD make his face to shine upon you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” It is a blessing that confirms God’s grace upon his people.
But what was Israel to do with this grace from God? Notice in Psalm 67:2 that this grace received was to be a grace that flowed from them to the nations. They received this blessing so “that your way may be known on the earth, your saving power among all nations.” In other words, the grace of God is not reserved for one ethnic group, one race, one nationality... or more pointedly, one color.
I couldn’t help but read this psalm in light of white nationalists parading their hate this past week in Charlottesville, VA. In response to the violence that ensued, Russell Moore, President of the Southern Baptist Convention asks an appropriate question of the church, “White supremacy angers Jesus, but does it anger his church?”
It should anger his church. Moore doesn’t mince words about white supremacy when he says, “The church should call white supremacy what it is: terrorism, but more than terrorism. White supremacy is Satanism. Even worse, white supremacy is a devil worship that often pretends that it is speaking for God.”
Why such strong words? Psalm 67 tells us why. It reminds us that these views are opposed to the gospel and to the very heart of God.
The ESV Devotional Psalter puts it this way. “This is who God is. God is not a parochial, narrow-minded God. His welcome to sinners is wide. He asks only for our penitent faith, our trusting contrition – all he asks is that we humble ourselves enough to know of our need for saving mercy.
This is why “white supremacy” should anger us. This is why it is of Satan. This is why we should call it what it is. It is opposed to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Think about it. Through the cross of Jesus, we see the length God would go to draw men and women everywhere to himself.
To what length are we willing to go to show that same grace to all people? It is a grace that reaches out with love and it is a grace that stands against injustice.
To what end? The repeated inclusive refrain of Psalm 67 reminds us the end to which we extend God’s grace, “Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!”
Be that agent of grace today.
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