Psalms For Life
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Yahveh Elohim hear our prayers

Psalm 67

God of all the earth

It’s so easy to become self-focused, seeking God’s blessing just for ourselves and our loved ones. God always has bigger ambitions for us—especially to make us his means of blessing a fractured world.

May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face shine upon us
2 so that everyone on earth will see his ways
all nations will grasp
what he’s doing to set the world right.

3 Let all the peoples praise you!
Let everyone join in praising you, God!
4 Let the whole world sing for joy
because you rule the nations with justice
you guide every people on earth.
5 Let all the peoples praise you!
Let everyone join in praising you, God!

6 Then the earth will yield its harvest
and God, our God, will bless us.
7 May God bless us
and everyone on earth revere him.[1]

David begins and ends praying for God’s blessing so that everyone on earth will know and revere God. God’s heart has always been to restore the world to joy and gladness under his just and loving rule. He chose Abraham and Sarah to bless all humankind through them. That’s David’s central point: far from being a tribal godling, Israel’s God cares for all nations and justly rules over and guides them all.

God acted powerfully on behalf of the Israelites so his face-to-face relationship with them might showcase to the whole world who he is and the joy we discover in submitting to him. Rightly related to him, we can trust him for provision too. Ordered by his justice and equity, his rich bounty makes peace viable on earth,[2] prompting universal joy and thanksgiving.

As God smiles on his people and pours out his saving grace on them, everyone sees what he’s doing to save the world and is invited to seek him. Since we reveal his goodness only by experiencing his blessing, the more we receive, the more compelling our invitation. Thus, we should freely ask his blessing, mindful that he knows best what to count as blessing and that knowing him is the best blessing of all.

Help me not to so focus on my own needs, God, that I forget your longing that everyone in the world experience the saving grace of knowing you. Shine your face on me, Lord, so your goodness, truth and wisdom might be received by all and their gratitude overflow in joyful praise. Amen.

Pray this prayer in your free moments today:

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us
so that everyone on earth will see…  what he’s doing to set the world right.

 

[1] While this psalm has no textual issues, translators differ widely on how its verbs in vv. 3-7 should be interpreted. For example, in Hebrew verse 6 could mean “the earth yields,” “the earth has yielded,” “the earth will yield” or “may the earth yield”—all without any change to its written text.

[2] Brueggeman and Bellinger, Psalms (2014) 290.

Why YHWH?

Every translator of the Psalms must decide how to handle God’s personal name, YHWH or YHVH, which occurs repeatedly in its Hebrew text. Translators of the King James Version usually translated it “LORD” (all caps) and sometimes transliterated it (badly) as “Jehovah.” Likewise, all modern translations either translate or transliterate it. Some other options for translating it are “the Eternal,” “the Almighty,” or “the Sovereign Lord.”

While translating it aims to make it more accessible to readers, transliterating it seems to me more faithful to the text since it’s not a word at all, but rather God’s uniquely personal name. This roots it more firmly in the biblical story as the name God revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai. Meaning “the self-existent One who answers to no one,” the name YHWH set Israel’s God apart from all the gods of Israel’s neighbors.

Personal names are, well, very personal. Even the sound of a name can evoke strong emotion. I’ve chosen to transliterate only YHWH’s consonants since the earliest Hebrew manuscripts contain only consonants, the vowels being added much later. My aim in doing so is to honor God’s name and set it apart, as unique.

One problem with YHWH is that we aren’t sure how it was pronounced since Jews long ago stopped saying it out of reverence. (They read Adonai instead whenever they come to YHWH in the text.) I take the advice of my esteemed Hebrew professor, Raymond Dillard, who advocated pronouncing it as Yahveh (Yah·vay). He favored that over the standard Yahweh since the modern Hebrew pronunciation of its third consonant makes the name sound more robustly Jewish. It also makes it sound more robust, period.

Finding strength in the ancient psalms

May these psalms be a light to you in dark times. You can read more of Mark Anderson's writings on Christianity, culture, and inter-faith dialogue at Understanding Christianity Today.