It was my great honor and privilege to preach Psalm 62 to the saints yesterday at Grace Community Church. It was a day of rich blessings: four generations of my family were present for my daughter’s baptism as well!
Notes and audio for the sermon are available here.
God, because He is Trinity, is by nature a blessing, giving, loving Being; in fact, He is love. He is blessing.
The Psalmist in Psalm 67 pleads for the grace of blessing, and he begs for a particular blessing for a particular purpose. He prays for God to “make his face shine upon us (Selah) so that your way may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations” (Psalm 67:1-2 CSB).
The fellowship of the Trinity is the one we are welcomed into by grace through faith. The Son ever lives in the light of the Father’s smiling face, and the Spirit is the Love proceeding from each to each. The Psalmist prays for that same light to shine on us—by grace, not merit—which is a staggering thing to ask for. It’s asking for the glory Moses saw, and possibly even what he was denied.
The purpose of this request is the spread of the fame of God’s way, which is salvation across the world. Fellowship with God, like the Trinity itself, is an invitational fellowship. Others are invited to delight and share in this love, and those who accept this invitation joyfully do so. It is an eternal feedback loop of joyful love and loving delight.
The blessings of the harvest are a living enactment of the harvest of worshipers who are to be included in the radiant face of God’s love and acceptance. Through the testimony and life of those already welcomed, those who have not yet accepted the invitation are told (and retold) the glorious good news that God’s love is real and available.
In this way, Psalm 67 is perfect for Advent. The glory of the LORD shone through the angels onto the shepherds, who were told good news—gospel—of great joy for all the people. In the Incarnation, the prayer of Psalm 67 receives a resounding, “Yes!” And from that firstfruit of shepherds, a mighty harvest of innumerable people is being reaped to this day.
Let all the peoples praise you, God,
let all the peoples praise you (Psalm 67:5 CSB).
Gloria in excelsis deo!
Return to primal innocence is not enough, for we were made for eternal rest and peace on the far side of probation. But that peace is only found by those whose sin has been dealt with by the sacrifice of the beloved Son. Grace is not defined wholly by sin; grace sees sin and meets it effectively, but it also raises still further, well beyond neutrality or innocence to glory and true holiness.— Michael Allen, Sanctification, 167.
[T]he mercy of God satisfies and does not dilute, much less abrogate, the holiness of God. “Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other” (Ps 85:10). The Psalmist elaborates, “Faithfulness springs up from the ground, and righteousness looks down from the sky” (Ps 85:11). Admittedly, the Psalm began with words of forgiveness, of covering sin, and of withdrawing wrath (Ps 85:2-3); yet it concludes by noting that “Righteousness will go before him and make his footsteps a way” (Ps 85:13). God’s salvation and restoration do not in any way mitigate his triune justice; quite the opposite, redemption displays righteousness, which treads the path of divine kindness and makes a way for mercy’s footsteps.
— Michael Allen
For whatever reason, Psalm 65 leaped off the page as an Advent Psalm to me. The One who is worthy of praise, whose power is unparalleled, this God is the One who draws near to us with grace and blessing.
We have a tendency to ascribe praise beyond reasonable bounds or to those who are unworthy of it, and sadly, too often both at the same time. Only the God of Zion can legitimately claim profuse praise as His due: “Praise is rightfully yours, God, in Zion; vows to you will be fulfilled” (65:1 CSB).
This praiseworthy God welcomes people who are humble and trusting as they come before Him. They come, not because they are worthy or entitled by rights; in fact, the very opposite is true: “Iniquities overwhelm me” (65:3 CSB). The consistent experience of anyone in God’s presence is terror and dread—just ask Isaiah.
These unworthy people are welcomed into God’s presence because “only [He] can atone for our rebellions” (65:3 CSB). Again, ask Isaiah.
With their sins atoned for, these unworthy rebels become glad residents in the holy temple of God Himself! God tabernacling with men, atoning for their sins, satisfying their wayward hearts with the goodness of His house—how can these things be?
David will not allow a moment’s doubt as to God’s ability to make this happen:
You answer us in righteousness,
with awe-inspiring works,
God of our salvation,
the hope of the ends of the earth
and of the distant seas (65:5 CSB).
This tabernacling with men will be done in righteousness, atoning for sins in a perfect, finished way. It will be awe-inspiring to behold and meditate upon, for it will be the salvation of all who hope in Him, as far as the ends of the earth.
This will not be too hard for God. His power established the mountains and silences the roaring sea waves. Nations’ warring ceases at His word. If God can do that, how could we doubt His power?
But what about God’s desire? Sure, He has the ability to save men that they may dwell with Him, but does He want to?
He who waters the earth abundantly, who provides grain for the people, who “softens the earth with showers and blesses its growth” (65:10 CSB), who “crowns the year with His goodness” (65:11 CSB), will He not show love to those He so obviously cares for? God’s provision causes the earth itself to rejoice; will He withhold that joy from His own image, the pinnacle of His creation?
No, because God prepares the earth in this way. He prepares it for blessing the people, and He prepares the people for greater blessings than grain and new wine:
You have put more joy in my heart
than they have when their grain and new wine abound (Psalm 4:7 CSB).
One day, David’s Son will indeed “visit the earth” (65:9 CSB). He will come so that “those who live far away are awed by your signs” (65:8 CSB); He sends Persian magi signs in the stars so that they may worship Him, making “east and west shout for joy” (65:8 CSB).
May the Lord of glory, born in Bethlehem, who now reigns in glory, give us the seeds of eternal joy that will bloom when we truly, forever, live in His courts, satisfied with the goodness of His house, and the holiness of His temple!
He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found!
But I will sing of your strength
and will joyfully proclaim
your faithful love, your faithful love
your faithful love in the morning.
For you have been a stronghold for me,
a refuge in my day of trouble.
To you, my strength, I sing praises,
because God is my stronghold—
my faithful God (Psalm 59:16-17 CSB).
Thus, the gospel is fundamentally about life with God, and by extension, we might say that the Scriptures are fundamentally about life with God. The Scriptures flow from the context of life with God, and their very content is the need for, problem with, and provision for life with God in our neighborhood—the territory wherein treason has been committed against the one true God by the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve. The gospel takes in a range of themes along the way: forgiveness of sins, resurrection of the body, reconciliation of a fractured humanity, and the like. The fundamental promise, however, is that God’s dwelling is now and will be forevermore with his children.
The sun-baked wilderness was hot and dry
For royalty to wander in and thirst;
Both lips and heart were parched, about to burst—
But the oasis was no trick of mind.
The shimmering mirage of stone-ground rye
Could not compete when heart was sated first
By wealth unstained by fallen nature’s curse:
The stomach had, by faith, good food and wine.
Death-dealer dealt the measure of his craft
His lies are overcome by word of truth,
The stomach’s growls drowned out by royal song.
His kingly strength and glory unsurpassed
Came to him every morn like manna dew:
In weakness his believing was made strong.