Psalm 67: the harvest song
October 13, 2006 § 1 Comment
This psalm is rightly called a “harvest song”. It is a prayer of thanks, that once again calls our attention to the complete dependence of Israel’s agrarian society and economy upon God. More on this in my comments on Psalm 65. But here, in Psalm 67, we see the results of those pre-harvest prayers: “The earth has yielded its produce; God, our God has blessed us.”
I have to be a little cynical, I can’t help it. The message of the psalm is, paraphrased: crop target achieved and exceeed, God has blessed us. I wonder what would have happened if the crop had been sub-standard that year. Would this psalm still have been written? Or would we have seen yet another whiny psalm about how downtrodden the people are, and how God has forsaken them?
Thankfully, the crop was good, and the people were happy. They wanted to praise God. I would even go so far as to say they were a little over-flattering: “…You judge the world with justice, You judge the peoples with fairness…” What does this have to do with crops? So the crop was good, that means God was fair? Hey, let’s get overexcited, and heap praises onto God just because we’re happy… What if the crop was bad? Then God is bad? Sounds crude, but it’s true. That’s how people react, it’s human nature. I’m not saying it’s right at all, but that’s how we are if we don’t keep ourselves in check.
The basic purpose of the Jewish nation of that time (and the purpose of God’s people in this time) is also brought out in this psalm, albeit unwittingly, in verses 2 and 7: “Then the earth will acknowledge Your ways, and all nations Your power to save” and “May God continue to bless us, and be revered by the whole wide world.” That was the mission of the Israelites, wasn’t it? They needed to be a lamp to the darkness around them, and to spread God’s Word and Commandments to the nations. They were to be an effective witness, and help bring others to God.
History gives a bleak account of the success of that witness, but the burden is on us to spread God’s light nowadays. Might I add, history has so far given an even bleaker account of Christianity’s witness to the rest of the world. I’m tempted to put Christianity in quotes, because the witness of the Catholic church during the Dark Ages, with its repression of God’s Word, and the torture and killing of others in the name of Christ, is anything but an effective witness of God’s grace, forgiveness, kindness and salvation.
We’ve also been doing poorly in recent times, haven’t we? In large part, many Christian denominations are misguided in their doctrine. They accept only parts of the Bible, and reject others. In some denominations, pagan elements (whether old or new) have crept in, and are corrupting God’s message. We’re in a sorry state overall, and need to get back to the basics, to God’s Word, the Holy Bible, the entire Bible, in order to get ourselves aright.