The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

A Lectio Divina Commentary on Psalm 67

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 10, 2011

Vs. 1: May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us. Selah. A psalm for a good harvest similar to Num 6.25: “The Lord make his face to shine (‘or) upon you and be gracious to you.” The theme wished by the psalmist is three-fold: 1) for God to be gracious, chanan; the object of this verb may be taken as Israel. 2) to bless or barak (Israel) and 3) for him to make his face shine or ‘or. “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light.” The verse at hand is specific with regard to this light, namely, that it comes from God’s face, paney. This triple wish requires a pause, selah, to contemplate divine goodness, and is the first of two instances, the second being after vs. 4.

Vs. 2: That your way may be known upon earth, your saving power among all nations. The psalmist’s attention shifts, as it were, from Israel to 1) earth or ‘eretz, the physical environment and to 2) nations or goym, the term referring to peoples other than the nation of Israel. This word implies their religious beliefs not in accord with the revelation bestowed upon Israel. Both elements have God’s way or derek and saving power or yeshuhat (i.e., his “Jesus”) known, yadah. “My heart shall rejoice in your salvation” [Ps 35.9].

Vs. 3: Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! As a result of the two-fold knowledge (yadah) in the previous verse, the psalmist wishes peoples to praise God; note that the word here is ham (singular) not goym, and peoples here are not necessarily foreign to knowledge of Israel’s revelation. This would make sense in that peoples engage in praise (yadah) of God, a verb implying thanksgiving and confession or acknowledgment. Also note the distinction between peoples and “all the peoples;” both engage in yadah.

Vs. 4: Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Selah. Here nations or le’om (singular) is in accord with Ps 7.7 a generic term for races opposed to Israel and is a population grouping larger than either ham or goym. This more encompassing unit is urged to 1) be glad or samach and 2) sing for joy, ranan; the two verbs were noted and discussed elsewhere. In this instance, they result from God’s judgment, shaphat (verb). This verse is reminiscent of Rev 20.13, the final judgment: “And the sea gave up the dead in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead in them, and all were judged by what they had done.”

Shaphat has two qualities: 1) it has equity or mishur, from yashar, implying straightness. “Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain” [Is 40.4]. 2) guide or nachah which can also imply a return. “He spreads out the nations and leads them back” [Job 12.23]. Such nachah is in conjunction with nations, le’om; with the sense of this word in mind as noted just above, the nations are lead back to God.

Because several terms concerning the earth’s inhabitants are involved, at this juncture a selah is helpful to contemplate how they relate to God, that is, with their different types of acknowledgment of him.

Vs. 5: Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! A verse identical to that of vs. 3 and is used as a refrain.

Vs. 6: The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, has blessed us. A clear reference to harvest, increase or yevul; from the verbal root yaval, to flow. “Then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase” [Lev 26.3]. The psalmist attributes this yevul directly to God who has blessed (barak) Israel. Note he first posits God (‘elohym) then “our God,” as if to emphasize the connection between God being responsible for earth’s yevul as well as the yevul of Israel.

Vs. 7: God has blessed us; let all the ends of the earth fear him! Yet another exclamation of divine barak, this time in conjunction with the “ends of the earth” or ‘ephes (singular). Cf. Ps 2.8: “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.” The verse at hand has a distinction between us (Israel) and the ‘ephes; the latter are exhorted to fear (yare’) God situated as they are at the earth’s four cardinal points. Such fear may be perceived as filling in the temporal distances between themselves and Israel. In light of this, cf. Mt 28.19: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” (Source: Lectio Divina Homepage. Click on “Notes On The Psalms, Part 3)



7 Responses to “A Lectio Divina Commentary on Psalm 67”

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