Psalm 67: The Shiny, Happy Blessing

Read Psalm 67.

How would you describe a person who is blessed? Are they rich? In love? Surrounded by family? Successful in their career? Maybe they take epic vacations or have a home that could be featured as the “after” house on one of those fixer-upper shows. Or maybe they have a spring in their step and just seem to be smiling all the time.

In one of the most oft-repeated passages of Scripture, we get a picture of what it really looks like to be blessed. We call it the Aaronic blessing, because Aaron and his sons were told to speak these words over the people of God, but the words came from the Lord Himself. They were passed along to the people of Israel through an ancient game of Telephone, in which God said the words to Moses, who passed them on to Aaron and his sons, who passed them on to God’s people:

      The LORD bless you

         and keep you;

      the LORD make his face shine on you

         and be gracious to you;

      the LORD turn his face toward you

         and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24–26)

Our blessings can include all of the things we think of when we imagine the good life—financial prosperity, relational peace, personal success, persistent happiness. All those things are there in God’s words to His people, but they come from an unusual place—God’s face.

The imagery of God’s shining face may seem odd to us today. It makes me think of that old episode of Friends where Ross whitened his teeth, and they glowed in the dark under black light. But the idea of God’s shining face has to do with His presence. In Scripture, God’s glory is often revealed with light. Moses came down from the mountain with a contact shine after meeting with the Lord. His reflective brightness was so intense, he had to wear a veil when he was around other people (Exodus 34:29–35). When Jesus’ divine glory was revealed to Peter, James, and John, He also emanated bright light. “His face shone like the sun” (Matthew 17:2). And when Paul met the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus, it was with a blinding light from heaven (Acts 9:1–9). 

In Psalm 67, the psalmist echoes Aaron’s revered benediction, praying it over his fellow Israelites: “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us” (v. 1). But then he continues, explaining the reason for Israel’s blessing: “so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations” (v. 2). God’s people were blessed to be a blessing, just as God promised Abraham they would be (Genesis 12:3).

All those who know Jesus Christ are recipients of this blessing. The game of Telephone continues through the pages of Scripture, and now the words of the Aaronic blessing are spoken over you and me. As part of this blessing, we are invited to enter into the Lord’s presence with boldness (2 Corinthians 3:12). “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (v. 18).

God’s presence. It’s where the good life is—the abundant life Jesus promised: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

What is this all about?

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