Daybreak: Psalms 67:1 through 68:35
“God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us; Selah. That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations.” (Psalm 67:1-2)
One of the great precepts of Scripture is that all peoples of the world must be told of the true and living God. As suggested by our focus verses, when God blesses us and causes His “face to shine upon us,” a desire to share the good news springs up in our hearts. Through the outreach efforts of those who have experienced God’s personal touch in their lives, souls are reached one by one and God’s “saving health” (also translated “salvation”) is declared among the nations.
The expansion of the Apostolic Faith work in Africa is a great example of this. Around 1915, a missionary named Frank Hein received Gospel tracts from the church headquarters while living in Nigeria. Upon returning to America, he came to visit the people who published those tracts. He loved what he found, and God called him to stay and work with us. He translated our literature into the language of northern Nigeria, and many thousands of tracts were sent to that region of Africa.
A single tract fell into the hands of a Christian man named Peter van der Puije in Gold Coast (now Ghana), and he wrote to the Portland headquarters. As a result of Gospel literature sent him, he sought and received sanctification and the baptism of the Holy Ghost, and began establishing Apostolic Faith churches in his area. In 1948, he attended the Portland camp meeting and presented the needs of his people, pleading for someone to come and help them understand God’s ways more perfectly.
George Hughes heard Brother van der Puije’s impassioned plea, and during that 1948 camp meeting he noted in his diary, “Volunteered for service in Africa — or anywhere in the world.” God saw the desire of Brother Hughes’ heart to tell others, and opened the door for him to make a seven-month trip to Africa later that same year. Holding meetings in mud-walled huts, thatch-roofed churches, in a village chief’s home, or wherever an opportunity arose, Brother Hughes shared the Gospel story, and souls were saved. He wrote home, “Oh, that we had a thousand lives, each one of us, that we could lay them at the Lord’s feet to serve Him where the need is the greatest!”
Together, Brother Hughes and Brother van der Puije contacted many in a several-hundred-mile radius who had previously corresponded with our headquarters church. One of those visited was Timothy Oshokoya, who lived in Lagos, Nigeria. Brother Oshokoya had received Apostolic Faith literature some years earlier and found in those tracts and papers the answer to the longings of his heart for holiness and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. He began to distribute our literature and soon established a place of worship.
Brother Oshokoya visited the Portland camp meeting in 1951 and 1956. Upon returning home after his second trip, the vision of “Africa for Christ” began to grow in his heart, and the work in Nigeria expanded. Soon, a printing plant was built, and construction begun on a tabernacle.
In our focus verses, the psalmist looked across the years and envisioned the Gospel going throughout the world. Frank Hein, Peter van der Puije, George Hughes, and Timothy Oshokoya did their parts. As a result of their efforts, and the efforts of those who followed them, today there are many hundreds of Apostolic Faith churches in that part of Africa.
Has God caused His face to shine upon you? Has He forgiven your sins and blessed you with salvation? If so, you have a privilege and a responsibility to reach out to others.
Psalm 67, meant to be played on neginoth or “the stringed instruments,” was written by an unknown author, and is an elaboration of a blessing recorded in Numbers 6:22-27. The original blessing was dictated by God to be pronounced by the priests over the Israelites signifying that they belonged to Him. It contains three lines invoking the following blessings: that God would bless and keep the Israelites, that He would grant favor and grace to them, and that He would acknowledge them and give them peace. Some scholars suggest this psalm was a harvest prayer that was presented at a major feast.
This psalm is separated into three parts by a simple chorus (verses 3, 5) of “let all the people [of the earth] praise thee.” The first section, verses 1-2, asks that God be merciful, bless, and grant favor to Israel, so that the surrounding nations would see His goodness and come to know His “saving health” (or salvation). The second part (verse 4) looks to the future, calling on all the nations of the earth to be glad that when they submit to God, He will rule them fairly, bringing them spiritual and political peace. The final portion of the psalm, verses 6-7, summarizes that the whole world will come to know God through Israel, so the land and people will be blessed and will prosper.
Psalm 68 was written by David as a song, likely to be sung in the processional which accompanied the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem from the house of Obed-edom (2 Samuel 6:12). Throughout the psalm, David interspersed descriptions of a procession approaching Jerusalem with bursts of praise, reflections on Israel’s past, and references to future events.
David began the psalm by recalling the words Moses spoke in the wilderness the first time the Ark was taken up by the priests and followed by the Israelites (Numbers 10:35). In verses 4-6, he erupted in praise for Jehovah (“JAH”), who is above all (He “rideth upon the heavens”). Then, quoting from the victory song of Deborah recorded in Judges 5:4-5, David reflected in the next four verses on how God brought them on their journey through the wilderness, His appearing to them at Mt. Sinai, and His abundant provision for their needs.
When they entered the Promised Land, God gave a battle cry, and women (the word “company” in verse 11 is feminine) such as Deborah, declared it. Thus, when the kings of Canaan fled, the women shared in the spoils. The spoils were so great that those who stayed behind in the kitchen (“among the pots” in verse 13) were arrayed like doves with wings of silver and feathers of gold. The land, too, glistened (either was clean or covered in jewels) like the snow on Mt. Salmon, which was a hill near Shechem according to Judges 9:48.
In verses 15-17, David pictured the processional approaching the hill of Jerusalem. Bashan was the mountainous area northeast of Galilee, which includes Mount Hermon. The psalmist paralleled the Ark’s ascent with Jesus’ ascension into Heaven after conquering death and captivity (or sin). According to verses 24-29, as the Ark moved toward the city it was surrounded by singers, musicians, and timbrel (tambourine) players. Representatives of the twelve tribes of Israel followed the Ark, with Benjamin going first as the tribe of Saul, Israel’s first king. Judah went second as the tribe of Israel’s second king (David) and the future Messiah. Zebulun and Naphtali were last, as the tribes located furthest from the Tabernacle.
In Psalm 68:19, the phrase “daily loadeth us with benefits” literally means “day by day He bears us up” or “day by day He carries us.” A New Testament parallel denoting God’s sustaining power is found in 1 Peter 5:7, “…Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”
In verses 30-35, David foretold that when God establishes His reign at Jerusalem, all nations will bring gifts and pay tribute. These will include Egypt (the “spearmen” or crocodiles), Assyria (the “bulls” among the weaker “calves”), and Ethiopia. David concluded by calling on all nations to praise God.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines – Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. Book I (1:1 — 41:13)
II. Book II (42:1 — 72:20)
III. Book III (73:1 — 89:52)
IV. Book IV (90:1 — 106:48)
V. Book V (107:1 — 150:6)
A Closer Look
- According to Psalm 68:5-6, who can count on God for help?
- In Psalm 68:11-12, those who stayed behind during battle shared in the spoils. In what ways might this be paralleled in the work of the Lord today?
- How did you hear the Gospel? What are some ways you can spread the Good News to those around you?
As recipients of God’s abundant mercy, we have a responsibility to make known His salvation among all the nations of the world.