How many of you would like God to bless your life? Should you ask God to bless your life? Or is that selfish?
Bruce Wilkinson’s bestselling book, The Prayer of Jabez, elaborates on an obscure figure mentioned in 1 Chronicles, arguing that we should seek God’s blessing always. In 1 Chronicles 4:10 we read,
Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, "Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!" And God granted what he asked.
Why did God grant what Jabez asked? What is the reason for God’s blessing?
There are many ways we can answer that question with Scriptural support: He loves his people. He delights to do them good. He is good.
But there’s one fundamental reason that God blesses His people, and this reason is closely related to the missionary calling of the church. Today’s text, Psalm 67, gives us that reason.
During this morning’s message, we’ll consider three questions about the Psalm. Here is the first:
Why Should God Bless You?
This Psalm begins in a way that sounds similar to prayer of Jabez (actually, it more closely echoes the blessing that Aaron and his descendants said over the people of Israel, as recorded in Numbers 6) - but Psalm 67 goes deeper than the prayer of Jabez, telling us why God blesses his people. Let’s look at the first two verses of the Psalm:
God be gracious to us and bless us, And cause His face to shine upon us -- Selah. 2 That Your way may be known on the earth, Your salvation among all nations.
The Psalmist asks for blessing so that God’s ways may be known on the earth. The Psalmist is saying, in effect, "Bless me, so that I might glorify you; bless me so that I might show your power, your love, your majesty, your goodness to all nations."
Note that the Psalmist is not saying:
· He is not saying, "Bless me so that I can be comfortable."
· He is not saying, "Bless me so that I don’t have to work hard to make a living."
· He is not saying, "Bless me so that others will be envious of me."
· He is not saying, "Bless me so that I can be successful in the eyes of the world."
· Now listen carefully: He is not even primarily saying, "Bless me so that I can bless others."
This last is a biblical reason for God’s blessing, as He makes explicit in His call to Abraham (Genesis 12). By all means, God blesses us and gifts us so that we might serve and bless others. But still, this is not the underlying, fundamental reason for God’s blessing. God blesses us first and foremost so that we can bring glory to His name.
Let’s look into this further first of all in this Psalm itself, then in other parts of Scripture.
Much Hebrew literature is structured with a central point in the middle, and ideas that parallel each other the further away you get from the center. This structure is sometimes subtle, but in Psalm 67 it is particularly obvious: note that verses 3 and 5 are not only parallel but identical. Verse 4 is thus the literary center of the Psalm, and as such is emphasized (for an important reason we will come back to). Moving further away from the center, we would then expect to find that verses 1 and 2 are in parallel with verses 6 and 7. Let’s read these last two verses: