A PRAYER FOR THE COMING OF CHRIST’S KINGDOM
Ps 67; Rev 21
This Psalm or song is a praise to God for His mercy, blessing, and favor to His people in calling, redeeming, and enlightening them now. Secondly, it is a prayer that others might join with them in this praise. Lastly, there is an expressed confidence that the earth shall bring forth bountifully when the King shall come and personally rule in His Kingdom. Therefore, let us join with this great company and rejoice and be glad!
The Psalms are the hymn book of the church. The people of God love to sing the praises of God. When they sing them, they are “filled with the Spirit of God” and make “melody in their heart to the Lord.” They are full of instruction. God has so ordered that this collection of songs is like a little Bible, as Martin Luther noted. All of the major doctrines are taught and the experiences of the Psalms are those that we all share at one time or another. The Psalms are so personal.
In them the people of God give “thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The exhortation of Paul is, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and songs, spiritual, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” The Lord’s people have always been a singing people and they burst forth in song on all sorts of occasions. In times of joy God is to be praised in song and in times of sorrow these songs bring comfort to the heart and lift the spirits. In times of war, in times of peace, in times of victory, in times of defeat the people of God find consolation and contentment in singing the praise of God. Churches who do not sing the Psalms miss so much!
Atheists sing only of this life and death, for that is all there is to them. But the Psalms are full of the great ideas of the faith, especially of truth and righteousness and the goodness and mercy of God both for this life and for the one to come. The songs of the agnostics are ones of doubt and ignorance, but the songs of the Bible delightfully express assurance and light. Blessed is the person whose God is the Lord, and blessed is he who sings God’s songs! I hope the singing of these inspired songs is a blessing to you.
This particular Psalm was to be sung to the accompaniment of the stringed instruments, indicated by the word Neginoth. Now we know from the book of 2 Chronicles 29 that the instruments, instituted by David at the direction of God, were used in conjunction with the sacrifices in the worship at the Temple. Since sacrifices were not offered in the Synagogues, instruments were probably not used there. These sacrifices, of course, were typical of the great sacrifice of the Lord Jesus for the sins of His people. As we meditate upon this Psalm, let us keep this fact in mind. All of the blessings that we receive come as a result of the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. When He died on Calvary, the ceremonial law was fulfilled and the temple worship ended. Now, no instruments, as well as no sacrifices, are to be performed. Sacrifices, Priests, ceremonial law are all nailed to the cross of Christ, (Eph 2:15, Col 2:14). It would be sinful to bring them into New Testament worship. Presbyterian ministers historically have not worn robes.
The first three verses is a prayer of God’s people, His church, that they might make known the way of eternal life that they have received to the nations of the world. When the eternal kingdom comes, vs. 4, and the King of kings reigns and judges the earth, then all the redeemed shall “be glad and sing for joy.” The last three verses proclaim the blessedness and fruitfulness of that day. How they desire that that day come!
The Psalmist prays that God’s mercy, blessing, and favor to His people would be known in the world and that others might join with them in praise to Him also. verses 1-3
The first note struck in this song is mercy, and this is a right note to begin with for this is the one that determines all others! Angels might sing their song and sing it to the end without any mention of mercy, but sinful men need first to be reconciled to God, they need mercy. God here is Elohim, which means Almighty. In this case He is able to do exceedingly abundantly in mercy. Sin is a universal fact, a shadow that throws its darkness across all continents and islands so that there is not a square inch on this earth, where the human foot treads, on which it has not left its impact and stain. The inevitable effect of sin is to disturb our relations with God, erecting a barrier of separation between Him and us; not that He drives us away from Him, but that sin by its very nature renders friendship and fellowship impossible. But, in mercy and love God sent forth His Son into the world to die for the sins of His people and, when by His grace, the Holy Spirit quickens them, they gladly trumpet abroad this blessed Gospel to others. Mercy is the foundation characteristic in our salvation. It implies the death of all legal hopes or claims of merit. The best saints and the worst sinners may unite in this petition.
Blessing is the second note in this psalm. God will bless those who have received His mercy. Yes, God will bless those who have received mercy. He gives good gifts in this life to men, all men, but abundantly and eternally to His own sheep. Eliezer said that God had blessed Abraham with good things in this life, Gen 24:35. I am sure Abraham enjoyed these gifts, but Abraham looked to the life to come and “for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” God says of His people, “And I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.” Jeremiah 24:7 The Lord Jesus said, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matt 11:28 The greatest blessings that we have in this life are these spiritual blessings. Yes, “blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love. Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, whereon he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” Eph 1:3-7.
The last note here is Divine favor, “cause thy face to shine upon us.” Is this not the final crescendo? Gods mercy is truly amazing! His blessings are unparalleled. But His favor out does them both. Parallel faith, hope, and love of 1 Corinthians 13. This expresses God’s love for and satisfaction in His people. Is this not a most wonderful way to begin a song! And who is this God? He is the triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Father-merciful; Son-blesses; Holy Spirit-whose face shines upon us. This follows that wonderful benediction in Num 6:24-26. Who blesses us? The triune God may be seen in verses 6b & 7a. Psalm 85 perfectly fits here.
In verse 2 the Psalmist gives the reason for his supplication in verse 1 – that the Gentiles would see the mercy, blessing, and favor of God on the church of Israel and would seek God’s way also. David was a truly magnanimous person. Believing Israel desired to see the Gentiles, the nations, converted. David was no respecter of persons. Neither let us be and bring the Gospel to all men.
By the way of God is meant the way by which man might have the everlasting mercy, blessing, and favor of God. Accordingly we find Christ himself praying, “This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” John 17:3 It is this way that Saul persecuted. Acts 9:2.
There is a chorus to this song that comes at intervals. “Let all nations praise thee.” Praise is the expression of our appreciation, and this is a necessary element in right relations with one another. When men know God’s way and see his salvation, it brings to their hearts much happiness. Let no one say that he cannot sing, for every one can rumble along, and a volume of praise will take up and harmonize a great deal of raw noise. Therefore, O Lord, give all men the grace to adore thy grace, the goodness to see thy goodness. Nothing creates gladness so speedily, surely, and abidingly as the salvation of God. Nations never will be glad till they follow the leadership of the great Shepherd; they may shift their modes of government, but they will maintain their coldness until they bow before the Lord of all. How sweet is that expression “to sing for joy!” Some sing for show, others for appearance, some as a duty, others as an amusement, but to sing from the heart, because overflowing joy must find an outlet, this is to truly sing. Whole nations will do this when the Lord Jesus reigns over them. Imagine what that will be like! Today many Christians do not sing the Psalms. They miss so much. Isaac Watts said the Psalms of David were “doggerel” (marked by inferiority) and he would make “David speak like a Christian.” But the lack of appreciation for singing these songs shows a cold and impassive nature that chills those around it. Because of the believer’s love and appreciation of God, praise is a large part of his worship and life. This indicates and measures his proper appreciation and gratitude towards God. WCF Ch 21 says singing Psalms is a part of the worship of God. It is not entertainment. So what do we see in these first 3 verses? We see a people thankful for the salvation of God and a desire that others would share in their joy!
What is here expressed as a prayer in our translation, may be read as a prophecy. The Hebrew imperfect, used throughout this psalm, expresses an unfinished action. Instead of translating to the English imperative the verbs in this psalm may be translated to the future. You will notice in verse 4 the imperfect verbs are translated in the future, shall judge, shall govern. This points us to the future. This did not escape the eye of John Calvin and he writes, “This Psalm touches shortly upon the kingdom of God, which was to be erected in the world upon the coming of Christ.” But which coming, the first or the second. Not the first because God still reigns in the heaven and not personally on earth. But the time will come, “when the Son of man shall come in his glory,” (and His feet shall stand upon the Mount of Olives, Zechariah 14:4, Acts 1:11) “…Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Math 25:31,34. Judgeship and kingship are overlapping terms, especially when the reference is to the Son of Man, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the promised King who shall sit upon the throne of His father David, so clearly taught in the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam 7), see Luke 1:32,33, Rev 5:5-10. He is also the Man ordained through whom God will judge the world, (Acts 17:31). See John 5:22,23,27. He is the covenanted seed of David and of the woman, who shall bruise the head of the serpent. The judges of Israel were also governors. Gideon, Samuel, etc. executed laws, subdued enemies, punished evildoers, and promoted the prosperity of the nation. Notice the words of Israel in the time of Samuel, all the elders of Israel said make us a King to judge us. The Lord Jesus shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His Kingdom, (2 Timothy 4:1). So verse 4 sets the time frame for this Psalm. It looks ahead to the Kingdom of God. In the Westminster Confession of Faith this period is termed the Kingdom of Glory. In the American Presbyterian Constitution it is termed the Theocratic Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. Sing about this Kingdom still to come in Psalm 72.
When Jesus Christ shall reign, the earth shall yield her increase. verse 6, 7.
God generally blesses the obedient. Deut 28. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, (Ps 33:12).
Blessings shall super abundantly flow when the King of kings reigns in His Kingdom. “Repent ye therefore, and be converted (ye Jews), That your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” Act 3:19-21. They shall be changed and have a glorious body like unto Christ’s. Christ will dwell with them in His Kingdom in the New Heavens and New Earth. see Rev 21:3-8,21; Is 11; Micah 4:4.
Dear Friend, do you have a heart like David’s? How grateful are you for the Savior? Have you ever penned a song to God? Have you ever sat down and written a letter to your God? Of course, you can use the Psalms of David, that sweet Psalmist of Israel. Do you have a magnanimous, witnessing heart like David? Are you ready “to give a answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” and with joy in your heart.
One day the Lord Jesus will return to this earth! His feet shall stand on the Mt. of Olives! Are you looking ahead to the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ in that resurrection day? Do you say with John, “Even so come quickly, Lord Jesus? Are you waiting for this body of death to be changed? for sin to be eradicated completely? to bow before your Lord and Savior, your King and Judge?
Are you looking for that “time of refreshing and restitution of all things,” for the curse lifted? The whole creation groans for that day! There will be no more weeds, thorns, thistles, sickness, pain, tears, sin? If you are, then let us “be glad and sing for joy.”