Joy and Justice
You rule the peoples with equity and guide the nations of the earth. Psalm 67:4
At a conference in Asia, I had two eye-opening conversations in the span of a few hours. First, a pastor told of spending eleven years in prison for a wrongful murder conviction before he was cleared. Then, a group of families shared how they had spent a fortune to escape religious persecution in their homeland, only to be betrayed by the very people they had paid to bring about their rescue. Now, after years in a refugee camp, they wonder if they will ever find a home.
In both cases, victimization was compounded by an absence of justice—just one evidence of our world’s brokenness. But this vacuum of justice is not a permanent condition.
Psalm 67 calls on God’s people to make Him known to our hurting world. The result will be joy, not only as a response to God’s love but also because of His justice. “May the nations be glad and sing for joy,” says the psalmist, “for you rule the peoples with equity and guide the nations of the earth” (v. 4).
Although the Bible writers understood that “equity” (fairness and justice) is a key component of God’s love, they also knew that it will only be fully realized in the future. Until then, in our world of injustice, we can serve to point others to our God’s divine justice. His coming will see “justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Amos 5:24).
Father, help us to work for Your justice now where we live, even as we await the day when You will make everything right. We long for that day.
Work for justice; pray for mercy.
Do you have a special place in your heart for those who are being ignored, misrepresented, or taken advantage of? Psalm 67 expresses such a heart for the whole world. Yet notice where the songwriter begins and ends. He starts by adapting the well-known Aaronic blessing of Israel (Num. 6:24–26). He rightly interprets God’s desire for his own nation when he says, “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us” (Ps. 67:1).
God’s heart for Israel, however, isn’t where the song stops. It’s just the beginning. The author of this psalm recognizes God’s purpose in choosing some for the blessing of all (vv. 2–7). From the beginning, God’s promise to bless the descendants of Abraham was not just for the benefit of an undeserving few. God’s plan and vision was far wider. His purpose was that, in a descendant of Abraham, all of the families of the earth would be blessed.
That intent was fulfilled in Jesus. Living and dying to show the love of God for the world (John 3:16), He began by naming twelve disciples to be His personal and chosen witnesses to proclaim the gospel—for the good and blessing of all.