1 God be merciful and bless us; shine upon us with your face, 2 That the earth may know your actions and all lands your saving grace.
3 O God, may the peoples praise you; may all peoples sing your praise. 4 For you judge the nations justly, ruling over every race.
May they sing with joy and gladness; may they all rejoice as one. 5 O God, may the peoples praise you as they all unite in song.
6 Then the land will yield its harvest; God will pour his gifts abroad. 7 God, our God, will surely bless us; all the earth will fear our God.
You can hear a Free Church of Scotland congregation sing this to the tune Sussex here.
This Psalm has always been special to me as I remember reciting it during a Sunday School Anniversary as a little girl. Although I have forgotten most of it, I still recall the refrain, as I learnt it, ‘May the peoples praise you O God, may all the peoples praise you’.
It is one of the shorter Psalms and yet it is full of wonderful words and great themes. It is a celebration of God’s blessings to Israel and then a call to all nations to give thanks to God for the many gifts of creation. The words point to so much in Scripture, form the Aaronic Blessing to God’s promise to Abraham that through him all nations would be blessed; as the blessing given to Israel is extended to all God’s beloved people.
And that is where we come in – the blessing given to Israel includes us. Yet we live in a world of extremes in wealth and poverty – we may think ourselves developed, yet the gap between rich and poor is increasing. We may think ourselves intelligent, even wise, and yet we continue to perpetuate injustice, usually against the most vulnerable in society. Perhaps now more than ever we are riven by division, along political, class, ethnic, cultural and religious lines.
We need to hear these words and actually take them in – God loves the world and intends justice and blessings for all God’s people. Oh, we can recite the words of this Psalm, it could even become our mantra, but it will mean nothing unless we actually act on what we say. If we do, then just maybe, more and more people may praise God.
May the peoples praise you O God, may all the peoples praise you. As we work towards a fairer sharing of the world’s resources; may the peoples praise you O God, may all the peoples praise you.
The Rev’d Branwen Rees; Role: East Wales Regional Minister