It’s Memorial Day weekend here in the United States, but today (Sunday, May 27th) is also the Feast of Pentecost for the Christian church worldwide. Both holidays celebrate the legacy of sacrificial forebears. To mark God’s grace at Pentecost, try reading Psalm 67 followed by this devotional:
Most of us don’t grow our own food, and we certainly don’t sing about it. If you can picture whole families boogying down the aisle of your local grocery store singing God’s praises, then you’ll have a bit of a feel for this psalm. The ancient nation of Israel was dependent on the weather, insect migration, and the health of their crops for every growing season. They relied on God’s blessings in a deeply physical way. And Psalm 67 is a national song rather than an individual one because the whole community ate or starved together. It is probably associated with the Feast of Weeks celebrated at the wheat harvest, also called the “Feast of Harvest” or “Feast of the First Fruits.” This is an exuberant hymn of thanksgiving to the Lord of the harvest.
The Aaronic blessing in verse 1 (from Numbers 6:25) would have been pronounced by the priest at every worship gathering. It asks God to smile upon the people who are called by His name − but not only for their own sake. Verse 2 makes it clear that God’s blessing on His peculiar people should reveal the light of His salvation to nations that do not know Him. When the Egyptians, with their many idols, heard that Israel was eating well, they would credit the true God. When we share blessings in His name, sending aid after a natural disaster, for example, all tribes and tongues and nations can see and praise the Lord.
But verse 6 flips the formula strangely on its head. When all the nations praise God then the land will yield its harvest, then Israel will receive His blessing. The work required of God’s people includes the toil necessary to feed one’s own family, but it also includes the public proclamation of God’s goodness in the feast. According to this psalm harvest produces proclamation, and proclamation produces more harvest, a cycle of blessing.The Feast of Weeks was called “Pentecost” in Greek − the occasion for the coming of the Holy Spirit to the Gentiles in Acts 2. If you are a Gentile, as most Christians are today, then you owe your salvation to God’s faithful blessing of the Israelites. You are God’s harvest, planted in ancient Israel, watered by the prophets, winnowed in Christ, gathered by the disciples of yesterday and today. You are the harvest which proclaims God’s goodness, leading to more harvest and more proclamation! You are a part of the story that will only end when every tribe and tongue and nation has heard it told. On that great and final day, the Lord of the Harvest will bless the ones who have told His story, and all the ends of the earth will worship Him.